Did you know that a fairy tale romance, or soul mate relationship, has a higher chance of ending in divorce? Does that sound crazy? Yes, the National Marriage Project found that people who feel they’ve married their soul mate are 150 percent more likely to divorce than those who do not feel this way. Isn’t knowing right away that he’s The One a good sign? Isn’t the whirlwind courtship a sign that it’s True Love? If this is true, why would soul mate relationships be more likely to fail? Let’s take a look.
Those who believe in soul mates often have a lot of unrealistic expectations like:
- My mate can read my thoughts.
- I don’t have to ask for what I want. My soul mate knows me inside and out.
- My soul mate will drop everything to make me happy.
- We won’t have to deal with mundane problems because love will sweep all stress away.
- If my partner loves me, she will do everything for me.
- Our relationship will always be a deep, romantic love fest.
- Fate brought us together and will keep us together.
All relationships require healthy communication, respect, boundaries, and negotiation. All relationships go through growing pains. This doesn’t make them less loving or real. It just means that we’re all human.
Additionally, all relationships go through a “getting real” phase. This is when real life demands of work, children, family, health, self care, finances, and other day to day matters vie for our time. Our partner cannot be the first priority all the time. Or even if she is, there may not be enough time or energy to be fully present and enthusiastic when in her presence.
This getting real phase also includes relaxing our masks. Maybe we’re more demonstrative when we’re angry. Maybe we let our bad habits show more. If the mask and the real self are extremely different, this can leave our partner feeling that we are not the person that he married. Now we might feel betrayed or stuck. So what do you do?
- Don’t hold out for the fairy tale. It might seem like the fairy tale is romantic and sweet, but it’s not real and could end up a bigger disappointment than finding Mr. We-Fit-Really-Well-Together.
- Take responsibility for your disillusionment. If you want things to get better, accept that you are where you are and do what you have to do to improve them. It doesn’t matter how you got here. Just start from today.
- Make yourself happy. It’s not up to your mate to make you happy. You can choose to see the bright side of everything. You can do things for yourself. Any ineffective habits or destructive behaviors can be changed too. When you love yourself and do for yourself, you appear strong and capable. This is usually far more attractive than being needy and dependent. It’s also healthier.
- Allow your partner to be who she is. Everybody is different. If your partner needs time alone or needs to be more social than you, giving her that space will help her to feel happier. When she’s happy as an individual, there is a greater chance that the two of you can be happy as a couple. If she needs time with friends, doesn’t like to eat in bed, or really likes to watch a certain show at night, so what? We all want to be respected and have space to do what we want and be who we are. When you try to impose something different, it can lead to resentment.
- Be flexible. If you think something is important and it isn’t important to your partner, you may wish to take responsibility for it. For example, if you want the towels folded a certain way, just do it yourself. It’s easier than seeing them done “wrong.” If you like a certain spaghetti sauce recipe, don’t criticize if it’s not to your liking. Communicate what you want or fix it yourself. And do this with a smile.
- Never keep score. Doing something nice doesn’t mean that something is coming your way. Happy relationships do have reciprocity, but not obligations. Once you start expecting things, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
We are all reared on fairy tales. We all want to live happily ever after. Unfortunately that is not realistic. Life always moves in a circle from order to chaos and back again. When you learn how to negotiate those changes and expect them, you have a much greater chance of being happy.