Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Can having a pet make your relationship happier?
The answer is yes!
Research shows a lot of ways pets can improve your relationship. Two key things worth noting is:
A pet can help to create a sense of 'We-ness' and helps to protect the relationship
When you pet a dog or cat, your body produces oxytocin (aka trust hormones), which promote feelings or closeness with your partner
What might be the other relationship benefits to getting a pet? In our couples counseling clinic, we don't necessarily recommend to couples that they get a pet. There are a lot of good reasons why people don't get pets. But if the couple starts debating about the topic, we help them have a productive discussion where both of their viewpoints have equal weight. The goal for that discussion is for people to feel heard. Once people feel heard and respected, it becomes easier to make a decision.
Compromise is inherently lose-lose. Both sides need to give up on something in order for the compromise to feel good. Maybe I will compromise on allowing a new dog in the house, if he agrees to spend more on the healthy dog food that I insist that the animal eats. (As an example). All to often couples move too quickly to compromise, and both partners do not feel equally listened to
Hope this helps. (This article is dedicated to our dog, Duncan (2008-2016) and cat, Dave (2000-2016), who passed away this March. They were best buds (see photo). May they also play together in the afterlife.