Monday was our wedding anniversary. Seventh, in chronological order, we think, though as you may know if you've been reading this blog for a while, we don't really count the first year of our marriage, because thanks to the government we were only together for about seven days of it.
Wondering if even needed to write about this, I looked through my past anniversary posts to make sure I didn't repeat myself too much in reiterating that I continue to be amazed by the fact that I'm even married and smug about how incredibly unromantic we are. Blah, blah, blah, blah. But as a I was reading my post from last year and all the lovely comments from you folks, when I was struck by the last comment from Mary where she says something to the effect that you make your own soulmate. It struck me as being really well-put.
"Soulmate" is one of those loaded terms we apply to romantic relationships, so being the contrarian that I am, I've always had very dubious feelings about using it in that way. That's not to say that I don't believe in those kinds of connections. In my life I've definitely met people with whom I felt an instant connection, a feeling in the pit of my stomach, an electric charge, a bodily sense of deja vu, the eerie, persistent feeling that we already knew each other, or were meant to be together in some way. They've been both men and women (and queer as well), and mostly, we did not end up being romantic partners. Some are life-long friends, while others were only in my life for a brief time. Each of those people was key in steering me in a direction I needed to go at the time, or helping me realize something I need to understand, or simply supporting and kind. I hope and believe that they too got something out of the relationship in return. Those of them that are no longer in my life, I often think of fondly, with gratitude and wonder.
So yes, on the one hand I do believe in something like "soulmates"; significant people appearing in your life at an opportune time. Instantaneous connections. Spontaneous intimacy.
At the same time plenty of my best, dearest, most important and beloved friends have been people who made no special impression upon first meeting, people who seemed nice, but not particularly interesting, maybe a little boring, or even annoying. Only on close inspection did they turn out to be kindred spirits, good pals, hilarious, awesome, steadfast, wise, kind, or even my favorite kind of friend; the complete opposite of temperaments, or life-situations, yet completely compatible senses of humor, or morals, or far-fetched interests.
The connectedness and intimacy I've felt with those people with whom my relationships formed more gradually, has been in no way diminished compared to those lightning-speed friendships; and a lot of times those relationships which grew more slowly, have also been more lasting.
That also makes sense to me: any longterm relationship, be it a friendship, a loveship, or a blood relation, goes through cycles, ebbing and flowing and waxing and waning. If we're not prepared to weather through and work at those relationships, they may not last past the initial "honeymoon phase". Connections need constant strengthening, building, mutual effort.
It makes total sense to me that your "soulmate" can be most anyone you care for and put the time in with. Anyone you care to learn to know deeply. Anyone you nurture your relationship with. Anyone you feel comfortable opening up to at your most vulnerable time. Anyone who knows when to put up with your BS and when to call it. Anyone who can make you laugh by just making a knowing face. Anyone you come back to after every fight. Anyone who'll hold you when you can't quite hold yourself up. Because they're not just anyone. They're the most special person you could be with.
Who cares whether your eyes locked in deep unison from a past life, the first time you met, or not?
Destiny, chance, hard work, or what? Soulmates, or just mates? What's your relationship advice?