When to pause your dreams for someone else

Relationships are a challenge! Neither person in a relationship should have a monopoly on the other. This is true of friendships, work relationships, and marriages. All relationships require a little give and take; all of us will need to compromise to make relationships work. Compromise isn’t fun nor easy, but no relationship will last without some degree of it.  

But the more significant challenge in relationships is determining when it has gone from compromise to exploitation.  

Every sane human being understands that a degree of compromise is necessary to make a relationship function. However, we all want to protect ourselves against being exploited. Sherry Eifler learned first-hand how confusing this relational grey area gets.

She is not only a wife and mother, but also a military spouse. She is responsible for compromising to make her marriage work as a wife. As a mother, she had to learn to respect her children and allow them to grow into mature adults. And like all military spouses, many vital areas of her life are out of her control.

Serving in the military forces a family to give up many fundamental freedoms that other families have. Some of the privileges that military families sacrifice are costly, and perhaps no freedom is more expensive than putting your dreams on hold for a while.  

The cost of pausing your dreams

Every military family I’ve known has faced challenges and sacrifices. Most of those families struggled with the cost that those sacrifices were asking of the family. Therefore, when military families are asked to place their dreams on hold, it’s natural to ask if this way of life is worth the cost.

I’ve seen warriors who demanded that a spouse or child put their dreams on hold to advance their military career. This heavy-handed approach to leading a military family significantly damaged the relationships every time this happened.

Sherry made the difficult decision to put her dreams on hold for a short period, for the good of her family.  She was willing to make a short-term sacrifice of her dreams for the long-term benefits of her marriage.  She learned that all families must learn the art of compromise to survive the military lifestyle. 

Never stop your dreams

But there is a big difference between pausing and stopping your dreams.  I’m sure you’ve paused a movie to deal with a pressing issue.  You hit the pause button on the remote because you intended to return and finish the movie when the problem had been addressed. However, hitting the stop button says, “I’m not going to be able to finish this movie… not anytime soon, perhaps not ever.”

Being asked to hit the stop button on your dreams is when a relationship crosses from the grey area into a very dark place. I’m not convinced any human being should have the authority to demand that another person stop their dreams altogether.

There’s something very unhealthy about the kind of control one partner wields when they demand that another stop their dreams altogether. If you are in a relationship where someone insists that you give up your dreams forever, then perhaps it’s time for you to reevaluate remaining in this relationship.

Fast forwarding your dreams

Timing is one of the critical benefits of placing a temporary pause on your dreams. Just because your dreams are paused doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to work toward accomplishing your ultimate goals. In every way possible, use this temporary, tactical pause to put the pieces in place to fast forward your dreams when the timing is right. 

Sherry learned that pausing her dreams doesn’t mean she’s doing nothing. When her career was on hold because of her husband’s military commitments, Sherry worked behind the scenes to fast forward her dreams when the timing was right. She mastered the tools to lead while her career was still on pause. 

Today, Sherry uses her experiences and training to help others lead better.  None of this would have been possible if she had stopped pursuing her dreams when the demands got too great. She worked on her leadership skills while facing challenges as a military spouse.  She strengthened her core by getting certified in courses that would help her accomplish her dreams.

All human relationships require sacrifices. However, don’t let the relationship become exploitative.  If you must temporarily pause your dreams to strengthen your relationship, use the break as an opportunity to put the pieces in place to fast forward your dreams when the timing is right.

Listen to my recent interview with Sherry HERE.

Read about Jeff’s military career.
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