The dog story

MC and I were talking last night and he reminded me of something that we thought would be worth sharing. He’s got a lot on his plate this week, so I thought I would share it as it fits our current theme. . .

Before we had children, while living overseas, we took in an abused dog. She was beautiful, so loving to us and instinctively protective. She had it in her genes to be a guard dog, although all we wanted was her to be a member of our family and a running companion. She could only hang out with people who themselves had dogs. She LOVED other dogs and was therefore loving and friendly to their people. For those without dogs, she did not like them AT ALL.

When we had our first child, I was nervous. But, she was very loving and gentle near the baby. When our oldest was a toddler he ran up to our girl, falling into a big hug with her. She snapped at him and barely broke the skin, but did break the skin. We tried to find her a new home, but couldn’t. We called animal rescue organizations back in the US, telling them we would fly her to them, if they would take her. They wouldn’t. Finally, we decided to take her to the vet to put her down. We loved her so very much, but we thought she wasn’t safe for our child at that point.

Do you see where this is going? Just because you love someone doesn’t mean they are safe for you and that you can keep them in your life. So, while the definition of love is very important to our reconciliation, so is the idea of safety. Love is one thing. Safety is another.

Now, just so you know the end of the dog story. . .

We got our girl to the vet and he found she was infested with something similar to yet-to-be hatched from her skin botflies. No wonder the girl was cranky at being hugged. We got her all fixed-up and she came home to us to live a long and happy life with our growing family, never to snap at our family again. She died a few months before d-day. We still miss her.

A parting thought…It is true, MC was never infested with botfly larvae. And, there were certainly moments I wanted to put him down (ha!). The reality is that in addition to reprioritizing his values and his life; learning to think outside of himself; and learning to love truly, as opposed to only loving on a quid-pro-quo basis; MC also had to focus on becoming a safe partner and providing mechanisms of safety not only to protect me and the kids if I chose to attempt reconciliation with him, but even if I chose to divorce.


One thought on “The dog story

  1. We are big advocates of non-transactional love. I’m glad TL told this dog tale. I worry that readers may misunderstand what we mean by non-transactional love. It does not mean you fail to set boundaries. It does not mean you continue in an abusive relationship. And, it does not mean you let someone treat you badly.

    When I talk about non-transactional love, or even unconditional love, I’m not thinking of a prescription for victims of infidelity. I know TL will tell you that transactional love is bad for the betrayed too, because it can lead the betrayed to think it is possible or necessary to earn someone’s love. It is neither possible nor necessary. True love is given, not earned, won, or induced.

    But, I mean it primarily as a prescription for cheaters. Before D-day, I viewed love as transactional. I didn’t recognize it at the time. But, I thought that if TL loved me, she would give me things: sex, validation, etc. Conversely, when I became angry at her for not giving me as much as I wanted — enough was never enough for me — I withheld things from her: compassion, attention, emotional support, etc. This is what I mean when I say that a transactional view of love is a false and sick view of love.

    Now, as we work on reconciliation, I try to love TL without expectation of anything in return. I try to love for love’s sake, not for my sake.


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