"A man and his dog is a sacred relationship. What nature hath put together, let no woman put asunder." - A.R. Gurney
He won't admit it, but my husband, Bob, who is crazy about me, likes the dog better. I know I'm not alone in this dog-first, wife-second hierarchy. I turned this situation around recently, when Bob was cleaning out the fridge. I thanked him for getting rid of everything in there that was a different color from when we first bought it. He glared at me. Then Gracie, our big adorable golden dog, trotted in.
Bob cooed: "Hey, Sweet Potato. Got a kissie?" He put his arms around the dog while they played. I turned around and tiptoed out of the room, wondering when the last time was that I got as many kisses as the dog. A few minutes later, Bob came into the living room and declared that we have a gender-biased household, which, of course, was nothing new to me. Gracie jumped on the couch and whimpered, and Bob soothingly rubbed her fur. (My hairs were bristling, too, but nobody cared to soothe them.)
"It's my job to do all the housework around here, including the fridge," Bob said.
"But I hate doing that," I said.
Gracie went and got her binky, which she placed in Bob's lap. The binky is my bra. It once was white, but is now brown, although it has still retained its shape. Gracie not only carries it, inside and out, but she tries to play fetch with the mailman - which he actually does. I watched as Bob picked up the bra and explained to the dog: "Thank you, Gracie. But I'm not angry. Your mother just doesn't do any housework, that's all."
I suggested that communicating through the dog is not good for mental health, but he ignored me and said, "Howdy-do?" to Gracie, and she gave him her paw. They sat holding hands while we spoke.
"You're nicer to the dog than you are to me," I said.
"I'm not," he said.
"If the dog ..." I started.
"She has a name," he said. "Don't you, Grace-ums?" They both looked at me and tilted their heads in the same direction.
"OK," I said. "If Gracie complained about how she was treated, you'd jump through hoops to fix it."
"That's different," he said.
"I'd really like to hear exactly how that is different," I replied.
Then they both hung their heads in guilty silence. I wasn't intentionally trying to divert Bob from the housework business, but what the heck?
"You always bring this up," he said, "when I discuss housework."
Now, there are plenty of us who play second fiddle to the family pet. (We're the ones with only half of our faces visible in holiday photos.) This can work in our favor. After Bob had his say about domestic inequity, I made my pivotal move. I knelt beside Gracie and said, "Why don't you tell Dad that I'll do more around the house if he'll start treating you like a dog?"
Bob will never do this, so I'm safe.
Reprinted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC, 2011, from "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life."