Why Shared Dreams Are Important in a Marriage

shared-visionAndy and I kicked off 2015 by cuddling up and reflecting on a great list of questions about the previous year. 2014 was a big one, obviously, as we entered into the world of marriage. We also reminisced about other adventures and achievements, moments of struggle, and people who supported us. The questions provided a really fun review. They were a great reminder to me of the lasting impact of seemingly trivial or minor moments during the year. One of my favorites was the dinner Andy and I shared at the end of our wedding day. Our reception ended at 5 p.m., so we ended up going out for a date later in the evening. After a busy week full of events and people, it was finally just the two of us. We stared at each other and simply glowed with delight in all that had happened. One of Andy’s favorite moments was on the last night of our honeymoon, as we sat outside and listened to a guitar player, and I serenaded him (surely off key!)

We each had individual achievements to celebrate, as well. One of Andy’s big triumphs was a book deal he was offered in the fall. I am so proud of Andy’s passion for writing and his discipline to work on a book while still in graduate school. But as I reflected on the experience, what came to mind was a phone call from my dad. He had gotten a voicemail from Andy about the news, but Andy was in class when my dad returned his call. So, my dad called me and exclaimed proudly as I answered the phone, “Congratulations!” It wasn’t just to Andy, but to me, to us.

Again, though seemingly minor in the grand scheme of things, it was a simple but powerful reminder that while we maintain our unique individuality in relationship, what are Andy’s triumphs are also my triumphs — his joys, my joys.

It’s bigger than the time we’ve both invested in the project. It’s about delighting and sharing in one another’s hopes and dreams, and realizing our dreams are now very much intertwined.

Part of that is very practical — Andy is constantly throwing around different ideas for his writing and I provide him feedback. After he writes something I often edit it. We’ll stay up late one night in an enlivening discussion, and a few days later I’ll read something of his that I can tell was prompted by our conversation. But it’s bigger than the time we’ve both invested in the project. It’s about delighting and sharing in one another’s hopes and dreams, and realizing our dreams are now very much intertwined. My dad’s “Congratulations!” affirmed that.

After reflecting on the moments — big and small — of 2014, we started to think about 2015. We talked about our goals for health and wellness, for cultivating our spirituality together and practicing our Spanish, among other things. It was the first time that Andy and I could make resolutions together as a married couple. Even though I still have goals that are more uniquely mine, Andy, as my husband, inevitably is part of them. I’ll depend on his support and motivation to hold me accountable. Also, it’s fun to make goals together now.

Last year was full of anticipation as we prepared for marriage, moved into our first apartment and found our rhythm in our first few months together. 2015 is a brand new adventure. Andy graduates in May, and so our future is somewhat unknown, which can be unsettling. Will we stay in the Boston area? Will Andy be able to find a job? Will we think more about children? It’s a blank canvas, which it is tempting for me (a goal-oriented person) to paint overzealously with big hopes and dreams, which are likely to leave us disappointed or beating ourselves up for not achieving.

So, it’s helpful to remember 2014 and the little moments that made it so meaningful. As we start a new year, I trust that although it’s a big unknown, it will be full of little moments that mean the most. And when I focus on that, the unknown seems a little less unsettling. So cheers to a new year, in which failures and successes surely await us, but all to be celebrated together.

Sarah Otto is originally from warm and sunny Phoenix. She moved out East for the Master of Divinity program at Boston College, fell in love with her husband, Andy, and stayed. She currently works as a campus minister at Providence College.