There are a lot of deficiencies in this world. Things that just don’t work right. Situations that could be better. People who could be better. Relationships.
I’ve known many people who struggle with their relationships. In my experience, the commonest struggle is with their spouse/ partner/ significant other… however you wish to label them. People get into permanent relationships and either struggle to maintain them or they simply get out. Relationships can commence for a variety of reasons; for example, they can begin as a result of common interests, attraction or learned behaviours from being with someone you feel comfortable with (even if that comfort zone is not healthy for you, such as dependent relationships or abusive relationships).
Some carry on; some grow older, wiser, and aspire for more. People grow, but not all grow equally, at the same time and in the same direction. Time passes on; some have children and inherit new sets of challenges. Somewhere along the way though many couples struggle with their relationships thinking they have found their soul mate, only to question this decision.
I think this notion of a ‘soul mate’ is inaccurate; it is a misleading fairy tale that the mass public grows up with. Life is not like that. It is unreasonable to think that one individual can satisfy your needs, especially when you consider your life situation is constantly evolving. To expect this from one partner puts an unrealistic expectation on them and they are bound to fail. Even with a compatible partner, people struggle. It’s the nature of being. How well would you do if you were married to an exact replica of yourself? I think most people would find it a struggle if they had a chance to experiment in this theoretical trial of living with themselves. Often we are blind to our own faults and find it far too easy to criticize the faults of our partner. Subsequently, that limits our ability to see how we are contributing or not contributing to the relationship.
There are many potential ‘soul mates’ out there. When you meet someone you grow to know each other. You will have arguments and disagreements; these are an inherent part of relationship building. In your relationship, your partner can be the person that grows with you and learns to anticipate your needs. Your ‘soul mate’ doesn’t just appear; you work together to develop into each other’s ‘soul mates’. For the widow or divorcee reading this, you can start again with someone anew because the notion of one person being the only right one for you in a world of seven billion people is ludicrous. There are going to be numerous potential ‘soul mates’ that you are compatible with. To think that your ‘soul mate’ is in a far off land half way around the world doesn’t make sense. It’s the life journey you take with a person that potentially evolves them into your ‘soul mate’ and you into theirs.
In life’s journey, you can expect people will change in different aspects of their life, whether it’s their health, beliefs, motivations, ideas or any other number of influencers that may show up. The fact is, people change and it’s difficult to predict the nature, speed and trajectory of this change. Where life will take you in your journey is unclear but along the way, you will meet people who are travelling on the same path and ignite certain thoughts, behaviours and motivations. For example, your children may reignite your feelings of youth, your friends may nurture your hobbies, your colleagues may share in your vocational challenges, and your parents may provide you with lessons of resilience and patience. Regardless of the influencers on your growth, you will find like-minded friends; people with a common interest, vision, and desire. This can be enlightening and troublesome at the same time. Enlightening because you are sharing your challenges and growth with another individual. Troubling if your significant other is not on the same path and thus cannot understand your journey or collaboration. Your paths appear to be diverging and there is a natural desire to move in the same direction together as a couple.
A divergence in experiences can be troublesome because generally speaking we all want to walk on the same path with our partner because we have a history with them. If it is a bad history, we want it to be good. If it is a good history, we want it to be great. The desire to share the human experience is universal and the desire to share it with a person we care about can be uniquely special.
However, not everyone walks on the same path at the same time. Some paths are steeper, rockier, and simply more challenging. Our companion may not be fit to walk on that path. We cannot assign blame to the unfit person who is trying to climb another person’s ‘Mount Everest’. They may simply not have the ability, aptitude or makeup to tackle that path. This is where disunity can lead to unrest or confusion amongst the two partners. Couples tend to have united experiences and have important memories with each other. Good or bad, these experiences create a bond which is significant and difficult to ignore.
The fact is that sometimes paths get separated naturally and one of the partners in that journey needs to take a higher, more difficult path to educate their loved ones regarding what lies ahead. Is there danger or paradise ahead? Do we need to change our course? For example, one friend of mine survived a heart attack. This awakening changed the way he was eating and living. He encouraged his wife to get up off the couch and make better choices. His journey also affected some of his friends who realized that they should incorporate exercise and nutritional meals into their lifestyle. His journey influenced other people’s journeys.
There are many potential ‘soul mates’ out there.
I believe we are instrumental in choosing the paths we take and the people we choose to help us on the journey. We guide ourselves in deciding how high we climb or how far we travel on a particular path. But rest assured, we will meet others who help us along the way and we in turn will help others. Life’s relationship journey, especially in the path of love, friendship and connections, is a special experience. If you have struggled your story can illuminate those around you. If you were once left behind or felt lost, your story can do the same. People learn from one another, and from different people, that’s why one individual cannot provide everything in your life. That is why the concept of soul mate is unrealistic. The concept of soul friends is attainable. Soul friends are the circle of people you meet in your journey that collectively nurture your development. Sometimes it’s your immediate partner, sometimes it’s not. It’s perfectly okay when it’s not. Everybody’s circle of friends is different, everyone’s path is different; you can’t draw pride through one person just as you can’t draw pride with one type of path. Your journey is unique because it is a connective impact of your friends. Choose the friends that impact you in a positive way. Choose friends that can become your soul friends because each choice you make will determine the direction you go, the way you will travel and what condition you will be in when you arrive at your destination. Let those friendships matter to create greater joy and harmony in your world. Because how you choose your friends and how you choose to respond to your challenges will have made all the difference.