The person you’re married to—or will marry one day—isn’t your soulmate.
[Insert very dramatic orchestra music here.]
It sucks, I know.
How can I be sure?
If we begin with the basic assumption that soulmates are, in fact, real things, and that everyone has one, I can know you’re not with your soulmate because—math.
There are 7.5 billion people in the world. You’ll meet approximately 80,000 of them if you live the average human lifetime of 78.3 years.
That’s .001% of the human population. And that’s everyone you’ll meet over 75-80 years. We really get to know much fewer than that.
“So you’re saying there’s a chance!”
It means that neither the girl you like in history class, nor that guy you met at work is your soulmate. It means that neither your childhood crush nor Ryan Gosling is your soulmate.
It’s okay to feel disappointed because it is disappointing.
That you’re not “made for each other.”
That you’re not “perfect together.”
That you’re just two people who both happened to be in the same place at the same time and both wanted to have sex with one another. (Hopefully things like shared interests, shared beliefs, mutual admiration, and intellectual stimulation contributed to this attraction, but mostly you just wanted to do the hibbity-dibbity).
This disappointing realization that we’re not with our soulmates SHOULD NOT make us want to end our relationships in order to seek out our soulmates, but it does have significant implications for us whether we’re married, or planning on marrying someday.
The ‘Holy Shit, I Just Found Out I’m Not with My Soulmate!’ Emergency Guide
The Married Edition
First, take a deep breath. It’s really important to stay calm or else everyone dies. (Just kidding! Everyone dies even if you stay calm! But hopefully not soon.)
Let’s evaluate this predicament.
1. You got married
This means you exchanged spiritual and/or legal vows promising to be someone’s life partner forever. You did this in front of witnesses, probably your closest friends and family members.
Questions: Did you understand the basic parameters of this arrangement prior to doing this? Did you understand what you were agreeing to? Were you being honest when you exchanged vows? To what extent do you value adhering to your marriage vows? Is it important, or not really?
2. You have choices
Your choices are:
- Stay married and invest in making the experience the best it can be.
- Stay married and ignore, neglect, or intentionally sabotage the relationship.
- End your marriage.
Unless your spouse breaches the legal marriage contract, or violates the spiritual one, ending your marriage requires some soul-searching and having to answer some tough questions.
Staying married but not putting in effort, or actively harming your marriage, more than likely violates the vows and promises you made on your wedding day. You’ll want to read the fine print to be sure.
Staying married and doing things to make it the best-possible experience seems like an obvious choice, but there’s A LOT of grey area out there that I’m not trying to swim in.
Questions: Do you want to be married? If so, what could you do differently to make the marriage a better experience for both partners? If not, do you think there are things you could have done differently throughout your marriage that might have led to a different result than a marriage so undesirable that you want to end it?
The Ultimate Mind Tool For Being Married to Your Non-Soulmate
Understand what hedonic adaptation is, because you can NEVER feel happy if you do it wrong.
Hedonic adaptation is the name for how our individual happiness levels tend to return to our “normal” baseline after either good or bad life experiences as we adjust to our new realities.
Money and material wealth are the classic example. We feel happy when we get a new job with a bigger paycheck. We feel happy when we get a pay raise. We feel happy when we get a new house, or new car, or new gadget at home. And then, we eventually get used to the new paychecks and the new stuff, and it doesn’t feel special anymore. So we chase MORE. (This is also called the “hedonic treadmill.” Always chasing, chasing, chasing, but never really going anywhere, no matter what it looks like on the outside to everyone else.)
Hedonic adaptation is a fundamental part of the human condition. You’re not a bad person nor especially selfish or ungrateful in any way that warrants singling you out because you experience it. You’re just a person like me and everyone else. And this is part of the deal. We get used to things and then they seem less awesome than when they were brand-new.
People like to say: “The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence!”
What that means is, if you start having sex and heavy-petting contests with someone who’s not your spouse just because you kind of feel like you like or want them more—OR, actually end your relationship to pursue a new one with someone who’s exciting your pelvic region—you WILL 100%, no-exceptions, experience hedonic adaptation with the new partner too.
And then, in order to serve that fickle little lust monster between your legs, you’ll eventually have to find a new person again.
This is HIGHLY impractical if you value being part of a lasting relationship.
As long as you’re honest with yourself, everything will be okay. When two people who love, honor and respect one another deal with this inevitable human condition together out in the open, it’s an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and build intimacy.
If one person acts like a dishonest child about it and shames the other person out of discussing this, everyone will just carry on in silence fantasizing about someone else and growing apart in ways that extend beyond the bedroom, until one day you discover you’ve somehow turned into some divorced asshole blogging about this stuff on the internet.
When you’re honest with yourself and your partner, and when you accept the fundamental truth of life that NO MATTER WHO YOU’RE WITH, you’ll feel something that feels a little bit like boredom and complacency creep in, you can approach sex and attraction in marriage with a useful and productive mindset.
Hedonic adaptation is entirely in our heads.
And so is the remedy.
Questions: Why did you marry your spouse? What do they do for you, and have done for you, that you appreciate about them? What is something about them, or something about how they make you feel, or something they do that improves your daily life that you could feel and express gratitude for?
One minute you want to beat your kids and send them to their room without dinner.
But then, while sitting in a doctor’s office the next day, you discover they have a terminal illness, and all the sudden you don’t want to beat and bedroom-banish them anymore.
How you FEEL about your child in such a moment changes radically, simply because of what’s going on inside your brain. Our thoughts change everything. I’ll never take time with my child for granted again.
That very same thought process is what allows us to manifest feelings of gratitude and love for our partners to create a healthy, beautiful and lasting marriage.
People want it to be easy. People want it to feel “natural.”
But we all have mortgages; and debt; and healthcare expenses; and children who need us; and busy, stressful jobs; and unique pressures, fears, anxieties, guilt, etc. And we juggle all of this while the TV, radio and internet hurl “It’s the end of the world as we know it” headlines at us.
It doesn’t feel easy because it’s NOT easy.
It’s hard to remember to mindfully feel intentional gratitude and then take the next step of expressing that gratitude to the person we promised to love for the rest of our lives.
But that’s what it takes.
That’s what Love is a Choice looks like.
And if you’re not married but want to be, please think long and hard about making these promises to another human being you claim to love until you know what you’re signing up for.
You’re not signing up for a life of that person “making you happy” every day. Other people can’t make us happy, even when they try really hard.
But, when we feel and express gratitude every day for the person who gave the rest of their lives to us, and when that person does the same in return, we create something durable and life-giving.
Know this, and make sure they know it too.
Talk about whether you both want to sign up for a life of giving more to the other than you take for yourselves.
Because when THAT person says “I do,” you’ll have found something every bit as powerful, and someone every bit as significant, as a soulmate.
And even though they may not technically be your soulmate, no one will ever be able to tell the difference.