When is the last time your told your husband what a good boy he is and gave him a little treat? Or scratched your wife behind the ears just because you know how much she likes it? What? You never do that? Maybe that’s what is wrong with your marriage.
Clinical psychologist Suzanne B. Phillips suggests that if we all treated our spouses with as much unconditional love and kindness as we do our pets, we’d all be much happier. She says that in her work with couples, she’s noticed that despite the differences and issues that have brought them to her, her clients generally seem to have a common appreciation for their pets. And a much gentler way of interacting with them.
If we can maintain warm feelings for an animal who pees on the carpet and sheds all over the place, surely we can do that for the person we claim to love with all our hearts. While Phillips doesn’t go so far as to suggest belly rubs and baby talk for our spouses, she does give some specific ways we can learn to treat our husbands and wives better by mirroring our behavior toward our pets.
Greetings – How do you greet your pet when you return home? If you are like me, you drop everything and give her some love. Sure, she demands such attention, but even if your spouse doesn’t, animated hellos and warm hugs shouldn’t be reserved just for the dog.
Holding a Grudge – You may remember the last time Fido puked on the rug or tore up your favorite shoes, but you got over it, right? If you don’t hold a grudge against the pet who ate your $200 pair of boots, perhaps you shouldn’t hold one against the man who forgot to load the dishwasher and take out the trash.
Assume the Best – You probably don’t attribute your pet’s bad behavior and mistakes to deliberate attempts to ruin your day. Likewise, your spouse leaving raw meat in your car over the weekend probably wasn’t a devious plot to make your car smell like a dumpster forever and ever. It was just a mistake and should be treated as one.
Phillips believes that with pets and humans, you get what you give. If you give nice, you get nice. For more tips on just how to look to your pets for relationship tips, check out her full article on the subject at Psych Central.
Image: Scarleth White/Flickr
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