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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Respecting Your Spouse's Dreams - The Seventh Pillar

Today we're at the end of "Seven Pillars of Marital Respect", and it's fitting to conclude the series with a look into the future - the future held in your mate's dreams.

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.)

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday, a compendium of really cool posts on marriage. If you click on the logo below, you'll be taken to www.messymarriage.com, which is the springboard to a wealth of information. It's run by Beth Steffaniak, who has a heart for marriage and a soul for God!


  1. I'm a firm believer in following your dreams and not giving in to those who tell you things like "You Can't" or "You're not good enough." etc. So when my husband and I joined a writers' group, I discovered that he's quite a good writer, and his material has been gathering dust for years. I'd never read it. His dream has resurrected and we support one another in our writing endeavors. When your and your spouse share the same type of dream, it's easy to get caught up in our own stuff; it's important to remember to listen and encourage our spouse with the same respect and admiration we'd like from them. Thanks for posting. Great insights.

    1. That's really wonderful, that you and your husband share a gift for writing - and that you can be mutually supportive.

      It's an excellent point, to give encouragement as we'd like to receive it - thank you for bringing that up.

  2. This reminds me of the article that's been trending on social media about how "Kindness and Generosity" are needed in a marriage to make it thrive--not just survive. I can't remember who the author was but s/he shared how couples who really engage with their spouses whenever their spouse shares hopes and encouragements are the marriages that thrive. We think those little things shouldn't matter, but it's really the little things that matter the most! I love your series on the pillars, Andrew and I hate that they are drawing to a close, but I know you'll offer up another relevant and interesting post (maybe series??) very soon! I saw your comment back at my place and I'll be adding that to my prayers for you, my friend!

    1. Kindness and generosity - that's exactly right.

      When there's disengagement, resentment moves in, and invites its evil twin, self-justification.

      And the little things are vital.

      There will be a new series starting next Wednesday. SHould I spill the beans on the subject?

      Sure, why not...the five dialects of touch in a marriage.

      And thank you for the prayers.Need 'em.

  3. My husband has the goal of being coming a professional triathlete. It is a huge goal. Which not only requires respecting his dream, but also requires me to be willing to take action with him and to be understanding. Love your post as it is a great reminder! Found you from Beth's link up!

    1. That is a huge goal, and I wish him well. For most of my life I maintained that level of fitness, and I know how much work it is - and the sacrifices it demands of a spouse.

      He's very lucky to have you in his corner.

  4. I think I've been afraid at times of my husband's dreams--afraid they'd lead to financial ruin or too much time away from home or whatever. I have slowly learned to support him more despite my fears, instead of waiting for all my fears to be addressed. Love is so much about trusting... I still have a ways to go.