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My spouse and I have been together for almost a decade now. For most of that time, we've had a really strong relationship. We got together because we both shared a love of the outdoors, and we've had a lot of adventures together over the years. We even hiked over 2000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail together, living together in a tent for almost half a year while we hiked the distance. At the time I thought that if we could do that and still like one another, we were really partners for life.

Fast-forward to the present: We decided to have a baby. I am happy with this decision, my partner isn't so much, but she is trying to adjust. I should also add that my partner came out as transgender a little over a year ago, and is in the process of transitioning from male to female. Surprising as it may be to a lot of people, the transgender thing has not been a huge breaking-point issue with us. Our sex life has suffered since my spouse started hormone therapy, but then again maybe it would be more accurate to say that our sex life has suffered because we have a baby to take care of. Comes with the territory.

My partner and I have agreed that we will only have one child. I am okay with this decision, although in another reality, one in which I was married to somebody who really liked kids, I could certainly have been talked into having another one. This is the marriage I'm in, though, and this is the decision we have reached as a couple.

Here's the other thing. The thing that may mean the end of our marriage. I am a dog person, and my partner is not. I grew up with dogs, but when we started dating I didn't have a pet of my own. At the time my family's dogs were still alive and I felt a sort of loyalty to them, even though they lived with my parents and not me. At the time I was also doing a lot of field work that involved being gone for long stretches of time. So having a dog of my own wasn't really an option. Maybe if I had one, my partner and I never would have gotten together in the first place. It's hard to say.

Several years into our relationship, my partner and I were looking for a less mobile lifestyle. We started grad school and I said I wanted to get a dog. My partner went along with the idea. She had never had a dog before.

I thought our life with a dog was a pretty good one. The dog was already full-grown when we adopted it and almost never barked. It was well-behaved, but I still took it to classes. It was my dog and I didn't expect my partner to take care of it. We actually managed to incorporate it really well into our camping and backpacking lifestyle. I was happy. My partner was entertained by the dog on occasion, but she always felt neutral about it at best. Dog hair was occasionally an issue, but I tried to keep it under control. I was interested in two dogs, but my partner was very certain about not wanting that, so I agreed to just have the one.

Right around the time we had our baby, my dog was diagnosed with nasal cancer. It was a difficult time. My spouse found it difficult to adjust to the responsibilities of parenthood, and she was frustrated by the dog's health problems. For a while my dog was on some medication that made it have to pee a lot, and there were a few accidents in the house. I cleaned them up and tried to minimize the mess. When that medication was no longer in use my dog started to have nosebleeds as a result of the cancer. I cleaned up a lot of messes there, too. The vet bills weren't inexpensive, but my grandmother had given me a fair amount of money, and that covered a lot of the cost. All through this time I took care of my dog and never assumed that my partner should help out. It was our agreement -- my dog, my responsibility. And I was happy with that.

A few days ago I finally had to put my dog down, and that was incredibly difficult for me to do. I am willing to wait a year or so to get another dog, in part because of finances and in part because our baby isn't quite a year old yet and has no manners around animals. But nothing is the same without a dog. I miss having a pup to take on walks and camping trips. My partner and I were happy together, just the two of us, for several years, but I wouldn't choose that lifestyle moving forward. I like having a dog and a kid. They make home seem less empty. Also, I want my kid to grow up with at least one animal. It was an important part of my own growing up, for many reasons, and I want share those experiences with him.

Today I asked my partner what her thoughts were about getting another dog -- not right away necessarily, but in the coming year or so. She indicated that the last six months of having a sick dog were part of the reason why she has been depressed, and said that she didn't want to go through that again. She indicated that another dog might be a breaking point for us, and said that, at best, if I asked her for an opinion on the topic six months from now, maybe she will have forgotten some of the difficult things.

Honestly? I don't think her opinion is going to change in six months. Yeah I will wait to bring it up again, maybe volunteer at the animal shelter for a while. But as much as I love my partner, I think this is a breaking point issue for me as well. I can compromise on how many dogs we have, but having a dog in my life is really important to me. If mess is an issue I can try to do better next time around, but I think I was pretty responsible about cleaning and upkeep with my last dog, and it's impossible to promise that there will be no messes ever. Especially as pets get old, messes can happen. Financially, I'm willing to take responsibility for another dog by myself. I also kinda feel like it's a fair balance, because my partner is planning to get sexual reassignment surgery in the next five or ten years, and I think that is going to cost something like $20,000. I don't want to shove the transgender thing in her face or use it as a bargaining chip, but I have had to adjust my concept of our relationship a LOT. And there will be a lot of adjustment in the future for me as she completes her transition. Surely in the scope of all this, a dog is not an unreasonable request?

In the end it comes down to the question: What is each of us willing to live with? I am willing to live with a transgender partner, but having a kid and a dog are integral to the kind of life I want. It kills me to think that I may be choosing a pet over our marriage, especially when we have made it almost ten years together. But I don't think I can stay with her if I have to conform to her pet-free lifestyle, which to me feels rather spartan.

Any advice, anybody???
 

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$20K sounds low for reassignment surgery. I'm finding estimates in the $50K range.

Who is going to foot the bill of your partner's sex re-assignment surgery? You will be responsible for that cost as much as your spouse will be.

Your spouse does not want the hassle of a dog, but expects that you will take on the enormous issues and costs related to sex reassignment?

It sounds to me like you are married to a selfish person. pick the dog.
 

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Put your partner in the trunk of a car for one hour.
Put your dog in the trunk of a car for one hour.

When you come back and open the trunk guess who will happy to see you?
 
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