Personal Goals as Passion
Some might suggest that a key to meaningful communication includes interpersonal competence and a healthy knowledge of self- what one wants from the communication. Personal goals are the consciously accessible and personally meaningful objectives one pursues in their daily life. These personal goals are suggested as the factors that give life purpose, structure, and meaning (Brunstein, Dangelmayer & Schultheiss, 1996). Passion is defined in much the same way. Passion is a deep-seated and often unconscious part of a person. It often comes to consciousness to remind the person of his/her purpose and potential success. It is expressed in various ways, but each expression makes one feel like purpose has been realized.
Each individual, given enough time, can think of a personal meaning of passion. Webster’s Dictionary defines “passion” as an “extreme, compelling; intense emotional drive…” (p.1038). Wilson (1998) suggests that “passion” is a motivating factor that is personal and individually significant. She also distinguishes between career goals and personal passions. She suggests that passions are related to vocational goals but can be extricated from them.
The challenge of dual-earner couples is that days full of work and family responsibilities do not necessarily support a belief that life means living out one’s dreams. A typical day might leave little time for passions. This reality can create stress and challenge couples to find a balanced way to respond to the compelling drive of passion and the incessant responsibilities of family. Often in married couples, it is difficult enough to achieve balance between work and family, let alone have time, energy, and permission to realize a personal passion not satisfied in either work or family. Members of the couple may find it difficult as well to articulate this need without disparaging work, family, or both.
Mutual Support in Marriage
Support plays a key role in discovering one’s personal goals and realizing passion. Support is considered to be one coping resource affecting an individual’s or family’s adjustment to stress (Cooke, Rossmann, McCubbin & Patterson, 1988[AU1] ). Support from a spouse has been found to be one of the strongest variables for predicting husband and wife marital satisfaction (Patrick, 2003). Pasch and Bradbury discuss studies which show that spouses who report higher levels of support from their partner are more satisfied in marriage than those spouses reporting lower levels of support (Pasch & Bradbury, 1998). Conger compares emotional support experienced by married men with support experienced by single men. He concludes that support is most beneficial when the source is the spouse (Conger, 1991).
Yet, as Egbert suggests, not all attempts at social support are effective. If a support provider provides the wrong type of support or lacks the necessary skills to construct effective messages, the effect on the support recipient may not be positive (Egbert, 2003). Advice may be evaluated more highly when it is comprehended (MacGeorge, Feng, Butler & Budarz, 2004). Tone, eye contact, speaking in love, and a genuine offering of self are important to effectively communicating the support message. Gottman suggests that the underlying mechanism that maintains closeness in marriages is the symmetry in emotional responsiveness, particularly in low-intensity affective interactions captured by sharing events of the day. That is, spouses enjoy interactions in which each reflects interest, attentiveness, and caring. As well, friendship is what makes couples willing to go through the difficult process of relationship repair (Gottman, 1982[AU2] ).
The Question of Marital Satisfaction
How might couples support each other in career achievement AND foster marital satisfaction? A sketch of factors involved in marital satisfaction include meaningful conversation (Notarius, 1996), time together (playing, eating, conversation) (Kingston & Nock, 1987), belief that the couple determines their outcomes (Smith, 2000), positive interactions (Gottman & Levenson, 1992), trust, affiliation, planning, and patience (Starkey, 1991). Any effective intervention technique would need to create an environment characterized by the above. The COACH Marital Intervention (CMI) model suggests ways that the individual goals of each spouse can be understood as a foundation for factors that increase marital satisfaction.