One of the biggest things that brought my husband and I together when we first met was our shared faith. We had pretty different interests and hobbies, so without the commonality of our faith I’m not sure we would have ended up dating and eventually getting married. It was definitely a unifying factor for us. In fact, in the first few years of marriage we worked together in a faith-based organization. We were fortunate to get to share much of our life together, working side by side. In our free time, we naturally had a lot to talk about because our work was so intertwined. We felt deeply connected, like we were making a real difference in the world together as a team.
But over time, it became clear to us that it was time to move on from those jobs. My husband, Eric, went back to school to finish his music degree and then went on to get his Master’s as well. Meanwhile I was developing new interests, many of which revolved around motherhood since we had become new parents. We still spent lots of time together, but after awhile we began to notice a growing discontent within us that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. Eric spent so much of his time working on music and wanted me to be involved with him, but I have absolutely no knowledge of or talent in the field of music whatsoever. It is almost impossible to connect deeply with a dynamic like that.
While having lunch with our pastor one Sunday, looking for advice on how to address that nagging feeling of not quite being as connected as we used to be, he said something that has stuck with us. “You need a shared vision. You need to be dreaming together. If you’re not working towards something bigger than yourselves together, then you’re bound to grow apart.”
This resonated deeply with us, so we set out on a mission of dreaming together. Now, I would love to report that we immediately felt more unified and were able to take tangible steps towards something meaningful immediately, but that’s not the case. It took about another full year before we found a faith-based, social justice group that our whole family could be an active part of. During that time we experienced feelings of frustration that our lives weren’t overlapping in the way we desired. We still frequently felt distanced from one another, but we were determined to keep trying.
Since then, we have moved states and are in some ways having to figure out all over again how to intersect our lives for something bigger than us. It’s never easy to start over, but the good news is that now we know how important it is for the health of our marriage, and we can make it a priority. For us, shared faith is our biggest unifier (which extends to community involvement and social justice). For others it might be a cause that they are both passionate about, a family business that they dream of opening one day, or any number of other things that inspire people to think outside of themselves. It can look differently for different couples, but having shared vision and shared work will exponentially increase our satisfaction in our relationships. What we’ve found is that often it just takes a little extra effort to figure out what that means in our lives.