Dr. John Gottman’s words on trusting the process and offering support to each other help guide the discussion around Dreams Within Conflict.
“This strategy of discussing dreams when you encounter conflict does not come easily to many people. Perhaps that’s because we’re taught to stick to a narrow field of absolute facts when faced with opposition. If you believe there’s got to be a winner and a loser in every conflict, then you try to make your argument as objective and highly accurate as possible: otherwise you’ll be proven wrong. We lose a lot with this narrow approach – namely our ability to find shared meaning and connect emotionally. But once we broaden the landscape of our discussion to include dreams and hopes, we can see where our visions merge! We can find room for compromise.”
Discussing dreams within conflict is difficult. To talk about such deeply felt, meaningful, and personal things is to make oneself vulnerable. That’s scary, but though the proposition may feel high risk, it can also offer high gain. You won’t have to take the chances alone. This blog offers you a few suggestions for showing honor, support, and respect for each other’s dreams when you have a conversation:
- Ask questions about the dream, such as “What’s the story behind that?” Dreams usually have a history or a narrative behind them. They often come from your partner’s past.
- Offer empathy. You don’t have to be ecstatic about this dream, but it may be helpful to express: “I understand why that is important to you.”
- Offer emotional support and validation. Even if you can’t directly help them to achieve their dreams, communicate: “I am behind you 100%.”
- Participate in the other’s dream. Read about the issue, help to make plans, and offer advice if it is desired.
- Give support: childcare, transportation, whatever you feel able to offer.
- Join the dream on a trial basis. If it works well, consider joining it entirely. Make it a part of your own vision
Understanding the basis of each other’s most deeply felt hopes and desires for the future is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in a relationship, but it can’t happen overnight—to open up to each other requires trust, real trust. Building trust, and feeling your partner begin to trust you, will bring you to a place where this kind of connection is possible. When you find this connection, your bond will naturally become stronger. The two of you will grow closer than ever, building your friendship, your intimacy, and your romance. Keep these things in mind as you encounter opportunities to try this approach with your partner.