I was recently having a conversation with a couple about what brought them to therapy. Pat was saying, “I don’t really know. I know it was my idea to come, but now that we are here I don’t quite know how to explain it. I just feel, I don’t know, like stunted or something.”
On further exploration, what Pat was saying was that while their relationship seemed, on the surface, to be successful, there was something missing – a sense of individuality, a sense of personal growth, personal achievement and a sense of thriving.
What Pat and Blake were lacking was a deeper knowledge of each other’s dreams. When we form a relationship with another we don’t give up our individuality, yet some couples lose sight of their own individual dreams. This leads to a feeling of loss which is often hard to identify.
Individual goals bring colour and meaning to our lives and helps our relationships feel more alive. Imagine the joy of celebrating your hard-won degree with your equally proud and supportive partner; or accepting that A grade golf trophy with your loving partner cheering loudly in the front row.
Understanding each other’s individual dreams and continuously working together to help achieve these is one of the most rewarding and connecting activities couples can do together.
After talking about their own individual dreams together Pat shared a long-held dream to be an outstanding cook. With Blake’s support, Pat enrolled in a program and spent the next twelve months working towards a Diploma. Blake made sure to always be available as the chief taster, kitchen hand and cheerleader. They celebrated Pat’s success with a special night out at a fancy celebrity chef’s restaurant. Unbeknownst to Pat, Blake had sent a portfolio of all Pat’s best recipes, complete with photos to the chef in advance.
The menu at the restaurant that night featured 6 of Pat’s recipes including their favourite dessert which the chef proudly brought to their table in person. What a way to celebrate!
Understanding and supporting your partner’s dreams is a wonderful way to punctuate the day to day business of life with momentous achievements and occasions and helps us create the shared stories and meanings that help our relationships thrive.
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