I recently read a very revealing article shared by someone who grieved over a significant personal loss that was chosen to support an even bigger purpose.
The author exposed her pain only to discover the happiness and personal fulfillment that specific loss enabled in her life. A sacrifice; for the better. Through the experience she realized that to reach your biggest dreams you may have to sacrifice smaller treasures. She even argued that ANY dream is possible as long as you are willing to give up something else to further your chances of realizing your dreams.
But what kind of small treasures could we sacrifice in marriage to see our shared dreams come true? This question can be really broad and tough to answer without a little digging…
It uniquely poses two challenges in one; both completely dependent on the other… The first challenge being — understanding what your true dreams/needs are; the second — identifying what you can give in order to fulfill the first challenge.
Let’s look at the first challenge…
As we search for a suitable partner in life we tend to aim to fulfill many voids such as personal needs, dreams/desires, and even weaknesses. In marriage, these root elements essentially contribute to form an elastic and fluid relationship between the husband and wife.
I don’t know of any couple that has entered marriage without these great and righteous dreams – both individual and shared. This of course is completely natural and creates a very healthy desire and approach to cohabitation when said choice is actually made.
Over time, it becomes easier to place these goals and dreams within marriage on the back shelf as the relationship inevitably evolves. Careers, children, and family equally work their way to the forefront of our busy lives filling many voids and sometimes leaving others gaping open. For some reason, particularly with our dreams, our softened memories slowly become our comfort in the daily chaos.
This happens to a lot of us – to what degree remains unique in each marriage; but unfortunately no marriage stands immune to passing time.
So which dreams are we letting slip away? Identifying these could take a while or may luckily still be fresh if you are in the first years of marriage. The very reasons we choose our partners in life usually holds a good source of insight. Our instinctive needs are always represented through our dreams in various forms. So understanding these shared and individual needs/dreams is really the first challenge.
But why are we forgetting our dreams? As children we have unlimited imaginations fuelling the wildest dreams, yet as we age, our maturity instinctively places these dreams into a little closet in the back corner so that our fragile egos aren’t shattered with the reminder of how impossible they would be to actually achieve.
Personally, I would argue that finances are the primary deterrent from achieving our dreams, and for many of us, this little reality isn’t something we choose to reflect on every day.
So in favour of keeping positive spirits, we pack our neat little box of dreams into storage and passively hope that one day they will come true. But in reality, we are making the choice to remain ignorant. Choosing to do nothing is actually worse than making the wrong decision in effort to realize your goals.
Failing to plan together is the same as planning to fail together.
In marriage, we need to religiously fuel our dreams as much as we fervently feed our love. Marriages that share dreams share purpose – a vital component in every marriage. When we lose sight of our purpose, we become slaves and drones to the daily grind of work, bills, chores, etc…
So now is the time to refocus your attention on the purpose in your marriage. Take some time to write down your dreams together; visualize them and think hard of what it would take to accomplish them. We recently read and reviewed the book Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach which seeded this challenge in our marriage just this year.
Bach offers a simplistic approach to identifying your shared values and building your dream basket – you can read it here. One of the proposed ideas was to create a shared “vision board”, personalized to our marriage alone. It was really tough to sit down and write down our dreams and but we did; and we’ve never been more excited to go to work, to pay that next bill, or to even stretch another dollar.
We’ve even posted our vision board in our living room offices for all to see! Every day, we see our dreams on a big board and it renews our daily efforts. It creates great conversation and keeps our minds sharp to any open opportunities to further our momentum. Most of our dreams aren’t even realistic! We even jokingly tallied up the costs to accomplish every dream we came up with, and wow – I think we’d have to rob a bank!
But since posting that board five months ago, we’ve successfully accomplished our first goal of being bad-debt free! We made this goal when we were first married, but it was placed on the back shelf for too many reasons, but with the goal in front of us daily, we were able to focus and double-up our efforts to strike this off the list. What can I say? We’re so very proud — and eager to get started on our next goal!
So while every marriage’s purpose is uniquely defined by the dreams each partner brings, a shared vision will keep your true desires where they should be – at the forefront of your marriage. Once we realize our dreams, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the scale of effort and finances required to see it through. But be of good cheer! Your dreams ARE possible. Yes, they may demand a significant investment of patience AND time AND money, but they CAN be accomplished.
Sometimes, it just takes a little sacrifice to get the momentum rolling…
Have you and your spouse shared any dreams and realized them together? What sacrifices have you made for the bigger picture in your marriage? I would love to hear about your experiences!
Challenge #2 – Identifying what you can give in order to fulfill Challenge #1 – Next!