September 5, 2007

A Good Marriage and Soul Mates

What determines whether two people can create a good, long-lasting marriage? Is there such thing as a soul mate?

I've been thinking about this a lot the last couple of years. My husband and I have been married 11 years, and together for 14. Our relationship is better now than it's ever been. And each year it gets better.

What's interesting, is that if I were the person I am today when I met my husband 15 years ago, I don't think there is any chance we would have hooked up. And vice versa. We were in the right place, at the right time when we met. And as we spent time together, we changed. And now, we are different people. We are the people who we need now.

If the two of us were single today, and we met today, we'd totally hit it off. We'd be perfect for each other. That's been true almost since the beginning. And although we've changed, we've never lost the overall feeling like we're a good match.

We've been through rough times. We've seen the worst of each other. And we got through it. A lot of it was sheer determination. Part of it might also have been, at some moments, lack of any compelling reason not to at least try. Part of it was life circumstance kept us together. Part of it was the ability to see each other's true self while really upset with each other.

But ultimately, what it boils down to, I think, is that we both just wanted it to work.

When two people come together and both people want to have a good relationship with the other, that's the magic formula. Once one or the other looses this desire to figure out how to do that, then all the other variables fall by the wayside.

It's not common interests or similar perspectives or being together a long time. All these things can be there, and yet a relationship fails.

There's no way we can make another person want to be with us. All we can do when we are in a relationship is decide whether we want to make our relationship good. And work towards that. And when the other person does too, then it works out.

That's what keeps my husband I together, ultimately. We both want to keep our relationship good. We do it in our own way, for our own reasons. But as the years move on, we keep wanting that. We keep striving for that goodness that we so often find in each other.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt that he's totally hot :)

What do you think? What keeps people together for a long time? Is there such thing as a soul mate? If so, why is it that so many people find their soul mate among the billions of people that live on this planet? Why do some people who search so long, never find someone who they could live with?


APKimberMama said...

I don't believe is soul mates. Oh, I did once, but I don't any longer (being that I don't believe in souls). I believe in wanting to be together, in hard work (sometimes), and in sticking it out. I believe that seeking joy in our lives brings joy.

We stay together because we want to be together and not because of vows made to a non-existent deity. How amazing it is to be together by choice, not by fate or religious decree; to freely choose not to hurt each other based on our on values and not because we will be damned to hell if we don't.

I do think that there is a connection, a compatibility that brings people together in the first place. We had that in the beginning; it was so very long ago...we first met when I was 14 and first dated when I was 16, although we put aside the romance for awhile before getting back together and engaged when I was nearly 19.

Some people think that finding each other so young means that our early relationship was based purely on hormones, but I know it isn't true. Even young people can recognize kindness, intelligence, warmth, dedication, determination, and so much more. The fact that we were friends for two years before our first kiss, and that we stayed close friends for the 18 months we were apart (while dating others) surely shows that the connection was more than physical.

Here we are after 19 years of marriage, happy as can be. He has changed, I've changed, and we're still connected and compatible. We are our own people, not enmeshed, but happily intertwined. There is room for each of us to grow, and the wonder of having a partner to share that with, one who doesn't resist our change and growth but chooses to always push toward growth as well.

I can relate to still being good for each other even if we were to meet now. But how much of that bringing new ideas to each other, and exploring life together? How could we possibly be who we are right now if we hadn't been together all of these years?

We occasionally wonder why it still works, why we make this choice day after day, year after year when so many people don't stay together. We don't believe in luck, or fate, so those aren't easy answers. It is choice; for some people that is too fragile, but for us it is affirming. We are here because we choose to be here. We cannot promise that we will always be here, but we can voice our intent.

Of course, there have been hard times. I think that people who have been together for a long time and says that it has been 100% sunshine are either lying to you or themselves. You have to struggle to grow. You have to work out jealousy, bad habits, the division of labor, and all of the other little things. You have to work on big things like how you feel about money, religion, and politics.

I think some people do stay together out of inertia, or because of religious vows. Some stay because they don't think they can do any better. Some stay because of the children. Some stay because they have stopped growing and are happy with their lives and don't want to explore farther. What I have observed is that many people stay together, but aren't happy as individuals or within their relationships.

All of this is why we sometimes gaze at each other in wonder and realize that not only have we been together for so long, but it has been mostly good and happy, and never was a bad time not also a time of growth that eventually led to something even better than we thought it could be (not that you know that when you're in the middle of it).

Okay, I'm worried that my comment is longer than your post, so I'll stop. And just in case you don't remember, we met at the CHN Expo (my DH and I went to university with your DH).


Tammy said...

Hi Kim! Thanks for the comment. It was obvious that you and Mike have a strong relationship. Thanks for sharing your perspective on my blog. :)