Finding a soulmate is Step 1. Making it last is the real test
What keeps a couple, any couple, together is not destiny or Cupid, it’s a constant effort to get back on the same page, make space for each other.Updated: Jul 05, 2020 08:37 IST
“I’ve finally found my soulmate,” Shalini had said. “He gets me completely, finishes my sentences, and knows what I’m thinking about even before I speak”. That was five years ago. I can still recall the wonderment in her voice. Today, she is devastated and in the midst of a messy divorce.
Most people would say that wasn’t her soulmate then, because aren’t soulmates supposed to stay together? Aren’t they supposed to have the kind of love, connection of minds, mutual respect and understanding that, by definition, last?
Sadly, it’s never that simple. In cases where soulmates do stay together, it’s largely because they either intuitively or by sheer effort do the right things to keep their relationship healthy.
Left to itself, almost any relationship can suffer from the sheer erosion of the everyday — tiffs, busy schedules, differing approaches to work, kids, chores. The number of factors is endless.
The soulmates can then — often gradually and without really noticing — go from being in tune with each other at the deepest level, to parting ways altogether.
So the question isn’t why soulmates split — it’s, how can more of them stay together?
In his book The Bridge Across Forever: A True Love Story, Richard Bach says, ‘A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks’. Can we then redesign our own locks and keys as life happens to us? Take matters into our own hands and work towards making a soulmate relationship last?
We are constantly evolving as individuals and so our relationships must adapt too. A deep awareness of this evolution keeps a relationship strong. The basic tenets of not taking each other for granted and appreciating each other are crucial. Being able to communicate our deepest fears creates a powerful bond. It also helps if you’re doing fun things together.
Over time, does it really matter if the other person is no longer always able to read your thoughts? It’s more important, I would posit, that you always feel you have the agency to speak your mind to them without fear of being judged.
I like to believe that we do all have soulmates. In fact, I’ve been married to mine for 11 years. There was so much serendipity at play during our courtship. Before we’d ever met, our shopping lists for Singapore matched to include the same quirky utility hooks. Then, when he came to my house the first time, he pointed out that he had the same brass Turkish pepper mill. Do we still reach for the same things on the shelves? Of course not. Can he finish my sentences? Sometimes (though frankly I’d rather he didn’t).
The truth is, the romcoms get some of origin stories right. But that’s not how you want to live your whole life. At some point, you want to move to the next stage and then the next. Flirty dates must give way to stressful house moves; weekends together expand to include families; children or friends are added to the mix. At each stage, your relationship — and your expectations — must evolve to keep up.
We have both evolved. From an extremely laidback person, I’ve become a worry-prone mother. I now need to be able to communicate my irrational worries to my soulmate. And I can. I need him to be patient and understanding when we aren’t thinking the same thoughts; and he is.
And so we are different people, yet we continue to be each other’s soulmates. This has taken conscious effort on both our parts. And I can say this for us — we thoroughly enjoy it, fights, quirks, hormonal issues and all.
The debate, of course, is still open. What does the term soulmate mean to you? I’d love to hear about your definitions and journeys.
Simran Mangharam is a dating coach and founder of Floh. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org