Communication — 04 January 2007
Sharing your life dreams intensifies your intimacy

Most individuals harbor personal dreams and in addition most couples create their mutual vision for their lives together. Those pairs, who dream together, talk about their hopes and aspirations regularly, support and facilitate each other’s goals, are enriched personally and live more blissfully together.

Personal goals and wishes are often hidden and unexpressed. Many people wait for their retirement years to voice their secretly held hopes for their idealized self. Couples sometimes fail to ask each other about their innermost yearnings.

Many people silently wish for a chance to explore their quest for significance. They see this opportunity as a gift that they may never be given and thus needs not be expressed. Therefore, their hope never gains a form, a plan, a direction or is even viewed as meriting a discussion. After all, life is so demanding and it should take priority over all of one’s childhood dreams – or should it?

Suppressing one’s innermost quest for a self-fulfilling endeavor may be driven by a noble intent of caring for others and the pride of providing for the family’s needs through self-denial. It may also be motivated by the idea that pursuing one’s personal vision is too selfish. This self – deprivation may also stem from fears, insecurities or feeling un-deserving of self-actualization.

Anna Fels, a psychiatrist who studied the role of ambition in women, found that women feel anxious and evasive about admitting to having ambitions because they fear that seeking recognition, necessary for continued ambition, exposes them to criticism and attack. They tend to resort to “recognition by proxy” benefiting from their husband’s or children’s success.

Whatever the underlying reason for secrecy for women or men, the unstated yearning may simmer beneath the surface and create low-level dissatisfaction, frustration and sadness. The partner may not be aware of what causes the mate to be less than happy with his/her life.

Partners often discuss family dreams early during their dating period. They talk of visions about their home, their ideas about having children, their career and family roles and more. They often find these fantasizing sessions a fun and bonding time. Those who share the same images proceed more fluidly in actualizing their dreams.

Some compatible two-career pairs who agree about their family goals may encounter work difficulties. One mate’s personal dreams and aspirations may curtail the spouse’s career path. For example, a successful female attorney married a radio personality. When he was offered a promising job in another state she chose to join him though it meant giving up her dream job and getting re-licensed in their new location. University professors also find that career compromises by one of them are essential to be made regularly.

Upon approaching retirement some of the unvoiced dreams are articulated for the first time. The new found freedom from family responsibilities and careers opens for them the opportunity to do whatever gives deep meaning to their lives. Some have compatible goals while others have divergent interests and passions. For the latter, very hard choices may be ahead: Does one give up his/her dream to accommodate the other? Do they temporarily part to explore their own passions? Can their needs be modified enough in an alternative that may suit both?

• Couples who dream together can create greater closeness and connection. There can be joy, hope, fun, creativity, playfulness and intimacy in divulging your innermost quests.
• Sharing the meaning your dream has for you helps your mate appreciate you more deeply.
• Some visions are attempts to answer the question about the purpose of one’s life.
• Agreeing that both of your dreams matter and working together to creatively achieve both, cements a deeper bond.
• Help your partner achieve his/her dream, even if it is difficult or inconvenient for you. Remember that dreams are based on a yearned for meaning and personal significance that may gives your partner joy and even a sense of immortality.
• When the dreams conflict – determine how much closeness and separation each of you can tolerate for a specific period of time.
• Only agree to facilitate your partner’s vision if you can provide a resentment- free support.
• Be grateful for any compromises or sacrifices your partner makes to enable you to actualize your dream.
• All dreams are the expressions of our need for pleasure, distinction, contribution or self-worth. Helping each other achieve this self- actualization is a pure act of love.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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