Dreams and Relationships

Guest blog by Linda Miles Ph.D
Author of The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

In order to use dreams for the benefit of an intimate relationship, the dreams must be recorded; otherwise, most will be forgotten or distorted over time.

There are many formats for recording dreams; the one we use, which you may modify to suit yourself, is based upon the stages of analysis. We divide the page into three columns. In the first , we write down what happened in the dream, without judgment or any attempt at interpretation. At this stage, attempting to "understand" the dream may interfere with its proper recollection. In the second column, we write down any association with the dream's contents (people in the dream, things that happen, where the dream occurs, objects that appear, etc.). We also note any key-word symbols, and follow the associations freely. In the third column, we place ourselves back in the dream and write down the feelings/emotions we experienced at each stage.

Here is an example of a recorded dream:

Dream Date: ______________________

Dream Title (written later) _____________________________________________________

Dream Associations Feelings:
I was chasing Rick Baseball bat-weapon, Anger, rage, strength
with a baseball bat strong

Rick (Tony's best friend) abrasive, loud, insensitive

I hit Rick several times until he TV-source of contention Satisfaction yelled: "Stop! I'll turn the TV off!" between Tony and me

Dating the dream is important: it provides a context for reference. You may find that dreams remain with you for many years.

After completing each column, we review it, ask what insights have been gained from it, and write them down. We also trace our behavior and actions in the dream; for example, are we standing still or are we moving in a particular direction? Are we behaving passively, aggressively, assertively? We give ourselves permission to feel any emotion that might have emerged from the dream. At the same time, we ask ourselves, "Am I confronting what needs to be confronted here? Does the dream show action or inaction creating a better or worse situation for ourselves and others?" Finally, when we feel we understand what the dream has to tell us, we ask, "How would we rather have interacted?" The answer can be used to rewrite the dream, creating a new one in which we interact with the dream images and symbols in a better, more satisfying way. The process helps to create new patterns of interacting in our daily lives.
Except in the presence of a trusted therapist, it is probably best not to reveal your dreams if your partner is not willing to listen to them nonjudgmentally or carries a grudge about your relationship, i.e., if he or she does not have "soft eyes." Revealing your dreams to someone else requires trust, and should only be done with someone who holds you and your dreams as "a sacred trust and a wonderful adventure."

Here are some guidelines for sharing dreams with your partner:

·*Write down your dreams and explore them in the manner outlined before sharing them.
·*Don't share your dreams without permission. If your partner seems resistant, explore the reasons. If resistance is still there, honor it.

Tell your partner what you want from her or him as a listener. For example: "I want you to listen and then ask questions that will help me explore the dream message further." These may be questions like: "How did you feel when you fell down?"; "Have you ever felt like that in normal life?"; "Does the person who pushed you remind you of someone?"; "How would you change the dream if you could?"; "How would you change your way of interacting in it?" Questions like these are usually more helpful than for your partner to attempt to interpret your dream.

When you share your dream, make sure you have your partner's undivided attention. Ask for what you need. If time is not available immediately, see if you can set up another time during the day.

If sharing your dream with your partner seems unhelpful at any point, explore what the reasons might be. Honesty is paramount, but you will have to be understanding of your partner's lack of expertise. You must also appreciate that issues raised by the dream may be sensitive for both of you. It will be a chance to be caring and compassionate in return.

If your attempt to share your dream fails, there will probably be other people in your life who will be interested in sharing dreams with you.

Dreams are catalytic, stirring personal responses in listeners as well as dreamers. It is only normal that a partner will occasionally want to interpret a dream. When this happens, ask yourself honestly if you want to hear someone else's interpretation. The chances are that it will be different from your own but it is unrealistic to expect anything else. You might find it helpful to ask your partner what they would be exploring if the dream was theirs.

Ultimately, dreams are a mystery. Since they are featured in the earliest known writings, we know that people were speculating about the origins and meanings of dreams as far back as 2000 BC. But the key to understanding dreams has not yet been found. We do know, however, that dreams are sometimes prophetic. They can tell us about daily events that happen to people we know, as well as earthshaking events that affect everyone. At other times, they communicate, on a literal or symbolic level, messages that help us understand our thoughts, feelings, and interactions more clearly. Sometimes they provide us with affirmations that stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Dreams have been regarded as sacred in almost every religious tradition. As you begin to share your dreams with your partner, you are embarking on a venture into a "sacred realm," a miraculous realm. Think of your dreams in this manner and they will gain in richness and depth. You will feel united with your partner, other people, and all of creation. You will dwell within the mystical way.

An excerpt from The New Marriage: Transcending the Happily-Ever-After Myth ©2000 by Drs. Linda and Robert Miles (Publisher: Cypress House). 

Jung, C. G., Dreams. Trans. by R. F. C. Hull (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1974).
Jung, C. G., Man and His Symbols (Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1964).
Jung, C. G., Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Aniela Jaffe, ed. (London: Collins Fontana Library, 1967).
Jung, C. G., Portable Jung, Joseph Campbell, ed. (New York: Viking Press, 1971).