Most of us can assume that we have a relatively long and indefinite time to live stretching out ahead of us. We shape it through our daily actions, but we animate it through our dreams.
Hopes and dreams are what we used from childhood to propel us into tomorrow, to give reassurance that tomorrow would be all right, or much more than "just all right". Our dreams are sometimes what got us over a rough past, and can be the hook from heaven that can help us through a difficult today.
Dreams deserve respect, because they're the most personal and intimate part of a person...often hidden from everyone but God. They lift us up; not only the specific aspiration, but everything. They put a more pleasant and hopeful cast on life,and we all need hope.
Being entrusted with knowledge of your spouse's dream is a high honor.
And yet, it's often trashed. Consider the writer I know, who received some interest in a novel she'd been working on for years. She went to tell her husband about it.
His reply was, "Yeah, I guess it's based on something you read about." And he walked away.
I know the gentleman in question - he's given to offhand, cutting remarks, sometimes without a real desire to hurt.
But this time he did hurt. He devalued his wife's dream, and her enjoyment of the possibility of future success. She doesn't talk about her writing any more. Not to him, not to anyone. I don't know if she still writes.
I don't think the husband meant to do this; I believe he just wasn't interested, and wanted the possibility of having to listen to her description to go away.
Sometimes, the intention is malign, through a basis in fear. Some people feel threatened by a spouse's dreams, worried that they'll be somehow left behind.
Some simply don't want their spouse to achieve something separately, like the wife who kept putting trivial roadblocks in her husband's opportunity to take art classes...his clothes would smell of paint, and how could he justify being away from home one night a week? And what would the neighbors think, with him pursuing such an unmanly activity? Eventually he gave up the idea. I wonder if he might have been a modern-day Monet? We'll never know.
Togetherness is great; but God made us as individuals, and as long as one's hopes don't carry one away from commitment to the marriage, it's wrong to crush them out of fear.
What can you do to support your mate's imagined future?
- Listen and learn - encourage your husband or wife to share their hopes for their future, without forcing a link to your together future. Make an effort to remember the details, because it's the details of a dream that bring it to life.
- Contribute - offer to help, but be sure it's an offer you're willing to meet...if you're married to a writer, you may open yourself up to reading endless drafts of a manuscript. (If the writing's really bad, chalk it up tho the "for worse" part of the marriage vow and keep smiling.)
- Give space - some people, usually men, will get so bullish on the subject of their spouse's dreams that they'll take them over in an effort to ensure success. "I want to do it myself!" isn't just for kids.
- Celebrate success - understand what the milestones of success are, and celebrate their attainment.
- Share your own dreams - be willing to be vulnerable, and share that which moves and motivates you
There's clearly a lot more that could be said...how to allocate family finances to support the restoration of that '32 Chevrolet, how to share household duties in a way that allows the writer to write...but their successful negotiation has to come from respect.
Please share - how does your spouse support your dreams? And how do you support theirs?
(If you have the chance, please visit my other blog, www.dailygracequote.wordpress.com, for a quotation and a short commentary of grace in marriage.)