What Your Husband’s Nightmares Reveal About Him

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Do you ever wake up and immediately share your dreams with your significant other? If not, you may want to start making that a regular part of your morning routine. It turns out that men and women have very different nightmares. A study of nearly 10,000 dreams reported by 500 subjects reveal that women have nightmares about interpersonal conflict (fights and disagreements). Men most often have nightmares about natural disasters. Even more interesting, women usually have someone dealing with that conflict with them in their dreams. Men, on the other hand, are usually dealing with those fires and volcanoes alone.

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Of course, these are generalizations. Your nightmares, or your husband's, may be totally different. Still, these two kinds of nightmares say a lot about how differently men and women deal with stress -- and we can use that. Talking about those dreams could get you talking as a couple about difficult issues you'd otherwise have a hard time discussing.

Why women have nightmares about relationship conflicts is kind of a no-brainer: It's what we're most concerned about while awake. But what about men and natural disasters? Are guys really harboring fears of earthquakes? I asked dream expert and author Lauri Loewenberg to shed some light on what's really going on in men's minds when the lights go out. 

Loewenberg describes dreams in general as a "brutally honest representation" of what's going on in your life, and how you feel about it. And nightmares in particular represent a difficult situation you're facing in your waking life -- often one you're not dealing with effectively.

It's not surprising that women's scary dreams involve companions. We love to talk about our problems and get input and advice from others. We don't like to deal with our issues alone. But men tend to internalize a lot more and avoid asking for advice, "just like they avoid asking for directions," Loewenberg says.

In her years of experience Loewenberg has observed the same thing this new study found: Men's nightmares tend to be more action-packed and violent. She says they reflect the dreamer's emotional state. For example, a dream about fire or a volcano could represent feelings of anger a guy might be burying while awake. That nighttime rehashing is "a healthy expression of what they're feeling" -- and can give guys another chance to deal with that stress.

So what does this mean for couples? "Sharing your dreams is a great way to start your day," Loewenberg says, whether or not you had a nightmare. It gives you a chance to get an emotional read on each other. Talking about dreams helps you understand each other, especially scary emotions buried deep inside us. Once you get that insight into each other, you can do a better job of supporting each other.

How often do you talk about your dreams with your S.O.? Have you ever gotten any special insight from sharing?

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