How My Marriage Ended in a Dog Fight

Cheyenne – “The Culprit”

It all began when my husband and I were trying to decide how to deal with a problem our dog was having at night—barking and whining. We started out discussing the matter and ended with a full-blown “dog fight.”

My husband felt disrespected that I would not listen to his suggestions.

I felt devalued because the dog seemed more important to him than I was/am.

Days passed and the “dog issue” wasn’t getting resolved, so we tried to figure out what to do next. Again, our small, minor issue degenerated into an angry war of words with battle-scared feelings. This time we would not get over it so quickly. This time we would retreat to our corners.

Days and weeks passed and the “dog situation” was not improving. Our nerves were shot. Our bitterness was blackening. And now we were snapping at each other over “non-dog matters.”

In an effort to avoid making the situation worse, we quit talking about it. But like all good dogs with a bone, we couldn’t resist the urge to dig it back up and gnaw on it a bit more.

Before we knew it, we were unable to even say a kind word to each other—dog or no dog.

I resorted to a “dog eat dog” attitude.

He resorted to sleeping in the “dog house.”

Finally, this well-worn dog path led to the door of a divorce lawyer. We wanted this madness to end with what seemed like the only logical, reasonable, compassionate solution.

Allow me to back up here for a moment. This isn’t a true story—at least not in totality.

Yes, it’s true that my husband and I fought over a “dog problem.” But no, we are not divorcing. We did argue a couple of times over this, but we did not let it linger as I suggested above. I just wanted to play out this scenario in an effort to somewhat demonstrate how a small, insignificant issue can become the demise of anyone’s marriage.

I’ve noticed over the many years of my marriage that it’s very often the little issues that trip us up more than the bigger ones. For some reason, we turn toward each other and God more when the challenge is greater, than when we feel like “Okay, we’ve got this.”

There’s an odd little verse in Song of Solomon, “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” (2:15 NLT)

I think there’s a profound truth here that’s often overlooked …

Small things matter … especially in marriage.

Simply replace “those little foxes” with “that irritating dog,” and you’ve got the perfect ingredient for the eventual destruction of a marriage.

We need to learn to guard our words, our attitudes, our thoughts, our hearts in marriage, because there’s no such thing as a small or insignificant fight or issue.

If you aren’t already dealing with any bitterness that might be developing in your heart over the years of multiplied small issues—and perhaps a few big ones in between—then consider yourself warned! 

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  • Heather

    We do become very terrier-like when we are in a negative place. Hopefully your ‘dog days’ are over and poor Cheyenne is okay too. Very entertaining article and very on point too. We all need to emulate and turn to the true ‘pack leader’ of our lives, God.

  • Donna Bragdon

    Excellent article – another winner! Thanks, Beth!

  • messymarriage

    Actually, we found a great solution for her that we both (or all three of us) can live with! But getting there was a bit of a rocky road. You are so right, though, about following our “pack leader” – God. It makes all the difference!

  • messymarriage

    Thank you so much, Donna, for encouraging me. It always means a lot! Hugs*

  • Ro elliott

    you did a wonderful job here…I love the whole dog analogy…so true…bone to pick…how we keep digging up those unresolved issues…yes little things…be faithful with the small things…then we will be faithful with the big things…works in our marriages too…great post…blessings

  • Kimberly

    HAHA! This is THE BEST!
    poor doggy. and they say people with pets have LESS stress and anxiety (but I don’t agree, so we have/never will have one) At least we are in agreement on this. It’s really a hard one because there’s no compromise, really. You can’t “kind of” have a dog. I wanted a $120 coffee maker. Tony wanted a $12 coffee maker. We could compromise in the middle somewhere. But with an animal, someone just has to suck it up.

  • This is an excellent truth that you’ve brought to the light. It is true in any relationship…even in friendships…

  • messymarriage

    Thanks for stopping by and encouraging, Ro! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    You are very, very smart, Kimberly. Lesson number 1 in not having a messy marriage – don’t get a pet! 😉 Thanks for coming by and encouraging me!

  • messymarriage

    You’re right, kd. So many aspects of life are changed for the better or the worse by “small things” done over time. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Diane Tolley

    Oh, so true! You are so right. The large things turn us to each other and to God. The small things tear us apart. Beautifully written. Wonderful imagery. (And I loved all of the ‘dog’ references!) Thank you for sharing on NOBH!

  • Whew. You had me worried for a minute there. ha.

    Small things matter. Yes! My husband and I currently have a topic we either discuss and disagree on, or just don’t discuss at all. We need to get it resolved. I’m encouraged even more to do that now.

  • soulstops

    Your scenario had the scent of doggone truth about it…what a great reminder to not gnaw on those bones, but to deal quickly with those little foxes…great post, Beth 🙂

  • Kim Hall

    Just love the wisdom you share!

    You are spot on that the little things can grow and take on lives of their own. I heard a speaker once who called this behavior “stacking”, as she compared holding on to the little annoyances to blocks we stacked onward and upward, until one day they came crashing down.

    Instead, if we handle each block, address it, and put it away where it belongs, we won’t build that teetering tower of grudges that will have the power to bury our relationship.

  • Thanks for sharing this, I was not aware of that verse from Songs of Solomon, always nice to be pointed to an unfamiliar text.

  • messymarriage

    Yeah, it’s a verse that I’m sure isn’t quoted very often, but I think has deep meaning. Thanks for coming by!

  • messymarriage

    Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me, Diane!

  • messymarriage

    Ha! I guess someone had to fall for my plot twist! 🙂 And I hope you were able to discuss that matter with your husband without much trouble. The little things really do matter! 🙂

  • messymarriage

    A woman after my own heart–using “dog” humor! Thanks for stopping by and encouraging me, Dolly!

  • messymarriage

    I like that imagery – “stacking.” I think that’s very true as well. It all accumulates and like you said, “buries the relationship.” Thanks so much for stopping by, Kim!