When Your Spouse Changes Dreams Because of You

By  |  16 Comments

as my husband and i sat down to a dinner of BBQ chicken and grilled corn (our personal favorite) last night, we were talking about how different our life is than what we initially thought.

i randomly blurted out “do you resent me because you didn’t join the Peace Corps?” When Your Spouse Changes Dreams Because when we started dating in 2007, we both had dreams of our own and plans that were set in motion. my husband always dreamed of going into the Peace Corps right after he graduated and was planning to do so. with my crazy anxiety and not a strong desire go into the Peace Corps, i told him i wasn’t that interested.


we continued to talk about what we would do when we graduated in 2009 and he still clung closely to the idea of joining the Peace Corps because that is how he always envisioned his life’s move after college. he wanted the experience of helping people, changing lives, no cell phones, learning a new language, and being immersed in a culture so different from his own.


as our graduation approached and we fell deeper in love, i tried to get my brain and heart and body to consider joining the Peace Corps but i just couldn’t do it. i told him it wasn’t the right thing for me but completely supported his dream and plans to move to a third world country and do good but i wouldn’t be moving with him.


he was upset. he was disappointed. he considered going without me. he said my anxiety was now not only dictating my life but also his. this was his dream, it was only two years, we would learn so much…


we fought. we argued. we cried (okay that was mostly me).


he said he couldn’t bear spending those 2 years away without me experiencing it with him so he made a life change and did not join. he chose me over his planned dream. i was relieved but i knew how intense of a decision this was for him. even though he made the decision, i knew he wasn’t fully happy with it…or with me.


we ended up moving from colorado to portland right after graduation so i could get my master’s degree in social work. he worked his keester of trying to find work and doing odd jobs of making lattes, passing out samples of food, even teaching an old man how to use his computer, while i attended school. this was far from the Peace Corps and we both knew it.


we didn’t bring it up, we couldn’t talk about it because it usually resulted in more arguing. the fact was that the decision was already made and a new life plan was in motion.


thankfully after 75+ job applications and more than a year in portland, he found a job he enjoyed in a city he grew to love. it still wasn’t the Peace Corps but he was slowly finding peace with that decision.


so as i set my cob of corn down and asked him last night if he felt resentment towards me and that he hadn’t joined, he replied,


“it wasn’t resentment, it was sadness and disappointment and i did feel that for a while. probably a little too long. regardless, you are more important than anything else so i don’t regret that decision because we have created an amazing life together. i’m sure our life would be very different if we went that route but then we wouldn’t have what we have now and it’s great!”


i thanked him for changing his life dreams for new ones. it doesn’t make me feel powerful or like ‘i won’ over the Peace Corps because i know what a serious decision this was for him. it’s not something i take lightly or ever want to take for granted because his life path was altered because of me.


i’m not sure how i ended up with such an understanding, open and forgiving life partner, but i’m sure grateful i did.


  1. Amanda

    August 6, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Oh man, I relate to this so much. My husband is in a band, and I know it’s something he’s passionate about and his dream. While I try to support that, at the same time, I secretly hope they don’t make it big since I don’t think I could stand him going on long tours while I’m at home alone. It’s selfish, and I feel bad thinking those things, but I view it as love coming first over anything, and he sees it as chasing a dream while he’s young and has the chance to. It’s a tough balance for sure, and something I think we’re both still working out.
    Amanda recently posted…How to Start Living Healthier

    • chelsea

      August 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      wow, i didn’t know your husband is in a band amanda! that would be very tricky to want to be supportive but also not wanting the flip side of wild success because of how much your life would change. thanks for your honesty in this and i’m glad you are both trying to see where the other is coming from. dreams and goals can be hard, especially when they don’t only effect you anymore.

  2. Paula Howley

    August 6, 2014 at 11:19 am

    This is what it’s all about and this is why you guys have such a strong marriage. Love isn’t a feeling, it’s something we DO. It’s a verb. By giving up something important to himself and sacrificing, he showed how much he loves you. By not harping on it and bringing it up all the time, he showed you even more.
    You got yourself a rare man there Chelsea. Not many people have developed their ‘self’ enough to be comfortable sacrificing for another. I mean, really, this is why we even have war, isn’t it? Because nobody wants to give up what they’ve got for another.
    Wonderful post.
    Paula Howley recently posted…Public Presentations For Kids

    • chelsea

      August 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      love is a verb-you are totally right paula! he sets an amazing example for me and i was heavily reminded of that last night when we brought up this conversation because it would have been very easy for him to go on and on about it.

      that balance of not giving up what we want for another is tricky. i am a big believer in going after your dreams and goals-even those big, scary, lofty ones (as i know you are too) but then you have to weigh out the other side of things too. who does it effect? what are the repercussions? what are the positives? tricky stuff-this human business.

  3. Lindsay @ The Newlywed Notebook

    August 6, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    What a great guy you have! That’s so true though that he changed his plan for something better, so hopefully you don’t have too much guilt about that. I can really relate to you with this because I suffer from some pretty severe anxiety as well, and I feel like I make not only my life more stressful, but my husband’s as well. This was a great one to read!

    • chelsea

      August 7, 2014 at 11:26 am

      i am indeed pretty lucky, lindsay! thanks for reading and your comment. while i don’t feel guilt over the peace corps anymore…i do sometimes feel guilty over the anxiety that effects both of us. sorry to hear you deal with that too but i continue to work on it and he has patience and understanding so that obviously helps!

  4. Pingback: Notes from a Newlywed

  5. Nicole

    August 8, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Oh my gosh, is it weird that I got a huge lump in my throat and teared up at your husband’s response to your question? It makes me so happy that there are still people who are married, who stick through it together! My husband and I have been married for just over a year now, and about 2 months after we married, he was offered an electrician apprenticeship. We both know that if we want to have a family one day, and a house of our own, that this is one of our best options (our very best at the time). He hates his job right now, and I feel guilty all the time that he has to do the dirty work. He’s talked to me about not being happy (though still happily married to me!) and it makes me nervous that one day, this will all blow up. He’s only in his first year apprenticeship, and after his 2 months of school, he wants to go up to a camp to work on the rigs and it has double the pay, pension, benefits, etc.. It’s going to be a huge decision, but he said it would make him happier knowing that what he’s doing would be a bigger benefit to us.

    ah, I totally just vented. Thank you for writing this post and for letting me know I’m not alone in this!
    Nicole recently posted…Yummy! || Gluten Free Poutine

    • chelsea

      August 8, 2014 at 11:54 am

      not weird at all because i think a lot experience these tough times with our spouses so thanks for your comment, nicole! congratulations on celebrating your one year of marriage! i’m really sorry to hear your husband is hating his job and i can understand your guilt around him not being happy there. i’m glad that he’s sounds more excited about working on rig (thought that sounds like tough work) and i think there comes a point where you need to weigh the pros and cons of the decisions we make.

      i’ve been in a job that i’ve hated and there were very few ‘pros’ to it so i quit and then had to scramble to figure something else out. there were other jobs i’ve had that i didn’t hate but they were so stressful so i had to figure out how to change them (and me) so i could cope better. it’s hard but both of you hang in there and thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  6. Christina

    August 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Just catching up on your most recent posts, Chelsea. Great stuff, obviously!

    I really appreciated your honest reflection of your experience with compromise in your relationship. I’ve been on the “sacrificing” end of things this last year of my relationship. Jesse is starting his second year of law school this fall and I think it took him interning in Seattle this summer (away from me, in Nashville), for me to let go of my resentment.

    Before moving to Nashville, there were countless moments full of many tears (mostly mine,,,just like you) because I couldn’t understand his fixation on attending law school. I saw it as a waste of money in an employers market. I also saw it as me having to confront the inevitability of growing up (moving out of my mom’s house, finding a professional job, etc.) I’ve (unfairly) blamed him for many of my failures since our move. Fortunately, he’s tried his best to be supportive and patient, despite the unkind words I’ve said.

    Self-improvement was one of my goals this summer. Instead of focusing on how frustrating various circumstances have been down here I engaged in several activities, like my blog, that put me in a more positive head space.

    So what I’m trying to get at is that sometimes we make significant sacrifices so that our partner can pursue their dreams, but we can’t lose sight of ourselves and the things that make us happy. Otherwise, we place a lot of unnecessary stress on both ourselves and our partner.
    Christina recently posted…How to [Recycle Your Closet]

    • chelsea

      August 17, 2014 at 9:06 am

      thanks for your comment and for reading christina! thanks also for being so open and sharing the struggles that you have dealt with in terms of jesse going to law school and his internship in seattle. really happy to hear you’ve started to let go of some of the resentment, i know that can be tough. love that you had a goal for the summer of self-improvement and it sounds like you are doing great things to suppor that goal!

      your blog is looking great and could not agree more that we do have to make significant sacrifices to help support our partners but we can’t lose sight of ourselves. beautifully said!

      • Christina

        September 3, 2014 at 11:43 am

        Sorry I never replied to your lovely reply! Even though I checked the “notify me of follow-up comments” box I haven’t been seeing your comments. Anyway, really appreciate that you take the time to read everyone’s comments and provide thoughtful responses to them.
        Christina recently posted…#ootd [live on the green]

        • chelsea

          September 4, 2014 at 3:38 pm

          sometimes wordpress gets weird. you should have received something in your email when you clicked ‘notify of follow-up comments’ and then you have to confirm that. sorrrrrry but i so appreciate your comments always 🙂

  7. Pingback: Promises to My Husband on Our 4th Anniversary | the new wifestyle

  8. Jen

    September 18, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Wow, just read this post and so glad I did. I stumbled across your website today after stumbling across your Twitter. This is my husband and I, only in reverse–I followed him so he could do his master’s degree. I got into an MBA program elsewhere, so it was extremely difficult for me to give up that dream that I’d worked really hard for. We’ve been here about a month, and I hate it. No luck with the job search either. So reading your husband’s response was very beautiful to me and helped me realize that things take time, and maybe I need to have a better attitude. I like what Christina said about not losing yourself either. Sitting home alone all day looking for jobs on the Internet can be pretty shitty. I definitely need to take the time to do things for myself.

    • chelsea

      September 19, 2014 at 10:19 am

      thanks for your comment jen and glad you found your way to this article! that sounds like a tough situation and i’m sorry to hear you aren’t loving the new place you’ve moved to. congratulations on getting into an MBA program and i’d hope that this is only on ‘hold’ and proves that you can absolutely get into it again! i’m glad my husband’s response helped you think about having a better attitude but i’ve been there and know that feeling of sitting a home all day applying for jobs and feeling like shit. please do take care of yourself and know things will work out. i haaad to get out of the house after i got laid off and either at least sit in a coffee shop and then i started volunteering for the alzheimer’s association so i could interact with people. keep your chin up jen!