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)