We’re currently living in a culture that is more self-centered than ever before. Everywhere you look, from movies to advertisements to self-help books, the emphasis is on doing what makes you happy and fulfilled. While there’s nothing wrong with having dreams and pursuing them, they may not always give you the fulfillment you’re craving.
For my wife and I, that was exactly the case. I was so dead set on pursuing my own dreams that we turned our lives upside down so that I could half-heartedly chase them. My dream was to work my way into the family business, make enough money so that my wife could be a stay-at-home mom, and basically follow the same path that my parents had. Unfortunately, I completely neglected to ask my wife if that’s what she wanted as well.
Almost immediately, I realized that this “dream” of mine wasn’t going to work out. My wife is determined, hard-working, and way more driven in pursuit of her dreams than I could ever hope to be.
For example, where I kind of sort of thought I knew what I wanted, she knew her desires with 100% certainty – go back to school and become a physical therapist. Sure, that would mean finishing up four years of undergrad, followed by three years of graduate school, and nearly a year of clinical work around the country.
Therefore, the first thing I thought of in my closeminded brain was where does that leave me? How were we going to make it as a one-income household? Would we need to move in order for her to get into graduate school? Would I need to find a new job and give up on working my way into the family business?
The answer to each of these questions would end up being a resounding “yes.” However, while it scared me initially, I soon found that putting my dreams on hold, as lame as they might sound, and helping my wife pursue hers was exactly what I needed. Never before had I felt so much fulfillment and satisfaction as when I was turning my world upside down to make her’s right side up.
Looking back, I kick myself for ever hesitating at the thought of putting my dreams aside in favor of my wife’s. To be honest, however, it was difficult at first.
I was raised in a very patriarchal culture, where your wife is supposed to sacrifice all for the sake of making sure her husband has everything he needs. No, it wasn’t some kind of weird cult-like “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey” community. Instead, it was traditional in the sense that the husband calls the shots and sets the tone for the relationship, while his wife takes on a support role.
As such, completely rearranging my life to make sure that my wife could pursue her dreams was unheard of in my area. I knew that people in our community would view me as “hen-pecked” or that my wife would wear the pants. However, while these sexist tropes to describe a marriage where a husband and wife make decisions together as equals worried me at first, they ended up not bothering me at all.
Instead, I immediately saw the value in helping my wife pursue her dreams because I knew it made her happy. No, I’m not saying that “happy wife, happy life” is the way to go, because it isn’t. What I am saying is that the idea of keeping my wife from pursuing her passions would have broken both of us – her because she was being stifled, and me because it would have been extremely selfish.
While I knew that things could get a little crazy in terms of work, housing, and schools, it was crazier than I could ever expect. To summarize, we ended up moving a total of 7 times and living in 4 different states before everything was said and done. I also had to change jobs six times, sometimes working two or three jobs at once to make ends meet.
As a side note, this was all happening in the middle of Covid, so that also added an extra wrinkle of excitement to the picture.
While these five years were some of the craziest of our lives, we look back now and talk about what a great time it was. Not because of all the moving and relocating, but because of how her dreams spilled over and eventually became my dreams as well.
No longer was she alone in her pursuit of becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy. Instead, by the end, I was just as determined to help her cross the finish line as she was to get there.
All of the moving and changing jobs and scraping by to make ends meet is simply a blip on the radar looking back. When we think on that time, we reminisce about how united we were in our pursuit of a mutual goal, and how it brought us closer together. Now, we literally feel like we can take on any challenge that comes our way.
If you’ve stuck with me thus far, you’re probably wondering what the heck happened in regards to my original dream of settling down and working my way into the family business. That’s probably the most ironic part of the story. As it turns out, that wasn’t my dream at all!
Because I had to switch jobs so often, I inadvertently ended up falling into what became my actual dream – becoming a full-time writer. This happened in the summer of 2020 when we moved to Michigan for one of my wife’s clinical rotations, and I had to find remote work. That work turned out to be content and copywriting, and I ended up absolutely loving it!
Three years later, my wife is living her dream of being a physical therapist, we accomplished our mutual goal of getting her there, and I discovered my actual dream of writing.
My point is not that you should stop doing whatever you’re doing and start something new. If you and your spouse are united together in a mutual goal, then keep doing what you’re doing.
What I am saying, however, is that the act of helping your spouse’s dreams come true could open the door to possibilities you’ve never considered. It will also strengthen your marriage more than you could ever imagine, and teach you that the pursuit of selflessness can sometimes be the greatest pursuit of all.
Why You Should Put Your Spouse’s Dreams Before Your Own
It’s natural for us to want to pursue our dreams and feel fulfilled in life. However, you can get just as much fulfillment and joy out of helping your spouse achieve her dreams before you pursue your own.
Jalin is a full time writer who enjoys writing about his own journey being a dad, husband, and someone deeply passionate about his work. His authenticity in what it means to be a stay at home Dad shines through in his story as he seeks to inspire other men to not only run after their dreams, but to do so in a way that is supporting and uplifting to the people most important in your life.