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Doggie visitor on regular basis

  • 15-08-2021 12:25pm
    Registered Users Posts: 208 ✭✭ ElizaBennett

    Hi there, would really appreciate some outside perspective on this. I'm basically asking if I'm being unreasonable or if I need to lighten up, or if I do indeed have a point.

    My partner has a daughter who is 10 who he shares access with his ex wife. She's with her Mum the majority of the time and in our house one night most weeks (2 nights on one weekend per month) with usually two full days on either side of the sleepover - especially during summer holidays. She was diagnosed as autistic about a year ago and this has made a lot of sense of her challenging behaviours over the years as long as i've known her. I think partner and ex were a bit slow to getting the diagnosis - I did my best to prompt an assessment as I have 2 kids and more experience of what behaviour is typical etc but at least they eventually got expert help and this has contributed to everyone's understanding of why she is the way she is. She's having a lot of intervention now to help her with anger management, coping strategies, avoiding meltdowns etc.

    A few weeks ago ex- wife and daughter got a new puppy. The mum works from home so it makes sense and it's actually a fabulous idea for the daughter as she'll learn to take care of something else and it'll be great company and just a lovely thing to have a dog. My issue is, it never occurred to me (or I presume anyone else, though I don't know..) that she would be unwilling to go anywhere without the dog now, incuding on overnight visits to our house. She's only had the dog for a few weeks and for the first while she wasn't allowed anywhere as she'd had her shots etc so it hasn't been a huge problem yet. My partner goes to their house to take care of her on his days each week (weekdays the mum goes into the office to give everyone space.) It's been okay but obviously not ideal. He wants his daughter in his own house. But I don't want a dog. If I wanted a dog, I'd have one already. we are a cat house and my two kids absolutely adore the cat and don't want her to be upset with a dog in the house. Tbh I'm afriad to even tell them this might be a regular thing as they'd be really really upset and annoyed. My kids are 18 and 24 but my son is autistic himself and very regimented in his thinking and won't tolerate upheaval / mess / chaos etc (part of the reason he likes cats and not dogs.) He's moving to the UK in a month so that's not such a huge problem but I'm just mentioning it because I want to make the point that I have a home which my partner moved into, we've had a lot of challenges getting used to having him and his daugher here as it is, and now a dog I didn't ask for is being thrown into the mix - with no prior consultation with me. What should I do about this?

    I suggested they come yesterday afternoon for a short visit with the dog to see how it went. It was actually fine, she's a sweet dog and all went well, including a walk. The only real problem was the dirt and mess as it was a very wet day and we're in the countryside. So there was a horrible wet-dog smell in the house and I couldn't allow them anywhere but the kitchen and porch area. My son was very bothered by the smell. I tried to introduce the dog to him and he just told me not to bring it into his room because of the smell. The cat just hid in my room under the bed (as she usually does when anyone but her inner circle is in the house anyway, to be honest.)

    So what would be a compromise here? I feel it would be fair for me to offer visits every few weeks in the day time but I'm really struggling with the idea of overnights. I'm a total control freak, which I freely admit, and I can't bear the idea of dirt and mess and dog hair. - never mind barking and jumping and other chaotic dog behaviour that I didn't sign up for. I'm not motivated to be too flexible here as I'm very annoyed at being taken for granted that I'll just agree to have a doggie visitor every single week for the next ten years. No one has spoken to me properly about it and I want to have a frank discussion with my partner about it but just need some perspective from others on the whole thing. Genuinely, should I just suck it up or is it okay that this upsets me? What would you do?



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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,282 ✭✭✭ mrslancaster

    Could the daughter bring the dog on the first day of the overnight stays, and Dad return it when daughter has gone to bed? This would mean a bit of extra driving for Dad of course but it would take the sting out of having no dog with her when staying with Dad. Daughter would look forward to seeing her little dog when she gets home to mum. Unless you live too far away to work around that.

    Then maybe you could compromise about extra visiting time for the dog when daughter is staying for a longer weekend visit as this is only once a month.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,313 ✭✭✭ the_pen_turner

    i agree its bad form to just thrust this dog on the op . that is a **** thing to do.

    i can see why you are upset OP . you were not asked , it was just assumed.

    i think what BB22 is saying about not cleaning up after the dog and getting the fatehr to do it is only seting up other issues in your home. he is going to see it as him doing everything for his daughter and looking after his daughters dog (which he should mostly). . when it comes to your son and daughter and their needs along with your cat then he is going to see them as your responsibilities.

    looking after the dog an odd time would be well worth it to keep him on side with your families needs. you both need to see everything as a comined set of issues otherwise you will drive a wedge between you

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 5,981 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Hannibal_Smith

    There's nothing wrong in wanting to have a conversation about it. You're right to want to broach the subject. I don't think you're being unreasonable, but you say yourself the one element about having a dog no-one thought about was that the child wouldn't want to go anywhere without it. So it's not as if this was deliberately thrown on you without consideration... No one saw this part coming.

    we've had a lot of challenges getting used to having him and his daugher here as it is

    I get where you're coming from with this. But I think you have to accept that there will be changes to your world brought by the fact that you're bringing another person into it and he has a daughter. It was always going to mean some sort of disruption to the life you've built. Is it possible you feel you've already brought so much to the table and you're getting pushed to take more and more? It doesn't sound though like it's been done to take advantage of you, or to take you for granted. The dog has been a good thing in the daughter's life and this one unforeseen element requires a bit of talk between the adults.

    Just have a think before you say anything - is it the dog you have the problem with or is it the lack of control over the situation?

  • Registered Users Posts: 938 ✭✭✭ bitofabind

    I think YellowLead hit the nail on the head. I haven't read your other posts OP, but my instinct on reading your post was that you don't relate to your partner's child as a part of your family. If you did, you'd probably feel a similar empathy and tolerance that you feel towards your own son, who appears to have the same struggles as this child.

    This is not an ideal situation but IMO this is small change in comparison to the special needs both of these children face. The "cat people Vs dog people" is a mute point, as comfort zones are inevitably pushed and pulled when you are dealing with children with special needs. Compromise is the only way to survive. I'd be looking a bit more closely at what your own rigidity and intolerance represents. Is this really about a puppy potentially causing a bit of disruption in your house once a week at most?

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  • Administrators Posts: 12,096 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    OP, you can send a mail to [email protected] and they might be able to restore your original account.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 NeatFreak

    Thanks! I'll do that. hopefully it's resolved soon but I'll use the temporary account for responding today as I don't like to leave people without thanks when they've gone to the trouble of replying.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 NeatFreak

    OP here,

    Thanks again for the responses. Qwerty13 in particular, you're extremely astute and perceptive and I really appreciate your input. It's not even about not presenting an easy solution, it's just about me feeling understood and your words have done that for me so thank you. Most people here are seeing this dog issue as part of a much wider problem and of course you're right. My partner was away for a couple of days visiting his parents with his daughter and puppy and last night when I closed my bedroom door I got the most overwhelming sense of joy at being alone behind a closed door - something so rare that I absolutely crave - that I'm not sure I want that feeling to end. We have a four bedroom house and the thing that makes me feel quite bitter (when I'm feeling it at my worst) is that I'm the only one in the household who doesn't have a room to themselves to close off and be guaranteed not to be disturbed - the only one who wants such a thing I mean. My partner never wants to be alone and would always chose to be with me. 'Needy' i guess - as qwerty13 points out. Probably the right word.

    Things can seem so black and white for people - and I see it all the time on Boards - and even when it comes to the idea of love and what love is. To me it isn't an absolute. Someone asked earlier if I love him. To me it's about degrees. It's not a black and white issue: not loving him means one thing, loving him means I'm up for everything. But if I'm really honest, I often ask myself if I love him 'enough.' Enough for all the compromise.

    As to me choosing what happens, as Big Bag of Chips mentions, yes of course it should be up to me who lives in my house. That really all comes down to money and how hard it would be for him to afford a place on his own that would be big enough to have his daughter over. Now that she has the dog it couldn't even be an apartment I presume, so he'd need to rent a whole house. There's no point saying that the guilt around this is a factor for me - how could it not be? And it would absolutely break his heart to move out. But I suppose it all comes down to compatibility. He wants to be with me every waking moment that he can be - even after 7 years together. He wants to be in contact all the time, with updates on our every movements and he wants to be standing in the hall to greet me when I come back to the house, whether from a day's work or just the shopping. And yes I've become used to it to a certain extent but it's also incredibly stifling. I speak to him about it and he backs off but it just feels 'fake' - like he's pretending to be something he's not. He'll read upstairs instead of coming down to greet me, but it's not the same when I know he's waiting to come down and hug me. Not the same as knowing someone is off happily working on a hobby or doing their own thing, living their own life. He's kind and helpful and wonderful but he has attached too much importance to our relationship and it defines his life completely and that's a massive responsibility for me. I rarely get to feel alone in my own headspace, let along physically. A tiny example but i wonder what others think of this: if I sit down to watch a TV show he doesn't even like, maybe in the afternoon at the weekend, he'll come and sit with me and comment on the content of the show, just because he wants to be a part of the experience of it with me. He did this last weekend and I pretty much went into meltdown (albeit quiet meltdown) mode on the spot. This happens to me every few months where I just can't deal with it anymore as I have no space of my own and I feel so suffocated.

    In a way I've derailed my own thread by widening things out beyond the dog issue but I suppose it was a final straw type scenario. I'm already stifled and having the hassle and mess and noise of an actual animal added in on top of this is just going to break me. I'll talk to him tonight. I think it's time to have a general discussion about where he sees the future and if he would consider the idea of getting his own place. I want him to know I'm thinking about it as the right move for us, even if he isn't. Thanks again everyone. ElizaB

  • Registered Users Posts: 30,678 ✭✭✭✭ listermint

    What are the actual positives of all of this. I've only read negatives about all of your interactions with your partner and his child.

    I can't tell from any of this but have you considered how the house will be once your children are gone (soon) and if your partner is also gone.

    It may not be as appealing as your mind has seemingly made it when all is said and done .

  • Registered Users Posts: 31 alpha2

    I think that's a good point. My husband is happy to be around me all day every day and never seems to feel the urge to go for a walk on his own just to have some solitude, whereas I need to be alone behind a closed door fairly often just to recharge. Living and WFH in a one-bed apt since March 2020 has been tough and sometimes I long for a week alone. But recently there was a chance his work might take him away for 3 years and facing the idea of years on my own felt very very different to the desperate need for solitude I get from being around someone 24/7. So while I completely understand your feelings, and just reading your posts made me stressed, perhaps you should consider whether you want to risk losing your relationship or maybe there's some way of negotiating a pattern of sharing space that nourishes you as well as him. (Edit for clarity)

  • Registered Users Posts: 208 ✭✭ ElizaBennett

    OP here under original name, thanks for the responses. That's a very interesting point about being careful for what you wish for. No one can really know what such a complete change might really mean. I don't know about 3 years but, in my heart of hearts, I feel certain that if my partner got transferred temporarily at work for maybe 3 to 6 months, I would be over the moon. That's the truth. Yes I would miss him in many ways but my over-riding feeling would be one of huge relief and happiness at the thought of a few months alone. I just wish we could take a break fully for a time period like that. So that I could pretend I never met him or his daughter, that neither of them or his wider family or dog or any of it was a part of my life at all. Just to try that for 3 months to know how I really feel. But life doesn't work like that. Teenagers who are dating can ask for a 'break' and reassess things, or just people in general who are seeing each other but not living together. You can't really ask the person you live with for a break - you can only decide to end things, or stay together, there's no in between, you just don't have those options when you're committed to this level.

    They came back from the grandparents and had had a pretty fraught time as there are already 2 dogs in that house so she was pretty upset with the noise and upheaval herself and actually wanted to go home on the first night but he managed to persuade her to stay. She'll be due here the weekend after this one and I haven't decided what to do. My big compromise was to offer to have them stay during day and go back to hers at night but there was at least one person on here who thought that wasn't enough of a compromise and that the dog should be able to stay over in mine. Basically that I should just do what they want. I'm also being judged for not fully embracing a relationship with her and wanting to hang out with them and take part in all their activities. It can't be both. If they're going to be at my house a lot with the dog - IF i can allow this with my own kids' agreement - then I'm not going to be here as well. There's no point telling me to find common ground and get involved and be the life and soul. It won't happen. I passed myself very well last saturday when they first visited with the dog. I played with the dog a little, asked loads of questions about her, acted really interested and friendly. I let them go on the walk without me though and was very glad when they left to go back to the Mum's. That's the most I can promise to do - and probably only on occasion, not every single week. I came on here to find out if the majority felt that was or wasn't too big an imposition and hoping to hear from some who would get where i'm coming from a little. it's been very useful so thanks for that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 31 alpha2

    OP, I've been thinking again about your posts and I have some further thoughts that I hope will be helpful.

    Firstly, I can identify completely with an almost frantic need for space and quiet and privacy. Sometimes I feel like the Incredible Hulk will burst out of me and start smashing things because I'm so frustrated at not having my own space!

    But last year I trained in mediation and it really helped me to see my behaviour in relation to others. The most important thing I learnt is that we are all responsible for our own boundaries and can't expect others to know them or, if they know them, to do the lifelong work of maintaining them. We each have to maintain our own.

    I wonder if - and I hope you don't mind me saying this - your self-esteem is an issue here. I notice that you cast your partner's desire to be around you all the time as "neediness" - i.e. they the only possible reason he could love being in your company all day is because there's something wrong with him. If you were told that it's not because he's damaged but because you're amazing and fun and great company, would your first reaction be to bat that away and say "oh no, he's just clingy"? Why would you find that hard to accept? (I can of course imagine that with the stress and frustration you feel at present, you don't see yourself as good company!)

    If self-esteem is something you struggle with, maybe that's also an issue in you establishing and sticking to boundaries. Maybe you feel guilty doing that because deep down, you don't feel your self worth is important or valuable enough for others to respect and accomdate your needs.

    You are entitled to space and privacy in your home. But your partner isn't going to realise that you need them unless you clearly articulate exactly what you need. Not just "I need you to leave me alone sometimes" but "I need an evening on my own in the house once a week...can you make plans for Wednesday so you're out and about and I get my space?". Once you've articulated your needs, it's your job to enforce and maintain those boundaries. Not your partner's. Yours. And you are worthy of that work! You owe it to yourself to insist on being treated in a way that makes you feel ok. Calmly and kindly, but insist nonetheless.

    I wish you the very best!

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