LONG ISLAND, New York - Ladies, do you greet your companion with excitement every day, overlook his flaws, and forgive his bad behavior? If the companion in question is a dog, the answer is probably yes, but if it's your spouse, the answer is more likely no.
So says clinical psychologist Fido Barker of the Long Island Semper Fidelis Research Center, who notes that relationships between women and their dogs can offer valuable lessons to women hoping to improve relationships with husbands or other romantic partners.
"What is interesting is that, while a woman may disagree vehemently with her partner on a wide range of topics, she usually softens noticeably in manner and tone around a dog."
Barker says that women could learn a great deal from the way they love their dogs unconditionally.
"For example, women often say that dogs are 'not demanding,' or that they offer 'unconditional love,' when the truth of the matter is that dogs require lots of time and attention, special foods, expensive shots and medical care, toenail clippings, sloppy soap and shampoo sessions in the shower, you name it.
"They bark at nothing, pee indoors, puke on rugs, steal food, knock over lamps, drag dead animals in the house, and destroy furniture. But we accept their flaws because we love them so much."
Barker suggests women can learn how to improve their relationships with men by examining their own interactions with man's best friend.
Even when she's having a really bad day, a woman usually offers her dog a cheerful greeting, often accompanied by a pat on the head or a hug. A cheerful greeting is great for a husband, too, but you can skip the hug, says Barker. A tousling of the hair or a playful slap on the rump is sufficient.
Unless you want to have sex, that is.
Holding a grudge
Even when your husband stays out late drinking too much liquor, then comes home and pees on the furniture or soils the floor, don't stay mad at him. He feels bad enough already, so you could go fetch him a handful of aspirin if that's not too much trouble.
Don't take it so personally
When dogs make mistakes, women forgive them quickly and easily, don't take it personally, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Yes, she might snicker when her dog tries to hump your leg, but when it's her man trying to hump anything that moves, she often assumes the worst and reacts with anger and blame.
"Don't take it so personally," says Barker. "We're just stupid animals, that's all. We can't help it."
You get what you give
"The old expression 'garbage in, garbage out' certainly applies here," writes Dr. Barker. "Instead of constantly nagging at your husband, you should give him something positive that invites the unconditional love and connection that makes your relationship with your dog so special.
"Offer him a treat. Take him out to play. Hurry up in there; he really has to go! Following these simple rules offers the potential to enhance your relationship and leave you with a happier husband with a healthier glow."
"But it's a two-way street," he admitted. "I know all too well that a husband has to work like a dog to make a relationship last. I certainly have.
"I'm not complaining, though. After all, old Spike here has been getting the same damn dry dog food in his bowl every single day for going on thirteen years now, and he's never complained once."