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November 4, 2016

Finding the Perfect Soulmate

Not long ago I read an article by a young man who had been amazed when he learned that many people from his grandparents' generation had simply chosen spouses who lived nearby, rather than conducting extensive searches for ideal soulmates.

The author of the article was convinced that these old folks had missed out on something important. Nearly everyone he knew was using dating apps to seek the perfect mate, and they were willing to spend a lot of time and travel great distances to find exactly the right person.

Rather than "settle" for the cute girl who just happened to live next door, these guys had very specific lists of what they wanted. Details were important. For example, the profile of a beautiful young woman with an impressive list of interesting and desirable attributes was quickly rejected just because she was a fan of the wrong baseball team.

The sense I got from this article and from others I have read is that many people think they can find true love only with someone whose personality is a near-clone of themselves. The ideal partners will not only have a similar sense of humor, but will have identical taste in food, art, music, and sports. From the very beginning, they'll be able to finish each other's sentences. There will be no disagreement, no disappointment, no discontent, because they will always be on the same page.

It is pretty exciting to discover that both of you can quote all the dialogue from The Princess Bride, take your coffee with triple soy milk and no sugar, enjoy mountain biking, want a pet iguana, have a secret crush on Edith Piaf, and hate green Skittles. And when you both spontaneously recite the same quote from the Dalai Lama at the same time, there is a spark, and the deal is sealed. Nobody else in the world could be such a perfect match. It's destiny.

Five, ten, fifteen years later, it's not unusual for those magical soulmates to find themselves no longer on the same page. One of them spends too much money on useless junk. The other one is a tightwad. They can't agree on whether to have another baby. One of them is lazy, and the other is a control freak. Somebody spends too many nights working late. Somebody gets drunk at parties and flirts. One of them screams a lot, and the other refuses to talk. Neither one can understand how someone who once seemed so perfect turned into this unpleasant stranger. They both want out.

In the meantime, the old guy who married the girl next door has been happily married for sixty years.

Grandpa didn't choose that girl just because she happened to be conveniently close - although that helped. Their families knew each other; they'd lived in the same neighborhood for years, maybe for more than one generation. He and she went to the same schools, knew the same friends, watched each other grow up. He knew who she was before their first date.

Maybe her favorite color was purple and his was green. Maybe she liked chocolate and he preferred butterscotch. The details didn't matter. What mattered was that they shared the same basic values.

Her ice cream preference wasn't important. What was important was that she was kind-hearted and honest. The music he played on the car radio was trivial. What mattered was that he worked hard and she could trust him. They forged a powerful bond, not by seeing the same movie ten times, but by holding hands all night as they watched over their sick baby.

They cared about their kids, and about each other's families. They had plans for the future. They could talk to each other about what was on their minds. Sometimes they argued, but they always made up. They had a few ongoing disagreements, but nothing that kept them from working together to build a life that meant something to both of them.

They might not have thought of themselves as soulmates. But over time, that is what they became.
 
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3 fabulous comments:

  1. I'm glad I found your blog! I love Gottman and enjoying talking and learning about relationships and personal growth. I haven't married a partner yet but have had progessively more conscious relationships and am open to meeting someone. I like what you said about values vs. interests.

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    Replies
    1. Kristina, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I've just visited your blog, too, and I really like your take on things.

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    2. Thank you, Rosemary! I'm adding your blog to my blogroll and look forward to becoming a regular reader!

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