DREAM BIG, LITTLE ONE
Since we were little, we were taught to dream big. We were told that we could do anything if we put our mind to it. When we experienced setbacks, we were told they are a part of success and to keep going, keep dreaming, keep believing. I’m a big fan of these kinds of messages and pep talks – I do believe we are capable of almost anything we put our minds to. But we’re told these things as a single entity – YOU can achieve your dreams. And we grow up figuring out what those dreams are and how we want to achieve them.
But what happens when you find your forever person, and they have dreams too? What happens when YOU becomes WE? Can both dreams co-exist peacefully? Can both dreams be achieved? I can only speak for myself, but I believe the answer is yes. The key to making them both work is understanding the rule of life (and relationships): there will always be an ebb and flow, ups and downs, and peaks and valleys.
EBB & FLOW, UPS & DOWNS, PEAKS & VALLEYS
There are so many cliché (and true) quotes about the ups and downs of life and how it’s that ever-changing rhythm that makes life, life. Things like:
o “There’s always sunshine after the rain”
o “You never see the hard days in a photo album, but those are the ones that get you from one happy snap shot to the next”
o “Happy endings come after a story with lots of ups and downs”
The same is true in relationships. The honeymoon phase is a serious peak, as time goes on there are some definite valleys, and the longer a relationship lasts the more ups & downs and peaks & valleys there are. A relationship will continuously ebb and flow.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ACHIEVING YOUR DREAMS?
When you know your dream and want to go after it, it can usually be achieved whether you’re single or taken. Your relationship status doesn’t impact your ability to do that. But sometimes, depending on the dream, it may take some sacrifice on your part, or on the part of your significant other. And that’s where the ebb & flow come into play.
IN REAL LIFE
When it comes to dreams, you and your partner may have individual ones related to your career, family, or specific life goals. Inevitably, some of those dreams may require a little (or a lot of) give and take. I don’t have all the answers to this topic (nor any topic!) but I’m currently experiencing this give and take in my own life, supporting my partner’s career dream.
My partner’s career is currently the focus for us, as he is starting his dream that requires location flexibility, long hours, and constant change. We moved to a different country where we are experiencing some serious limitations. He is hyper aware of the sacrifices I’ve made to make his dream possible for both of us. AND I AM HAPPY TO DO IT! Because ultimately, I know a few things:
- This is temporary. We (and I) need to make some sacrifices now in order to have a bigger payoff in the future
- At some point, things will change and my career will take precedence. My career had been the focal point for years before we changed to focus on his. And like the ebb and flow of life, things will shift again, and there will be a constant dance between whose dream influences our decisions as a couple.
- Going after your dreams is a courageous and uncommon act. Everyone may have a dream, but not all people go after it! So, I know how priceless this is, and how much I want to be the one by his side as he tackles this and achieves his ultimate dream.
In making some sacrifices for our greater good, I’m also learning some amazing lessons that are helping me grow, which ultimately helps me be a better partner. I’ve learned how to slow down, be resourceful, and find additional sources of fulfillment. These are things I will take with me wherever we go! And as a partner, I’ve learned how to provide the emotional support required for my partner with this big dream he’s chasing. Our current lifestyle isn’t easy, so figuring out what he needs, what I need, and how we can give each other what we need has been a continuous lesson that’s strengthening our relationship.
That last bit especially makes me realize how AWESOME it is to roll the dice a little, shake things up, and not be afraid to support each other as we go after things we want in life! Right now, it’s a career focus, but that will change as we do. It can be fun! Scary! Challenging! Life changing! Win or lose, dream achieved or lost, it’s already been worth it for me with what I’ve taken away from the experience thus far.
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR PARTNER
I’m no expert, but I’m learning as I go. Here are some things I’ve experienced and recommend based on that!
- Know your limitations: Be realistic with yourself about what your partner’s dream requires and what your boundaries are. If your partner’s dream requires relocation, but deep down you know you don’t want to leave where you are, be honest about that. Maybe there’s another solution the two of you can find that doesn’t require you moving. Whatever the scenario, know what you’re willing and able to do – and what you’re not.
- Ask questions and check in on your partner: As the significant other, you will go through your own experience supporting your partner’s dream. Which is why you need to do #3 – see below. Equally, your partner will go through their own thing. Going after your dream can be scary, so it’s important to keep lines of communication open with your partner. How are they feeling? Is their confidence shaken? What can you do to help them? Particularly if you have made sacrifices on behalf of your partner, they may be less willing to share any negative parts of their experience for fear of letting you down. Be proactive and check in with them.
- Say how you feel: Talk about what you’re going through, how you feel, and what you need. No one is a mind reader! Maybe supporting their dream is easy and your sacrifices have been minimal. Great! But if you’re struggling with any changes or restraints from the situation, make sure you communicate them in a healthy way that does not cast blame, but instead expresses how you feel and asks for what you need in return.
Supporting your partner’s dream can mean huge life changes and big shifts in your life, or it can mean small shifts without much disruption to your lifestyle. Whatever the case, know what it will take to support them, and be willing to communicate throughout the process. And remember: what you focus on now (their dream) will not be what you focus on at another point! The only thing constant in life is change, and that ebb and flow of life. Move with it as it comes!