When constructing any house, you have to start with the foundation. In the Sound Relationship House, the foundation is the relational friendship. A strong foundation creates a positive perspective and makes managing conflict easier.  When conflict is managed effectively, you can focus on really building equity in the relationship and turning the house into a home.

Statistically, couples who demonstrate mastery in each area of the Sound Relationship House are more likely to have happier, more fulfilling relationships throughout the entire lifespan of their relationship. Consider the Sound Relationship House metaphor as a timeline representing the couple’s ability to strengthen their present (via friendship), redeem their past (via conflict management) and invest in their future (via creativity and dreaming).

We’ve explored what it means for newlyweds and pre-marrieds to build friendship and manage conflict. Indeed, these are the most immediate issues for new couples when discerning whether to even attempt a life together. Once you’ve decided to commit, however, there’s no reason to delay investing in the future. Begin by exploring what it means to Make Life Dreams Come True.

In the short term, that may mean making time to talk about the marriage more than the wedding. Many women (and more than a few men) have been dreaming about their wedding since childhood. There’s nothing wrong with that. I say dream on, and dream big. Your wedding should be an incredible representation of the hope and beauty and confidence and love that you desire for the relationship. At the end of the day – and remember, it’s just a single day – the wedding is still just a representation. A symbol.

Symbols are dangerous because they only suggest meaning. We all know people whose homes are huge, gorgeous symbols of success and happiness, complete with an ocean view. You might even call them “dream homes.” Those couples may have no ability to actually dream together. The house is a symbol but not a reality of what’s really going on in the relationship. I’m not knocking nice houses. I badly want one. I’m just emphasizing that in order to truly create meaning in your relationship, the symbols should match the reality.

What if your dream home was first and foremost a house of dreaming? What if the main question in your home was, “What if?” What if the main answer to that question was, “Let’s make it happen!” Couples who are able to dream and pursue those dreams together are always the envy of the neighborhood.

As a first step, know what your dreams are. Do you remember your elementary school answer to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” What was it? Is it the same now?

I’m officially asking: What do you want to be when you grow up? Think bigger than your career. Where do you want to go? What do you want to accomplish? What problem do you want to solve? What mountain do you want to climb? What hero do you want to meet? What book do you want to read? What book do you want to write? What do you want your kids to say about you at your 50th anniversary party? What do you want written on your tombstone?

Do you know the answer to these questions? Does your partner? The second step in making life dreams come true is actually finding out what those life dreams are. If you don’t know your partner’s answers, find out. You may discover that some dreams are quite simple. “I”ve always wanted a yellow bathroom.” That’s doable, and doing it is an investment in the future. Create the habit now of dreaming out loud and checking things off the list.

One of my dreams has always been to attend a World Cup soccer match. I got to do that yesterday. I went with my wife and daughters to Vancouver, BC to see the US Women’s National Team play against Nigeria. Abby Wambach, the greatest goal scorer in US soccer history, scored in a 1-0 win. I leapt and screamed and laughed and cried. It was a dream come true. Not simply because I got to check something off my list, but because I got to do it with my whole family. That’s a ton of equity in our home.

What are your dreams? What do they represent? For me, that soccer match represented not only my love of a beautiful game, but also excellence and culture and empowerment – especially for my girls. Your dreams aren’t simply about the things you want to do, but also the person you want to become. As you imagine the future, who do you want to be and what do you want to be about? Not only as an individual, but also as a couple. You get to decide together, and that’s the best part of making your Sound Relationship House your dream home.

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Zach Brittle, LMHC

Zach is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Gottman Therapist in Seattle, WA specializing in couples therapy. You can learn more about Zach and inquire about availability at his website.

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