How Getting a Pet Affects Your Relationship
Experts Share What You Need to Know About Adopting a Pet With a Partner
Whether it be baby fever or puppy fever, we're all feeling something while we're stuck at home. If you're the ones pining for a pet, you're not alone. You're stuck in the house all day, staring at cute kitten or puppy videos on TikTok, and you can't help but think about what it'd be like to have a furry friend of your own. You've talked about it with your partner, and you're so close to looking through adoption sites. My partner and I were in the same boat: after only seven months of dating and three months of living together, my partner and I decided to adopt a small, brown tabby kitten named Oscar.
But there's a little voice in the back of your head wondering if it's a good idea. There certainly was in mine. While at times, the unexpected vet appointments were rough, sharing Oscar has only strengthened our relationship. During the stressful times this year, it's been wonderful having our furry son cuddle us on a bad day or do something completely silly. But it got me thinking — what if our experience had been different? Could Oscar have torn us apart? POPSUGAR spoke to several relationship therapists to weigh in on getting a pet with your partner and how it can affect your relationship.
What Are the Benefits of Getting a Pet With a Partner?
Quite a few! "It can add more opportunities for connection, dialogue, division of labor, awareness of pet-parenting styles, and an extra dose of unconditional love to the system," relationship therapist Kim Saft, Ph.D., LCSW told POPSUGAR. "Adding a pet to your lives can help you grow in your relationship!" Only get one if you think you and your partner are ready. Some good questions to ask yourself and your partner are:
- Can we afford to take care of a third member in this household?
- When should we get one?
- How will we handle the care for them?
- How would we handle an emergency?
Will Getting a Pet Add Stress to My Relationship?
Like any big life decision, change is inevitable. Whether it be a small adjustment or a change in the whole dynamic, getting a pet is the same. "When a couple decides to get a pet, they can expect to see increased conflict," Shauna Staranko, LMFT told POPSUGAR. "Pet ownership means that the couple now has to negotiate to share new responsibilities. Partners may have different opinions as to whether the dog should sleep on the bed or how often the cat litter needs to be changed, which are opportunities for disagreement."
When's the Right Time to Get a Pet With a Partner?
Love and dating isn't an exact science. Some people take years to decide to move to the next step, while others just go with their gut. Having a pet is basically having a baby, just with fewer diapers and more belly scratches. "For couples just starting their life journey together, pets can become part of their family connecting them in another way besides their attraction to one another," Justin Murray, LMSW, owner and therapist of Serenity Seekers LLC, told POPSUGAR. "For couples seeking to have children, pets are a great way to learn how nurturing and collaborative your partner is. The same is true for couples who can't have children biologically. Pets offer them an opportunity to raise, nurture, and love something together besides themselves."
How Expensive Is It to Get a Pet With a Partner?
On average, dog owners spend around $740 to $4,300 yearly, while cat parents are likely to spend around $810 to $1,200. "Pets can be a strain on the budget, a drag with vacation plans and wedge between the couple when it comes to attention (even in bed sometimes!)," said Amy Bucciere, LCSW, CST, sex, relationship, and EMDR therapist. Something to keep in mind is to budget everything for the next year: from adoption fees, vet visits, food, toys, sitters, and everything in between. So getting a pet is truly an investment, whether it be the smallest gerbil to the biggest Great Dane.
If you think you're ready and you checked all of the boxes, then congrats! Get ready for a loving dynamic full of scratched-up furniture, cuddles, and long discussions on which snacks are better for your furry buddy.