DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married for 37 years. We have a fairly good marriage. However, when it comes to communication, there's a lot of room for improvement. I would very much like to get a second dog. I'm home alone all day because I am on disability; I have few friends, and my social life consists of the time and attention I give my dog, "Rascal," a standard schnauzer.
We can well afford another dog; we have a big enough home, a fenced-in yard -- all of the things necessary for responsible dog ownership. The problem is, if I mention the subject, my wife gets very angry and immediately dismisses the idea without any discussion.
We don't discuss issues in our home. If my wife gives her thumbs-up, then it's a go. If she gives a thumbs-down, it's no-go. I don't think there's any reason why her refusal to get another dog should trump my desire to get one. Ideally, we should be able to sit down over a meal and collegially discuss the issue and base the decision upon what we mutually agree upon. Unfortunately, no such scenario exists.
I would appreciate any help you could give me. I would very much like another dog because having them brings me much joy and needed company. I don't ask for much. I don't understand why this is an issue. -- LONELY FOR MORE IN OHIO
DEAR LONELY: Your problem is twofold. One is acquiring another dog. The other is the imbalance of power in your marriage. I agree that important decisions like this should be shared, but that's not how things work between you and your wife. In your household, she has taken on the role of "alpha dog."
Unless the two of you open enough lines of communication that you can be heard, nothing will change, and you will grow increasingly unhappy. If you can afford a licensed marriage and family therapist, make an appointment to talk with one about this and any other issues you and your wife can't agree on. And I hope you are aware that you do not need her permission to get a second dog, if you are the person who will ensure it gets the love and care it needs.