The Stuff of Dreams

Dreams drive a person to live. Have you ever heard the clique “The’re alive without really living”? I attribute this phenomenon to the lack of dreams. Dreams hold a power that allows us to grow as a person. In relationships dreams have a new kind of power over us, either to enhance our relationship or to cause gridlock.

“When couples gridlock over issues, the image that comes to my mind is of two opposing fists. Neither can make any headway in getting the other to understand and respect their perspective., much less agree with it. As a result, they eventually view the partner as just plain selfish. Each becomes more deeply entrenched in his or her position, making compromise impossible.”

“You’ll know you’ve reached gridlock if:

1. You’ve had the same argument again and again with no resolution.

2. Neither of you can address the issue with humor, empathy, or affection.

3.  The issue is becoming increasingly polarizing as time goes on.

4. Compromise seems impossible because it would mean selling out– giving up something important and core to your beliefs, values, or sense of self.”

Step 1: Explore the Dreams

“To get started, choose a particular gridlocked conflict to work on. Then write an explanation of your position. Don’t criticize or blame your spouse…focus on what each partner needs, wants, and is feeling about the situation. Next, write the story of the hidden dreams that underlie your position. Explain where these dreams come from and why they are so meaningful to you.”

For this activity, I have decided to explore my own dreams. I wanted to use this exercise to learn more about myself, grow as a person, and be aware of possible conflict for my marriage. In order for me to begin I thought of situations that made me uncomfortable. I thought of my money habits.

When I was in high school I needed a binder for class the next day. I had the money to buy it. When I got to the store, I looked at the price, which was more than I wanted to spend, and left the store without the binder. I look back on this situation now and it reminds me of how hard I worked to have money to spend. With a big family money wasn’t growing on our trees. I am sure my mom would have helped me buy the binder if I had asked her for the help, but I thought it wasn’t worth the price.

In my eyes, my money was worth more than its dollar value. Having money made me feel secure. Being able to spend money without worrying about it is one of my dreams. It gives me security. Because I explored this dream I am now aware of this potential for conflict. I can better explain my need to save.


Step 2: Soothe

“Discussing dreams that are in opposition can be stressful. Pay attention to how you are each reacting to the conversation Alert your partner if you feel signs of stress. Remember that if flooding occurs, the conversation will get nowhere.”

Step 3: Reach a Temporary Compromise (The Two-Circle Method)

The Two-Circle Method is a great tool for compromise. It can help overcome conflict. This is a great article if you want to learn about it.

Exercise: The Art of Compromise

Step 4: Say “Thank You”

“The goal here is to recreate the spirit of thanksgiving, in which you count your blessings and look inward to express gratitude for all you have.”

I love the idea of a daily gratitude journal. I have a journal for this purpose, but I have used it on and off over a few years. The challenge for this week is to keep a daily gratitude journal specifically about your spouse.


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