When my wife comes home, the dog gets a hug, kisses, and baby talk, while I get a peck on the cheek and a no-nonsense attitude. I’m not saying she should toss on an apron and bring me a drink, but can a guy get a little love at the end of a long day?
He Said: First off, drop the dog comparison. Your wife has fewer expectations from Fido. As long as he hasn’t destroyed the furniture at the end the day, he’s good. Here’s the deal: Married men in SF are expected to pull half the domestic duties, be sensitive, social, cultured, and stylish while tough, protective, and a little kinky. We should understand cars, stock portfolios, and computers and supply more than half the money. That’s what happens when you live in a town with high standards. And it goes the other way too. You want your wife to do a lot more than crank out a few kids and cook your dinner.
Instead of asking where the love is, why not generate some? Sounds like you get home first. When she comes through the front door tomorrow, tell her she looks gorgeous, nuzzle her neck, and whisper that you have to have her right now. Then take her. If she hesitates, tell her you’ve already fed the dog.
She Said: What you notice—your wife bestowing affection on a dog while her human partner looks on—is not limited to marital dynamics. People, especially those in canine-worshipping towns like SF, use their dogs as status symbols, stand-in children, and best-friend surrogates, as well as buffers against their partners. As the nuclear and extended family unit broke down over the past 40 years, there’s been huge growth in our pet population.
OK, that’s as far as my remember-your-pet-is-not-a-human lecture is going to go—I know my audience. Pets also bring a host of good things: They increase our levels of oxytocin, help mediate stress, often force us to exercise more; and they elicit our caring sides. I don’t know if your wife favors the dog because his needs are so much simpler than yours or whether she’s avoiding you. Maybe she’s bestowing typical affection and you’re overly sensitive to it. But I do know that you can use the dog to bring you closer. Why not engage with the dog along with her? Perhaps a chat about his dinner will lead to a chat about what you’d like to eat together. Perhaps the dog will get you both outside for an evening walk. Perhaps a little playful wrestling with the dog will become an excuse to cuddle with your wife. Stop merely looking on, and get creative.
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