Fact Sheet

Marriage advice: Treat your partner like a dog?

A psychologist says your relationship will improve if you show your significant other the same unconditional love you give your pet

Clinical psychologist Suzanne B. Phillips says there's an easy way to improve your marriage — treat your spouse like a dog. Phillips says that in her work with couples she has found that no matter what their differences, her clients seem to share a soft spot for their pets. We'd all be happier, Phillips says, if we showed our romantic partners the kindness and unconditional love we lavish on our dogs and cats. Here's a quick summary of the theory:

Greet your partner as warmly as your pet
Animal lovers generally drop everything when they get home, and shower some attention on their pets. Next time you walk in the door — "no matter how you're feeling" — try giving your significant other "a positive, even animated, hello and often with a display of physical affection," Phillips says. Animated hellos and warm hugs shouldn’t be reserved just for the dog, says Sandy Maple in Strollerderby.

Re-evaluate grudges
Our pets "throw up on rugs, pee in the house, and steal food from countertops," says Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times. "Yet we accept their flaws because we love them so much." Phillips says we should try being just as forgiving when your spouse messes up. And remember: Your dog's mistakes aren't deliberate attempts to ruin your day — your spouse's slip-ups aren't, either.

Appreciate the benefits of devotion
"Pets are home to stay," Phillips says. They don't "live with the fear of being betrayed," or being dumped. "Just consider," says Phillips, "how the absence of such fears enhances the trust and connection you feel from them!"

Sources: PsychCentral, Strollerderby, New York Times

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