DEAR ABBY: I love dogs, but they're ruining my marriage. "Ivan" and I have been together 12 years, married for five. Six years ago, he had to put his aged, sickly pointer, "Sergeant," to sleep.
Two years ago, I began suggesting that we get another dog. I felt Ivan had mourned Sergeant long enough, and it was time for another. We found a lovely King Charles spaniel that we named Lili. We spent a lot of fun time with her that spring and summer, then thought a playmate might be good company for her during the day while we were at work. We found Branford, another spaniel.
At night we'd put both dogs in the kitchen, tell them goodnight, put up a gate and go to bed. But Branford would cry. I told Ivan he'd stop eventually, but Ivan couldn't just leave him, so he began bringing the two dogs into our bedroom and allowing them to sleep at the foot of our bed. I have pleaded with Ivan to return them downstairs, but he won't consider it.
Guess where they're sleeping today? IN the bed. Guess where I'm sleeping? On the couch downstairs.
We haven't been out on a date since the dogs arrived. We don't go out with friends because we must be back by 10 p.m. -- the dogs' bedtime, and Ivan's, too, of course. He is oblivious to me from the time he goes to bed with the dogs. We haven't had sex in a year.
Everything is about the dogs. He even prepares their meals from scratch each day -- boiled chicken with rice, peas and carrots. He says: "I told you I get attached to dogs. You said you wanted them; this is what you have to deal with." I am at my breaking point. Help! -- ONLY HIS WIFE IN WILMINGTON
DEAR WIFE: I'm sorry to say this, but the dogs aren't your problem; they're only a symptom. Your husband has turned them into a buffer. When a man would rather sleep with his dogs than his wife and "forgets" about sex for a year, something is wrong with the marriage.
You need more help than anyone can give you in a letter. So start looking for a licensed marriage counselor. If your husband won't go with you, go alone. Something tells me you're going to need all the emotional support you can get, because your marriage has gone to the bowwows.