Dear Ann Cannon • Help! My son and daughter-in-law are planning to visit us this summer. My husband and I are eager to see them, but there’s a catch. They’ve asked if they can bring their dog with them. They don’t have children, so their dog is their baby. It’s not that my husband and I don’t like dogs, but it’s been a long time since we’ve owned one. Also, we just spent a lot of money re-carpeting the house. The dog (who lives indoors) is housetrained, but I’m still worried about having it in our home. Does this make me selfish? How do I handle this situation? I don’t want to offend my son and daughter-in-law.
— Doggy Dilemma
Dear Doggy Dilemma • Not wanting a dog to visit the home you’ve just re-carpeted doesn’t make you selfish. If anything, it makes you smart. Dogs can be pretty destructive. And I say this as a lifelong dog lover who currently has two dogs of her own, including one that weighs 120 pounds and drools a lot.
Honestly, I think it’s a little unfair of your kids to have put you in this position, and you’re certainly within your rights to tell them “no,” although I can’t promise they’ll take the news graciously.
MEMO TO DOG OWNERS: Remember! Not everyone loves your dogs as much as you do!
Meanwhile, think about sharing your concerns with your kids, then asking for their help in creating a solution that works for all of you so they have some skin in the game, too. Keeping the dog crated while it’s in your home, for example, might be an option. Or maybe they’ll reconsider — it’s possible they didn’t think before asking — and make other arrangements altogether.
Finally, you need to ask yourself what your bottom line is. Will your kids refuse to visit if you say no? Will they leave sooner if they’ve left their dog at home? Are you OK with those options? If not, then be willing to compromise on your end and check your (possible) resentment at the door.
P.S. I hope you and your kids have a great time together.
Dear Ann Cannon • I am a middle-aged, slightly overweight woman. My husband says he loves me just the way/weigh (ha!) I am, but then he’ll say things that make me wonder if he really is OK with how I look. Like, he’ll ask me if I want to sign up for a gym membership or sometimes he even questions my food choices when we go out to eat. Things like that. I know I’m overly sensitive sometimes — I’ve never liked my body that much, even when I was thinner — but his comments hurt my feelings. Do you have any advice for me?
— Worried About My Weight
Dear Worried • Oh, believe me. I understand why your husband’s comments (even if they’re perfectly innocent) feel hurtful to you. I’m guessing that at some level, most women wrestle with body image issues.
OK. Have you ever actually told your husband that he’s sending you mixed messages and that you even feel a little bit gaslighted as a result? You can also tell him that his “helpful” suggestions aren’t really that helpful. He’ll probably tell you that he doesn’t mean anything by them and that, in fact, he does love you just the way you are. But still. It won’t hurt to kindly call him out.
Meanwhile, make a conscious decision to focus on the things you truly appreciate about your body. My mom recently told me how grateful she is to be mobile. Although I have body image issues, as well, I no longer take my mobility for granted — I even feel grateful to my body (sore knees, bad back and all) for letting me get up and walk through my days. What a gift!