I think that one of the things that contributes to a happy marriage is dreaming together. That means sharing individual dreams, dreaming together and supporting each other in the fulfillment of an individual dream which in effect becomes a shared dream.
One of the things that first attracted me to Bob when we were in high school was his ability to dream. As we began to date I was drawn more to him as he began to include me in his dreams. He dreamed of having a doctoral degree, he dreamed of designing a dream home for us, he dreamed of moving to the Southwest. The ironic thing is that none of these dreams became a reality for him. Likely because we began to dream together and his initial dreams were replaced by dreams we dreamt together. We dreamed about what our marriage would be like, we dreamed of having children even picking out names for a boy and a girl before we were married. We dreamed of one day owning a home even if it wasn’t our dream home. Early on we began to dream about helping other couples support and enrich their marriages, likely by being involved in marriage prep. We dreamed of careers, but knowing that I would likely stay home for some time to raise children.
As time passed some of those dreams became realities. We did have children – not just the two we had named – but God gifted us with two more. I did indeed stay home with them. Bob got a teaching job at Harper College and quickly became involved in curriculum design, how to use developing technology in his classroom and numerous faculty activities such as faculty evaluation and working conditions. While I wasn’t directly involved, he always included me in his ideas and allowed and encouraged me to make suggestions for him along the way. That dream house he wanted to design has been replaced by three homes that we agreed to purchase and decorate together along the way. The house we currently live in is the closest thing to a dream home we likely will ever have but all three of them are filled with memories of dreams that faded and dreams that became realities. Our dream to help married couples didn’t exactly unfold the way we expected. We experienced a World Wide Marriage Encounter weekend in January, 1974, and opportunities to help other couples seemed to drop into our lives. As we did that, a dream to perhaps one day write a book together began to emerge with the encouragement of others. That dream became a reality in 2009.
In the midst of my years at home with our children I never lost my dream of wanting to teach. Part of our dream for a college education for each of them included my going back to work to finance it. Twenty four years ago I received a phone call inviting me to replace a teacher who was taking a leave to tend to her sick mother. It was to be a nine week position. The teacher never returned and that phone call changed my dreams and made them a reality. From the time I was a child I dreamed of teaching history and that was reinforced by a favorite high school history teacher. In the sixties, those of us who attended Catholic liberal arts colleges also received enough credits in religion and philosophy to enable me to teach religion in a Catholic high school. That’s what the phone call was about. When I accepted the position we had two children in college and our youngest had just started school. It seemed perfect. My major course for teaching was the Bible. I was fascinated by Bible history as a child and as an adult, from time to time, had read the Bible. Teaching Scripture to teenagers was a new adventure. Believe it or not, it was actually teenagers in those first years that I taught that helped me to fall in love with the Word. To make Scripture come off the page for my students I began to use words from Scripture as my prayer to begin class. It usually involved a small reflection on the words and then a closing prayer. Many days I spoke of my own life in the reflection but often I used books written by various people to help me. With the years that we had spent and continued to spend working with married couples I began to dream of writing a reflection book for married couples using the daily Mass readings. I thought it would tie couples into the richness of Scripture as they lived their marriage and it would provide a connection to the Church and the liturgical seasons. The dream remained a dream until I retired from teaching. I had for many years talked with Bob about doing this and also with trusted colleagues. A year and a half ago, with Bob’s encouragement, I began the process. It seems overwhelming at times as I recognize that I need to write six hundred or so reflections to encompass the two cycles of the daily liturgical year. I have completed half of them. Bob has been my biggest supporter and encourager. Earlier this year Bob suggested that I consider posting them each day on our Wonder of Marriage Website. We suggested I begin on Ash Wednesday.
So how did this dream of mine become our dream? First and foremost is that our marriage and life together has become the basis for many of the reflections. Bob’s dream of a wife he could be proud of was not new to this but so often I hear him tell others that I am becoming “an excellent homilist” and how good the reflections are. Lastly, I have no idea how to post anything. I use the computer to write, surf the net, and communicate with others but putting anything like my project on line is beyond my capabilities. But that is something he can do and likes to do. While I had always wanted as the title Together in the Word, we found that that was already taken so together we came up with Living Together in the Word. And so, my dream became our dream and as of today it is becoming our reality. It will be a challenge to post each day but no doubt rewarding as we grow together in the Word. If you are interested and would like to enrich your marriage on a daily basis, my/our postings can be found at http://livingtogetherintheword.com
There is so much more that I could write about but likely some of that will come in our future weekly blogs. I would enjoy and appreciate any feedback you might give on the reflections.
The dreams that Rita described have been a large part of our marriage and dreaming was, and is, an important activity that brings joy to our lives and keeps us eagerly anticipating the future. Rita’s dream that is unfolding in her writing and the Living Together in the Word blog has been around for a long time and I have encouraged her all the way. In the course of our marriage I have watched her and loved her as she blossomed from a somewhat shy and reticent person into a self-confident leader of people. The confidence has allowed the world and me to experience her intelligence and compassion for others. It is always my dream that she will continue to grow and become the best person she can be.
When she started to write I was delighted to see her excitement and the quality of her writing. I tell her that she is becoming a very good homilist. I share her dream and know that it is good for both of us. I see myself in a supporting role, doing much of the practical. Yesterday I set up the new web site for her blog. I look forward to continuing development of the site and posting her daily work. I also enjoy being her proofreader and editor as each post is readied to go online. We will work together on ways to promote the blog.
Perhaps the more important part of my role is to keep encouraging Rita and cheering her on. This is a big undertaking, but I see her perk up and get excited about the reflections she writes. Sometimes she just shares her excitement and sometimes she asks for help in clarifying ideas. Most of all, I believe that I help just because I continue to live with her in an active relationship. She refers to me and our life at times in the blogs, so I can claim to be a source of material as she writes.
We have often talked about the importance of supporting each other, encouraging each other, and rejoicing in each other’s successes. This is another opportunity for me to do so for Rita. I’m excited! I think her writing is always good, sometimes brilliant. I look forward to encouraging her to keep working at it and helping her to realize her dream of providing spiritual support for married couples.
Check out Rita’s first post (for Ash Wednesday) at Livingtogetherintheword.com