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Dear Care and Feeding,
I have a best friend whom I grew up with. We moved to the U.S. around the same time but live in different states. We used to be close, but since I got married and had kids, we hardly talk and our relationship has been getting worse. She is single with no kids, so her lifestyle is just completely different than mine.
On top of that, she has a little dog that she treats like her child. She takes her everywhere. I have no problem with dogs, but my husband doesn’t like having animals in the house. (He is Jamaican and his culture is a little different when it comes to those things.) I understand that, but my friend doesn’t. I haven’t seen her in so long because of this issue—it’s hard for me to visit because of my little kids, and she won’t visit without her dog. I have visited her before with my kids and one time even left my toddler with my husband, and she once left her dog with her friends when my first child was born, but she said it was horrible because her friend’s toddler was all over the dog all weekend.
Now I feel like our friendship is pretty much over because of this dog issue. I’ve tried convincing my husband but he doesn’t budge, and my friend also doesn’t take no for an answer. She keeps trying to come visit with her dog, which makes my husband feel like she doesn’t respect him. He called her a “pusher,” and he’s kind of right, as she is known to always get her way and is a very successful woman as a result.
I understand both sides, but I do feel like if I could leave my child for the weekend to visit her, she could leave her dog. The fact that my husband won’t even let the dog spend one day at our house knowing how important it is for me makes me feel a way too. I don’t know what to do.
—Torn Wife and Friend
I am sorry that both your husband and bestie are being so selfish here. As far as he is concerned, you should let him know that while you respect his aversion to dogs in the house, you are feeling very disconnected and lonely without being able to spend time with your oldest friend on a regular basis. Identify what you need (do you want her to bring the dog for a day? A weekend?) and say it with your chest. Try and come up with a compromise that minimizes his interaction with and exposure to the dog.
With regard to your friend, you should talk to her openly about the position that you are in; you feel trapped between her need to bring her dog everywhere and your husband’s need to keep pets out of the home, and as a result, you are missing her. Furthermore, you have been willing to leave your children to spend time with her, and it seems only fair that she should do the same more often than not when she comes to visit your home. Perhaps you can make plans to meet somewhere in between your respective towns for a quick girls’ trip, or you can get a couple of days away from your responsibilities at her house.
No matter how you choose to address this, neither of these people should make you feel as if you don’t have a voice or any decision about what takes place in your house, nor should you be the only half of either of these relationships to sacrifice your comfort in service of the other party.