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The 'Tick-on-a-Dog' Syndrome The “Tick-on-a-Dog” Syndrome
    by Norman Bales

    In his book, The Marriage Builder, Dr. Larry Crabb introduced the concept of the “tick-on-a-dog” relationship. A tick contributes nothing to the health of the dog, but expects the dog to provide its life support.

    Many people enter into marriage with similar expectations. Why does a man get married? He’s usually aware of the fact that he has certain needs. He may expect his wife to cook his food, wash his clothes, clean the house, mend his socks, and give birth to his children. He may have other unspoken expectations. Perhaps he wants her to stroke his ego, share mutual interests and make herself available to fulfill any request he makes.

    Why does a woman marry? She may expect her husband to be the family breadwinner. She may count on him to contribute intimacy, understanding, and warmth. She may desire to communicate her deepest feelings and expect him to pay rapt attention to every word. In fact she may feel he should know exactly what she means even if she never verbalizes her thoughts. “He just ought to know.”

You end up with two ticks and no dog.
    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover the fact that you end up with two ticks and no dog. To be quite honest, when I got married, I gave very little thought to what I might contribute to the relationship with Ann. I think I was probably looking for someone who could fulfill all my unmet needs. It never dawned on me that my partner was probably looking for the very same thing.

    If you’re looking for some person to meet all your needs, be prepared to search from one end of the earth for a lifetime and be prepared to be disappointed because that person does not exist.

    Our needs are met in Christ. Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). That statement is given without contingency or qualification. All your legitimate needs will be met. When you seek the kingdom first, you are more interested in serving than being served. The servant attitude is a much better approach to marriage than the “tick-on-a-dog” syndrome.

 
From Norman Bales' "All About Families" web site. See http://www.allaboutfamilies.org for more great articles.

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Title: "The 'Tick-on-a-Dog' Syndrome"
Author: Norman Bales
Publication Date: April 27, 2000

 

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Article © 1999, Norman Bales. Used by permission.
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