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Canine custody keeps former spouses in doghouse

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My boyfriend and his ex-wife (currently divorcing) still have a lot of contact because they share two dogs that go between houses.

Every time they talk/exchange dogs, it turns into a fight.

He still has a lot of anger toward her, and despite how much he says that he is happier now, he can't seem to move past his own anger.

I am starting to think that he enjoys all the fighting and drama. His goal seems to be to get back at her, not move on.

I see a forever-future with him, but I don't know how to help him get over all the hostility.

-- Worried

 

Dear Worried: Your boyfriend is divorcing (but not yet divorced). Because he still seems so anchored to his ex-wife, you should consider the possibility that it is too soon for him (and you) to be engaged in a serious relationship. This is not because it is morally "wrong" to date when you are not yet divorced, but because in this case, this not-yet-divorced man is still in an active relationship with his ex. He is still "biting the hook," in that he is triggered and perhaps also seeking conflict.

His hostility is his responsibility, and he needs to want to relinquish it in order to find effective ways to release it. Compassionate professional counseling would help him.

The two of them could also look for ways to ease the tension when exchanging custody of their animals (thank goodness they don't have children). One obvious idea is to enlist a patient mutual friend to agree to temporarily be the drop-off point for the animals, so that these two bickering humans never actually physically encounter one another (although people can still find other ways to do battle).

If the dogs are together and seem to do well at each home, another idea is to make the custody period longer (say a month at each house) in order to simply cut down on the number of personal encounters these two humans have.

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