Finding your soulmate: how do you know your spouse "the one"?
Is The One simply a product of our own creation, like Frankenstein's Monster, or is he a mythical unicorn, something that actually exists and is just terribly difficult to find?
“In another life I would be your girl, we keep all our promises, be us against the world, and in other life I would make you stay so I don’t have to say you were the one that got away, the one that got away!” sang Katy Perry when she broke up with her long-time beau Russell Brand.
How many times have you been through that? Or, if you are one of the lucky ones, heard your girlfriends weep out something along these lines? Even if you are married now, at some point in your life, or maybe even now, love rarely ever runs a straight course. And as we are slowly realising, whoever said marriage is happily ever after?
My personal life is something of an anomaly in modern Singapore – I’ve been with the same man (now husband) for the past 15 years with nary a breather in between. Because of that, I’ve become (unenviably and inadvertently) something of a dating oracle amongst my girlfriends – Tell me what I should do! Do you think he’s serious about me? And the mother of all questions, uttered with all breathless earnestness, gazing hopefully into my eye : Do you think he’s The One?
Truth be told, I certainly never intended our relationship to be my last. Truth be told, even after 15 years, it is a constant adjustment and compromise. Truth be told, up till now, with a four year old daughter, and everything we have built together, there’s that shadow of a shadow of doubt, especially when things are not rosy, when I look at him with nothing but rage in my eyes.
So how did we get this far? Is it because he’s The One?
Of course he is.
He’s The One because I want him to be. And perhaps more importantly, he wants me to be too. Commitment and marriage are two way streets. When you are teteering on the edge, when you are just about to throw in the towel, when you are one toe away from walking out the door – but you don’t. Because you don’t want to. Because you will keep trying as long as he is, or maybe even some more when he isn’t.
So you square your shoulders, grit your teeth and trudge back. And somehow, you and him trudge out of the rut.
I once read somewhere that the best way to stay married is not to get divorced, and that’s the stupid truth. If you run away from your marital problems instead of working through them, if you avoid conflicts and choose the easier way out, if you have affairs to escape the realities of a decaying marriage, that’s when it falls apart.
He’s The One because we grow together, and we push each other to grow together. 18 year old me wanted different things from 28 year old me and probably from 38 year old me. People don’t really stop loving each other. But they do stop being right for each other.
When two people grow in different directions, they grow apart. Or worse, when one person grows, and another doesn’t, the relationship gets stuck. When you push each other’s growth, through conversations, through pursuing common interests, through kids or through travels, chances are, you grow in approximately the same direction.
This doesn’t mean you need to be carbon copies of each other. But it does mean you both need to have roughly aligned ideals.
So does that mean there is no The One out there? The One, much like Frankenstein’s Monster, is simply a product of our creation? There isn’t someone The Cosmos has planned for you who fits you effortlessly and you guys are totally MFEO (Made For Each Other)?(okay, I will stop with the pop cliches here)
Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t. As much as my friends like to think I’m an oracle, I’m really not.
What I do think is that marriage and relationships are tremendous hard work. But there are only those few, or, okay, that One individual(s) whom you want to work that hard for. Not because you just want a marriage, but because you want to be together with that person.
When you willingly give up “I” to be “us”, through all the tears, the conflicts, the boring exclusivity, and you still decide it was worth it and more. Maybe that’s when you have found the fabled, beautiful, mythical unicorn.
As Einstein said – 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration. So, too, with The One – 10% mythical unicorn, 90% Frankenstein’s Monster.