When I tell people that I work with spouses of entrepreneurs and high performers, they always respond with: “that’s a thing? Why do they need coaches; seems like they would have a pretty nice life.”
They do! A lot of spouses enjoy a great life. But a lot of them also feel a certain degree of Purpose Envy.
Purpose Envy is a thing
Purpose Envy can set in when you share a life with someone who is incredibly driven and committed to serving a higher purpose. Waking up next to someone who leaps into their day with vigor and leaves the house every morning ready to change the world can leave the spouse feeling confronted with a void in his or her own life. It can feel deflating to not have a similar point of connection as it relates to one’s own passion.
The value of using a coach to navigate this territory is to reduce the anxiety and potential for conflict when discussing this with the purpose-driven spouse.
Often, the purpose-driven spouse will offer advise, solutions, or ideas on how to “monetize” their purpose-seeking spouse’s interests or talents. And I’m not saying that’s wrong or bad, but that can cause even more overwhelm for the seeking spouse who may need to start in his or her own personal space.
If you are the purpose-driven spouse looking for advice on how to support a purpose-seeking spouse, my best advice is to LISTEN. Effective questions that help move the conversation forward are questions like:
“What do you need from me?”
“How can I best support you?”
“What’s the difference you want to make in the world?”
“When your friends call you for advice, what are they asking you about?”
“What are you doing when you lose track of time?”
Then, as he or she starts to respond, keep asking “what else?” This is the unraveling that will help them sift and sort through their thoughts and ideas.
You are not alone.
If you are the purpose-seeking spouse looking for direction, first, know that you are not alone. It’s okay to feel a personal void- even in the middle of a really big life. It is normal to want more- even if you already have it all. It’s totally understandable to feel disconnected from yourself when you have had so much attention on your partner and their pursuits.
And, if you’re feeling like there has to be more- THAT’S the invitation. That’s the indicator that something more is waiting for you. And there IS room for your passion and the pursuit of your purpose in an already big life.
Some useful exercises for you are to dabble. Yes, it’s going to look unproductive and a little haphazard, but it’s also a great way to figure out what you’re into and what you’re not. It’s also a great way to get into ACTION! Nothing gets us to our purpose like momentum, so get into action toward something (ANYTHING) that brings you joy. That’s generally the fastest path to purpose!
So start saying “No, thanks” to the activities that don’t excite you, and “YES!” to the activities that intrigue you.