On today’s #MarriageMonday, we’re diving into why it’s important to dream with your spouse and how to have future-focused conversations without conflict.
Mark: I’m a dreamer. I always have been. I love to think about what “could be.”
Jill: I’ve always been more of a realist. I can dream, but I’m more interested in the path it takes to actually get there.
Mark: At the beginning of this month, Jill and I finished mapping out our 2022. This is something we have started doing every year. We talk about our goals for the year and have safe conversations about how we each want to see the year go.
Jill: When we used to talk about the future, it actually used to be a conflict-creator. Mark would share his dreams and I would too quickly shut them down by talking about how we couldn’t achieve them. Or I would start getting into the details and Mark would check out of the conversation.
Mark: Neither of us realized we were doing it, but over time, we stopped dreaming together. It was too frustrating, and in many ways, it became a slow fade pulling our hearts apart a quarter-inch at a time. This is something we actually see in a lot of the marriage intensives and marriage coaching we do: So many couples have stopped dreaming together. Do you see that in your own marriage?
Jill: Too many of us unknowingly are dream-takers. This was me. I’ve had to learn to pay attention (this takes effort!) to how much my practical, realist, black-and-white mindset can affect my marriage. Rather than being dream-takers, we have to learn to move towards being dream-makers, listening to the hearts of our spouses and stepping into their world of imagining what could be.
Mark: On the other side, too many of us refuse to make plans. This was me. Another way to think of “dreaming” is that it’s really the beginning of “goal-setting.” Goals start with a dream. Once a dream has some details to get us there, it moves from a dream to a plan. Rather than checking out when a conversation gets detailed, we have to learn to see this as the opportunity to see the envisioned future become a reality.
Jill: This isn’t easy. It definitely doesn’t come naturally! In fact, it can only be done with intentionality. We have to really think about changing our perspective and approach to these conversations. We have to listen. And we may have to apologize when we jump back to a default response.
Mark: Starting to dream with our spouse again is part of having a unified marriage. Marriage is a partnership of two people who ideally are working together to build a life they have envisioned together. Not building towards two different things, but having unity in the vision for their family and their future. That’s unity.
Here are some steps to take for the dreamer:
- Tell your spouse you’d like to dream/brainstorm/share about something you’d love to see happen in your lives. Ask if now would be a good time to do that.
- Invite him/her to dream with you. Say, “I’d like to share some ideas. I don’t want to think about whether they are realistic or not yet, I’d just love for you to dream with me for a few minutes.
- If you’d like to explore turning the dream into a reality: Is this something you and I could work together to make happen? Do you need more time to think about it or would you like to brainstorm one next step we might take to work towards this?
Jill: Mark and I have both had to learn that neither of us are wrong in the way that we are wired. We actually balance each other out really well! He helps me see beyond my structured mindset, and I help Mark stay steady and on-track towards goals we’ve set. You and your spouse likely balance each other out too!
Here are some steps to take for the realist:
- Listen to hear your spouse’s heart and desire. Resist the urge to think of the “how” but stay in the “why” and the joy of the dream.
- Ask questions about their vision (not questions about how the vision might be a reality) or respond with “Tell me more about that.”
- If you are a person that needs some internal processing time, thank your spouse for sharing their vision with you. Tell them you need some time to think about it some more. They’ve had this in their head for a while, now you would like to sit with it for a little while.
- If you’re open to their dream, you can ask, “Would you like to brainstorm one next step we might take to walk towards this vision?”
Mark: So today, we just want to encourage you to set-up a time to dream with your spouse. Maybe it’s about the year ahead. Maybe it’s about retirement. Maybe it’s about 5 years down the road. Whatever makes sense for you.
Jill: That conversation doesn’t have to be complicated either! One of the easiest ways to have a goal-setting conversation is just to take a blank sheet of paper and write some categories of your life on it. (Kids, vacations, income, work, giving, spiritual life, etc.) Take it category by category and talk through where you hope to be in each of those areas in the timeline you’ve set. (If you want to get some more ideas, you can listen to this podcast episode!)
Mark: The most important thing is that you approach it with a focus on listening and hearing your spouse’s heart. We really think you’ll be grateful you took the time for the conversation.
So what about you? Do you need to start dreaming with your spouse again? Let us know in the comments below!
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