Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pets…Make You Love Your Partner More?

One of the best things couples can do for their relationship is to share a pet. While some may prefer the more conventional dog or cat, others may relish the thought of a slippery cobra or a manic little ferret. Regardless of your pet of choice, sharing one can enrich your romantic relationship and make it stronger.

In the past, society cast a rather restricted light on what defines a family. Most people thought it should consist of two parents and children. However, as the number of two parent households continues to fall, society has had to reconsider how it defines a family. It is my belief that pets are most definitely legitimate members of a family. They are particularly important members of the family for couples who don't have kids. Some even argue that the love they feel for their pets is similar to the love parents feel for their children.

One of the reasons why sharing pets makes you love your partner more is because it extends the family that you have created with your partner. It also creates a mutual purpose. When you’re in love, love can be a purpose that sustains you but you really need more than that to carry you through the long haul that defines a long-term relationship.

In addition, I believe that sharing a pet enriches your romantic relationship because a pet allows for a very healthy exchange of affection and love with another safe entity – if I can risk sounding sociopathic as I call a pet an ‘entity.’ If you and your partner have a fight, for example, you can curl up with your pet and get some of the love and affection you need in that moment. Once you’ve experienced the soothing effect of the love of your pet, you might feel a little less bothered when it comes to seeing your partner in the next room a few minutes later.

One of the most consistent messages I send to my clients is to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. I explain that no one person or thing can meet all your dependency needs and fulfill you, so you must have several things in your life that nourish you. While having a romantic partner is a tremendous blessing, sharing a pet can provide additional love in the house. This love, I believe, will help fortify you both individually and as a couple, in good times and bad.

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