How to Get Your Spouse to Support Your Dream

From Jeff: This is a guest post by Carrie Starr. Carrie is a writer and professor who helps young couples experience marriage as the adventure of a lifetime. Connect with her on her blog or Twitter @AdventureCarrie. Check out her book, Cheap Love: Living and Loving on Less.

It’s impossible to chase a dream without fellow “believers.” When our friends and family believe in us, they propel us forward. They give us the strength we need to push through the self-doubt and fatigue.

Wedding Rings Photo
Photo credit: ComeliMare (Creative Commons)

This is true for getting started with writing, launching a business, or pursuing any passion.

For those of us who are married, we depend on our spouses more than anyone else. Without their support, we make little progress toward our goals. We don’t become all we can be without their assistance.

So how do we enlist our spouses in our life’s workespecially when they’re hesitant to help or slow to understand?

Share your needs

Unless your spouse is a fellow writer or artist or architect (fill in the blank with your vocation), she isn’t going to understand your needs. So help her out:

  • Be honest and realistic about your schedule.
  • Share the details of when and where you work best.
  • Set reasonable expectations, and ask for support in reaching your goals.

When your spouse knows what you need, he is more able to help you make your dream a reality.

I found myself regularly getting frustrated when my husband Erv would interrupt me or ask questions while I was writing. The break in concentration often derailed me and I’d get angry.

In return, he felt unappreciated and ignored. This did not help our marriage or my writing — which is about marriage, ironically.

Once I shared how I work best when I have large chunks of uninterrupted time, Erv was able to provide it for me. We created specific windows of time for my writing and he planned his own work and other activities during that time.

The change in expectations made a huge difference in our relationship.

Stick to your limits

Once you express your needs and establish a schedule that works for you both, stick to your word. It’s easy to push the envelope and go beyond the time-frame you agreed to. This is a daily temptation for me.

When I’m writing, I can take up to an hour to simply focus. Once I get rolling, I don’t want to stop.

I’m obsessive about finishing and thrive on goals and deadlines. Whatever target I’ve set for the day, I’m determined to reach it before my time runs out.

If you don’t have a family or other commitments, this works out fine. But when you have a spouse and three kids waiting for you to re-engage, you need to stop.

It’s tough to put on the breaks once the creative juices are flowing, but sticking to the limits you agreed on is essential to a healthy relationship.

You honor your spouse and your marriage by keeping your word.

Stay humble and serve

When your spouse supports your needs and gives you room to write or make crafts or become an entrepreneur, you’ll start to experience some success.

This is wonderful and worth celebrating (every milestone reached deserves a good dance party). But don’t forget how you arrived at this achievement.

Without the sacrifices of your spouse, success would not be possible. Her belief in you when you felt like you were failing is indispensable. Recognize the critical role she plays in your progress.

Every moment our spouses free us up to pursue our dreams, they are serving us. Let’s be quick to serve them in return:

  • What are their dreams and goals?
  • How can you support those dreams and help make them happen?
  • Do they know how much we believe in them?

Without my husband Erv, all my success wouldn’t have been possible. I’m thankful to have someone who supports my passion and makes this incredible adventure possible.

How have you enlisted the support of a spouse? Has his/her belief in you enabled you to succeed? Share in the comments.

*Photo credit: ComeliMare (Creative Commons)

74 thoughts on “How to Get Your Spouse to Support Your Dream

  1. Wow…is this ever a timely post! In my (recent) experience, the best way to get spousal support for your dreams is to be the #1 champion for their dreams. My wife and I are going through a “significant relationship renovation” project right now, and this is what it’s all about…supporting each other and making sure there is common ground where our two circles intersect.

    1.  Yes!  I’d call the journey we’ve been on a “significant relationship renovation” project as well.  It’s not been easy figuring out where this “new hobby” fits into our nineteen-year-old marriage.  Glad to know I’m not alone in making this overhaul work.  Sounds like we’ve come to the same conclusion- supporting our spouses yields more support for us as well.

  2. It’s not always easy Carrie. I think people change in time and so do the dreams. Great advice though to support THEIR dreams too.  That is probably the key.

  3. This is very good advice.

    Previously as a musician, and now as a writer, my wife’s support has been essential.

    She’s always been supportive, but like you’ve suggested, that’s been helped by a lot of open and frank discussion about both of our needs. We talk about them regularly and re-adjust things. It stops resentment, strengthens our relationship and empowers both of us to pursue our dreams – together.

    1. Fabulous Chris!  Sounds like you have a great testimony of how this really works.  Less resentment and more empowerment is what every relationship needs!  Thanks for sharing.

  4. This pinpoints one of my problems. My husband doesn’t share my faith: as my writing is largely about faith issues, it’s difficult to share my dreams with him. Some years ago, it was identified that my husband and my mother are the two people most likely to pour cold water on my dreams. Makes for difficulties [I’m master of the understatement!] However, that hasn’t stopped me.
    Having said that, there is much I can take from this post. I try to be supportive of my husband’s dreams – fit my writing around my commitments to him.

    1. I’m so glad you’ve kept writing Sandra! And I hope you find some meaningful ways to support your husband and his dreams. It will speak volumes to him.

  5. This is a good post. I have not enlisted my wife’s support and this has meant that I have  been overextended. I need to talk to her and get her to help me have the space and time I need to write so I can better learn my craft and eventually make a living this way. One of my goals as a writer is to make a living, to at least replace the earnings from my (sadly) underpaying and rather menial manufacturing job. 

    1.  I am trying to do the same Cyrus.  I work part-time so I’m hoping to establish my writing as a supplemental income for our family.  I’m glad you’re going to speak to your wife about how she can support you.  I hope the discussion with your wife goes well!

  6. Sometimes I feel as if I am the only one interested in what I do, My wife really has no interest in writing but it’s ok because it won’t stop me from loving what I do.

    We can’t expect our other half’s to always support our dreams because it is our dreams not theirs but! you should not let that stop you from reaching your goals…

  7. The biggest problem I have experienced was my spouse(s)’ imposing their own ideas of what “constituted success”. When I did something for the sheer love of it for a minor publication, they would envision me getting published in a major magazine. When I would slave over a “freebee” they thought my time would be better spent elsewhere. When I took a college teaching position, they longed for the big bucks I had made before. We were never financially challenged but, since they were not writers, they measured success in terms of money, not the satisfaction that goes with pleasing an audience.  

    1.  It is challenging when you have different definitions of success.  Few writers are motivated by financial gain.  It’s hard to describe the satisfaction that comes from making a connection with your readers.  

  8. Here’s a funny twist. My work (and to be honest, my personal preference) requires me to work alone in uninterrupted stretches. It took awhile, but my husband and I came up with a fragile but workable routine. Now, however, my husband has started working on a project where he “needs” my help all the time. The “honey, can I get you for a sec?” requests can turn into hours and are totally throwing off my schedule.

    1. We have the same issue Joanne.  Erv enjoys working collaboratively and regularly wants my feedback or insight on a project.  It can be frustrating when it derails my own work. 

      I am thankful he values my opinion so I try to make myself available.  When I work from home, it’s a time he can ask me questions.  When I really want to be productive, I’ve found it’s essential to leave my house.  I go the the library to write 4 or 5 days a week in the mornings.  This is my precious, uninterrupted time.

      Also, maybe when he asks for “a sec,” you can say, “Sure honey!  I’ve got ten minutes for ya and then I’ve got to get back. ”  When the ten minutes are up, maybe say,”I’d love to help you more.  Can I get back to you when I’m finished this afternoon (or whatever time you’ve set as a cut off.)” 

      1. You’ve got it…that’s what I had to do…define an amount of time I’d give then get back to my art or writing after that time. And once I took responsibility to set a schedule in the studio and discuss with him why I was there then he scheduled other activities for himself. (Amazing how much more productive we are now, too.) We also make a point of little bursts of time together even if it is just to run errands together or cook breakfast together. We have to do this in order to have our free time for our own interests and because we work at the same place but on different schedules. EEk!
        Loved the article. We’ve been married 38 years.

  9. I am grateful my husband supports and believes in me. This post is helpful and practical as I have two little boys vying for my attention.

  10.  If you can include their dreams and goals in the picture, in my experience, they start to jump on the project with you, even if it’s just to be a cheerleader.

  11. My husband and I are actually working on figuring this out right now. It can be difficult, but when things click, I can feel the tension just melting away.

    1.  What a beautiful image Angela!  You describe exactly how I felt when my husband and I finally found a  workable schedule for us both.  I hope it keeps clicking for you!

  12. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. We meant exactly one month before I started art school (40 years ago in August– time flies!). We met at the Museum of Modern Art sculpture garden, where I was drawing the Gaston LaChaise bronze of a standing woman. He started to talk to me, and that was that; when I got home, I told my mom I’d met the man I was going to marry.
    Since the moment we met (literally) he has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader. He gives me credit for training his eye, but it was already good when I met him. He, in turn, taught me things that have made my art and writing better (time management skills and the use of tools, both hand and power, are among those things).
    It was obvious to him from the first moments we spent together that I was an artist in my blood. It was the first thing he loved about me. We’ve been partners throughout; I’ve encouraged him to start, and keep writing because he has such a gift for storytelling.
    I know how blessed and lucky I am/we are. I had so many friends in art school and later whose relationships foundered on the shoals of art and literature. One of the things that makes it work for us is that each of us is very comfortable in our own company. He doesn’t mind being alone while I am on a deadline, and the same goes for me. We respect each other’s physical and mental space. We don’t thoughtlessly interrupt each other. We support each other’s physical plants. If I’m too busy to cook, he orders in and doesn’t whine about it. We each make sure the other gets enough rest and eats right and goes out and exercises.
    Marriage is a partnership, ideally; when you’re both creative (it’s my vocation, his avocation), you have to bring your work into the partnership as well.

    1. What a fantastic story you have!  Thanks for sharing the difference it makes when two people really support one another in this wild, wonderful world we call art!

  13. My girlfriend works in publishing, so she understands better than most. We’ve got a plan. She rises to the top of the publishing world, and then publishes everything I write. Seven steps after that we take over the world.

  14. Not only do I get interruptions from my husband, but even more from my grown kids.  The computer I write with is in a room with the second tv.  So not only do they want to use the computer, they want to watch tv, too.  It’s difficult.  And I have health issues so coming up with a schedule is difficult because there are times I’m too exhausted or too headachey to write.  Really slowing me down.  I may need to get a laptop to have in my room away from the tv distraction..

    1.  It does sound like using a laptop where you can  get some privacy would be very helpful for you.  In the meantime, perhaps communicate with your grown children about your dreams and goals.  Let them know you need their help, which in this case means giving you some quiet time in your work space.  I hope they give you the support you need!

      1. You’re right, I should do a better job of that.  I hate kicking them out of the room, but they’ll live, right?  ;O)  And they make locks on doors for a reason!

        1. They will live.  And they will learn an important lesson from your example of being disciplined and pursuing a dream.  This is a much more generous gift than allowing them to watch TV.  I’m glad my children are seeing me work hard toward a dream.  Someday, your children will  thank you!

  15. Great wisdom here! I love the part about serving your spouse in return. I think it is essential to stick to your expectations you set as well. If my wife said she would be home at 9pm, it didn’t bother me. If she said she would be home at 5pm and got home at 7pm, that drove me nuts! If I can expect it, then I can prepare myself and find something to do in the meantime. Thanks for sharing!

  16.    I’m glad to say that my husband is my biggest fan. When I finished Fracture he was the first person to read it. He told me he loved the storyline and said I had a winner. After the beaming smiles came the nagging doubts. Is he just saying that because he loves me and he doesn’t like the sofa, or did he really mean it?
       I sat down and asked him why did he like the story. I found myself fascinated as I listened to a man who had totally forgotten he was telling me about my own book. He was there, in the story and he really did enjoy it.
       He is proud of what I have accomplished and gives me the space I need to do it in. He brings me a soda or a sandwich, looks over my shoulder a sec and heads for his corner of the woods.
      Oh! I almost forgot to mention, he’s great at editing too. 

    1.  Sounds like you are blessed with both a talented and supportive husband.  What a gift!  Your glowing appreciation of him is encouraging.  =)

  17. This is a great post.  I would love to apply this, and there is a lot to take away, but my biggest issue is my husband doesn’t “get” my writing.  I’m not published in fiction although I have had some free lance articles pubbed.  He sees my fiction as a hobby, or something I can do when the “real work” is done.  Unfortunately, he judges most things by the monetary reward for the effort involved.  He’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong, but the writing is important to me and I can’t share it with him.  I’m not giving up, and I know eventually I will prove him wrong, but in the meantime, it’s hard.  Any tips?

    Thanks again for a great post.

    1.  I’m right there with you Callene!  Until I’m paid well for my writing, my husband considers it a hobby, not work.  He is not being mean spirited with this definition.  He’s a practical guy and is looking out for the financial needs of our family.  I appreciate this about him.

      The responsibility is on us to help our husbands understand the true value of our writing.  The joy and satisfaction coming from it cannot be measured in  dollars.  If we can make time for our writing without taking away from other responsibilities to the family, we would like their support of our work.

      What is your husband passionate about?  Does he have an interest where he’d like to invest more time?  Since I began writing my husband has joined a golf league, a father/son bowling league and our church’s softball team.  I support him investing his time in these interests.  Likewise, my time is now more free to pursue my writing. 

      Keep sharing your heart with your husband and be sure to listen to his as well.  I’m so glad you’re not giving up on your dream!

  18. Great post. Married 26 years and 5 kids 12-22. I think the most important is be honest in what you need. And base what you need on respect and love for the family.  I learned to get up early, which means go to bed early to be ready to be wife and mom. Since our computer is in our living room we have all learned to use the interrupt rule.  As a child that is a hand on thigh until acknowledged. With teens and young adults that means when someone is typing it is as if they are talking. Wait and be aware of others needs. Balance of tensions.

  19. Great word Carrie. Couldn’t agree more. When I first felt the tug to start a blog, I was nervous to tell my husband, a very gifted web designer. I finally got up the nerve and he was incredibly supportive, even moving some paid jobs to the back burner to get me up and running. His technical expertise has been a huge benefit, but the emotional support he gives me has been his most valuable gift to me, by far.

  20. I am incredibly lucky to have a husband who has supported me even when I wouldn’t let him read anything I wrote, struggled to let my own creativity flow and deleted at the first sign of doubt. He’s encouraged me to branch out and let my writing shine, to let people read it and to put myself out there … and two years later I have a publishing deal. Never would have done it without him. 

  21. Whoa, I totally resonate with this! Sometimes it’s difficult for my wife to understand how I need a routine and chunks of time for me to effectively use my creativity in my work, and how each interruption resets my brain. It’s also hard at times for me to explain the work that I do because it’s much different than anything she’s seen before.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Carrie, in sharing your story.

  22. I haven’t necessarily enlisted the help of my wife to support me in my writing. She is aware that I have blog and write and post on my blog weekly. She tries to be supportive as much as she can. I do share bits and pieces but I haven’t really sat down and talked to her about my bigger vision. I need to do a better job communicating what I a doing and not just give her bits and pieces when I think about it. 

  23. I have definitely enlisted my wife’s support – without her, I wouldn’t be and my work wouldn’t be anything.  Not only does she offer ideas, she helps shape and improve what I produce.  Additionally she believes in my talents and a abilities.

    While I believed for the most part that I could achieve my dreams, her enthusiasm that I really do have the talent and ability has propelled, energized, and challenged me to continue pressing on. 

  24. Great article – going through some if this now and it was refreshing and encouraging to read your perspective.

  25. Great article! I have a question regarding the support of your spouse financially. My husband and I believe in spending money very differently. He thinks we shld use our seperate money for business ventures and I believe that if we don’t have enough in our separate money, our joint account should finance our business. A business can’t thrive without some financial backing, what is the best way to pursue a dream with my spouses support financially?

  26. Am barry david i want to share my testimony to every one After being in a relationship with my wife for 7 years,she broke up with me,I did everything possible to bring her back but all was in vain, I wanted her back so much because of the love I have for her, I begged her with everything, I made promises but she refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 5pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that she was so sorry for everything that happened,that he wanted me to return to her, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to her, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise
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  27. Am Barry David i want to share my testimony to every one After being in a relationship with my wife for 7 years,she broke up with me,I did everything possible to bring her back but all was in vain, I wanted her back so much because of the love I have for her, I begged her with everything, I made promises but she refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 5pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that she was so sorry for everything that happened,that he wanted me to return to her, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to her, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise
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  28. Am Barry David i want to share my testimony to every one After being in a
    relationship with my wife for 7 years,she broke up with me,I did
    everything possible to bring her back but all was in vain, I wanted her
    back so much because of the love I have for her, I begged her with
    everything, I made promises but she refused. I explained my problem to
    someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell
    caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the
    type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I
    mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that
    everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me
    before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day,
    it was around 5pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the
    call and all he said was that she was so sorry for everything that
    happened,that he wanted me to return to her, that he loves me so much. I
    was so happy and went to her, that was how we started living together
    happily again. Since then, I have made promise
    that anybody I know
    that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by
    referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who
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    marriage problems or any DISEASE via this email omozespelltemple666gmail.com He’s going to solve your problem for you have faith.

  29. I am an author. I write erotica, horror and plain romance. When it comes to writing I research everything. This bothered my wife of 20 years. Simply because she wanted every two seconds what I was doing what I was researching on and I tried to explain to her that it’s for the books I was writing, but she felt uncomfortable. At first she was supportive, but she eventually told me that she pretended to do so in hopes that she could discourage me to stop. I couldn’t network because she disliked the fact that I was communicating with other authors (both male and female) she felt that they were taking my time away from her. She even accused me of cheating on her with my writing. This came up because she kept hovering over me as I wrote and conducted research. Getting angry with me on what I was writing and having temper tantrums because of it. I even tried writing when she was sleeping not to bother her, but she would purposely stay up as late as she could just so I would be too tired to write. She then told me that she felt that she wasn’t good enough for me and I looked at her strange. I thought it to be ludicrous at first, simply because I used her as my inspiration for my female characters. All of my female characters in someway shape or form is my wife, but then I figured that perhaps it was the erotica or romance that she was having trouble with so I focused more in the horror. It turned out that she disliked it when I wrote all together. In the end she forced me to make a choice… Her or my writing and despite that it hurt me to do so. I gave up my dream of becoming a writer. A dream that I had ever since I was 12 years old. A dream that was now coming true. I have five novels published and two short stories out there. My series: The Masked Emotions is winning awards and I was getting a solid fan base, but my family is more important. Would I resent my wife in the future… Maybe… It will fester within me knowing that I constantly make sacrifices for her and the only sacrifice she made is and I quote: “I sacrificed my body giving birth to our children and that’s good enough!” so as I take all of my projects. Some completed, others halfway and I place them into my folder, never to be opened again. I have to think what I am doing is for the best for my family. At least that is what I am going to keep telling myself. It’s for the best for my family… Thank you for reading this.

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