It’s a double blessing having a partner, companion, or mate with whom you share your future.
There’s the companionship, of course—maybe even love!
And there’s the planning, which can be the source of great fun and mutual accomplishment. It will also be a challenge!
Our task in this chapter is to remove the negative aspects of that challenge by clearly identifying which dreams are singular and belong overwhelmingly to the dreamer and which either overlap with the other person or are wholly shared with them.
Something else important happens when you start comparing and merging
shared dreams—you get to really talk with your mate about things that matter.
Life-creating and life-confirming things.
Many of us are married or have a partner and we intend to keep it that way for as long as we can.
But if you have a mate and that isn’t so, why not just quickly skim this chapter to see what it says? (You’ve got other decisions to make and work to do that lies beyond the realm of this book. Come back here later, if it’s appropriate.) But do continue to the next chapter and get your own Action Plan in order. You have valid dreams worth living.
The idea here is to see how we can take both our dreams and our partner’s and create a shared Super Second Life where we each enjoy our independence and our desired interrelatedness for as long as possible.
The process begins by each of us developing our own Dream Lists [see planning at the website], defining the dreams by commitment, then time-pegging them, as the previous chapters explained. Once we have completed our time-pegs, we can set them side-by-side to see which of our listed commitments are overlapping or shared and which are personal.
The two boxes that follow help us create those lists.
How do we determine which dreams go into which box?
Let me make a very loose assumption that explains one criterion. It is that most couples first pool their income(s) into a common, meets-the-needs kitty. From that kitty they pay their shared dreams too. Then what’s left can be used for their personal, non-shared expenses or dreams. (See more about this in Chapter 14.)
So I would list in the “Overlapping and Shared Dreams” box three obvious items: (1) those dreams which would be jointly financed from pooled funds, (2) activities that are the same or very, very similar for both people, or (3) activities that, by their nature, make no sense without a companion. (Later we will use this box to produce a “Co-Funded Budget Sheet.”)
All other dreams—those that are indeed individual to the respective
mates—would go in the “Personal Dreams” box. (This box will later serve
as the core of a “Personal Budget Sheet.”)
Sometimes which goes where isn’t all that clear. Like when mates will both be doing the same thing but the action is peculiar to each. For example, if both are cigar box jugglers and wish to continue that perilous and eccentric discipline into their rigidity, the issue is whether they (1) juggle as a team, (2) they both participate in the same large juggling group, or (3) they juggle separately, he with Field’s Flying Objects and she with the Dainty Old Ladies Who Throw Things.
The first case is clearly shared. The third is purposely singular, or personal. But I have no idea about the second item. Alas, you are mates: talk and figure it out, then list appropriately. There are no iron-clad rules. It’s your plan!
Your assignment now: compare your Dream Lists and fill in the two boxes.
Since we’ve focused primarily on my spine-tingling time-pegs [Gordon's
list appeared earlier in the book], let’s now take a look at my wife’s
prioritized, 55-70 time-peg. )You’ll note that certain items are slightly
reworded [from her earlier, fuller list]. They could be entirely reworded
or different altogether since the entire process is dynamic and can be
modified at any point or time.)
|1. Have a warm, supportive, loving marriage.|
|2. Sell the publishing company.|
|3. Join forces with a leading consulting firm to sopify the dental world.|
|7. Maintain my weight at 125-130 pounds.|
|8. Be physically active through golf, walking, cycling, calisthenics, and sports.|
|9. Visit my family in Tulsa and Arkansas four times a year.|
|10. Visit my husband’s daughters and family four times a year.|
|13. Interact with my children/grandchildren three to four times a week.|
|15. Surround myself with warm, supportive, creative, positive-minded people.|
|19. Read the daily paper and weekly/monthly periodicals.|
|26. Create a college trust fund for my grandchildren.|
|27. Buy a powerful laptop computer that will allow me to quickly access the Internet and to email family and friends.|
|28. Have a positive impact on everyone I meet.|
|29. Become financially secure, wise, and responsible.|
|31. Go on an annual retreat with women friends.|
|35. Write a how-to standard operating procedures book for the masses.|
|37. Sightsee: visit historical sites, museums, art galleries, natural wonders.|
|40. Be brave, courageous, disciplined, principled, and ethical, and live a life of integrity and honesty.|
Our next step is to transfer the appropriate dreams from both her and my Dream Lists to the respective sides of the two boxes.
We’ll see that in a moment, but something else very important is happening here, something every bit as significant as filling in the boxes. Since this is the first time we are seeing the other’s prioritized Dream List, we are getting a unique, valuable look into the other’s desires, hopes, and wants. And in comparing and discussing our lists, we are actually working together to create a new, shared dream for our joined future. That should strengthen any marriage at every step of the process.
This kind of structured, non-threatening future talk is rare to most marriages. Usually some general ideas are known or assumed and a general direction is understood as being shared but the details, breadth, and order are never discussed, much less put to paper.
Here, in a simple exercise, done separately and now brought together and compared, we can each see what is really important to the other person, what they care enough about to fight for. For us, it was a new insight into the other’s expectations and fields of joy.
That sharing may be as important as the step-by-step planning of our collective and respective Super Second Lives.
What did our “Overlapping or Shared Dreams” box look like?
|Remain happily married for our lives.||Have a warm, supportive, loving marriage.|
|Sell the DCU/MCU publishing firm.||Sell the publishing company.|
|See two live plays or concerts per month.||See two live plays or concerts per month.|
|Attend movies regularly.||Attend movies regularly.|
|Visit my daughters and their families at least quarterly.||Visit my husband’s daughters and family four times a year.|
When Marsha first looked at my prioritized time-pegs, she cried unfair—“I’d have put them down too if I had thought of them!”—when she saw that I had included regularly seeing live plays, concerts, and movies. Ever the charmer, I simply included them in the shared box and added them to her side.
The other three were straightforward: we want to be together from here on (if you can imagine, she even wants warmth, support, and love!), we want to sell the publishing company (which we jointly created and own) so we can each move on, and we both want to visit my daughters and their spouses at least quarterly.
The number of our shared dreams was small, probably because we’ve only been married for five years and were single some years before during which we created full personal lives.
We decided to leave two other items on the separate, personal lists: controlling our respective finances and visiting her daughters regularly.
One thing is obvious, for you and us: since we are creating the list, we can decide where each dream goes and from which financial pot it will be financed.
Those dreams not in our “Overlapping or Shared Dreams” box go in the
“Personal Dreams” box. We will see that list in Chapter 14.
As we discussed the items in that second box, I was surprised how strongly Marsha felt about visiting her folks (over a thousand miles away) four times a year. They are good people but the difficulty is the travel time required, the cost, and the length of the visits. Her wish is completely understandable since her parents are aging and unable to travel to us. And it will likely diminish as Marsha herself ages and her parents pass. But it also gave us a chance to reach some understanding about my own lack of enthusiasm for accompanying her on the trips, with a loose commitment to accompany her once a year to become better acquainted with her kin.
The rest was interesting to read but contained no shocking surprises for either of us.
What if we had found some real conflicts or areas of true discomfort?
Like me wanting to burn bridges and she, build them? Or I detested her
bevy of sisters and she wanted us both to live with each of them for two
months every year? The conflict resolver in Chapter 15 would come into
play. We have used it and while it’s not magic, it sure comes close...
The point of this chapter is to identify now the directions and issues that will be important later, weigh their importance, and put those of merit on paper, to begin the dialog for resolution or a path for mutual enjoyment.
Better now than to find ourselves out to pasture and both running as fast as we can in different directions. Or worse, when one is running and the other is sitting.
So more planning and sorting on these pages. The future will come for couples or individuals whether we plan for it or not. Most us don’t plan our first lives; we react. But we’re older now, with learning and street smarts and living bruises. It makes nothing but sense to do it for the second time around.
Let me add two additional segments, from Chapter 8 ("A Super Second Life Dream List Comes First...") and from Chapter 13 ("Financial Resources Must Now be Added to the Action Plan") because both directly address Second Life planning for mates or spouses. Extracted from a larger text, they are slightly rewritten here for clarity:
If you have a spouse or partner?
Congratulations! They are people too, entitled to their own hopes and dreams. They also need to create their own dream lists, and later Action Plans.
Why? Because you may not reach old age and they will have to fend, and grow, without you, hard as that may be to imagine. Or you may not reach old age mated. Or you may find yourselves still mated but drifting into separate orbs of action. So everybody should know what they want to do with their own extra 30 years...
In that enlightened spirit, I asked my wife to create her own list, without consulting mine first. (She is a decade younger than I and, at 50, plunk in the ideal 40-55 year old initial planning period.)
What will we do with our lists? Later we will compare them, and perhaps
add or subtract a bit from our own lists, influenced by the new ideas the
mate proposed. Then we will time-peg them, to see what is planned for when.
Finally, we will divide the two lists into (1) a co-funded budget sheet
and (2) a personal budget sheet. More on that later.
When you and your mate both have travel expenses?
While each item generates its own Action Plan, let’s look here at two
at the same time in print to see how each of us plans for our own travel
|Dreams: Travel annually to see brothers, in alternate years.||Visit family in Tulsa and Arkansas four times a year.|
|1. Round-trip to Hagerstown, MD||
|1. Round-trip to Tulsa||
|2. Car rental for one week||
|2. Car rental for one week, to drive to Arkansas||
|3. Gas money for rental||
|3. Gas money for rental||
|4. Mad money during visit||
|4. Mad money during visit||
|5. Round-trip to St. Louis, MO||
|6. Car rental for one week||
|7. Gas money for rental||
|8. Mad money during visit||
|Trip to Maryland||
|One trip to Tulsa/Arkansas||
|Trip to St. Louis||
|Four trips to Tulsa/Arkansas||
Again, there are ways to reduce these amounts:
(1) We can want less—reducing the number of realized dreams or allocating less to each. Of course, we can just eliminate one or several trips. We can mooch a car from the family when we arrive. We can drive less or rent the car for fewer days when we’re there. They can visit us.
(2) We can postpone them to a later time or age bracket. That’s okay with my brothers, but Marsha’s mother won’t be around if we delay too long.
(3) We can earn some or all of our shortfall funds, probably by part-time working. Better yet, in this case, we can include the trips as add-ons to our speaking itinerary, if we are still doing that and are booked in the general area. Logistically, the speaking sponsor pays to get us to their site and we pay for the flight diversion or the rate is divided equally—either way, both make a savings.
(4) We can find a way to reduce the costs of realizing one or many of
the wants, to be able to afford more with less. Those pesky Frequent
Flyer miles gathered while speaking can pay for the airfare and the rental
car, so this may be a zero cost outlay at least during our last working
years. (After our working years there may be less reason or will to travel
as often.) We can also drive to Los Angeles (175 miles each way) and considerably
reduce the air fares (offset some by the parking fees.)
But when the expenses come from a common money font and the action is
equally desired by both, then a slightly different form, the “Joined Action
Step Worksheet,” is appropriate.
|Joined Dream: Visit Gordon’s daughters / families four times a year.||
|Car travel, $30 x 4||
|Food, $95 x 4||
|Motel, $50 x 2||
Why bother to list the costs when the plans are long from becoming reality?
Because we must start budgeting somewhere with solid numbers, and being
mortals we will have no idea where the odd totals came from or how they
were derived. It’s far easier to modify than try to conjure up lost ciphers.