The health of the pet parents’ marriage determines greatly the health of the children and pets in the pet family.
Married couples making wise decisions about their marriage take better care of their children and pets. For example, married couples maintaining over long periods of time a positive cash flow where bills are paid up to date provide fundamental needs the family depends on including food, shelter, clothing, medical, religious, and educational needs.
Conversely, married pet couples addicted to recreational drugs or alcohol unable to pay monthly bills due to job loss could lose their home, self-inflicting tremendous instability on themselves, their children, and pets. (We currently have an opioid crisis in the United States, and I wonder about compromised care of marriages, children, and pets in those homes.)
My common sense boundary prescription here is for the master bed be a pet free zone in most situations where married couples and unmarried couples live together. A dog or cat bed can be located in a master bedroom corner away from the bed on the floor if the pets are allowed into the master bedroom. Pet beds can also be placed in other rooms of the home to train your pets about sleeping options other than the master bedroom. Many children relish their cat or dog curled up in their bedroom.
This firm boundary prescription protecting the marriage bed accepts realistically competitive needs found in all marriages and pet family relationships. Competitive needs exist in all pet families and magnifies the importance of a married couples privacy needs. Married and unmarried couples use privacy to share their own physical and psychological space, separate from pets, children, and the daily stresses and distractions of modern life. Children have needs 24/7 at times, and pets have needs too.
Kittens, puppies, non-house trained dogs, and rescue animals with behavior problems may exert negative stress on pet owners’ marriages.
Married couples need restful sleep, necessary conversations, awake time together, conflict resolution, and all aspects of intimacy. A couple can draw this boundary line in their master bedroom and teach children and pets about boundaries that support marriage and family health. Pets and children need healthy boundaries set by adults to learn right from wrong. Lack of proper boundaries hurt relationships by creating avoidable problems.
Pets Benefiting from Married Couples
Common sense and research shows couples enjoy higher quality lives when they are married, and this stability extends to the well-being of children and pets. Marriage fosters healthier extended family relationships like grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins benefiting children, dogs, cats, and birds. Pets benefit long term from the goodwill and kindness of inter-generational family members brought together by marriage.
Pets Benefiting from Marriage After Divorce
Even after divorce a reservoir of left over marriage and family bonding exists from the marriage history. Married relationships tend towards more survivability between couples and in-laws than unmarried couples. Grandparents remain more involved with children of divorced parents than separated unmarried couples. Life cycle human bonding rituals and events of dating, engagement, marriage, announcing a pregnancy, birthdays, and anniversaries bond people together positively. This bonding helps pets experience higher quality lives, even after a divorce. For example, grandparents often continue to invite grandchildren and a family dog to their home for visits.
After divorce ex-spouses may reach a point in their own wisdom where for the good of all family members they turn over a new leaf and talk respectfully with each other. This benefits the family dog in divorce when the family dog travels back and forth between two homes for the sake of the children’s bonding with their dog.
Healthy exceptions to pets not sleeping on the master bed include:
Therapy pets living with an adult suffering a medical condition.
An ill pet whom the owners believe would be helped by sleeping in the master bed.
Unhealthy exceptions to pets not sleeping on the master bed:
One or both spouses not resolving problems between them and allowing their attention to be ill focused and distracted by the family dog.
Unmarried Pet Couples: Please Consider Taking the Marriage Walk
Many unmarried pet owner couples are highly uncomfortable with the thought of marriage. Marriage may seem too risky to take the plunge. Sometimes in life adults need to take a risk available to them without missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime. There are many helpful tools for couples fearing marriage. Adopting a faith based prayer practice is helpful to redirect excess anxiety and fear into healthy choices. Contracting with a couples’ therapist specializing in pre-marriage counseling can help a couple see their strengths and weaknesses and how to move ahead wisely.
In a future post, I suggest unmarried pet couples are developing confidence in pet parenting, which will result in marriage and parenting children.
Robert Berkelhammer is the Author of Pet Care Givers & Families: Getting the Most From Dog Playgroups, Pet Sitters, and Walkers. Also, see our MULTI-USE FAMILY PET CARE CONTRACT, a must-have organizing tool for you, your family, pet care professionals, and most importantly your pets! www.robertberkelhammer.com
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