“Hold up. Aren’t you married?”
Why, yes! Yes, I am. I’m married to a wonderful man who fulfills me in many ways, including being the best high five partner around. Being with him is like being alone, but better (which, for a secret introvert, is the highest compliment I can pay). I’ve never felt happier or more stable in any other relationship, which is part of why I married him. But, he is a person. He is his own person, who needs his own space, and he certainly doesn’t need me to smother him.
I’m a smotherer. It’s been the demise of relationships in the past. I’m generally reserved with my affections, but all those reserves have to be dumped somewhere, and they used to fall on my significant other. This translated into endless streams of text messages and general neediness. Not good. Not good at all.
By the time I met my husband, I had just finished my second round of casual online dating. I had learned to keep the smothering under wraps. I learned what was reasonable and what wasn’t. But still, the smothery needs were there. As soon as I moved in with him, I started begging for a dog.
Enter: Daphne. Daphne is (probably) a shih tzu or lhasa apso mixed with poodle. Her breed background means that she was essentially bred to be in close proximity to humans. She was bred to be cute and cuddly. By the time I found her at Animal Friends, she was 11 years old and had been through two homes already, each with multiple dogs, children, cats, and a few generations of adults. For a dog who loves attention, that was a lot of competition. Naturally, we bonded pretty quickly, and that bond has gotten a lot stronger since I began working from home 8 months ago. She’s also picked up on house training and a few easy commands, so it turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks (or at least basic obedience).
A year and a half later, I’ve noticed that my expectations for my relationship with my husband are a lot more realistic. I now have someone who is ecstatic to see me, whether I’ve been gone for 1 hour or 1 week. Someone with completely unrestrained enthusiasm, whose world is very small. I mean, I don’t expect to be my husband’s whole world. That’s just ridiculous. But a reality about dogs is that their owners pretty much are their worlds. And it’s a nice feeling.
For some reason, even though I wouldn’t describe myself as a sensitive person, I tend to be very sensitive to the moods of my significant other. When my husband is unhappy, I try to cheer him up, but realistically, sometimes you just have to let someone be unhappy and work through it on their own. In contrast, Daphne is perhaps the happiest dog in the entire world. It’s nice to have a break from the complexities of human emotion, and just enjoy some time with a happy furry creature.
When I come home from my now frequent business trips, Daphne greets me like she hasn’t seen me in ten years. I am overwhelmed with kisses and wiggles and excitement. And, frankly, I’m just as excited to see her as she is to see me. Then I kiss and high five my husband, and we all eat a midnight snack. It’s a damn good arrangement, if you ask me.