It can happen anywhere. My mind wanders and I find myself in another world, a fantasy world. At times, my daydreaming got me into a little bit of trouble. Teachers often didn’t appreciate it. But now, thanks to a group of researchers, I’ve discovered how being a daydream believer can benefit my marriage. Perhaps it can help you and your marriage, too. Have you ever had times in which you and your spouse had to be apart? It may be as simple as having to spend the day at work. Or it might be more involved or lengthy, like a business trip, deployment, or living in different time zones due to work for a period of time. Could daydreaming help you maintain your connection?
In a study completed in 2015, 126 people were divided into three groups. One group was asked to daydream about a “another person that you have a close, positive, relationship with like a friend, family member, or significant other.” A second group was to enjoy a daydream “just about yourself. It shouldn’t involve thinking about or interacting with anyone else.” And a third group was given a simple working-memory task (a control group). After being assigned to one of the three groups, each person took a quiz designed to elicit feelings of loneliness. Then, each group did their assigned daydreaming or working memory task. Following this, each person took several measures of feelings, desire to connect with others, and willingness to help another person.
What were the results?
- Social daydreamers (those who daydreamed about a loved one or friend) and non-social daydreamers (those who had a daydream that only included themselves) exhibited an increase in positive feelings. BUT, only social daydreamers exhibited an increase in positive social feelings. In other words, only social dreamers exhibited an increase in feelings of connection, love, and belonging!
- Social daydreamers also exhibited a greater willingness than non-social daydreamers to help another person. In other words, their increase in positive social feelings went beyond mere feelings and led them to take different actions than non-social daydreamers. They “put their feelings where their actions were” and responded to requests for help.
- Social daydreamers also expressed less desire to interact with others (strangers) in a future task. Their “need” for connection and belonging was satisfied through daydreaming about their significant other.
What does all this mean for you? Well, if you’re missing your spouse you don’t need to look for some connection at the bar or on-line chats or pornography. You don’t have to sit in your room feeling blue either. Instead, you might spend a little time daydreaming about past interactions and possible future interactions with your spouse. A little daydreaming and you’ll likely feel greater connection, love, and belonging. That’s why I’m a daydream believer.
PS—By the way, you don’t have to limit yourself to a daydream if you’re missing your spouse. You might also give your spouse a call.