DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend grew up with a dog in his family, and is one of those guys who calls the dog his brother. The dog passed away when my boyfriend was 23, and he was devastated. I had never seen him cry until that point in our relationship.
It has been a couple of months, and my boyfriend has asked me if he and I can get a dog together. As much as I want to say yes to bring that happiness back to my boyfriend, I dislike dogs. I never had any pets growing up, so I don’t understand the whole “bond with an animal” thing. How should I deal with this situation? -- Boyfriend Wants a Dog, Albuquerque, New Mexico
DEAR BOYFRIEND WANTS A DOG: It is common for couples to have differing views about pets. What is important is that you come to an agreement on how you will manage the pets if you ultimately choose to have one (or more). For you, this means softening a bit toward dogs. This doesn’t mean that you have to grow to love dogs, but it would be great for you to be empathetic toward your boyfriend’s attitude.
As it relates to getting a dog, I don’t think you should try to prevent your boyfriend from getting another. He will resent you if you do. Instead, make it clear to him that while you are not into dogs, you are willing for him to get another -- provided he accepts full responsibility for it. Be clear that you do not want to have to engage with the dog.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been living with my partner in our apartment for 2 1/2 years. In all this time, my partner has cooked dinner twice. I’m not sure when it was decided that I would be the chef of the house, but it turned out that way. I am always the one to go grocery shopping after work and come home to cook dinner for the two of us.
Both of us are women, so she can’t use the gender card -- even though that would be crazy, too. Anyhow, I want to ask my partner to cook more, but I fear that after all this time has passed, it might be too late. -- Solo Chef, Dallas
DEAR SOLO CHEF: If you plan to be together for the long haul, you are still in the early stages of your relationship. I recommend weekly meetings for people who live together, where you go over the business of the household and adjust according to the week’s needs. This is a time when you can bring up your observation that the food shopping and cooking seems to have fallen on your shoulders. Tell your partner that you want to share this responsibility. Ask her if she can commit to being an active participant in creating the family meals. Get her to open up about her perspective. This may not be a conscious act on her part. She may view the situation as something that you seemed to enjoy.
Talk about it and make a plan that is more equitable.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)