Finding Your Happily Ever After Soul Mate

As we find ourselves between the two most popular holidays for popping “the question”, I thought it was time to address an issue I am frequently asked about – how does one know if the person he/she is with is the “right one”?  From fairy tales, romantic movies, and even our friends and family, we are bombarded with the idea of finding our one true soul mate.  It is pounded into us that unless we find our other half, we are doomed to lead unfulfilled and unhappy lives.  One of the most frequently quoted, and completely misguided, romantic lines is “You complete me” from the movie Jerry McGuire.  It implies that we need another person to fulfill our lives.  Unfortunately, this myth turns the necessary requirements for a successful, long-term relationship on its head.  We don’t need a relationship with another person to “complete” us.  We need to be whole in ourselves before we can join with another to form a healthy relationship.  What we need is to find someone who accepts us for who we are at our core and, in addition, provides a complement to that core.

Lessons from a fairy tale

Monica dreamed of her wedding day from the time she was a little girl.  She watched all the Disney movies and believed she too could grow up and be a princess.  All she had to do was find her Prince Charming.  Monica did what all of her friends did — she graduated from high school and went on to college.  In her junior year she got her school ring.  In her senior year she planned for, and got, her diamond ring.  Tom was an acceptable catch and, if he didn’t match all of a prince’s characteristics, Monica was sure she could whip him into shape.  Five years and one baby later Monica and Tom were in my office trying to figure out what went wrong.

Monica had concentrated on the wrong part of the fairy tales.  She focused on the happy ending of the stories and forgot about how that ending came about.  All of the great love stories have one thing in common:  the two lovers have to struggle to be together.  Whether it is an outside force, like a wicked witch or social expectations, or some life circumstance, such as being attached to another or coming from different worlds, obstacles are placed in the path of true love.  It is only by reaching inside themselves and finding ways to overcome these complications that the characters find their way back to each other and create their happily ever after.  Monica chose Tom because he was suitable and fit into her time frame for marriage not because she felt any deep and passionate connection to him.  It’s not that lasting love must involve suffering, but it rarely develops from settling for the first adequate match.

Finding the one

In all successful love stories the main characters are true to themselves and their ideals.  From Belle and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, through Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, to Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, no one tried to change the other.  The change happened through the love that developed from an appreciation of who the other truly was.  Neither required their partner to change but each moved a bit because they recognized the relationship was more important than the fear, social expectations, or life style differences.  What each realized was those differences were far more superficial than the things they had in common they could build upon.

In reality, there is not just one right person for any of us.  However, there may be many wrong ones.  When we settle for someone who does not now, or is not willing in the future, to meet our needs we need to keep looking.  When we feel we need to give up some of who we are to be in a particular relationship we also give up our chance at a real happily ever after.  So if you have to ask how you know if someone is the “right one”, he/she isn’t.  It may be a cliché but if you don’t feel it down to your toes or if you need time to think about it you probably haven’t found the person who can be your soul mate.  It’s okay to keep looking.  In fact, building your happily-ever-after requires it.

To comment on this article or to request information on another topic, please contact lesli@balancedfamily.com

© 2008 Cary Home Times

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