O ur views in the previous column about there not existing anyone reserved by God for you as a marriage partner, touched lots nerves both positively and negatively. Our emails and direct contacts on social media have been running all week. While we expected it, we were also pleasantly surprised at the level of healthy engagement. So much so that some have requested that we express a view another related issue.
The idea of a soulmate.
It’s amazing how we, as people generally won’t interrogate issues but wouldn’t mind simply accept them just as handed to us sometimes. Perhaps more tragic is the fact that many of us would so attach ourselves emotionally and spiritually into stuff we aren’t well informed about. The myth of the soulmate is one of those.
Even when we try our best to positively engage this notion, it just doesn’t make sense. Its Greek mythological roots and the legend of Zeus, makes it sound like a horror bed-time story to us.
Let’s just suppose there is some truth that somewhere in the world exists a special someone the universe has exclusively set aside just for you, then what are the probabilities of meeting? 1:7 billion?
Think about it. Over 7 billion people in the world and there’s one perfect person to “complete” you? Really? By the way, how would you know where to even stay in order to meet this soulmate?
The idea of a soulmate for many people is rooted in destiny – whether understood as fate, God’s will, or even reincarnation of former love. Many have no clear understanding of exactly why they believe in the idea of a “soulmate”, but still feel strongly that they are destined to be with that one specific person in order for them to be complete.
As Mo and Phindi, we believe there are some suitable ones and unsuitable ones, but there is no one. There are lots of potential special someones out there for you as opposed to the myth of one exclusively predestined partner. Simply ask any divorced or widowed person who’s remarried after their soulmate has died or moved on. We believe in “options”, and hence the Bible provides options even for remarriage.
In addressing this myth, we are led to two important conclusions. First, if there are many options, then marrying one out of those options becomes a choice we make. Second, the choice we make to marry calls for a firm commitment on our part to be faithful to the one we choose.
We regularly hear stories shared by mainly those that have gone before us in relationships that they just knew when they met their partners that they were the one. What you won’t hear however, are all the people who genuinely believed they’d found the one initially, but later separated.
The soulmate or the one narrative sets up unrealistic expectations for love and prompts us to leave relationships that, while not entirely perfect, may have real merit. People who believe in the idea of a soulmate and who believe they have found theirs tend to expect that their relationship should be easy because they are soulmates.
Because they expect that the stars will somehow line up perfectly and they’ll fit hand and glove with their soulmate, people don’t think about things like learning how to effectively communicate, or even how to deal with their issues in the context of a relationship. They think that their soulmate is going to accept them just as they are, so they are free of any need to improve. Concurrently, they accept more and tolerate more bad behaviour from their partner because, well, they’re soulmates.
Others toss out viable relationships, not because of destructive behaviour, but because their partners suddenly don’t quite measure up to their romantic ideals anymore. Ending a solid relationship merely because you are no longer 100% convinced your partner is your soulmate is haphazard, even reckless.
That is not to say we should stay in unhealthy relationships, but rather that we should weigh the merits of a relationship objectively. Since defining exactly what qualifies a person to be your soulmate is so elusive, if not exclusionary, try assessing your relationship instead on fundamentals like commitment, respect, trust and love.
Undoubtedly, some matches are a better fit than others. But being a good fit doesn’t mean you need to share every personality trait or interest as your partner. It doesn’t mean that your relationship will be conflict free. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you will feel electrifying sparks throughout all stages of your relationship. But never confuse the intense attraction you feel for another person as a sign that you are soulmates, meanwhile it’s just a sign of compatibility. And equally so, don’t discard a potentially great relationship just because you’ve hastily judged someone as not being your soulmate.
We believe, you grow into each other through a series of decisions to love one another in order to grow into being the one. Because outside that, the one doesn’t exist. This is why it’s important to give people a fair chance in order to determine whether you can live with them or not, in spite of the first impression as well as presence or lack of physical chemistry. You could be overlooking one of the good ones because you didn’t feel that initial attraction. And as a result you miss out on what could have been the most fulfilling relationship of your life.
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