Honor Each Other’s Life Dreams
In strong and vibrant marriages, mates honor one another’s life dreams. Life dreams are much more than personal whims. Life dreams go to the core of your being and reflect an essential part of who God created you to be. When your life dreams are regarded as “silly” or “foolish” by your spouse, you feel rejected, devalued and diminished. It bears repeating: in vibrant marriages that will last a lifetime, mates honor one another’s life dreams.
Nevertheless, God must have a quirky sense of humor, because people often marry someone whose life dreams conflict with their own. For example, the free spirit, who enjoys the unexpected and the unknown just because they exist, will marry someone who is consistent and grounded and prefers well-developed and organized plans and structure over spontaneity. The masters of marriage understand that life dreams are not wrong or right, just different. Marriage masters regularly dialogue about their different life dreams, seeking to understand their spouse. They are intentional about creating ways to make each other’s life dream come true. In this way each partner embraces the whole of their spouse so that each one feels honored and cherished for becoming the person God created him or her to be.
Consider these five points about honoring one another’s dreams:
- Conduct a searching personal self-assessment. Have you been guilty of quenching your partner’s life dream? You will know you may be guilty of this if you and your spouse have the same argument repeatedly with no satisfactory resolution. If this is you, return to the Thrive in 5 post about perpetual problems. Then repent, ask for forgiveness and listen to your mate’s heart with sincere curiosity and without judgment.
- Risk vulnerability. Sharing your life dreams with your spouse can feel dangerous, especially if your dreams have been called “silly” or “foolish” in the past. If you and your spouse are committed to deepening your love so that you have a vibrant marriage that lasts a lifetime, each of you may take the brave step of vulnerability and share your heart with one another. Remember that life dreams represent one aspect of how God created you and your spouse.
- Children have life dreams too. If you have teenagers or adult children, be curious about their life dreams. Okay, so “being a rock star” may not be high on your priority list, but what is underneath that desire for your child — a love of music or perhaps the desire to be someone important to others? Our dreams can and do mature as we grow.
- Identify your “family life dreams.” Consider how you would answer this question: “We are a family that/who…” What comes to your mind immediately? As marriage partners or as a family, try answering that question five times, perhaps by each person offering a response, and then the next family member and so on; answer without negative comments from others in the family circle. You will be surprised by what you hear. Where are the similarities and the differences?
- Take small steps. We typically think of life dreams as big and future oriented — they are called “dreams” after all. But with a little creativity and consideration, you can anchor your life dreams by finding steppingstones to move toward them. Your mate may never have an opportunity to climb Mt. Everest, but what about a climbing wall in a local community? Or joining your partner to become physically fit enough to tackle a more challenging hike in a forest? Think small! Small steps may pay big dividends in terms of your marital and family intimacy.
To learn more about helping people in need, see the following resources:
- Review this short YouTube clip by Julie Gottman and Life Dreams.
- Use the Speaker – Listener technique to deepen your understanding of your spouse’s life dreams.
- See Focus on the Family’s article on Raising Dream Chasers.
- Listen to this brief Ted Talk [given by a 9 year old] on the value of supporting your child’s dream.
Relational contributor: Dr. Toddy Holeman, chair, Department of Counseling and Pastoral Care at Asbury Theological Seminary
Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus
Curator of content: Dave Higle