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Bad Dog, Bad Husband?

Question: Adrienne in California and her husband started working on their debt last year. She will be losing her job in a couple of months and he’s in construction, so work is spotty. He wants to buy a dog but she’s more interested in showing him how severe their situation is so they can prepare for it. Dave has a good laugh before telling her how to approach this situation.

Answer: I’m trying to think how to describe this to you, because actually, as dumb as it sounds, as a guy, I kind of get how he did this. You made an immediate connection between the dog and his irresponsibility and the fact that it’s like, “Don’t you get how bad this is? When you say, ‘Buy a dog,’ you’re scaring the crap out of me because I think I’m married to an idiot.” That’s what went through your mind. What went through his mind was, “I saw a dog I liked.” That was the full extent of his analysis. He really is not an idiot. He has no idea when he gets home tonight how many buttons he pushed by this simple question.

It’s not that males are stupid. That’s not the thing. We do not always connect things across like you do. Actually, I get what you’re saying because I do what I do for a living, so I see it, and you’re exactly right. I think the best thing to do here is this is a relational thing–not a financial thing–and you need to explain to him that by buying something that we don’t need when you’re freaking out about money, you freak out about money even more. If you just say that to him, he’ll go, “Oh! Like when I talked about the dog, you freaked out.” And you go, “Yeah, you just don’t understand how much I freaked out because for just a minute there. I thought I was married to an idiot.” You can kind of laugh about it because he’s not a dumb guy, and he’s not a guy who’s not plugged in. He’s pretty plugged in because you guys are working on this stuff together. That’s what you told me. You’re unemployed, he’s getting ready to be, and he wants to buy a dog. He didn’t put those other two parts of the sentence in front of this. He just said, “Dog.”

We’re going to cut him a little slack here and go, “You have no idea how dumb what you said was and how scared it made me feel. You’re not dumb, but that was a really dumb thing for you to do to ask me about this, because it made me want to punch you in the face. You scare me to death when you do stuff like that, so no, we’re not buying a dog when we’re both facing unemployment. That would be ridiculous. We’ve got a lot of other things to worry about rather than housebreaking a puppy, much less a $400 puppy.”

I think it’s just a good way for male/female relations and communication for you guys to probably grow a little bit in that area over this conversation. Hopefully, I refereed just a little. I’m not really a marriage counselor. I’ve just been married 30 years, and I mess this stuff up all the time.

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