A year ago, I had to put down my beloved poodle Zoe. I feel the loss even today. She’s was the comfort dog at my medical school and went to work with me everyday. She was always wagging her tail and happy to be with me doing her job of bringing joy to everyone.  But pets are more than just our daily companions. They reveal much about us and even teach us about our human relationships.

A University of Buffalo study looked at pets and relationships. They found that married couples who own a pet have closer relationships than those who do not. In the study, marriages with pets were also more satisfying than non pet marriages; and marriages with pets responded better to stress because of the pets. Stress was measured by taking heart rate and blood pressure during marital conflicts. Both heart rate and blood pressure increased during a conflict, but the couples with pets returned to calm faster than those without pets. Yes, pets have a calming presence.

Additionally, couples who owned pets had more interactions with each other and other people. The pets helped increase their social support which then positively impacted their health. And the more attached they were to their pet, the more interactive they were with their spouse. Obviously, pets are great sources of social engagement.

Basically, pets just do good things for people physically and emotionally. In fact, couples usually soften in mood and tone when it comes to their pets. How often have you heard someone say, “I only wish she would treat me as well as she treats our dog.” Or, “The dog demands nothing of me, only gives me unconditional love.” These dear animals love and accept us. Nothing beats that wagging tail waiting to greet you at the door. And the same is true of us. No matter how we feel or what mood we are in, we return the affectionate greeting from our pet with a positive, even animated, hello and often with a display of physical affection.

Do you greet your partner with the same affection?

When pets mess up, e.g., they eat things they shouldn’t, make messes and chew things, we don’t hold a grudge. Rather we deal with the problem and forgive.  After all, the dog was not trying to torture us by eating our slippers. So maybe consider, was your partner trying to torture you by leaving his socks on the floor?  Hmm…another good lesson to apply to our human relationships. When it comes to our spouse, we should deal with problems quickly and learn to let go. No grudges, more forgiveness.

And think about this. Pet owners don’t usually personalize their pet’s reactions to others in extreme ways –they don’t worry if their dog embarrasses them, or if their image is damaged because of their pet. They just accept weird things pets do like the cat hiding from the screeching parrot. Perhaps this is another lesson we can learn from pets– more acceptance of others.

Sadly, in a 2018 People and Pets study conducted by Just Right by Purina, they found that half of female dog owners said they would rather spend more time with their dog than their partner. They see their dog as more emotionally supportive during times of stress! Yes, you are being outshined by your pet. So time to ramp up that emotional support.

There is a lot we can learn from our pet relationships that also apply to our human ones. Pets bring out many of the principles of healthy relationships, unconditional love and acceptance, support, physical affection and forgiveness.  Consequently. take a few moments and think about how you treat your pet. Now, think about how you treat your partner. Maybe it’s time to make a few adjustments!

More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

If there is one thing we love about the holidays, it is the food. If there is one thing we hate about the holidays, it is the potential weight gain. So how concerned should we be and what do we need to know? Truth is, we do tend to gain weight during the holidays. Now, […]

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Or is it? Not everyone agrees given the family stress that often accompanies this time of year. So, every year, I remind us to create a positive mindset concerning the holidays. Why? Because this is one time of year we intentionally get together despite our conflicts and […]

The other night, one of our newscasters said she was already behind on Christmas! And I thought, it’s only one week past Thanksgiving. How can you already be behind? But I know a lot of people who get overwhelmed and stressed this time of the year because they are not organized. Disorganization is not a […]

“Jennifer, we need to talk about your low productivity numbers. You are not reaching the goal and are far behind your fellow workers. Now, let me say, there are some bright spots in your work” What’s problematic about this approach? For starters, it’s negative. Like Jennifer, have you ever had a boss or family member […]

Close Ad