Why Supporting Your Spouse’s Goals Is Good for Your Marriage

By Greg Smalley
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God has placed passions in your heart—and also in your spouse’s. Encourage each other in following dreams, even if you have to step out of your comfort zone to do it. You’ll enjoy a richer marriage.

After I finished my doctorate, my wife, Erin, decided to earn a master’s degree in clinical
psychology. I was teaching at her school, and the president asked if I wanted to present her diploma
during the graduation ceremony. I told Erin about the plan, and she loved it.

“However,” I
explained, “when I hand you the diploma, instead of shaking your hand, I’m going to kiss you.”

On graduation day, I handed her the diploma and planted the most epic kiss right on her lips. The
crowd literally gasped and seemed so shocked that the president, who was presiding over the
ceremonies, said, “Relax! That’s her husband.”

The desire of your heart

God has placed passions in your spouse’s heart
— like Erin’s dream of earning a master’s degree. First Samuel 14 describes a time when God placed a powerful desire within
Jonathan: to attack a Philistine outpost with his young armor-bearer. I can only imagine the fear
that the armor-bearer must have felt as Jonathan ordered him to start climbing a cliff so the two of
them could attack a Philistine garrison. But his response was amazing — and it’s exactly how I
want to act toward Erin’s dreams. “His armor-bearer said to him, ‘Do all that is in your heart. Do
as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul’ ” (1
Samuel 14:7

I tried to be like the young armor-bearer when I encouraged Erin’s dream of
getting a master’s degree. But being with her “heart and soul” meant more than just verbal and
financial support. I arranged to work from home one day a week and made a commitment of my time.
Erin worked three years to finish her thesis and clinical hours.

Reaching goals together

To help your spouse achieve
his or her dreams, you might have to give up some of your priorities or even step out of your
comfort zone. But before you can support your spouse’s dreams, you have to find out what those
dreams are. One easy way of doing that is to ask about your spouse’s bucket list — things he
or she wants to do before dying.

I love discovering Erin’s desires so that I can become her
dream maker. She wants to earn a doctorate, skydive, visit the Holy Land and hit 50 years of

How might you be like the young armor-bearer in regard to your spouse’s dreams?

Dr. Greg Smalley is the vice president of Marriage and Family formation at Focus on the

How strong is your marriage? Find out today with the Focus on Marriage Assessment. This reliable assessment is based on the research and experience of Focus on the Family’s marriage experts Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley. Take this free assessment now.

© 2019 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.


Learn How to Cherish your Spouse and Have a Deeper Connection

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? What does it mean to cherish your spouse? Couples who cherish each other understand that God created everyone different, and as a result they treasure the unique characteristics in their spouse. We want to help you do just that. Focus on the Family has created a free five-part video course called "Cherish Your Spouse". In this video series, Gary Thomas will help you have a deeper level of intimacy and connection with your spouse.
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About the Author

Greg Smalley

Dr. Greg Smalley serves as the Vice President of Marriage at Focus on the Family. In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. Prior to joining Focus, Smalley worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and as President of the …

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