From greeting card soppiness to unrealistic expectations, ‘soulmate’ means different things to different people. In recent years, the word ‘soul’ has appeared as a prefix to leadership, food, purpose and journey.
Reflecting on the term ‘soulmate,’ how do you know if the relationship you are in is the right one, or when will you know when Mr or Miss Right comes along? I’m blessed to be in a personal relationship where we both know ‘this is it!’ So let me give you my take on soulmates and what makes a personal relationship work.
With my coaching hat on, this a values match.
Myself and Brian have a very similar outlook and mindset when it comes to the core areas of life, family, career, finances, relationships. In a corporate context, values are defined as the ‘unwritten rules as to how we do things.’ The same sentiment can be applied to relationships.
But just because you have shared values does not mean you have the same interests, the same way of dealing with challenges, or the same career ambitions. How your shared values are expressed can be different and in fact, I believe it is healthy when they are because this creates contrast (and spark!)
Brian and I have separate identities, different interests and different groups of friends. However, when it comes to what’s important, we see the world through the same lens. We face life as a united team. Nothing outside our relationship can impact on our relationship without our permission. It is not even that we trust each other, that is a given, but whatever other people say or do has no impact on us, because we know the truth of our relationship.
Whilst there are times when you have to ‘work’ on your relationship, (for me ‘work’ means ensuring I’m communicating openly and honestly and being willing to compromise) it should not be a constant struggle. The challenging times should be the exception rather than the rule. There is no drama in our relationship.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t excitement. Some people thrive on drama because it gives them stories to tell down the pub and it is often a covert way for them to get attention. But great love is not solely defined by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. In fact, I believe it is quite the opposite – quiet, easy, comfortable companionship (which does not mean boring!)
It is said that after the ‘honeymoon’ phase of getting to know each other, you move to the ‘power struggle,’ where you test each other’s boundaries. I’m aware when I’m doing power struggle in my relationship. I’m alert enough to know that this probably means there is something for me to learn about the situation, and it is often a precursor for a ‘clearing the air’ conversation.
Some people run the pattern that they have to see how far they can push their partner as an unconscious way of testing their partner’s love for them. Unfortunately, in some relationships this constant power struggle becomes the norm which fosters repression and resentment and will ultimately lead to the death of the relationship.
A ‘soulmate’ relationship doesn’t mean there won’t be disputes, disagreements or stony silences. We all have to cope with the stresses of life and despite our best intentions, fuses can be short, stuff can get on top of us and the person closest to us usually bears the brunt. Brian and I know that our relationship is precious and we will never allow short-term frustrations to negatively impact it.
And here’s a key insight I’ve learned – our relationship is stronger, not weaker because of the disagreements we’ve had along the way. It is stronger because those disagreements led to a greater understanding of each other.
A telltale sign that you are in a relationship with the wrong person is that you are insecure about the relationship and you worry that one false move will alienate your partner. That’s not the case for soulmates.
Brian sees me when I’m far from my best, but he loves me anyway. I’m free to be completely myself without fear of judgement or repercussions. What hope is there for an authentic, soul-connected relationship when you feel you cannot show up just as you are?
If you want a soul-connection you have to show who you are on the inside. This means allowing yourself to be vulnerable. This can feel risky (especially if you have been hurt before) because our defences are down. But it is only when our defences are down that we see what they were guarding. This is why it is said that in a relationship all our unresolved issues come to the surface for healing. Equally, it is only when our defences are down that our true selves can emerge.
I’m more of myself; I’m living my authentic life because of the opportunities for growth that have been (and continue to be) presented to me within my marriage. I’ve risked being vulnerable and the reward has been fulfilment and happiness beyond what I could ever have imagined.
I know Brian wants the best for me as I do for him. You could say we are each other’s priorities. When you have each other’s highest interests in your heart and at the forefront of your mind, relationships are profound and transformational.
Your soul mate is also your best friend. Brian is the best friend I’ve ever had. Whilst we all have our foibles and annoying habits, there is nothing I would wish to change about him because if I did that would presuppose that who he is is not enough.
Whilst we want the best for each other, it is not his job to make me happy or vice versa. As mature adults, we take personal responsibility for our own happiness and well-being. If you are looking for your partner to make you happy (or worse, to complete you!) you will be disappointed.
Myself and Brian met in our thirties. Both of us agree that neither of us would have been ready for the sort of relationship we now have if we had met any sooner. We would not have had the levels of self-awareness that comes with maturity, nor would we have had the courage to risk being vulnerable and authentic.
So the timing has to be right. For this reason, someone you met in the past may not have been right for you then, but maybe now, it could be different.
It is a cliché but I’ve learned that in the years I was searching/ hoping/ wishing for a great relationship, the person I was actually waiting for was myself. When I showed up, real, authentic, honest, that’s when Brian showed up.
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