Did you know that July is “Doghouse Repair Month”? It got me thinking about how to repair our relationships when we find ourselves in the doghouse.
It is not easy when you find yourself in the doghouse in your marriage. You may have been doing something that seemed to be normal and not realize that it could land you in the preverbal doghouse. But you find yourself there and then you have to get out and build on your relationship to discover how or why you ended up there in the first place.
In the first year of our marriage there were a lot of changes to my life. I moved to a new city where a lot of people kept telling me about how much crime and danger was happening around me. My husband was working swing shift or graveyards and I was home with my young children. I did not have friends in the area and felt a bit un-secure in my new surroundings. I thought I was pretty confident at the time and had a lot of self defense, police training and skills to keep me out of trouble. At the same time I wanted my home parameter to feel more secure. My drive was to feel safe in this new environment and make sure my family was also safe when I was away from the house.
Here is something that landed me in the doghouse with my husband that really put a barrier between us that lasted for quite a while.
Over Thanksgiving weekend the kids and I were visiting my mom and family out of town while my husband had to stay home and work. While I was about 100 miles away from home, I was just going through the local newspaper at my moms house and came across an ad for a ten week old Doberman. I bright light went on in my head and I thought this would be a great asset to solve my problem at home. I went to go look at the puppy and just fell in love with her instantly. I purchased the dog, loaded her in the car with the kids and drove home to surprise my husband! OOPS! Let’s just say he was not so happy with what I had chosen to do.
Mind you I had been making my own decisions without having to get anyones permission for a while and I did not think that he would have ever been upset because I got a dog. Boy was I wrong!
I found myself in the doghouse for many reasons:
- For not talking to him before I got a dog
- For purchasing something that was out of an “unspoken agreement” of cost without talking it through with him
- For making a decision that effected the whole family without talking to him
Let’s just say I was deep in the doghouse for these reasons. This became a bone of contention for a long time. My husband seemed to have lost trust in me and I was then questioned for every purchase that I made for a couple years.
Let’s be clear, I never intended to make him feel like he did not have a say and I also never imagined how much damage the simple thing of getting a dog would cause in our relationship.
Here are a couple examples of how young and immature we were early in our marriage.
- My husband would not touch, pet or have anything to do with “my” dog for over a year.
- My husband decided that I could not be trusted with money both at home and in the business and would not let me write checks or make decisions about money without his input.
- I lost respect for my husband because he put me in a box (doghouse) and acted as though he was above me in marriage and business. I was not treated like a partner more like a minion.
- I lost confidence in our marriage. I was pretty certain that we would end up getting divorced.
- I found myself being more sneaky and finding ways to do what I wanted without being under his thumb.
- I also found myself taking on other jobs to get away from my husband and creating my own income because he could not trust me with “his” money.
Let’s just say we were not living a healthy and happy marriage at that time. Getting a dog for safety and security reasons was not good enough for him to see the value at the time. And as a result of this action I was in the dog house for a long time.
We had to learn how to rebuild the trust in our relationship. We both had to be honest about what we were going to be doing and we had to mature in relationship with each other to be able to make decisions without offending the other.
Many times in relationship we offend the other person without even realizing it. We do not intend to offend or hurt or even leave out the other person yet somehow it seems to happen in most relationships. If you do not talk out the issues and make sure that your spouse understands why you make the choices you do, you both will continue to build barriers in your relationship. Put it all out on the table! Share what you want and discover what they want and find a middle ground where you both feel valued in the relationship.
Be quick to forgive and know that you both are going to make choices that my offend or hurt the feelings of the other person even when you do not intend to do so. Talk it out, do not go long without getting issues cleared up. It is the long drawn out stuff that breaks down the relationship and it is much harder to break down the barriers than putting them up. I know that we did not really know how to handle the issues that sent me in the doghouse all those years ago and neither of us really tried to figure it out. The marriage scars from us both chewing on the same bone of contention for far to long could have well ended our marriage. The blessing in it was that we both knew we were committed in marriage and had to figure out ways to get past the barriers that we had built. I am sure I will be sharing some of the support, resources and gifts that others gave that helped us though all the doghouse moments in future postings.
Remember, a dog does not stay in the dog house forever. She/he has to get out and explore, care for themselves and get back moving in the right direction. So do we! Care and nurture your relationship, explore more about your spouse and get yourselves moving in the right direction to stay committed, happy and healthy.