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Ask Amy: New dog creates new problems in the family

Amy Dickinson
Tribune Content Agency
The Providence Journal

Dear Amy,

My wife and I have been married for over 20 years and have three boys at home.

We recently adopted a three-year-old rescue dog after our previous dog died.

This might seem like a silly question, but my wife is annoyed because sometimes at dinnertime, I will ask whether or not our new dog has been fed.

Initially (unbeknownst to me) she assumed the job of dog feeder and says that others (me) checking to see if the dog has been fed is insulting.

Feeding our previous dog was generally a shared responsibility, so asking whether he was fed was relatively common.

We have other animals for whom inquiries about their feeding status are not insulting.

My wife wants me to stop asking, or to take over all feeding of the new dog.

I have agreed to try to stop asking, but, realistically, it will probably slip my mind (the dog is huge and skinny).

This really isn't a terribly big issue, but I am bewildered by it.

Any thoughts?

— Confused Husband

Just spit-balling here, but I'm going to take a stab at what might be going on.

When you ask, "Has the dog been fed?" This is what your wife hears: "Why haven't YOU fed the dog?"

Her interior monologue then goes something like this: "Of course I fed the dog, because I do everything around here. I feed the kids, the other animals, you, the neighbors, my folks, my co-workers. ... I'm quite the feeding machine, in fact. So don't you waltz in here and ask if I fed the dog, because you know damn well that I did. Oh, and by the way, did we really have to get a HUGE dog who, have you noticed, is an eating machine?"

Your family's life has changed since your last dog died: A pandemic came along and forced the kids out of school and (I assume) you and your wife into an entirely different home environment. Although I have read (and seen) that the extended home-time has brought many previously less-involved men into the domestic fold, it has also tripled the work for many women. So this really is NOT a trivial issue.

Sit with your wife privately. Look into her eyes. Hold her hand. Ask her if this dog's presence has put her over the edge. Don't merely offer to, but (yes) DO take total responsibility for the dog's feeding and care. Total responsibility. You will then be in charge of assigning various dog-related jobs to your three sons. Your wife's only responsibility concerning the dog should be to pet him and to coax him off the couch.

Pastor’s wife fears return to church

Dear Amy,

My husband is a pastor of a church. We are about to officially reopen for services after being closed for months during COVID-19.

As I’m the pastor's wife, my husband wants me to go to church. I don't want to.

I see he is very careless about social distancing, especially when he runs into people from the church. They are also careless.

I tell him that they need to social distance and have no physical contact, but I always end up being the bad person.

Just seeing them act this way makes me anxious. That is the reason I don't want to go. This is causing lots of problems in my marriage. I don't know what to do.

— Pastor's Wife

I just attended reopening training for my own house of worship, and the training was extremely specific and very strict. Churches are considered to be potential hot spots for the spread of COVID, and your husband has a duty to his congregation to adhere to mask-wearing, social distancing and disinfecting guidelines.

Your own denomination should have guidelines, and your husband's inability (or refusal) to understand and adhere to them is irresponsible, to say the least.

I do think it is possible for you to attend and to stay safe (keep your distance, wear a mask, don't sing, don't share printed material, pass the collection plate, or "pass the peace," etc.), but if you don't want to attend, then you absolutely should not.

These guidelines are for everyone's safety. And remember — this, too, shall pass.

’Bratty’ children are bossy about safety

Dear Amy,

"Upset" was concerned that her parents weren't respecting CDC guidelines concerning COVID. She wanted to control them from 3,000 miles away!

What is it with this generation of controlling, bratty adult children?

— Disgusted

These adult children are anxious, and they don't know how to let go. Who raised these "brats," anyway?

Write to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068, or emailaskamy@amydickinson.com.