08 April 2013

Don't FIND a Soulmate, BECOME a Soulmate!

Hello Everyone!

I've been doing some spring home projects (like a crazy person) to make this place a little more efficient.  Anyway, it has been so ridiculously fun.  I may actually write a post about a few organizational tips for small apartments.  Because I guess as a New Yorker, we kinda go nuts over that stuff (but we're talking the basics...stuff like drawers, shelves, nooks and crannies of any kind.)

But in the meantime, I've had this post that I've been wanting to share with you.  Every once in awhile I have a topic that I just want to shout from the rooftops.  This is one of them.

This topic makes me think of myself in my twenties when I found myself in a less than desirable state and in less than desirable relationships, including one that turned into a marriage.  Oh my.  And now there's nothing more I'd rather do than pass on some of this info. to you, in case it's helpful...


OK, I grew up hearing about the idea of "finding a soulmate."  Or finding that ONE TRUE LOVE that was meant to be with me.  I grew up believing that it would just "happen"...I would just know it when I met the man I was supposed to be with...and that there was a man out there that was just meant for me.  I thought of it like this person would make me feel whole - like two halves coming together to complete each other.  I felt like if I got close enough to someone to just love him with all my heart - and if he could make me feel completely comfortable, confident, and accepted and if I could do the same for him...that THIS would be a sign that we were meant for each other.  THIS would feel like true love.  If we could fulfill each others' needs, make up for each others' weaknesses, if we could accept each other as we were (even with who knows what kind of drama), if we had similar tastes in music or the like, if we just "got" each other (whatever that means), if we had a chemistry through the roof and "love" and longing that felt like magic - that it would mean that we would have enough love to make a marriage work - because "love" could get us through anything.  I believed that couples who seemed to have happy relationships and marriages MUST be soulmates. 

OH dearie me.

I now couldn't feel further from all of these ideas!!!  Here is what I think now:


1.  This is an extremely immature view of what real love and true happiness is all about.
2.  This sounds like some Hollywood (or high school) depiction of love.
3.  This view of soulmates encourages the fantasy of a person FULFILLING another person (serious yikes)
4.  This view discourages men/women from feeling whole on their own, and instead makes them believe wholeness, security and even worth and value to society will begin WHEN you find your soulmate and get married.
5.  This view leads to single people spending loads and loads of time (& energy! & tears!) trying to FIND someone, as they feel like less of a person without a mate.
6.  This view of love and soulmates undoubtedly leads to one heck of a roller coaster ride in a relationship with lots of ups and downs (and doubts & fears) as partners go in and out of meeting these "soulmate" expectations of providing each other with wholeness and worth.
7.  Happy marriages are not happy because two people "found" their soulmates.
8.  Similar tastes in anything are NOT enough to have a happy marriage.
9.  Chemistry and romantic "love" for each other are extremely important, but they not enough to have a lasting, happy marriage (I'll explain more...)  


Danny and I now pass onto you something we now say all the time:

Don't FIND a soulmate, BECOME a soulmate!!

In other words, don't spend the greatest portion of your time and energy trying to FIND a soul mate and hoping, hoping, hoping that love will just "happen" or cross paths with you somehow.  Instead, spend the greatest portion of your energy developing your own character independently (whether you are single or married) and first BECOME the kind of person that could even be capable of being a good partner at all!!

To be someone that would appear like a soulmate (happy, full of love, tenderness, understanding, wholeness, oneness, togetherness) - one must FIRST be able to bring their OWN happiness and wholeness to the table individually.  Healthy, thriving togetherness & healthy love cannot exist between two dysfunctional, desperate people!  Whether you or your partner bring that from day 1 or learn to bring it later in a relationship (which is so beautifully possible - see one of my favorite comments in the history of this blog for an amazing example!!), I do really think that individual self-worth and the ability to know how to be happy independently (separate from circumstances and the behavior of others) is necessary for a thriving, healthy relationship to be at it's best.

BONUS #1 It takes one to know one.  By developing this character in yourself (& living it and breathing it) - you will be sharp at recognizing this character in others.  AND!  You'll also have the self worth needed (which you'll need in the biggest way!) to walk away from partners who do NOT have this kind of life.  (And you know we've all been there and have been unable to walk away from a relationship when we should have... ENOUGH of that crap!!!!)

BONUS #2:  Happiness and wholeness makes you RADIANT and ATTRACTIVE to the kinds of partners you would want to attract anyway.

So, do Danny and I think we are soulmates?!?  :)
 
Well, we do!  But not in the sense that I thought growing up...not because we just "found" each other.

We feel like soulmates because we have worked hard to BECOME the kind of person that could be a good partner.  We did that work before we even met and came to the table individually with something to offer, and we could easily tell that the other was offering something good as well.  THAT CHARACTER is what we recognized in each other when we met (instead of seeing each other as a long-lost partner who was fulfilling our lack of wholeness).  So yes, we feel like soulmates because we have become them....we are both on the same path in the ways that matter.  Our souls are aligned.  And it's the most beautiful thing I've ever experienced.


Do you believe in soulmates?  Has your view of soulmates changed as you've gotten more experience?  I'd love to hear.

P.S.  In case you're wondering, we don't even like each others' music.  haha.

P.P.S.  Ideally a marriage shouldn't happen if only one person is bringing "soulmate" material to the table.  Ideally one will be able to recognize this and move on.  Though sometimes a marriage still happens...sometimes neither partner is "soulmate" material when they get married.  But there's still SO much hope!  I really believe a couple could turn things around, if they wanted it to happen.  Though, in some cases, maybe only one person will want it enough.  In those cases, may I suggest reading this post, which happens to be one of my favorites on the blog.

(Photos by the lovely photographer and friend, Saydi Eyre Shumway)

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PS - unfortunately due to the large amount of spam comments, we've had to turn comments off on this post.

46 comments:

  1. Your comments (#1 - 9 specifically) really resonated with me. It tires me to constantly see these simplified Hollywood portrayals of love, it send this incorrect message that things happen naturally and aren't a product of a whole lot of hard work. (worthwhile hard work, but work)

    The other thing I think is often missed is the idea that what works for one couple will not necessarily be the right fit for others. For the most part, it is accepted that we are all individuals with valuable and unique attributes, yet once we enter a partnership it sometimes feels we lose sight of the importance of individuality. Partnerships are all different and if you work at it, you'll find your own unique path to a successful relationship and it won't look like your friend's relationship, the one in the movies or your parents (although sometimes eerily similar?) but instead it'll be your own. We should be proud when we find our own solution to our puzzle and hope that others find theirs too - no two will be alike, which is what we should cherish.

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  2. Oh this is speaking to my heart today! I've been struggling with where I am at in the relationship I am currently in. I heard an interesting theory from one of my greatest mentors. She said that she dislikes the idea of one soulmate that is purely romantic. She believes in the idea that we have many (or several) soulmates throughout our lives. They might be best friend soulmates, almost-like-a-sister soulmates, or someone who acts in a parent role to someone who doesn't have that in their life. It can manifest in many ways. So I like to believe that maybe we are meant to have soulmates throughout our lives. And just maybe, we are our own soul's mates.

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    1. I totally agree with this theory. I have a friend that I call my "soul sister" because we connect at such a deep level.
      Mara, your post brought tears to my eyes today. I have had many lovers in an effort to find my soul mate and I feel like I've finally found someone (my current boyfriend of 6months) who has all of the qualities I have worked on within myself: patience, understanding, kindness, and love. And even though, we don't share the same taste in music either (haha I love that you admitted that!!), I feel confident that his soul and my soul are searching for the same things.
      Thank you Mara and Danny xo

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    2. We are our own soul's mates...wow.
      I just love that so much.

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  3. Thank you for this post! The more I learn on this blog, the more I'm grateful (daily) that I'm not married and can still have a paradigm shift in how I view potentials. On days when I wish I could be married I have to evaluate why. Being 29 isn't a good enough reason. Thank you for your insightful comments. I really value them with my whole heart.

    I'm reminded of this: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/watch/2013/04?lang=eng&vid=2284842603001&cid=8

    THANK YOU! - Amy

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    1. Amy - SO glad to hear this. It is my hope that this info could help anyone single.

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  4. I am happy that I came across this Mara, I have felt this way for forever. I am so ridiculously into that whole "meant to be" and " signs" thing that if I meet someone that has the same mark on them as me, I believe that we're meant and so on....
    I even had plans to break up with my precious boyfriend because I know someone that has the same mark as he does and that said a phrase that he said.I figured that they we're meant and much more crazy thoughts. It has taken control of me and it's ruining my relationship. I pray that one day, like you, I can overcome these thoughts and bring out my best self to my great lover.

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    1. Anon - your note made me smile. You tapped on something I wished I would have added to the post...the idea that there are marks or signs that indicate "we are meant to be" - stuff like - oh, we both like pickles, or we both want to live in Hawaii. These are fun conversation starters, but in no way are they good indicators or "signs" of a good relationship or true soulmate material.

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  5. I am going to have to go back and reread this post and let it sink in. I do believe in soulmates in the sense that I believe in "meant to be." If I remember correctly you guys don't? But I love what you said about your souls being aligned. I used to think that being soul mates meant sharing interests and opinions. I clearly don't anymore :) Although we share a lot of common core beliefs and we love spending time together, I'm So grateful for those differences.I'm grateful for my husband's strengths, they encourage me. I believe that something key to a healthy relationship is feeling encouraged rather than completed.

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    1. Hi Sharlee,
      I know the "meant to be" situation is a tough one. Danny and I feel "meant to be" with each other but not necessarily because it was just handed to us or lined up prior to life or something like that. We feel good together because of the decisions we have made that have led us to this state of life and to this relationship. (For us, living a God-centered life has led to many situations we consider miracles...including being in the state we were in when we met each other...and having that amazing, miraculous connection because of it.) Had we made poor decisions in life, we may not have been so "meant to be" for each other - we may not have been on the same page at all. So yeah, for us the freedom to choose our path is huge here...it's our choices in life (then and now) that make us "good" for each other. And also, there are lots of people out there that are trying to live a good life...Danny and I each could have met someone else if the timing was different. We don't feel we were the ONLY ones that could have come together for a great marriage.

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  6. Growing up, my Dad would always say to me, "If you want to marry a Prince...you have to be a Princess!" He always encouraged me to be and become my best. I'm so grateful for that. It was a little bit of a bumpy road, but I did end up marrying a very good man. I'm so glad my Father instilled that idea into my head at a young age, and in a way I could understand. I am still constantly working on my "princess" skills!

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    1. I also wanted to thank you for such a great blog! It is very inspiring. You are doing important work.

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  7. We're you implying that you should have gotten out of your first marriage sooner than you did? Or were you referring to dating relationships that you should have gotten out of?? I feel like that a really important distinction. Do you and Danny feel its ok to divorce if your spouse isn't being a good partner?

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    1. Hi Anon - I definitely should not have married (or been dating at all) my first husband. I definitely should have walked away very early on, but I didn't. That tells you a lot about the place I was in at that time. (And that also tells you why I now write so passionately about all these subjects and want to help other women. :) But at the time, while dating and married, I had high hopes that things could come together. I had high hopes that all those ridiculous "soulmate" ideals I had would come through - and that "love" (which was very dysfunctional at the time) would conquer all. (ha!) As a married person, divorce was actually not on my mind...I do really value and believe in marriage and was doing all I could, in my limited ways, to try and make things work. My tactics were desperate and ineffective in the beginning. But I got better and better and learned a lot...and learned that true healing within myself was needed in order to respond better to my husband. SO, while I wish I had enough smarts and self worth to walk away prior to the marriage when I was still free and single, once married, I'm grateful that I didn't have it in me to just take the marriage lightly and divorce quickly without first healing and coming to the table with my best offering and giving it my all. That experience was still a beautiful process...even sacred. It's one that I would never trade. I had been offering my best to my husband for about a year when he decided to leave. What I offered him still wasn't enough to change anything on his end. But the healing I had done on my own was worth more than gold. Would I have eventually left him? Yes. I mean, he was eventually saying with much conviction 1. I don't love you and never have. 2. I have never been attracted to you. 3. I don't want to have kids with you. So clearly, there would have been no reason to stay in that marriage - especially since we did not have kids. At that point, I also would not have wanted to risk bringing a child into that situation. Now, if we HAD had kids, then decisions may have been different if he was being a good father. I hope that I would have put my kids needs above my own...and that may have meant choosing to stay in the marriage (if he was still around). Obviously, there are so many factors at play. And while I can sound out a few scenarios from my own life, I could never comment on what someone else should do. EVERY life and situation and family is different. To answer your question, though, I believe there certainly are good reasons to divorce someone. But I also believe marriage is a teacher. We can learn so much from it. And if we embrace our trials, sometimes good things can happen. Sometimes individuals and marriages can be healed. Not always. But I say it's worth fighting for (in many cases). The key is taking ownership of our happiness and healing, regardless of the situation we are in (married, miserable, single, childless, etc.)

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  8. AMEN AMEN! I feel like this post should be mandatory reading for all high school and college kids. Most are looking for something that doesn't exist. And even when they think they've found it, they end in disappointment.

    Thanks for the reminder to be that person for my spouse :)

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  9. Oh, I struggle with this so much. I know a lot of my thoughts about relationship are way off the mark, but I struggle so much to change them and see it for how you've portrayed it. I hope and pray I can have my eyes opened and appreciate my life without a partner.

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    1. I agree with this anon. I've read your posts but I still struggle to understand it really. It's as if something is missing when I try to apply these things you talk about. It doesn't seem to quite work or something. It's like really how do you get to this place? Even if you've tried and it doesn't seem to quite work?!

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    2. Yeah. Mara, I've rear that you say before that you aren't always perfect at this, but still you are obviously living it. As hard as I try to do the things you say, I get confused what love looks like... I don't always know how to act... No matter my intentions... It doesn't seem as easy as it was for you when you got it. I feel like you suddenly made the jump and I dont know what jump to even make or how to be the kind of person you are. As hard as I try to apply what you say it seems like something is missing bc it doesn't equal what you say it does. Does this make any sense?? I don't want to come accross as a criticizer, bc I'm not criticizing you... I'm really trying to understand so I too can experience what you do. But I've read all your posts and I'm not getting it I guess. :(
      Elise

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    3. Mara and I are REALLY grateful for all these comments. And boy do we wish we had the time to go on a walk in the park with every single person. There is so much that can be accomplished in face to face conversation that is so difficult to describe online in words.

      Perhaps one suggestion...go get inspired by some of the same things that have inspired us. We try hard to explain the things we've learned using our experiences, but maybe you'll connect better when you read from someone else as well.

      For example...Mara had someone explaining these things to her in the beginning, but that person also made Mara read 2 or 3 books. I am constantly reading to greater understand these concepts from many different perspectives, different faiths, different trials, etc.

      This post has a couple of things that have been REALLY important for the two of us: http://www.ablogaboutlove.com/2011/11/become-your-best-self_11.html

      Mara was asked to read the Eckhart Tolle books, I loved and reread multiple times "Man's Search for Meaning", both of us draw great strength from the teachings of Christ and scripture, I have also become a student of Buddhism because I love the way they expound on virtues of Love and the principle of "detachment" (which is not what it sounds like...strangely enough detachment actually creates more powerful love, not less). We both sought out mentors (even if they were kind of informal mentors....as in mine didn't necessarily know that I was learning everything I could from them).

      I hope you don't give up at all on seeking the path. Invest time and energy. Books are going to go in much greater depth than we are able to in short, and sometimes disconnected posts. Please keep learning, and be confident that growth is possible and that it is in your future!

      If there are some specifics that you are having difficulty with, please let us know, perhaps we can go into greater depth on a future post.

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  10. I'm glad other people have questions because I felt badly for having any. I read this post and your link to the others. I guess my questions is similar to another commenters. Sometimes having self worth enough to call a relationship quits doesn't seem that loving... If it's a marriage. What's the balance? How do you know when you need to get out of a marriage? Sometimes creating boundaries for yourself seems to go against the love you talk about. Am I the only one that's ever thought that?? I would love comments because I want to see it rightly not just how I've seen it for some time.

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    1. Thanks for the comment...you and others ask a GREAT question. Mara often has a very specific group of people in mind when she writes a post. Sometimes it is single/dating people, sometimes it is married people, sometimes it is divorced people, sometimes something else. And as clear as it is to us when we are writing and editing, obviously we don't always make it that clear to others.

      In this post, most of the content is directed at those who are dating/looking for someone. This post is about how to choose a partner, not what to do once you've chosen a partner (with the exception of the link to the comment). These are the things Mara wish she'd understood the first time around dating, and that she did understand the second time around. The only other way that I'd consider it applying to married people...is if they are married and still hanging on to unrealistic expectations, our suggestion is that the expectations should change, not the partner.

      If you are married, you are under an entirely different set of obligations, especially when kids are involved.

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  11. I want to shout this from the rooftops! Every time I hear single girls my age pine away about being single and needing a man to make them happy I want to shake them and say GO LIVE YOUR LIFE! BE HAPPY FOR YOU! BE A COMPLETE PERSON ON YOUR OWN! I'm totally pro marriage but I'm MORE pro being happy, whole people on our own BEFORE embarking into marriage. Amen.

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  12. Thank you for this post. I really, really love your blog too. I am "working away at a hard marriage" (love that post) and in fact have never had romantic, loving feelings for my husband. It would be a long story to explain how I even married him. I all along have been fiercely committed to him and to our marriage and would never have considered divorce though. But in the process of keeping my marriage together, I have numbed my heart and avoided many things that have brought me joy in the past--to make my husband a priority, not to let anything displace him. But I am undergoing a kind of spiritual awakening right now, realizing I don't love my husband and never have, that I don't feel good or happy when I'm around him, and that I have even distanced myself from God during our 13 year marriage. I want to have a close relationship with God, and have been working on that pretty intensely. As a result, I am happier than I have been for the last 13 years.

    It's so ironic that the closer I get to God, the further away emotionally I feel from my husband, but it feels like the right thing to do, like walking out of the darkness into the light. I am seeing him with different eyes now, I can accept him totally and not want him to change for me at all--because I am so intent on changing myself. I had told myself I would never divorce, no matter what, unless he physically abused me or our kids, but now I am realizing that I can fully trust in what the Lord guides me to do, even if it's ending my marriage. So far I haven't received that answer--I am in this for the long haul, if that's what I need to do. I have weathered many challenges my husband has brought to our marriage--including pornography addiction, mental illness, and emotional abuse (and I myself have been guilty of some emotional abuse in return, but no more). None of these things have yet been reason to leave. I am not yet sure what will happen in the end, but it's o.k. I'm focusing right now on not worrying about what will happen, just finding happiness and fulfillment each day, one day at a time. I'm so thankful that this is possible, and I owe you many thanks, Mara and Danny, for the beautiful truths I've learned from this blog that have helped me on this journey.

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    1. Thank you Anon...Mara appreciate your insight and perspective. I'm interested in understanding more what you mean by "the closer I get to God, the further away emotionally I feel from my husband." When you say you feel further away emotionally, is that because your feelings have diminished, or is it because your personal state of being is less connected to what he does or doesn't do? I feel like there is a difference between those two.

      For example, I found that the closer I got to God and the greater satisfaction and contentment that I found in that relationship, the less I needed to be fulfilled by a certain kind of behavior. In other words, I became less emotionally dependent on someone elses actions, and in that sense found it easier to love them and accept them as they are. I became less judgmental and I gave up controlling things that I couldn't (as in anything that didn't have to do with MY actions and reactions).

      So for me, I became less emotionally attached, but received and felt a greater sense of love and compassion.

      Just curious if this is what you were describing, or if you've experienced it differently in your circumstance.

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    2. Danny, thank you for responding to my comment--your 2nd paragraph (and 3rd)--exactly. This is how I have been able to stop criticizing, manipulating, and basically trying to control and "fix" my husband. I have had a huge problem with this my entire marriage, and though I knew it was wrong, could not stop doing it. But as I began to connect again with God, began to feel his love every day, and felt his Spirit heal me and make me whole, I have realized many things I didn't understand before, such as that I have been trying to love an ideal version of who I thought my husband should be, not who he really was.

      So I decided to let that ideal version go, give up trying to change him, just see him for who he really is, and this is how I've also come to realize that he doesn't need to change for me or anyone else, he's not defective or "broken", he is a good man the way he is, even with his problems. The real issue underlying my struggles is that I don't feel romantic love for him; to me, there is no chemistry between us. Because I feel no emotional/spiritual connection or closeness, I cannot bring myself to feel physical attraction for him. I've tried, but this is something that can't be forced. I am no longer trying to force the emotional/spiritual connection, either. My husband has been telling me that I am much nicer now and that he is much happier around me. I do like him more now, too, at the same time that I am honest with myself about my true feelings towards him. (I can't bring myself to share these true feelings with him because I know he would be devastated. I don't want to hurt him, and he seems o.k. with the marriage now.) So, like I said, one day at a time, and with God's help, everything will work out for the best.

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    3. Powerful stuff...learning how to rely on God. I know what you've described, I know it very well. I understand also the loss of a romantic love. Some actions necessitated that I let go of that or the need to be fulfilled by that. In its place came acceptance, compassion, friendship. It was actually a very beautiful thing. It surprised me how whole I felt.

      I also understand one day at a time. Sometimes I felt frustrated that as I tried to figure out what I should do (pursue divorce or keep waiting for things to change), God seemed to be pretty silent. The only thing I knew for certain was I was supposed to work on that compassion and acceptance and charity, no matter what actions/decisions were made. In some ways that was really easy...my ex wife was and is a very kind person with a good heart. But ultimately, some decisions made a marriage impossible, and since there were no kids it eventually became clear it was time to move on.

      Your decision is definitely different. Sounds like you've got some little ones depending on you. But you're on the right track, as far as I can tell. I cannot look back on that time in my life without a deep sense of gratitude for the life and love that God filled me with when it would have seemed from the outside that my life was crumbling and my "love" was moving on choosing a different life. Nothing compares to the healing that comes when you align yourself with the Virtues of God, no matter your circumstances. Keep that up, and all will work out for the best, of that I am sure.

      My heart goes out to you, and your husband, and your kids. They are all lucky to have someone walking the path you are walking.

      With Love - Danny

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  13. I love this philosophy! So much focus is on the other person, sometimes I guess we have to look inward and become the type of person we ourselves want to be with. :)

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  14. This is great. I think the PPS would be better if emphasized, not as a tail note. Of course, if you are single and God puts you in a situation where you have parents or friends or blogs like this who teach you how to do a good job picking a spouse, that's great, take advantage. But if you find yourself married and think, "My husband acted better than he was (i.e. I was tricked)," or "I was so immature back then," or, "Why did my bishop talk me into this," or whatever reason you have for having chosen poorly, just remember God planned it that way. Of course, it was your choice, but the timing of marriage is just so that I'm sure he expects people to make some pretty horrible mistakes. Did he know you would be much different at 40 than you were at 21 when you married? Of course he did. Is he going to punish you forever by being married to someone who is less than ideal because you were immature? Heck no! Is he going to punish you for sticking your marriage out and doing your best, even if your spouse never turns around (but let's say there is not reason enough to divorce, but the guy basically is a jerk) - is God going to punish you for sticking it out more than someone who calls for a divorce? (And perhaps they even remarry and end up totally happy). Think about it: No way would God do that. God loves Everyone, and he knows the reasons you are married to who you are, and he knows your perhaps regret, and perhaps you didn't even do anything wrong, you were just young. It's okay. He's the one who planned for young people to marry, and most people don't really come to know themselves for many years after. Your experience in life is very important to him, and what is ONLY important is that you come out on top IN YOUR HEART. Everything else will be okay. In other words, Mara's PPS says it is ideal to find a great person. But I would like to add for individuals who didn't have such luxury (some people are given very poor examples by those around them for mate-selection) for whatever reason, that is the situation designed for you to learn. That's what I believe.

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    1. " But I would like to add for individuals who didn't have such luxury (some people are given very poor examples by those around them for mate-selection) for whatever reason, that is the situation designed for you to learn. That's what I believe."

      Yep! All of life is an opportunity, if you'll allow it to be. There is nothing from which you can't learn something that will change your life for the better. That includes bad examples growing up, that includes failed marriages, that includes wayward children, and on and on.

      My first wife was and is a wonderful person. Unfortunately, decisions were made that made the continuation of a marriage next to impossible. I chose to learn from that experience and as a result became more whole on an individual level, and more prepared to experience a great marriage with Mara.

      If you ARE in a situation where your current marriage is struggling, hopefully the post linked in the PPS will help a little. And even if that situation becomes unfixable after all your efforts and personal growth...you at least will have the personal growth. That's how it was for Mara with her failed first marriage, that's how it was with me. Though we wouldn't necessarily want to go through that pain again...we are also grateful for those experiences because it was in those circumstances that we learned the things you see on the blog.

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  15. Hi Mara and Danny.
    First, I would like to thank you guys for making this blog. It has been my true salvation from a break up/divorce. I wasn't legally married to my ex boyfriend but we did lived together, and by living together I mean I moved from another country to be with him when he got a job offer to come to the US. We dated for 5 years total (3 in Brasil, 1 and half long distance, and lived together for 9 months), and I really thought we were mean to be together, everything matched and people were very surprised when he decided to end things. He just said that I wasn't the one and he wasn't happy. That broke me in so many levels that I can't even began to explain. I need to confess that I wasn't very happy with myself at the time, the battle to find a job here for 1 year and a half took a lot out of my self esteem, and when I finally got what I had fought for, I felt jealousy of him, felt angry and bitter, just didn't feel good under my skin. But, as he would always say, we were a team, and I thought we'd get through this together, "it is just an adaptation phase", I thought. And when he decided to end things, it hit me hard. I though he was going through something that would pass, we cried so much during the days that followed me moving out, even right after, looked zombi like. I gave him space to work things out and decided to focus on me: I started taking singing lessons (always wanted to), french and got my butt to the gym every day. I was feeling really great and blissful for the opportunity to work on myself.

    This post came to me right after I found out that he has been keeping a long distance relationship with someone he met 2 months after we broke up. It has been going on for 3 months and I just found out. He has been keeping this in a very low key out of respect for me, which I thank, but it also makes me remember all the qualities he has. And it just broke my heart all over again since the very reason I moved half across the globe to be with him was because he said he didn't believed in long distance relationship (even though we ended up dating like this for 1 year an a half, we had a long history together and plans for the future, so it was temporary). I just wish I could have seen the signs, or your blog before. It would have made me see the signs sooner. I shouldn't have had that image of "meant to be" stuck in the back of my mind, it would have been easier to let go. And sometimes, that's the only choice we have left. Thank you for the inspiration to begin to work on myself again.

    Jana

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  16. I love this post. If I had understood this when I was dating I would have used every date I had as an opportunity to develop my ability to communicate, and collaborate, instead of looking for that elusive "one". Now that I understand a good match is more about good character rather than destiny, I wish I had started working on my soulmate skills much earlier. As it is, I am learning on the fly, and sometimes feel like a marital dunce.

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    1. We're both on the computers and let's just say you have us both smiling. We LOVE that perspective of seeing every date as an opportunity to build character. yes, yes, yes. Soooo good.

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    2. Mara and I LOVE this comment. Love this: "If I had understood this when I was dating I would have used every date I had as an opportunity to develop my ability to communicate, and collaborate, instead of looking for that elusive "one"."

      And I love "a good match is more about good character than destiny." Yes! Sounds like you're "learning on the fly" is coming along just fine :)

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  17. I wish everyone (espeially women!) learned this at a young age! This past week my father asked if I was "planning" on living alone for the rest of my life and it seemed like a crazy question - I have the life I want on my own, I'm very happy, and I could also imagine sharing it with someone. It's funny because our culture tries to make it seem like life is about dichotomies. Either you look for a soulmate, or you you be independent. One or the other. But when you're a whole person, you also have room to be whole with someone else.

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    1. That was supposed to say "especially." Teacher here.

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  18. Oh how I love this post!

    My husband for the most part flat out refuses to watch romances anymore, not because he doesn't enjoy them but because of the unrealistic expectations they can put on a marriage to feel that way.

    I have a bit to do with the single girls in our church and I am forever telling them that marriage is hard enough without placing the expectation of your happiness on someone else (apart from the fact that it is extremely unfair on them).

    I could write an essay on this topic but won't suffice to say these are good, good words!

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  19. Hi! I don't think I've ever commented before, but this post made me want to share my favorite Tom Robbins quote, one that my husband and I have sort of adopted as our mantra:

    "We waste time waiting for the perfect lover instead of creating the perfect love."

    Game changer.

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  20. Thank you for this post and the follow-up responses. As several others have pointed out above, there is a line between trying to "become" a soul mate...in order to "get" a soul mate; and trying to become a soul mate in order be whole, happy, and loving...alone. I think you are writing to the latter point, that a meaningful (marriage) relationship is one of life's great experiences, but joy and happiness are conditions that can be accessed/earned/felt independently of our relationship status.

    Brene Brown's work on worthiness might be useful here. And I second Danny's suggestion to study and read about happiness. (And then, some years--like this year--I have to study harder and re-read.)

    Sorry to talk LDS talk, but I know several young people who are serving around the world (missionaries) and I find that they are not undone by language barriers, poverty, or hard work, but by the difficulties they face in finding happiness and peace within companionships. That's the most pressing problem I hear from them, and it is not solved by time out "in the field." I have been trying (inadequately) to write the message in this post to them, but if you have some other posts that you think translate well to that situation, I would appreciate your help in identifying them. I have not forwarded your blog posts wholesale because these kids are young and have a hard time seeing that your advice transcends "marriage" or "dating" and is really about all close relationships. I think I might suggest books from your booklist to kids getting ready for this experience, along with the more traditional preparatory texts.

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    1. I work with missionaries a lot because of my church calling and responsibilities, so I'm very familiar with reaching things that apply to that situation (besides, I first discovered what I called "the language of love" while serving as a missionary. Things I learned then are things I still do now, and it's changed my life for the better and helps me learn to speak with greater love to others.)

      If you email me, I might be able to help you out if I've got it written down somewhere.

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  21. I needed this exact message TODAY! and the reminder that Christ says, "Be ye therefore perfect even as I or your Father in Heaven is perfect." Being perfect is being whole...and that "YE" means YOU being so independantly. Christ "or" Father in Heaven are whole independantly... but one in purpose. Thus makes for a perfect marriage.

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  22. Thank you for talking about this topic!

    Here's my unusual soul mate story in a 2 minute 23 second video. My soul mate taught me about true love, so much so that he helped me let him go...to find another.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ln_nSmDpvow

    Emily Potter

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  23. Mara and Danny.
    I loved your post. I feel like I had that same view point that I needed to "find" my soul mate. It wasn't until I started dating my husband that I recognized that the idea of finding your soul mate isn't romantic at all! I personally believe that the purpose of life is to choose and then to become based on those choices. To have one of the most important choices not be up to you would completely undermine that. Once I got over that, I feel like I was able to love my then boyfriend so much better because I wasn't worrying if he was "the one". We have only been married 8 months so we are definitely in the early stages, but I feel like I am becoming soul mates with him more and more everyday. And because of that I am becoming more and more everyday the person I can be. I really love the concepts on your blog and I feel like as I apply them I am a better "mate". Thank you for all you do.
    JP

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  24. A guys view: Romance is highly overrated. Most "romantic" couples fight like cats and dog. In fact, my 26 year marriage (not always romantic) is much better off than the many divorces my romantic friends have had. Sorry... just a guys view. :-)

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  25. Woah, man. Reading your post just makes me wanna become a person who is more perfect and whole. But loving someone needs alot of things that needs training of years and months! I am in admiration of a guy recently who is older than me by 5 years. But he is certainly charming and good-looking. He is the type of person who is quite perfect- you know being patient and whole that. It just makes me wanna be more like him and to be more loving towards other people too. I have been praying about this relationship too. Hope it works out, you know. :D

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  26. Really good point. I think it is not that easy to apply in real life. I realized that my love, the one that just ended was so wrong for me. but it still hurt so much, I know I need to work on myself. I am so scared I won't meet anybody in NY and I don't know why. hope it will get better

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