How to Support Your Spouse in Their Goals
I am very much a goal-oriented person. When there is something to achieve, I work and work until it is accomplished. Similarly, like most Americans, I have a tendency to always be setting goals and working to better myself and accomplish new things.
But what happens when you get married, and your spouse is the same, and has goals of her own?
And just for fun, let’s throw in kids, because let's be honest, we think accomplishing goals is challenging before kids, until you have them. Then you learn it was so easy to accomplish your goals pre-kids.
Currently, my wife is going to graduate school to earn the degree of Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), simultaneously she is a mom, a wife, home schooling our daughter, part-time entrepreneur, and training to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Kind of a lot huh?
A couple of these things are necessary roles that will continue whether she says so or not. These are the roles of wife, mom, teacher, and entrepreneur because they are necessary for our family at this point in time.
However, going to grad school to become a PMHNP and training for Boston are not absolute requirements, they are personal goals that she has chosen to work towards.
Now, having the same personality and desire to set goals is great, because I can understand her desire to accomplish these things. However, it also sucks... There typically isn’t much room for a husband and wife to pursue major goals simultaneously.
So, how do I support her in her goals, while at the same time resist the urge of going crazy for having to limit my own goals?
That’s a great question; one in which I honestly still struggle. Though I have found ways to get there.
What does it look like for me to support my wife in her goals?
A couple examples would be going on a run and stopping, frequently, with our daughter while she is riding her bike, while holding the leash for our dog, so that my wife can have an uninterrupted long run.
Or coming home from work and making dinner and helping my daughter with her school work while my wife is working on her own homework.
Additionally, when we actually get time just as a couple, the support continues because her training and her school don’t just stop because we have a free evening. I’m a runner too, so going on long runs as a couple isn’t necessarily something I dislike, but sometimes it’s nice to just chill... ya know?
These aren’t extraordinary situations by any means, many of you have probably been in similar or far more demanding scenarios. And as you know, they can become draining, feeling like you never have the time that you need because you’re working so hard to open up time for your spouse.
Whenever I feel resentment or an internal struggle of feeling tied down without the freedom to achieve, I have to consider her position.
How many times has she stood by my side while I pursued a dream that either did or did not work out?
What will it mean to her to accomplish these goals?
Why do I want her to accomplish this goal?
By considering these questions, it doesn’t necessarily remove the struggle but it encourages a change in mindset to help you remain supportive. I have a desire for her to achieve her goals, probably more than she does some days. It is those days that it becomes difficult.
The days when she wants to quit or is tired of training, or burned out from the constant homework and class discussions. These are the difficult days, and the days it is most necessary to lean on why you want her to accomplish the goals she has set and provide encouragement however needed.
Every act you have ever performed was performed because you wanted something. Seems childish and absurd, but it is true. Dale Carnegie once said in his great book How to Win Friends & Influence People,
“you are interested in what you want. You are eternally interested in it. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you: we are interested in what we want.”
By answering the question, why do I want her to accomplish this goal, prior to these difficult days, you are more likely to have convinced yourself that it is something you also want and are then instinctively invested in.
If you are like me, you will still need small goals that you can accomplish along the way in order to avoid becoming stir crazy.
Communication and scheduling are keys to success in helping yourself while helping your spouse. Spend one evening each week planning out what needs to be done to move towards accomplishing all goals over the next 7 days.
Then continue to communicate throughout the week because we all know, no day happens without some craziness. Things are always changing. Be willing to mold and adjust. Instead of viewing these adjustments as a hinderance, try and view them as an opportunity.
Lastly, choose to support your spouse each day.
Because it really does just come down to that, a choice. Just like your marriage, every day is a choice, so add it to your duties. Because your spouse is worth it!