Husband reaches his limit with 4-legged roommates
DEAR MARIANN: My spouse had several pets when we married and I knew what I was getting into since she is an avid animal lover. I am now finding that I can’t tolerate so many of them since there is residual fur on furniture and clothing. The cats get into cabinets and tear open food packages, along with the litter box odor. Friends say they don’t want to visit or ride in our cars because of the smell and fur. Your thoughts, please.
MARIANN’S RESPONSE: So correct me if I am wrong. You knew what “you were getting into” but you continued into the marriage anyway? Were you expecting her to lose the animals and focus only on you after the wedding? Good luck with that mode of thinking, especially when first-time marriages hover at a 50-percent failure rate, and even higher for a second-go-round the marriage track. Since I am an animal lover myself, sorry, but you won’t get much sympathy here. Unless she has become an animal hoarder, you probably ignored an obvious area of incompatibility before marriage.
For anyone contemplating marriage, please don’t “tie the knot” with the expectation of changing the other person after the wedding bliss has cooled. My theory is: “If you don’t like something about your to-be-mate, STOP NOW before you reach the altar.” What you “see” prior to marriage is probably what you are going to get after the honeymoon, and potentially, forever. Someone who expects a different behavior from the other person when the situation already existed lacks good communication skills when needing to confront issues before marriage or in other relationships. This includes having passive/aggressive tendencies by wanting to excessively control their environment without verbalization.
Prior to progressing toward matrimony, it should be determined if “the issue” with your betrothed is a deal-breaker. A few of these “problem areas” include an alarming habit, such as drinking too much, or strained relationships with cantankerous future in-laws, hellion stepchildren, or in this case, pets. Talking about “the pet situation” prior to your marriage would have been wise. Have you communicated your recent feelings to her or just to me? Marriage is a continued series of compromises that necessitates open and ongoing communication. Have you tried to find mutual agreement with this situation, such as “pets only” in certain areas of the house? Also, this is a good example of why living together first, before making a “trip down the aisle,” might have been wise.
Your commentary about the cats getting into your cupboards and on countertops makes me wonder if you are helping to curb this situation, or just complaining and doing nothing, which is passive/aggressive behavior. How about installing child-guards on the cupboard doors so the cats can’t open them and find food? Are you leaving items on the countertops that are enticing? If so, put everything away (in one of those child-locked cupboards) so there is no temptation. Do you help with any of the housework such as vacuuming to contain the fur? And finally, when you mention friends not wanting to ride in “our cars due to the fur,” my guess is that her cats don’t go for rides, so is there a dog in the pet mix? Is it also hers or is this one yours? If the canine is riding in your car too, possibly having a “dog-free car,” versus allowing the dog in both cars would be helpful. My guess is that your tolerance for the dog’s fur is much higher than what it is for her cats. Hopefully my suggestions will be helpful in resolving your “animal house” dilemma.
Mariann Main is a Licensed Counselor and a Delaware native. Her column appears weekly on Saturdays. To submit a question and have Mariann answer it anonymously, visit delgazette.com/life-questions-with-local-answers or send mail to the Delaware Gazette office, 40 N. Sandusky St., suite 203, Delaware, OH 43015.