Your Spouse Is Not the Enemy of Your Dream - Sarah Mae
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Your Spouse Is Not the Enemy of Your Dream

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This is a guest post by my friend Jeff Goins. For a limited time you can get his new book, The Art of Work, for free (just pay shipping). Find out more at http://artofworkbook.com. Enjoy!

When my wife and I first got married as a couple of kids who moved to Nashville to chase our dreams, she vowed to be my biggest fan. At the time I thought it was nothing more than a sentimental idea.  But it was much more than that.

Years later, when I was in the midst of trying to become a full-time writer, I forgot that promise. I shouldn’t have, but I did.

It was at a conference about chasing your dream that I started to wake up. One of the speakers asked us to raise our hands if we didn’t know what our dream was. So I did.  Then he said, “I believe you do know what your dream is. You’re just scared to admit it.”

I immediately put my hand down. It was trembling. And with it, I wrote one word in my notebook: “writer.”

That night I rushed home to my wife, Ashley, to share with her my dream. “Jeff,” She sighed. “I’ve been telling you that for years.” I admitted she was right and went to sleep.

Shortly after that, a friend asked what my dream was.

“Well,” I said, “I guess it’s to be a writer.”

He just looked at me and said, “Jeff, you don’t have to want to be a writer. You are a writer. You just need to write.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe faith really is the substance of things not seen. Maybe you have to believe something before you can become it.

Maybe activity follows identity.

I shared this profound truth I had stumbled upon with Ashley. And once again she sighed. “Are you kidding me?!” She asked. “I’ve been asking when you’re going to write a book. Why does it take someone else telling you something for you to listen?”

I kissed her, opened my laptop, and began writing.

For the following year, I woke up at five a.m. almost every day and wrote for 365 days straight. I started a blog, got a book contract, and began making a living off my passion. It was an incredible year, one I will never forget.

But it was also a year of frustration. Every night I’d stay up late to work on the next day’s blog post. And some time after midnight, my wife would call from our bedroom for me to come upstairs. 

And I would ignore her. 

Because secretly I was believing a lie that holds you back from fulfilling your calling.

I thought my wife was the enemy of my dream. 

We all do this sometimes, I think. We believe those closest to us don’t want us to succeed. And this attitude can corrupt the best of intentions.

Why do we this? I think it’s fear. Fear of vulnerability. Of being known. Those closest to us have the greatest potential to wound us. They can discourage us, and shoot our dreams down because they know what wounds us. This is the cost of being known, of being loved.

In my case, I wanted to write and inspire people and support my family, but the thing I was trying to protect — my family — was the very thing I was destroying. And I almost missed it. 

The day my first book was published, my wife threw a surprise party for me. I came home after work to a house full of people. And on the table next to a pile of cupcakes with my book cover in decorative frosting was a card. I opened it. Inside, it said: “it was never a question of if but always a matter of when.”

That’s when I got it.

I always thought your dream was something private, something you didn’t dare tell somebody else about. I was wrong. A dream doesn’t belong to you. Your calling isn’t about it. You are a caretaker of the dream, a steward of the calling you’ve received. And it’s up to you to live a life worthy of it. Which includes loving well those around you.

Don’t make the same mistake I made. Don’t make your greatest supporters into your worst enemies. Your spouse is not the enemy of your dream.

Was there ever a time when you chased a dream at the cost of a relationship? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below.

And be sure to pick up your free copy of my book (just pay shipping) here: http://artofworkbook.com.

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  • Daniel

    I haven’t chased my dream at the expense of my spouse. Quite the opposite. I sacrificed my dream for the sake of delivering stability for her and our then future children. The soul-sucking career I had for the next 8 years killed my desire to think or be creative. I lost all sight of my purpose and my hope for a future that meant something to me.

    Over the past three years, I have been able to work to empower my wife in her blog, which has become our family business. I have the tiniest embers of hope for my own personal dream left. But mostly I’m just tired.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Sorry to hear that, Daniel. I think life happens in seasons, and certainly there are those times of sacrifice. I hope you don’t give up on your dream. I think what you’ve done for your wife is very noble and honoring to her. Stay encouraged.

    • KT

      I can completely relate, Daniel.

  • JonTasch

    Inspiring prose. Thank you for sharing this.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Jon!

  • Kandace

    Beautiful transparency, Jeff. It’s been fun watching you live out your dream while learning what’s most important. You know my story so I’m right there with you.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Kandace. I’m trying. You’re doing a great job. I’m learning from watching you. 🙂

  • Matt

    I have the most epic story. Thought about writing a book. Lol, I would sell millions of copies! Need an amazing story? I have one!

  • Laura

    I ended my marriage and let my ex free to pursue his dream he claimed I was holding him back from; in reality he was holding himself back. However, getting divorced has freed myself up to pursue my passion, and as an unintended side effect, I will be moving to Canada for a year and will become a completely different person in my career field because of it. Strange how life can change so quickly if you let it.

  • http://www.piggybankdreams.com Laura Harris

    Right up my ally. I’m the timid dream chaser, fresh out of the gate and still head checking to see if anyone is in the stands laughing. My husband is a man of few words, so I don’t get the daily high fives and atta girls that my rail-thin confidence craves. But I’ll never forget once when I had all but given up my dream of writing, he was the one who asked “Are you still writing?” When I said “No”, he looked me in the eyes and replied, ” You should”.

    So thanks for the spot on content, Jeff. As always.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Love that, Laura!

  • http://www.echoesofmyheart.com Katie Reid

    Thank you for sharing this story. My husband is my biggest supporter yet when I got out of balance with my priorities and time he ever so gently tells me. He was tired of waking up to a cold bed and going to bed alone because I was up writing. We had some hard conversations and I am trying to either get up early or go to bed late but not both. Although it felt frustrating I so appreciated him helping me stay accountable to my bigger dream of a healthy marriage and being a present wife and mom. I believe that as we honor our vows God will bless us with productive time to work on our “dreams” without sacrificing our greater dreams.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Sounds like you’ve got a good one there, Katie.

  • Denise

    Wonderful article. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

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