I stare with awe at the Brooklyn Bridge every time I visit New York because I know that it wouldn’t be there if it Emily and Washington Roebling hadn’t faced down every conceivable challenge during its fourteen-year construction.
Whenever I visit Boston, I wonder at the life of John and Abigail Adams, who of necessity, lived apart more than together during the tumultuous birthing of America.
And when I enter the hospital room of a loved one, I thank God for Pierre and Marie Curie, who worked side by side nearly every waking minute of their entire marriage to produce the miracle of radium.
The fact is, if we dug into the back-story of most of the world’s grand accomplishments, we would undoubtedly be impressed with how many of those accomplishments are the product of grand marriages.
That term “grand marriage” is one I coined in my work to describe the ultimate union between a man and a woman. This is a husband and wife who have, over time, with concerted effort, succeeded in either facilitating one another’s life-dreams, or in sharing a single dream to great effect. I call the process “dream weaving”, and it is possible, or might be aspired to, by any married couple that is ready to be fully equal, fully inclusive, fully vested.
The trust and respect required in a partnership of this caliber is obvious, but what might not be so discernable (and what differentiates it from other forms of partnership) is the mature, romantic love that prompts each spouse to make one another’s self-development, accomplishment, and happiness pre-eminent. When a loving couple acts on the natural desire to see each other succeed at making a difference, “dream weaving” inevitably ensues.
That’s not to say, however, that merging a woman’s dreams with a man’s quest (and visa versa) just happens. It requires three intentional acts, over and over–much like the three repetitious motions required in weaving a piece of cloth. Both cloth weaving and dream weaving artistically interlace two distinct entities at right (or correct) angles, using the following actions:
- Shedding: This is the motion in fabric production where the ends are separated by raising or lowering the heddle (loom) frames to form a clear space where the “pick” (the crossing thread) can pass. In dream weaving, this simply means a couple must make room for one another’s passions or pursuits. Woodrow and Ellen Wilson’s private family life was gone forever when his career took unexpected leaps to the White House. Though she grieved their lost lifestyle, Ellen made the needed adjustments to accommodate her husband’s responsibilities to the greater world.
- Picking: In this motion, either the weft or the pick (one of the two threads) is advanced across the loom. So in the art of dream weaving a husband and wife must sometimes alternate which (or whose) dreams are on the front burner. Like the two threads of the loom, one is propelled forward while the other holds taut. As the first celebrity chef in the early decades of television, “Julia Child” was in fact a brand that meant Paul and Julia Child. The two were absolute partners in the realization of Julia’s dream, but only after she had followed Paul from one state department post to the next for many years.
- Battening: The final motion required of the weaver entails pushing the weft (the longitudinal thread) up against the fell of the cloth, tightening up the irregular distances. Left too loose, there is no fabric; the threads fall apart. Just so, couples mastering dream weaving purposefully remain tight, engaged, and equally enthused in their shared undertakings. Lillian and Frank Gilbreth shared equal parts parental and household responsibilities, which is impressive enough with twelve children, but they did it while also pioneering the fields of engineering and management.
Dream weavers can, with patience and determination, and by consistently lending practical and emotional support to one another, end up with a tapestry so solid and stunning, the results are generational. Visionaries in love may indeed make the best partners: not just in pursuit of dreams, but in using those dreams to change the world.
Ramona Zabriskie, a wife of 38 years, is the multi-award winning author of Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage and founder of the highly acclaimed Wife for Life University, a one-of-a-kind virtual school for wives that transforms marriages through a step-by-step, principle based approach via live mentoring, classes, and community. Watch Ramona’s free information-packed webinar, “Your Power to Succeed in Marriage” on demand at ramonazabriskie.com.