This has been going on for almost a year now and I’m resentful as hell for being forced to put up with a dog I didn’t want in the first place. I told him repeatedly to not bring a dog into the house before he got the dog, and he ignored me. I’m tired of asking him to give away the dog, I’m tired of the house smelling like dog, I’m tired of dog hair everywhere, and most of all, I’m tired of my fiancé forcing me to deal with the dog. He did admit it was a dick move to get the dog and he has apologized, but the dog is still in the house and I can’t forgive him for it. He made it a point to remind me that I live in his house and he pays for everything; I am sick and injured and have no income. I have nowhere else to go and I feel like I’m being abused by having everything thrown in my face and constantly reminded that I live in his house. I don’t know what to do and I’m at my wit’s end. Please help me. — In the Dog House
Derek isn’t going to get rid of the dog because he knows he doesn’t have to. It’s his home that he’s letting you live in because you have nowhere else to go. It doesn’t matter how much you nag and complain – Derek has either figured out how to ignore you or has decided that the consequences of having a dog are worth whatever benefits he’s getting and he doesn’t care how unhappy you are. He doesn’t care because you aren’t in a true partnership with each other; at most, you’re in a co-dependent relationship (assuming he has some dependence on you), and it’s time for you to figure out how to be independent. It should be obvious to you by now that you aren’t going to change Derek’s behavior, so you need to change your own. If you can’t stand living with a dog, move out. If you don’t have an income because you’re injured, apply for disability, look into what other kinds of assistance you may be entitled to, and tap into your support system — your family and friends — for help. Staying where you are essentially unwelcome and definitely miserable is not an option.
Clearly, your relationship with Derek — one that you describe as abusive — isn’t going to lead to a happy marriage. There isn’t a future here – not one in which you’re going to thrive, anyway. Staying with him because you have no place else to go is never going to work because it gives Derek 100% of the power and leaves you basically impotent. Frankly, the dog is just a symbol of the power imbalance in your relationship. If it weren’t this symbol, it would be another. Derek wants you to know who’s in charge; he will never let you forget it as long as you are living with him, for free, in the home he entirely pays for.
You aren’t being forced to do anything here. This is YOUR life. Take control of the wheel. Steer it away from Derek and the dog and this home where you are so very, very unhappy. If you want someone to prioritize your feelings and well-being, step up and take the role because no one else is.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.