Q. I was hesitant to send a letter due to my question being quite simple compared to some others I’ve read the past few years. But . . . to provide the basics, my boyfriend and I have been together for five years now, and we’re both 29 and own a place together. It was an easy transition, as we discussed the nitty-gritty details beforehand (money, expectations, what would happen if we broke up, etc.). We’ve discussed marriage and kids and see that in our future. We ended up getting a puppy a year into living together. She’s amazing, but requires A LOT of work.
My question is: How do you get out of the mundane routine of everything? I feel like we’re an old couple at the age of 29 with kids (kids being our puppy). We’ve had to change our day-to-day routine 100 percent to ensure she’s well taken care of. We used to go to concerts and dinners, but the necessary daily care for the dog is expensive. When we pick her up after work, we feel bad leaving the house due to not seeing her all day. We now stay home more during the week/weekends to not only save money but to hang out with her. We cook dinners at home, which is nice, but obviously phones are out or we are watching TV.
We absolutely love this dog, and I know that having a puppy will be sort of what it’s like to have a kid (that will be much harder), so it’s great training, I suppose. There just has to be a way to keep the spark alive without becoming bad pet parents. We’ve discussed ways we can do this; one idea is hosting more dinners/game nights at our house. During the summer, it will be easier as there are more dog-friendly things to do outdoors. I’m just curious about what ideas you and the readers have.
A. The weather will make this a lot better. We’re just a few months away from long walks with the dog in scenic, romantic places.
In the meantime, though, I have to wonder whether you can call upon your community the way you might if you had kids. Is there a dog lover in your life who would enjoy a night on the couch with your pet? Do you have relatives who wouldn’t mind checking in on her? It might be good practice for them, too.
Also, you mention that when the two of you are home, phones are out or it’s all about TV. I’m all for watching television as a way to bond, but it’s not a really shared activity if both of you are on your phones. I don’t recommend setting rules about that kind of screen time, but maybe it’s worth having a conversation about leaving distractions in another room.
Some people might say that pets are a good preview of life with kids, but know this: Kids, from my observation, make your life a lot less predictable. Many parents with young children pray for routine and relaxed moments on the couch. Do try to enjoy this calmness — because it won’t last forever.
If you’re home because your dog needs you, but you’re both on your phones, well, A) the dog doesn’t need you, and B) you’re using the dog and the phones to avoid each other, unless C) the dog also has a phone. There is absolutely no reason that a dog requires 24-hour supervision. You are using this as an excuse for other problems in your relationship.
Put your phone down after dinner, turn the TV off, play a game, put some music on, dance, share a bottle of wine. Let loose a little; don’t get caught up in the mundane of the world. Make your own fun.
Don’t have kids. Day care for them is super more expensive.
Go out separately with friends or alone. Then one of you will be with the dog, and you’ll have more to talk about when you get home. Everything in this letter is “we.”
Welcome to life as an old. It’s what you make of it.