We’ve got an English Bulldog at home. He’s lazy, he snores, he drools, he can clear a room when he passes gas and he loves to cuddle. He’s about six years old, so in bulldog terms, that would put him at the high side of middle-age. We’ve also got a cat. Not sure exactly how old she is, but we’ve had her for about eleven years. She’s a typical cat, showing no interest to anyone who wants to play with her, and ceaselessly tormenting any non-cat lovers who happen by.
It’s fascinating to watch the “relationship” these two have developed. They don’t really fight (anymore), they just sort of coexist. The cat will be in the room with us until she sees the dog approaching, then she casually exits for another part of the house. If he happens to notice her, he might growl a little but for the most part I think that would take too much energy. Their mutual avoidance strategy is actually fun to watch. It’s as if they both feel they belong, but just choose not to be around the other.
While this is amusing in the animal world, it’s very sad when this behavior is replicated in marriage. I know of too many couples that live this way… just sort of coexisting in the same space, moving from room to room while avoiding eye contact. Their often past fighting, certainly past loving but deciding to stay together out of habit or convenience.
Hopefully you find this as appalling as I do. But keep in mind, it didn’t get that way overnight. What you see in these cases is the result of a long history of neglect. Neglecting to deal with issues when they were small (and manageable), neglecting to meet each other’s deepest needs, neglecting to put their partner ahead of themselves. No one wants to live that way, but sadly many do.
We’re not animals. We can behave above an instinctual level. Invest in your marriage now, and you will find it pays dividends for years to come.