Princess Diana once famously said, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded.”
I can relate.
But instead of a throne-grabbing former lover elbowing in on my marriage, there’s someone more guileless, someone who doesn’t have an agenda but nonetheless is in competition for my husband’s affections. Casting meaningful glances with his big, brown eyes and wafting into the room with what can only be described as an unholy stench, that someone is the dog.
And the feeling’s mutual. The dog, it seems, is the center of my husband’s universe.
Type “my husband loves the dog more” into your favorite search engine and it will spit back 39.7 million results. That’s a lot of disgruntled wives.
So I know I’m not alone in this scenario: my husband comes bounding in from work and heads straight for a cuddle. With the dog. Eventually, after ascertaining the dog has had his basic needs met – and then some – he might inquire how I am. He won’t rush to see if I need a drink or pat me on the head. To be fair, I’d be more likely to punch him than lick his face if he tried ruffling my ears, but a post-work gin & tonic wouldn’t go amiss.
So what am I to do? Ignore and rise above it? Turn myself into a shedding, drooling, geriatric doofus with an odor problem and a taste for roadkill? Join forces with the canine contender for my family’s love?
Oh, yes, my family. Did I neglect to mention that it isn’t just my husband, but everyone else who seems to hold the dog in some kind of saintly status, no matter how many times he does an oopsie in the night (guess who cleans that up) or leaves another sock mate-less (the root cause of most morning mopping sessions)?
What’s more, no expense is spared on the dog. Where we might go out on some sort of ‘date’ once every two or three years, my husband and the dog take long, meaningful walks at least twice a day. Our children are forced to exist on potatoes and Spam while the dog is treated to the finest raw-meat diet available. The dog enjoys regular luxurious spa sessions while the closest I get to a bubble bath is when I’m scouring the tub.
(Ok, these are more or less an exaggeration. Our kids wouldn’t know a can of Spam if it fell into their wholewheat pasta bake and the dog has never actually been to a spa. He prefers an actual mud bath, with actual mud).
I’ve considered having a frank discussion along the lines of “Who do you love more,” but that just looks pathetic and insane. After all, he married me, not the dog – though I suspect if the law and society was more accepting, this might not be the case.
They’ve been together 14 years to our 10, so perhaps their bond is only natural, even if I pay more attention to my personal hygiene and contribute to the household income rather than depleting it through worming treatments and regular surgical procedures to remove plastic toys, rocks and items of clothing.
It’s not that I don’t like the dog. He’s fine. Cute, even. He doesn’t hump things and he’s good-natured. He’s also totally neurotic when it comes to his lifelong partner, the pair of them having developed a codependency so impenetrable that it could inspire Hall & Oates to write a ballad for them – but on the whole he isn’t a bad dog. It’s just that he’s neurotic and needy and the day I never have to pick another black dog hair from my cream carpet will be a thrilling one indeed.
Except that’s the thing: that day is coming, and it is going to cast such an overwhelming pall over our household that I fear the only consolation will be a new, wriggling, four-legged soulmate. Next time it’s my turn to choose the home-wrecker.