"Our Dog is Coming Between Us"
His TurnFinding the Right Track
"I am jealous of that dog," says Ted, 26, a tall, handsome man with a quiet manner. "I know it sounds nuts, but Robin always puts the dog's needs ahead of mine. When she gets home at night, she rushes in to kiss Penelope. If we're watching TV on the couch, Penelope wheedles her way between us. And it's absolutely ridiculous to have the dog in bed with us.
"It's hard to believe the marriage could disintegrate so quickly. My own parents had a great relationship, though money was always a problem. My dad, like Robin's was strict. Mom, who worked in a doctor's office, stuck up for me and my younger sister. When we got into mischief, she'd say, 'You shouldn't have done that; don't tell your father.'
"I was a shy kid who hated school. I was good in math and music, but my childhood dream was to be a Marine. When it turned out the Marines rejected me, because of my bad knees, I was devastated. I had no direction for a long time, but I'm finally back in school and plan to be a stockbroker."I Wish I Could Contribute More"
"Robin is right: I drink too much. One Sunday afternoon when I was about sixteen, my dad and I were watching a football game. He said he wanted to prep me for the Marines, and he handed me a drink. I started drinking way more than my parents ever knew. I guess I'm still finding solace in the bottle, but my wife's nagging doesn't help.
"I'm as unhappy as Robin is. She very subtly puts me down, and that grates. I feel bad that my wife is making most of the money. I wish I could contribute more. I want to buy her things, take her on trips.
"For some reasons Penelope has become the focus of most of our arguments. It's not just that we have different styles--what Robin is doing can confuse the dog. Penelope had to stay in the crate at night--otherwise, she'd never learn to separate from us, and she'd destroy the house when we're gone. And you don't feed a dog from the table. Penelope is getting fat, and that's unhealthy. It's not good for us or the dog to lavish attention on her every minute. I just can't figure out how to get out of this mess.