Gottman Date 8: Dreams
Written by Katie Mitchell, M.A. Certified Sex Therapist
Dreams are wonderful to have; yet, people often struggle to connect with partners or even acknowledge those dreams themselves, especially if feeling over committed in over areas of life. If you’re devoted to work and your partner, committing to a dream can feel overwhelming. Have you been able to relate to this line of thought? Ever found yourself thinking, “How in the world am I supposed to give more time to something else, when I feel like I already do not give enough time to x, y, and z?” “But dreams are important. You own dreams. Your partner’s dreams. And the dreams you have together. Dreaming together, and supporting each other in pursuing individual dreams, is just as critical for your relationship as trust, commitment, and sex.” Making time to discuss dreams will help foster intimacy, connection, and the feeling of support within your relationship.
I know that as a couples counselor and as someone who is also guilty of assuming thing within my marriage, it can be easy to find yourself in a place of believing that you already know everything that there is to know about your partner (yes – I’m talking to you, the couple who has been together for years and believes that they have already talked about every topic that exists), but the reality is that people grow and change over time and the topic of dreams is a conversation that is always worth coming back around to. “Dreaming together is one of the most profound acts you can do in a relationship with each other. And honoring your partner’s dreams is a potent way to express your care for someone, because it shows a profound love.” Additionally, when we hide or suppress our dreams, we hide precious aspects of ourselves, which ultimately blocks intimacy and connection in a relationship.
Remember that one of the arts of dreaming and making those dreams a reality is potentially taking turns within the relationship. Both of your dreams can be supported by one another, but they might not be able to be acted out all at the same time. Discuss with your partner what it looks like to support one another, to take turns, and to make sacrifices for one another, without suppressing your dreams and building resentment.
The Gottmans’ and Abrams’ provide the following questions as a helpful tool in discussing dreams with your partner: How do you see work changing in the future? What do you find exciting about life right now? What are your biggest worries about the future? How do you think we could have more fun in our life? What things are you missing in your life? The Gottmans’ and Abrams’ also provide a wonderful free exercise on dream levels (found at the PDF link provided below) which help individuals to identify/inspire their dreams so that they can then be better understood by your own self and communicated better to your partner. They recommend that both of you complete this activity prior to the date and then discuss it as a portion of the dreams date.
This chapter provides amazing recommendations of date locations, which includes out-of-the-home and in-home options. If going out for this date, try finding a location that is inspiring for you both. This might be a place with a beautiful view, or maybe it is a place that you have both acknowledged as inspirational in the past. If needing to do this date at home, try creating a sense of inspiration within your home for this conversation. Possibly having this conversation sitting on a blanket under the stars in your backyard, or maybe sitting in your favorite room in the house (that is most inspirational to you both). At this end of this chapter, there is a ton of other helpful information on dreams and more open-ended questions to consider discussing.
As always, if you and your partner struggle to communicate in an open manner, the first few chapters of Eight Dates also include helpful information on putting your feelings into words; asking open-ended questions; making exploratory statements; and expressing tolerance, empathy, and understanding. I highly recommend reading through this material as a refresher for even those who consider themselves the best communicators!
If you are just tuning into this new blog series, I highly suggest going back to read all of the previous date topics, as this blog covers the final date topic in the series. The first date topic, trust and commitment; the second date topic, conflict; the third date topic, sex; the fourth date topic, work and sex; the fifth date topic, children; the sixth date topic, play; the seventh date topic, growth and spirituality. Eight Dates is a date guide about 8 different beneficial conversations that help couples to connect and gain a better understanding of one another. If you finding this resonating with you and your partner, I highly suggest purchasing the book here and completing each of the date conversations with your significant other. For your convenience the authors have complied the exercises from each chapter in a free PDF; you can find them here.
Do yourself and your relationship a favor this weekend and take some sacred time to discuss how you and your partner discuss and foster dreams within your relationship. Discuss how the two of you can “imagine and then reimagine” your lives together. If you find that the two of you struggle to discuss dreams, reach out to our office today, and we will get you set up with a counselor who can help you both work towards transforming that experience.