I still carry it daily. I suppose I always will. Why? Because I doubt there could be any greater affirmation.
My wife, Janet, had been tremendously supportive in my endeavors to achieve my first doctorate degree. In times of doubt, she encouraged. In times of frustration, she supported. In times of success, she celebrated.
It was my dream, but it was a dream that I could not have achieved without her. I vividly remember telling her this one evening how much I appreciated her — how I could not have done this without her.
She just smiled and gave me a hug.
Then the words flowed without thinking, “You’ve done so much for me. Is there anything I can do for you?”
Her response was quick, yet thoughtful. “I’ve been thinking about going to medical school. What do you think?” As we talked late into the evening it became clearer and clearer that becoming a physician was her dream. She had supported me in my dream. Now it was my turn to support her in her dream.
We all have dreams. Even preschool children dream of being a doctor, a teacher, a veterinarian, an airplane pilot. Although dreams may vary from person to person, they remain significant for all of us. Many of us live our lives striving to meet these dreams, hoping they can be realized, and eventually measure our success or failure in life in relation to how much or how little we actually achieved our dreams.
In a marriage, it is vitally important to explore one another’s dreams, understand their meanings, and then support one another in the achievement of those dreams. Exploring and sharing the dreams we have for our lives is like opening the door to our souls. When that door is opened, we make ourselves most vulnerable. Even as we share our dreams, we want to be accepted, understood, and loved. Most of all, if we are honest with ourselves, we want the person we love most to support our dreams.
In a healthy marriage, dreams are encouraged, shared, and accepted. When we are unable to accept and validate our partner’s dreams, it is like refusing to accept who she is, refusing to walk through the door she has opened to her soul. This results in your partner feeling alone, frustrated, and sad. This is understandable as the failure to realize one’s dreams often leads to despair.
Traditionally, women have been wonderful when it comes to supporting the dreams of their husbands. “Behind every good man, there stands a woman.”
For many couples there is an underlying assumption that the marriage cannot afford the luxury of both husband and wife achieving their dreams. So wives give up their dreams so that their husbands can achieve theirs. How sad — not only for the wife, but also for the husband. Neither will ever know that profound joy, intimacy, and elation that comes from helping your partner to achieve and live her dreams.
If you haven’t already done so, consider becoming a dream maker.