Monday, September 10, 2007

A Cynic Gets Married

Although I was not included in the sample when this survey was taken, I was a never-married single between 20 and 29 at the time. Had I been asked, I would have been in a miniscule minority (6%) that did not endorse the statement: "When you marry, you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost."

What exactly they meant by "soul mate" is unclear, since it apparently has nothing to do with the person's religious beliefs (only 42% thought those matter) and sexual activity is by no means reserved for such persons. Apparently it's just one of those things you know when you see it, an emotional connection divorced from the spirit or body.

Meanwhile, my young, cynical self was keeping an eye out for someone with similar religious beliefs and lifestyle preferences, someone capable of intelligent conversation and laughing at a good joke. Someone who could be a good friend and a good father. That narrowed the field down amply; insisting on a deep, mystical connection just seemed like it lowered the odds too far. Alas, I did not share the unshakable faith of over 80% that there must be One Right Person out there and that I would find him when I was ready.

What I did find was DOB, a good friend with a similar background, who was willing to marry me. So we proceeded forward, with little concern over whether we were truly "soul mates" or not. As it turned out, when you spend a lot of time around a good friend who gets your jokes and shares your deepest beliefs, who also happens to be a reasonably attractive member of the opposite sex, feeling a deep connection often just happens anyway.

And it takes time to find out things. Many areas of deep connection we didn't even realize until we'd been married a while. Other things we thought we had in common have been dropped on one or both sides. Some areas we'll never fully connect on: I'm never going to love baseball that much, and he's never going to be that thrilled about Shakespeare. But we'll still watch ball games and Shakespeare together. We read different books, but we talk about them together.

A feeling of deep, mystical connection can happen. But it's an awfully flimsy thing. A few sleepless nights, a misunderstanding in a stressful situation, or just the difficulties of profound conversation in a house with children can leave a couple feeling, well, not so soul-matey. But we'll still be living in the same house, paying the same bills, raising the same children, and sitting in the same pew (until the next potty run or tantrum, at least)--sooner or later, we'll make time to connect again. Being soul mates is wonderful, but being able to count on each other is so much better.


Zippy said...

Good post.
Someday . . . perhaps I won't be as cynical about this subject.
Happy Anniversary, btw!

the aussie mistress said...

you can have it all - a wonderful friend, a great lover, and someone who stays by your side even during those days you feel like walking to the moon rather than dealing with your kids.
Soul-mate IS the one you count on.
I have mine.

Rose said...

Humph. Have all those people on the survey who agree that living together is a good way to test-drive for marriage, and even those who insist they would not marry someone who wouldn't agree to live together first, NOT read all the statistics documenting that cohabitation only INcreases the likelihood that the marriage will end in divorce??

I completely agree with your post. Who can define that mystical soul connection, anyway? I would say NOW that Michael and I are definitely soul-mates, one-and-onlies, intended for each other, but there are so many ways of defining that, so many sparks of compatibility. If I had felt God leading me to another person, I'm sure I could have built up as watertight a case for that as well. ('Aha! He plays the piano, something I have always dreamed of - must be destiny.') Michael's not playing the piano doesn't mean that I am unsatisfied in our relationship, nor that I am always second-guessing my decision and wondering whether I missed out on The One - it just means that I have grown enough as a person to get over any trivial fancies, and to learn which concerns are more trivial than others.

mary said...

I put a link to your blog on mine yesterday. You can read what I said at:

the Joneses said...

I wasn't really looking for a soul-mate, although I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my husband can indeed be my best friend. (He makes a rotten girl friend, though.) The people who seek after the Soul Mate concept are the same ones who enshrine the memories of their First Time: the best is always behind or before, but never what you've got right now.

-- SJ