DEAR AMY: What do you do if one parent in the family wants a dog (as do all of the children), while the other parent (the one who does 95 percent of the housework) does not? I am in a 19-year marriage. My husband and I have four children. Our oldest (twins) just left for college. My husband is now insisting that we get a dog, (a puppy!) for him and our two sons, who are still at home. Amy, we had a dog for six months, about five years ago. It ran away. Guess who took care of it, completely? Yes, me. I do not want this responsibility and the burden of taking care of another dog. I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel regarding the amount of housekeeping I do. I also see a future with increasing freedom to go out more and travel as our kids leave the nest. My husband says he plans to go against my wishes and get a dog, regardless of what I say. What can I do?
DEAR DOGLESS: Bringing an animal into the home is adding a member to your family. Your household is looking at potentially the next 15 to 20 years of dog care, unless this dog, like your other dog, follows its better instincts and takes off.
How unfortunate for your children, that they have a father who conveys such open disrespect toward their mother. And how unfortunate for whatever puppy your husband might acquire, which will be brought into the household of an irresponsible owner, and a resentful spouse. I can’t imagine a reputable shelter which would adopt a dog to your husband, but there are many ways to acquire a puppy, and it would be quite easy for your husband to follow through on his threat.
You should talk to your family as a group. Tell them, calmly, “I know you want a puppy, but I don’t. Because I am home and would be expected to provide a majority of the dog’s care, day in and out, I believe that my wishes should prevail. There are many ways to spend time with a dog if you want to, including volunteering at the local shelter.”
If, after this, your husband brings home a puppy, you should exercise your own freedom to travel. Tell the family that you are going away for a couple of weeks, giving them a chance to learn to take care of the new family member on their own and make a final decision about it. Ask your sons to decide which of them will forgo after-school sports and weekend activities in order to take care of the dog. Perhaps they can trade off with your husband.
Obviously, this episode has revealed a relationship issue which you and your husband should address.
DEAR AMY: I know that I have some obsessions and compulsions (maybe in moderation). Anyway, long after relationships have ended, I just always seem to have that person on my mind. Now since Facebook has come into our lives, I will look at their page to see if they are dating, if they broke up, etc. I waste a lot of my time doing this, and I can’t seem to stop. Any advice for me? And, why do you think I constantly do this? I’m not trying to go back with these guys, and I know that we are over, but I don’t stop obsessing!
DEAR OBSESSED: My take on your dynamic is that the mechanism of Facebook is both a trigger and a release for you. You are “triggered” by the ease with which you can look at someone’s page. Looking at the page then provides a release for your anxiety, curiosity and compulsion.
Because Facebook is always there, you cycle through this dynamic whenever an ex’s post floats by in your newsfeed. But even seeing the FB logo might trick your mind and bring on this behavior.
This is stealing potentially valuable time from you. The way to stop is to remove the app from your phone, “hide” or block an ex’s posts, or to go on a Facebook “fast.”
DEAR AMY: Having struggled with depression for many years, I empathize with “Desperate and Depressed,” whose mother denies that depression is “real.” I’ve found that stating that I have a shortage of serotonin in my brain moves depression into a “real” disorder for many people.
DEAR BEEN THERE: Great suggestion. Thank you!