Many times when I talk to couples who are frustrated in their marriage, how their spouse reacts to or helps/hurts them in reaching their goals comes up.
I’ve heard couples tell me, “We’re getting divorced because she is holding me back.” One woman told me, “He just isn’t on board with what I want to do with my life, so we’re going our separate ways.”
This is easy to do.
After all, didn’t we get married so we could have a teammate help us accomplish what we want to accomplish?
The cycle in marriage becomes about what we want and the goals we have in our heads: completing school, starting a business/church, certain financial benchmarks. When our spouse doesn’t get on board they are just dead weight getting in the way.
I realized a few years ago that I had made our marriage and family all about my goals. I’m a pretty driven person, and so we moved to Arizona to plant a church. We talked together about what this would mean, but as our kids started to get older, I realized that in my goal setting and drivenness, I left little room for Katie to explore her goals and dreams.
Now there are times in a marriage when you put the goals of one over the other. Maybe an opportunity comes along you can’t pass up. Maybe you decide when you get married that when you have kids the wife will stay home with the kids, so getting the man’s career off the ground matters greatly.
If you aren’t careful though, eventually a marriage will revolve around one person, and it can slowly suck the life and dreams out of the other.
Let me suggest a good (but scary) question to discuss as a couple: Are there any dreams you have right now that I am keeping you from reaching?
Now there are some dreams you have to let go of simply because you chose to get married. There are some dreams you let go of because you have kids. Not all of them, but your life is different now.
Usually the reason we don’t create space for our spouse is our selfishness. We will dress it up in different ways. Church planters will dress it up in God’s will. I did this for a long time. God called me to plant a church, she said yes to it, so it’s now our calling and our goal.
Let me speak to pastors for a minute. You help the people in your church discern God’s will for their lives. You help them learn how God has gifted them and how to best use those gifts and talents. Do you do that for your wife? She is part of your church. Who is she apart from being a pastor’s wife? Who is she as a person who attends your church, and what has God called her to?
Too many couples either give up hope on accomplishing something together, or if given enough time, their dreams will well up inside of them until they will begin thinking about pursuing them apart from the other person.
When, if you took the step of being a teammate to your spouse, you could unleash their dreams together.