Numerous researches have shown that pets do have a positive impact on our general health and well-being. But aside from that, we know that our pets have taught us other important values that strengthen our relationship with family, love, and marriage.
Suzanne B. Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP, a clinical psychologist at Long Island University, added more depth to this topic by exploring what we can learn about our relationships with pets and how we can apply it to our relationship with a spouse or romantic partner.
The Need for Unconditional Love
Most of us pet owners see our furry companions as undemanding animals with hearts that overflow with big love for us. However, we all know that they require lots of time, patience, and dedication.
Plus, many of us tend to forget that our pets, as lovable they may be, also get into mischief that has landed us in several compromising situations. And yet, despite all of that, here we are still pouring our love and affection for them.
Dr. Phillips has observed all of that and advised that we can learn a thing or two from our daily interaction with our pets to boost our relationships with people, most especially with spouses or partners. Listed below are the most important points that she has stressed in her advice:
1. Greeting your loved one.
Everyone has got their own bad days, and sometimes it does get the better of us. However, we still make an effort to brighten up our smile a little more for our furry friends and give them a comforting hug or pat on the head.
If you are able to give that amount of attention to your pets, why not apply it in your romantic relationship too? Consider greeting your spouse with a warm hug or other affectionate gestures that create more connection instead of a cold shoulder. Sure, life can be tough sometimes, but don’t let it ruin the affection that you can give and share with the important people in your life.
2. Stop holding grudges and forgive your partner.
Living a life with pets makes it unavoidable for you to encounter countless messy situations made by your furry friends that can make you cringe and flip your wig. You might have let loose a few expletives as you try to fix the mess but at the end of the day, you forgive them.
Sometimes a couple’s life can be full of petty arguments that stem from the simplest misunderstandings. There may be times when your spouse does something wrong and you react with anger. Instead of giving each other the cold shoulder, let go of that anger, give yourselves time to forgive each other, and talk it out.
3. Accept that they do have flaws.
Each of our pets has its own unique personality and quirks that make them who they are. Although they have flaws, we are still able to accept and love them regardless of how stubborn or embarrassing they can be at times.
We should acknowledge the fact that, like our pets, there are certain aspects of the person we love that we cannot change. Therefore, we should learn to accept it and stop judging them for their quirks.
“The old expression ‘you get what you give’ may apply here,” writes Dr. Phillips. “Maybe you give something very positive to your pet that invites the unconditional love and connection that makes you feel so good. Maybe it has potential to enhance your relationship.”
Pets Help Build a Strong Marriage
Welcoming a pet into the family can change a couple’s lives greatly. Take Leah Bancroft, a San Francisco based creative and photographer, and her husband Aaron, for example. Back when they were dating, both agreed to add a furry companion into their life. It was in a form of a terrier named Leroy that they adopted from a local rescue.
Now that they have another life to care for, Leah and Aaron learned to work together in order to make good decisions for their new pup. Eventually, their communication as a couple improved just by talking about who gets to pick up their pooch’s poop, deciding what is the best choice for pet insurance or veterinarian, or choosing who must discipline Leroy.
Owning a dog taught them the importance of patience and compromise in marriage. The thing that matters the most for Leah was that they were not just making important decisions but also identified their goals as a family.
Understanding and Acceptance is the Key
Our relationship with our pets stresses the importance of acknowledging the fact that we and our loved ones have flaws just like our furry companions do.
Therefore, we should learn to accept that there are some things that we cannot change and try to work things out instead of holding a grudge against them. Acceptance helps us build better relationships with our pets and loved ones.