One of the unique things we share with couples preparing for marriage is what we affectionately dub, “the Soul Mate myth.” Somewhere in the weaving of our cultural tapestry in America, a piece of fabric was sown in proclaiming that in order to be eternally happy, each person must find his or her soul mate – the one special person out there meant specifically for them. The myth contends that if you find your soul mate, you will go through married life with ease. Of course, the natural response for many people who experience trouble in their marriage is to resort to the belief that they must not have found their soul mate. If they had, they wouldn’t be experiencing marital strife. And thus, they dissolve the marriage and begin looking for their true soul mate.
In our humble opinion, the idea of a soul mate is entirely off the mark from reality and truth. From our 31 year journey through married life, we’ve had our share of discord and trouble. We’ve not been unscathed in our marriage. What we’ve had to learn is that it takes effort, care, and hard work to learn how to love and take care of each other, especially with our own individual idiosyncrasies and differences. Being happily married does not require finding your soul mate – it requires making deliberate, conscious decisions to love each other, even during those times when our spouse is not necessarily the most loveable person.
We’ve come to believe that if we want a soul mate, then we must be willing to change, amend, adapt, and alter our conception of who that soul mate is. The truth – again, just our opinion here – is that our soul mate is the person we choose to love day in and day out despite how he or she might be behaving at any particular moment. Our soul mate is the person with whom we choose to honor our vows – to love them in those proverbial good times and bad, in sickness and in health, for rich or for poor, for better or for worse. And honoring our vows, while extremely difficult work at times, is the path to true soul mate-hood.
In other words, there is no person with whom everything will automatically “click” and work perfectly. It will always come down to the degree and amount of hard work and effort we are willing to put into the relationship. And we must realize the only person we can change is ourselves. When we die to self and give 100% of everything we have to the person we’ve pledged our lives to, that’s when the real magic happens. If we had truly realized this at the beginning of our marriage, perhaps we’d have weathered those initial storms of adversity a bit better.