Why Doesn’t My Spouse Want a Dog?

Rev. Travis Jamieson

February 18, 2024

Last Fall, I came across an add for a Australian Shepherd puppy on Craigslist. Australian Shepherd puppies are some of the most adorable little pets you’ll ever see. Relatives of my wife have two, and I’ve always loved visiting them. I assumed my wife would be completely on board with my decision to reach out and meet the dog, but, to my dismay, she was not. I assumed because her cousins had two, she would want one too, but I was so wrong. In fact, she told me just how much work Australian Shepherd puppies are, and she flat out refused to entertain the idea of getting one. I was shocked. Why doesn’t my wife want a dog? How can she disagree with me? 

Not an hour later, my wife came back to me with all kinds of kittens she’s found for sale. I couldn’t believe it. She doesn’t want a dog, but she wants a kitten. We already have a cat! She explained why a cat was far less work, less expensive, and overall more enjoyable. I wasn’t buying it. I reminded her that our current cat had nearly destroyed her favorite chair with all his scratching. Do we really want to invite another cat into our home to claw the life out of another piece of furniture? I didn’t think so. I left my wife wondering, why doesn’t my husband want a cat?

Disagreements about household pets happen all the time. From when is the best season of life to adopt a pet, to what kind of pet should you adopt, to who is going to do the chores that come along with the pet. Pets are a fun fantasy, but often bring out difficult realties in families. Sure, we all want to be that guy who looks so happy walking his perfectly groomed dog down the street, but who wants to be the guy waking up at 2am to a dog barking and needing to go outside? Pets are complicated. Finding agreement with your spouse about your pets (or other household decisions) is even more complicated. How can a couple love each other throughout disagreements?

Explore Your History 

We all have a history with pets. What’s yours? I grew up on a farm where cats were a dime a dozen and the family dog slept outside. Aside from putting some dog or cat food in their dishes, my pets fended for themselves. There was no litter to empty. There was no need for two walks a day. No need to trail behind my dog with a plastic bag to keep waste of the sidewalk. My pets were self-sufficient. My wife, however, grew up in town. Her family always had a pet dog. That dog lived inside the house. He needed to be walked, groomed, and taken to the vet on a regular basis. There was a lot of disruption to the family routine if the dog was sick. Her dogs tended to be high maintenance. 

Fast forward twenty years, my wife and I are in our first year of marriage and our cat dies. We then got a dog that we had to give away after our first child was born because it tried to nip at the baby. Five years later, we got another dog, that we also had to give away as we prepared for the birth of our second child. We both had our own and shared histories with pets, so it makes sense that we were prone to disagreements about our next pet. 

Respect One Another’s Needs

We all have needs when it comes to pets. What are yours? When I was inspired by that Craigslist ad to adopt an puppy, I had a need for fun and exercise. I had a recently read an article in which the author suggested that if you want to exercise more, then get a dog. The dog will get you outside on a regular basis. I was sold. 

My wife, on the other hand, needed rest. She was the primary caregiver to our two year old son. He’s got more energy than any five dogs put together! The thought of another small creature in the home taking up time, energy, money, and everything else, sounded exhausting to her! When we were able to communicate clearly to one another about our needs, we both came to a better understanding of what we could do. I realized that I didn’t need a dog to go on walk and my wife could acknowledge that a dog may not be a good idea in this season of life, but give it a couple years and we might be able to get a puppy.

Be Ready to Sacrifice Your Wants for Love's Sake

In order to love our spouse, we need to be ready to sacrifice our wants for loves sake. The Apostle Paul writes, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). For the eleven chapters prior, he had explained the gospel to the Romans, but now he was applying it to their daily lives. If you embrace the reality that Jesus’s love for you will never be extinguished, then show that same kind of love to those around you. 

A disagreement about household pets may seem trivial at first, but it’s actually a God-given opportunity to love like Jesus loves. We can humble ourselves and acknowledge that our wants don’t get the final say. Instead, we can listen to one another’s needs and honor one another above ourselves. These are the moments when the gospel of Jesus Christ meets the mundanity of our lives. Welcome it. Embrace it. And keep looking for more opportunities to love like Jesus.

About the author — Rev. Travis Jamieson

Travis Jamieson pastors a church in the heart of Silicon Valley. He has been married to Annie for ten years, and together, they are raising two beautiful red-headed children. In his spare time, you’ll often find Travis surfing at a local beach or riding his Vespa around town taking in the beautiful scenery of the Bay Area.

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