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Supporting Your Spouse While Maintaining Individuality

Photo by Alexa Williams

When we were dating, supporting each other in our hopes and dreams seemed easy. As we get older, it is more difficult at times to set aside our own individual wants and focus on each other’s desires. We’ve noticed that the times we were strongest as a couple were the very times we set our own desires aside in order to support each other in the ways we each needed most.

Steph: One such pursuit for me was going back to college to get an advanced degree.  I wanted to work as a High School guidance counselor – a dream I developed while staying home to care for our young children. This pursuit involved a financial burden and also required me to be gone a couple of evenings a week for class. Paul supported me in my studies by working out our budget so we could pay for tuition and even hired someone to help with housework so I could focus more on my studies. In addition, he pitched in at home with the nighttime routine when I was gone even though his workday included a long commute. Paul also used his gift with the English language to edit my papers and help me study for tests. It took me three years to earn my degree and it would not have been possible without Paul’s continued encouragement and support. By sharing the journey together our relationship thrived in the midst of the added busyness and stress. My love for Paul deepened as he lovingly made sacrifices for me to realize a dream.

Photo by Sorin Sirbu

Paul
: During my law enforcement career, there were times I had to work odd hours. But as I gained seniority, I had the opportunity to work more “normal” hours. The problem was, I had a horrible commute of 120 miles round trip that was significantly worse during daytime hours. I approached Stephanie to let her know that working swing shift hours (3 PM – 1 AM) would be my preference in order to avoid commute traffic. I’ll never forget her response, “I will support you no matter what hours you work. Just come home safely to me.” Now this was easier said than done, because with me working these off hours, Stephanie had to take care of things at home on her own – preparing meals, helping the kids with homework, taking them to and from activities, handling parent-teacher conferences solo, bedtime routines, and so on. And did she ever complain? Not once. She fully supported me so that I could keep my sanity and avoid sitting in traffic for two hours to and from work. As a result, when I wasn’t working, I was able to be fully engaged with our family. Having her unconditional support further cemented our bond and strengthened us as a couple.

Reflection Question: Recall a time when your spouse supported you in a time of need or in your pursuit of a goal/dream. How do you feel recalling that time now? 

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