Q&A: Bringing home a new pet after losing one

Question:

My husband and I are at different places about getting a new cat. We both love animals – but were heartbroken when we had to put our cat down six months ago. It’s hit him so hard that he says he never wants another pet again. I think he needs to just get over it and open up his heart again. I’m tempted to bring home a cute kitten, knowing he’ll melt when he sees it. Is this a good idea?

Answer: As much as you might be right about your husband’s initial reaction to a new kitten, we wouldn’t recommend it – for two reasons.

First, as much as your heart may be in the right place and as much as you may care about your husband, the message this move would send is “you and your feelings don’t matter.” Respect is a huge deal for any relationship, but in marriage it’s essential. If a husband or wife experiences and senses disrespect from their mate, then trust, emotional safety – and ultimately – intimacy are compromised. It’s not worth it.

Second, though non-animal lovers may not understand this, losing a pet can be a deeply profound and painful loss. And where there’s been a significant loss, grief must follow. But grief isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula, and people move through it differently and at their own pace. If the process isn’t allowed to play out to its conclusion – that of accepting the reality of the situation – it can have detrimental effects on a person’s spiritual, emotional, and physical health.

We’d encourage you to be patient, empathise with your husband, and approach this as an opportunity to love him through a difficult time – which will in turn nurture and strengthen the bonds of your marriage.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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