June 18, 2018
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Somebody’s gotta get out of bed — husband has to choose me or the dog

Emily Yoffe
By Emily Yoffe, Slate

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I are currently arguing about our sleeping arrangements with the dog. My husband has had his dog for more than 11 years. He is a sweet dog, and I love him dearly. The dog has slept in the bedroom with us since we’ve been together, which was fine with me. The dog was recently diagnosed with cancer in his nose. It is fast growing and causes him to snort and wheeze all night. I have started sleeping in another room. This upsets my husband because he wants us to be together, but he refuses to sleep away from the dog. I need to sleep. Neither of us will budge. Am I being insensitive about the dog? Is it too much to want to sleep with my husband only if the dog doesn’t keep me up all night?

— Rover Roll Over

Dear Rover,

I can certainly see myself potentially facing this dilemma. Our Cavalier King Charles spaniel (yes, I know it’s a ridiculous name for a dog breed) not only sleeps on the bed, she’s in the bed, under the covers, keeping me and my husband one small dog’s length apart. We could be tougher and make her sleep on her own, but that would end up being a great way to listen to her having nightly nervous breakdowns.

It’s sad that your beloved pooch is so sick, but it makes no sense for two humans to suffer through this each night just for the sake of both of you being sleep-deprived zombies together. First of all, your husband should check with the vet to see if there’s something that can make the dog more comfortable and his sleep quieter.

If not, then since the dog’s relationship with your husband predates yours, I think that obligates him to play nursemaid, and it sounds as if he wants to. Tell your husband you admire his dedication to the dog and you miss them both each night, but you simply need to forgo your usual connubial bliss until your dog’s suffering comes to an end.

— Prudie

Dear Prudence,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for six months but have known each other for more than two years. I am black and he is white. This has never been a problem and our parents, families and friends are fully supportive of our relationship. Amazingly, we have had precious few arguments or problems. Until now. In a moment of extreme frustration, my boyfriend used the “N-word” in reference to one of my friends. We were alone so no one else heard the comment. I was stunned, shocked and appalled. I immediately left the room because I was so disturbed. It is a word that neither I nor my family or friends use in any sort of context because I have been raised to view it as incredibly offensive. He came to me and apologized profusely and had tears in his eyes while doing so. I accepted his apology because it was completely out of character for him, but I am now questioning our relationship. What do you think?

— Unspeakable

Dear Unspeakable,

I agree that what your boyfriend did is a gross violation. This word is so verboten that it’s hard to imagine a decent person using it, particularly a white one, in the angry circumstances you describe. (Even if your boyfriend had been discussing the dialogue in “Django Unchained,” he should have stuck with saying “the N-word.” Nor was this an instance of the insider banter that some black people use with each other — because, for one thing, he’s white — and which you’ve pointed out is not acceptable among your friends and family.)

Of course you were shaken and are questioning the relationship. However, you didn’t end it at that moment, which some people might have. It’s significant that you’ve known your boyfriend for two years, you’ve been happy together for six months, and you find this lapse to be totally out of character. He apologized and you accepted.

But that quick dismissal wasn’t enough. You don’t want to be in a relationship in which your partner is on a kind of secret probation, so you need to re-raise this with him. Tell him you were stunned by what he said and you two need to talk more thoroughly about his outburst. Then let him speak. He likely has no real explanation beyond the fact that people sometimes have lapses and do the inexplicable. But he has to be able to acknowledge the depth of his transgression and understand why it’s caused you to question your relationship.

Judge the sincerity of what he has to say and tell him you need to think through how you feel. Then if you decide you do want to go on, it will be a test of how you feel if you can say, and mean, that you fully accept his apology.

– Prudie

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. Questions may be edited.


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