October 27, 2011 By Chuck AllenIt may be hard to believe but those cute little critters you call pets are actually monsters. Well, they could become monsters – if you let Read More »
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October 17, 2011 By Chuck AllenWhy are all shows about marriage comedies? Whether it’s movies or television, if the main story is about marriage, comedy will abound. Sure, there are married Read More »
September 22, 2011 By Chuck AllenOne of the goals of this blog is to provide advice for men who are considering marriage. Women have strange rituals such as teas and showers Read More »
Tag Archives: pets
It may be hard to believe but those cute little critters you call pets are actually monsters. Well, they could become monsters – if you let them. And to make them even scarier, most people do not realize when their little cutsie-wutsie has made the transformation into marriage monster.
When people plan for marriage they sometimes talk about things such as how many kids they want to have, what kind of jobs they want and where they want to live. Rarely do they ask the critical question: What’s your critter tendency factor?
The critter tendency factor says a lot about a couple’s compatibility. There are several ways to label it, but essentially there are four different types of critter tendencies. They can be described by the individuals initial thought about animals. When you first see an animal, is your desire to:
1. See it
2. Hold it
3. Feed it
4. Have it move in with you
If you’re married to a #3 or #4 then you probably recognized it immediately. If you’re still staring at the list wondering what the difference is then you’re probably a #3 or #4 yourself. By the time people reach stage 4 they have often lost the ability to differentiate between people and animals.
Before we go any further I should also point out that this is a continuous scale with people falling in various degrees of each stage. For example, some #1 individuals’ response could be better described as “see it and shoot it”. This is not a new category, but is just an extreme of the one category very near zero. You will also find some people who are on the border between #1 and #2 as they will occasionally pet animals, but not every animal they encounter. So remember this is a scale, not contest.
If a #1 marries a #4 then problems are inevitable. You might as well build a separate house or find some other compromise because if either partner gets their way entirely, the other will be quite miserable. Here is a sample conversation between one of these couples:
“Can’t we get another dog? Poochie looks so sad and doesn’t have anyone to play with?”
“What about the rabbit or the cat or the hamster?”
“You know dogs can’t play with those animals! Poochie would eat them all.”
“I know.” (Insert evil grin here.)
“Don’t be mean! You know you love hippity-hop. So can we look at puppies now?”
“I know, why don’t we build a special place for all the animals to live. Oh wait, that place already exists. It’s called a zoo!”
(The conversation goes downhill from here.)
But even couples where both partners fall in various stages of #2 and #3 can end up having problems. Just because someone likes to pet the neighbors dog does not mean they want one for themselves. It’s the difference between baby sitting for friends and having your own baby – definitely not the same thing.
And that space between #3 and #4 can be a huge gap. Feeding a pet (owning it) that stays outside is far different from having a pet sleep in the bed next to you. One is like having a best friend that hangs around a lot. The other is like taking that friend along on every date.
Keep one thing in mind, though. No matter how cute or precious that little critter is, it’s not worth losing your marriage over. It’s really not. So learn to compromise in a way that recognizes both partners critter tendency factor. (Even if I just made that term up.)
I know my wife loves me. That is not the issue. The issue is that I’m a man and I therefore like to rank things. That in itself wouldn’t be an issue except that I don’t rank very high in our family hierarchy. The way I see it I’m in a close race with our two chickens for eighth place. (At least I get to sleep inside most days.)
I’m convinced this is a fairly common issue for men, even though we do not mention it. If you think I’m being unreasonable consider these scenarios:
- Our Shih-tzu poops on the kitchen floor and my wife cleans it up without an issue. I leave a pair of underwear on the bathroom floor and suddenly our house is contaminated and must be cleaned throughout immediately (by me.)
- Our golden retriever stinks horribly after eating dead animals, but still gets a hug and some kisses. I pass gas and get banished from the room.
- Cleaning my son’s ferret cage is no big deal for my wife, but having to pick up a cup that I left in the den almost breaks her.
I could go on but I think you get the idea. I totally understand my kids taking the top spot around our house, but I don’t like competing with the pets. I’m pretty sure the pets know this too. They give me a smug look every time I’m getting a lecture about leaving my clothes on the floor or something similar. It seems the only way I can move up in rank is when one of our pets dies or goes missing. (For the record, I had nothing to do with the disappearance of our duck.)
Here are my suggestions for handling it:
- Don’t have pets – This gets harder with children. I finally reached the point where I could easily tell my wife “no” and then we had a daughter. It’s a lot harder to say “no” when my daughter comes up with the animal in her hands begging to have it.
- Keep pets with short lives – Hamsters and gerbils do not usually live as long as dogs and cats. Around our house chickens don’t last too long either, but I’m not sure why that is. I’m suggesting frogs and lizards for my kids from this point forward.
But seriously: Are we guilty of showing compassion to everyone except our spouse? What would your spouse say gets more of your affection? Do you show more interest and understanding for friends, coworkers or strangers?
What about you? What puts you in second place – or further down the list?