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My wife's "sick love" for animals is damaging our marriage


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Old 21st February 2018, 8:14 AM   #1
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My wife's "sick love" for animals is damaging our marriage

Don't get me wrong - I love animals! Since I was a kid I actually enjoyed the company of animals over people. (dogs are more fun to hang out with)

My wife, on the other hand, is obsessed, specially when it comes to abandoned animals, stray dogs/cats, etc...
I knew she loved animals when we were friends, but only after we started living together I had really seen how much deeper this was.

4 years ago, we got our first pet, a puppy, cuttest little thing, we lived in an apartment.
Then we got a cat (adopted from the shelter).

I have talked to her, then: "Well...I think we should probably stop rescuing animals for the moment". She agreed.
Then we got another puppy (again, rescued).

At this point I have talked to her and said "Ok, I love all of our pets, but I believe this is enough, we can't get any more pets". She agreed.

A few months later, a friend of her asked if we could shelter a stray cat until he was ready for adoption (really small, probably about 30 days old) that was abandoned - some jerks threw him at a backyard of a house which owners have 2 pit bulls, so the jerks' idea was to get rid of the poor guy by throwing him out to the dogs.

I have asked her:

-Is it really going to be temporary? We are really giving the cat for adoption, right?
-Yes, I promise!

Ok...we couldn't find the cat a home, so we ended up staying with him. Ok, I got used to it, the cat is fine, didn't bother anyone.

Once again, I talked to her: "No more pets. No more temporary sheltering abandoned animals. We have already pushed too much.". This time I was stricter, I tried to sound that enough was enough and I was not going to accept any more pets.

She got mad at me, saying I was limiting her, and she had the right to bring animals at the house if she wanted to. This arguing went out for an hour and she gave up.

And then we come to the last pet...

We had traveled to visit my relatives a weekend, my wife was driving. When we were passing through a small town, all of a sudden she screamed "Oh my god!!" and pulled over the car.
I was like "What's going on???".
Then I saw her getting out of the car and coming back with a dog on her arms.

The dog was abandoned at the road and was probably starving for a week or so, it was a mess...
Once again, she promised - "We're just taking care of him, we'll give him for adoption, I promise!"

We took him home, took care of him and he became healthy.

Ok, time to give him up for adoption? Nope, my wife refused, claiming she fell in love with it and couldn't let him go.
I was mad, I yelled at her, saying "I knew this was going to happen!", she lied to me and she was crazy.

Now let's sum it up: we had 3 dogs, 2 cats. And we lived in an apartment.

It became unbearable, we moved to a house.

The house had more space for the animals - and for us.
Problem is the last dog is still not neutered and pees everywhere. (solving this soon...)

-------------------------

I can live with this amount of animals, I do love them, but I'm worried my wife is one of those "hoarders", only with animals.

She does go to the therapist, and has abandonment issues with her mother (and entire family, actually), and her therapist has linked this to her "sick love" for animals.

I have said to her I couldn't take one more pet, and she hasn't asked for any more yet, however she still cries and feels sad whenever she sees an abandoned cat or dog on the streets.
She joined a few Facebook groups that share posts of animals for adoptions to help them get a home, but whenever she sees their picture, she feels sad, cries and say "I feel guilty for not taking then, when I could give them a home!"
I try to reason saying "We won't be able to provide a good life for any of our pets if we keep bringing more, let's focus on getting a good life for the ones we have."

I feel she will get another pet sooner or later. And this will end up with our divorce.
I love her so much, all the things we accomplished together, the life we're living...but I won't be able to take this situation anymore.

She does understand where this feeling comes from (abandonment issues), yet she seems to use it as an excuse to behave like this. ("You should feel compassion for me, I have abandonment issues and that's why I do those things")

I don't want to give up on her, she's done so much for me, we share a loving home, we rarely argue over stuff. But if we get one more animal, I'll break my nerves down.

Am I selfish?

Last edited by kenji_t; 21st February 2018 at 8:16 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 21st February 2018, 8:37 AM   #2
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No, you are not selfish. I love dogs and would save mine before anyone else I know if the house was burning down.

But I don’t want to turn my home into a shelter. Is it possible she can channel this energy into volunteering?

Ultimatums, no matter how reasonable, never go over well.

I would recommend counseling and being open that you love her but will not stay if she gets another pet.
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Old 21st February 2018, 8:39 AM   #3
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You are not selfish. You are realistic. Your wife is over the top. I doubt logic would work but do the math on what these animals costs & look up your local ordinances on how many domestic pets you can legally have. I think you may be approaching the limits.
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Old 21st February 2018, 8:48 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by SevenCity View Post
Is it possible she can channel this energy into volunteering?
Thank you for your response!

She has already volunteered at an animal protection group in our city, but it was making her worse.

Seeing animals suffering and without people wanting to adopt them made her feel even worse.

Her therapist has mentioned it's best for her to avoid these types of environments (including FB Groups that she's already not following like she did in the past)
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Old 21st February 2018, 8:54 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by d0nnivain View Post
You are not selfish. You are realistic. Your wife is over the top. I doubt logic would work but do the math on what these animals costs & look up your local ordinances on how many domestic pets you can legally have. I think you may be approaching the limits.
At our city we don't have a legal limit for how many pets we can have at a household.

Money is really not a problem as the pets don't spend too much (they are all tagged and vaccinated as well).

I take them as my responsibility as well, would never let them suffer.

(it was unbearable at the apartment, though, that's why we moved)

Last edited by kenji_t; 21st February 2018 at 8:55 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 21st February 2018, 9:05 AM   #6
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Glad to hear she's in therapy.

On some levels I understand her compulsion. It's why I don't foster. I know I'd flunk & keep the dog.
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Old 21st February 2018, 9:09 AM   #7
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Oh wow, I can identify with your wife! I, too, am involved in animal rescue, a specific breed organization, and am on FB groups to share those in need as well. We currently have 3 dogs, 2 of which were brought in as fosters, and we failed and kept them. I cry a lot because I can't help more. There is a fine line in helping and becoming overwhelmed. Sometimes I take a break and hide pages so I don't have to see. I would not say she is a hoarder, but her heart is with the animals. There are a lot of people out there like her. I had no idea until becoming involved. I don't take more in because I am at my personal limit with pets, knowing what I have time for and can afford. Perhaps she can find other ways. Continue to share on FB, help out at adoption events, do some transports within a reasonable drive. All of that is needed aside from taking them into your home permanently. She could even join a rescue group and work on the sidelines as as I do. They know I can't take any in, but I do a lot otherwise.

Abandonment issues could definitely play into her problem, I found solace in anaimals after having been hurt by people. But, one learns to pull up the boot straps and go on. Perhaps she can make some friends doing the things I mentioned above, and she will feel she has a place to belong. So many animals are abused, it is horrible out there. Thank God for people who try to help.
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Old 21st February 2018, 11:04 AM   #8
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I do a lot of volunteer work with a rescue group for birds and one for rabbits. one thing both have in common, even more so than space, is a need for funding.

Could you suggest to your wife that she put her love for animals and desire to help them to work in helping to fundraise? That way, instead of just helping one dog or cat, she would be helping lots of them?
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Old 21st February 2018, 11:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by kenji_t View Post
Money is really not a problem as the pets don't spend too much (they are all tagged and vaccinated as well).
Then you may need to do the math too. On average it costs about $1,000 per animal each year. The costs of their food, vet care, toys, shots, licenses etc. add up. You have 5 animals. That is $5,000 per year.
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Old 21st February 2018, 11:58 AM   #10
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Does she eat animals? If so get her to watch some of those food industry videos to divert her love of animals elsewhere.

And if she's vegetarian have her check out what happens to dairy cows.
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Old 21st February 2018, 12:08 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by amaysngrace View Post
Does she eat animals? If so get her to watch some of those food industry videos to divert her love of animals elsewhere.

And if she's vegetarian have her check out what happens to dairy cows.

Don't do it, Kenji. You'll wind up with a rescue calf in the pasture like I have.


Although I'm still plotting to fill my freezer this fall, if I think I can get away with it.
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Old 21st February 2018, 12:11 PM   #12
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Oh wow, I can identify with your wife! I, too, am involved in animal rescue, a specific breed organization, and am on FB groups to share those in need as well. We currently have 3 dogs, 2 of which were brought in as fosters, and we failed and kept them. I cry a lot because I can't help more. There is a fine line in helping and becoming overwhelmed. Sometimes I take a break and hide pages so I don't have to see. I would not say she is a hoarder, but her heart is with the animals. There are a lot of people out there like her. I had no idea until becoming involved. I don't take more in because I am at my personal limit with pets, knowing what I have time for and can afford. Perhaps she can find other ways. Continue to share on FB, help out at adoption events, do some transports within a reasonable drive. All of that is needed aside from taking them into your home permanently. She could even join a rescue group and work on the sidelines as as I do. They know I can't take any in, but I do a lot otherwise.

Abandonment issues could definitely play into her problem, I found solace in anaimals after having been hurt by people. But, one learns to pull up the boot straps and go on. Perhaps she can make some friends doing the things I mentioned above, and she will feel she has a place to belong. So many animals are abused, it is horrible out there. Thank God for people who try to help.
Thank you for writing.

As I mentioned earlier on the thread, her therapist advised her to stay away of environments that would trigger her 'animal love instinct'.

In our location, shelters don't really exist. We have public zoonotic control centers, but they are not shelters, they just euthanize the animals that don't get adopted in X time (not sure how much time).

Shelters here are just homes of people who volunteer to take stray dogs/cats from the streets and look for people willing to adopt them.
I don't need to say the majority of those animals end up living on this kind of shelters until they die or until the shelter gets shut down by local authorities who will euthanize them later.

This is the complicated part. It makes sense what you're saying - instead of taking them home, help taking care of them on the shelter.
The big problem is the tragic situation they currently are.

My wife used to volunteer, but it was making her feel worse because she wanted to take all of the animals home and could not. It ended up with her having insomnia and her therapist suggesting her to move away from those places.

It's sad..
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Old 21st February 2018, 12:12 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by wmacbride View Post
I do a lot of volunteer work with a rescue group for birds and one for rabbits. one thing both have in common, even more so than space, is a need for funding.

Could you suggest to your wife that she put her love for animals and desire to help them to work in helping to fundraise? That way, instead of just helping one dog or cat, she would be helping lots of them?
Thank you for writing.

Please read my previous response to the post, I explained why she does not do volunteer work anymore.

Your idea makes perfect sense, though.
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Old 21st February 2018, 12:15 PM   #14
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Then you may need to do the math too. On average it costs about $1,000 per animal each year. The costs of their food, vet care, toys, shots, licenses etc. add up. You have 5 animals. That is $5,000 per year.
I know they have monthly expenses, what I mentioned is that "we can afford them".

We're being able to take care of them and still saving plenty of money, so this is not what worries me.

What worries me is if she ends up like an animal hoarder, that's what I'm afraid.
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Old 21st February 2018, 12:16 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by amaysngrace View Post
Does she eat animals? If so get her to watch some of those food industry videos to divert her love of animals elsewhere.

And if she's vegetarian have her check out what happens to dairy cows.
I'm not jumping in this rabbit hole
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