“Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious” said Freud, the father of psychology and psychoanalysis. The Royal Road! Freud’s colleague, psychiatrist, Carl Jung, felt that, “the dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the psyche.” We have come a way since Freud and Jung, but their universal insights highlight the value of the unconscious mind that govern our behavior, feelings and streams of consciousness. Psychoanalysis served to make the unconscious, conscious. Nowadays, in our hurried modern lives, we call it “mindfulness”.
Let’s reflect on a situation that many have experienced
A scenario loving couple with a healthy relationship, where one night one of them wakes up after dreaming that the other cheated on them, left them stranded, yelled at them, etc. The dreamer barely pulls a thread from the dream, perhaps mentioning it to their beloved before bolting from bed to slay the dragons of the day, leaving their dream world behind in neverland with one caveat, the lingering “felt-sense” of the unsettling dream. The dreamer eventually becomes annoyed, even angry, at their beloved for “some reason”. Sound familiar?
What if a 10-minute pow-wow upon rising with your other half could, not only prevent these mysterious feelings of angst, but foster greater insight and bonding? At my Atlanta, GA psychotherapy practice, I regularly encourage people to rise gently and take stock. Too often our minds go from 0 to 100 mph, robbing us of a balanced and peaceful set point for the day. Several deep breaths calms the mind and help prevent dreams from being chased away. By delaying our fleeting thoughts, we are more likely to grab a thread of the dream. The more quiet mindfulness, the more threads can unravel to reconstruct, weave and make meaning of our dream.
Here is where the fun and benefit to your relationship begins
Take a moment to recollect your dream, so that the memory of them is grounded. (Both partners already know not to start chattering). Perhaps you will only do dream work on one person’s dream that morning and the other’s, the next. I am not a believer of dream dictionaries or universal symbols in dreams, because, for example, an apple in one person’s dream may mean a MacBook and in another’s, New York City. This is where your partner can help you find meaning to those loose association from dreamland. Ideally, they know you and the nuances of your life, work, what you are excited or worried about, important events and deadlines coming up, etc. With practice, you and your partner can create meaningful associations from that “strange dream” providing insight, direction and clarity to worries, fears, desires, comforts, etc. Utilizing and processing the dream with compassion, attentiveness and insight can not only result in greater understanding of the lurking shadows of the unconscious, but by feeling heard, validated and understood. That mysterious agitation from unprocessed dreams eliminates and deeper awareness and bonding occurs that can surely improve your relationship.