Have you ever wondered how a dog is trained to be an attack dog? Perhaps, at some time you have been to someone’s home or a business that has a sign that says it is protected by a guard dog. Surely, you have seen a movie or show where the main character ventures onto a warehouse property late at night and is chased by menacing and vicious dogs. These dogs are scary. They are mean, they attack, they get mad, they can be quite scary. How do they get that way? It is all in the way you feed and train them.
SEE PRIOR PARTS IN THIS SERIES HERE⤵︎
If you want a dog to be kind and gentle, you treat it with kindness and gentleness from the time they are a new puppy. You feed them regularly. You play with them. You treat them with kindness and loving attention. You give them lots of love, regular belly scratches, take them on walks, and more. When you feed a dog consistently with good food, affection, attention, and devotion, you will produce a well-behaved and kind dog. It is all in the way you feed and care for the dog.
If you want to train a dog to be an attack dog you treat it very differently from the beginning. First, you feed it very inconsistently. You starve it some of the time and when you do provide food you do so randomly and rarely.
Second, you treat it unkindly and without affection. This can be active or passive. You deliberately deprive it of touch, affection, and communication. You don’t talk to this dog, play with this dog, or pet this dog. In short, you starve it of affection and attention.
Finally, if you want an attack dog, you do little things to annoy it. Almost every program to train a guard dog speaks of tapping or jabbing the dog in the nose until it gets so annoyed it attacks you. Little jabs, tiny jabs, minor annoyances continued over a long time.
The same cute and adorable puppy of any breed will become either a loving and tender companion or a vicious attacker depending on how you treat it. The intentional treatment of a dog for good or bad produces the result. You might say, “Oh wow that is such a wonderful dog.” To be sure, this was a dog that was treated consistently well. It was fed well with food and affection and attention.
You might say of another dog, “That dog is so mean and vicious.” To be sure, this is a dog that was not fed food, affection, or attention very well.
The behavior of the dog is predicated on the type of treatment it received over time.
Marriages are the same way. A happy spouse is one that is intentionally fed a steady diet of attention, affection, appreciation, and devoted nurturing. There are plenty of kind words, caring touch, and compassionate communication. There is listening, remembering, encouraging, and intimacy. In short, a happy spouse is one that feels filled and fulfilled because of the attention and caring connection of their companion spouse.
In a marriage to an individual with intimacy anorexic, the story is very different. The anorexic spouse intentionally withholds attention, affection, connection, and intimacy from the companion spouse. She deprives him of remembering, concern, encouragement, praise, recognition, devotion, and any other typical marital attention desired. The anorexic takes away and withholds the types and kinds of love desired by her partner. In short, she intentionally feeds him inconsistently in all the ways he wants to be loved.
Interestingly, in the case of a marriage to an individual with intimacy anorexic, the anorexic is so in denial she does not connect her intentional withholding to the upset of the partner. When her partner gets understandably upset (like any normal person), the intimacy anorexic expresses shock and surprise. As blame is a fundamental characteristic of the pattern of the one with intimacy anorexia, this fuels that behavior. When the companion spouse gets upset, the anorexic focuses on their anger and “misbehavior.”
Dr. Robert Weiss, the foremost expert on intimacy anorexia, has said he has found this pattern of starvation and deprivation of the companion spouse in every case of intimacy anorexia. Additionally, he has observed the high denial of the anorexic in taking any responsibility for the struggles of their companion. For instance, he cites the example of one spouse who did not have any kind of sexual intimacy or physical contact with her husband for months and months who expressed surprise when he became angry.
This is the pattern. The spouse with intimacy anorexia has deprived her partner of any regular attention, affection, appreciation, connection, closeness, and intimacy for so long, their partner has become upset. This upset is as understandable and explainable as the angry attack dog. I am not excusing the companion spouse for any behavior that is wrong or inappropriate.
However, we must ask who is responsible for the aggression of the attack dog? Who trained him?
If are feeling starved of affection, attention, connection, communication, closeness, intimacy, praise, or more in your marriage and are getting quite upset about it, your spouse might have intimacy anorexia. You should seek help. Treatment will involve learning to set boundaries, apply consequences, and to engage in caring for yourself. Your anorexic spouse will be helped to take full responsibility for her behaviors and the effects on them. She will have to take accountability and ownership for her part in creating your upset.
You are and will be accountable for how you act, but she will have to take responsibility and acknowledge her part in creating “the attack dog.”