To dream of dishes represents ideas, beliefs, or situations that are being "handed" to the dreamer. What one has received or hopes to receive from others. You may feel that life is handing you a certain experience "on a platter."
To dream of broken dishes represents broken promises or failed expectations. Something you thought was guaranteed is no longer possible. Feelings of poverty, lack, and inadequacy.
To dream of dishes on a shelf represents possibilities that are waiting to be realized. You can provide something any time you want.
To dream of washing dishes represents moving on or planning for the next phase of your life. You are finishing up with something or completely getting rid of certain beliefs you had.
Example: A man dreamed of seeing a woman he liked washing dishes. In waking life he had just realized that she had a boyfriend and that it might be a good idea to get over her completely.