Dating Advice #187 - Soul Mate Split
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Dating Advice #187 - Soul Mate Split
Dating Advice 187

Dating Advice #187 - Soul Mate Split

After years of happy marriage, he announces: "You're not my soul mate."

by

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

My husband informed me last night that I am not his soul mate.

I told him that because we were married, I thought we were one. We have been growing together and sharing together for all these years. Okay, not everything is perfect. But are we not inextricably linked?

He responded by saying that, "We are created anew every day!"

What's that supposed to mean?! I think that my husband is misinterpreting what he's read about "soul mate." Please explain to me how you understand the meaning of soul mate.

I am devastated, and I believe your answer can really help: My husband reads your articles and takes them to heart.

Nanci

Dear Nanci,

Collectively we have over 50 years of experience with couples and singles, and we believe there is a misconception of the idea of a "soul mate." That phrase makes it seem like: 1) two people are destined for each other from the start, and 2) because of this will always have an ideal relationship and will never have to do any work to enhance it. This is a false idea.

The ultimate test of a marriage is not whether people feel they are soul mates. That's a feeling people have when they are infatuated with each other. And it's a feeling that fades as the glow of infatuation fades away. What is more important in a marriage is that a husband and wife are basically right for each other, and that they build a life together through an ongoing process.

Having said that, what makes two people "right for each other?" In truth, a person is capable of connecting with several different people, and has the potential to build a good marriage with any of them. Each marriage will be different, but each marriage will have good qualities and negative qualities. We often see this when someone who has been widowed after a good marriage, goes on to have a second loving marriage. How do they succeed? They invest the energy into developing and maintaining a good relationship.

What many people seem to overlook is the following truth: When two people who are right for each other make that first connection, they have to spend a lifetime keeping it going. Every marriage will have periods when it has to be "endured" -- i.e. when the couple is going through a tough time and may doubt their connection to each other. And there will be periods in which a marriage can just be enjoyed. But even then, it can't be taken for granted, and the couple will soon have to renew their commitment to keeping the relationship healthy.

Sometimes, when there is strain between a couple (e.g. one of them is experiencing difficulties at work, or questions his or her own sense of self, or when the quality of the couple's emotional connection has deteriorated), one of them may reflect on the situation and decide that they are not soul mates… or that perhaps s/he really never loved the other… or perhaps there is someone better out there.

We have seen these feelings occur in many marriages -- even ones that subsequently turn out to be long, enduring, and happy. Usually, these feelings can be overcome, and the quality of the couple's relationship can improve dramatically.

The secret is for the husband and wife to understand that these feelings may occur, and that there are many ways to restore the emotional connection and feelings of love.

Popular culture has given is unrealistic expectations of marriage -- soul mates is a prime example. A more realistic view of marriage is that they feel a sense of friendship and trust, and they share a history of life's ups and downs. At times they will be furious with each other, and at times they feel deeply in love. What's really important to a marriage is what a couple makes of it overall, not what a husband and wife feel about each other at any one point in time.

Our advice to you is not to get discouraged by your husband's revelation. It is very possible that he is trying to find himself spiritually. People who are on this kind of a journey tend to raise questions about many aspects of their lives, including marriage. So it isn't helpful for either of you to jump to conclusions. Your husband will probably reformulate his ideas over time, because he is "on a journey." And he may quickly realize that his marriage is an invaluable safe haven on this trip.

You and your husband can succeed at your marriage, even if he is searching for something that you feel you have already found. And ultimately, he may find himself at a different place spiritually than you are. Your marriage can still be an anchor between you, if each of you can respect the other's point of view.

If after all of this, things have not improved, we strongly recommend marriage counseling, which often helps couples to greatly improve the quality of their relationship.

We hope this has been helpful, and wish you the best of success,

Rosie & Sherry

Published: August 27, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) YS, September 28, 2005 12:00 AM

Happens to everyone

Nanci,
There was an epision of the Simpsons in which Homer became convinced that Marge was not his soulmate because she didn't always understand him. By the end of a half-hour episode it had been resolved. So how tough can it be?

On a more real note, I don't think there was any deep lesson to be learnt from that episode. The resolution between husband and wife involved chili-induced psychedelic visions and a talking coyote. In our day to day lives we can't expect such stories to unfold. I will say that it was an episode worth watching and you'll enjoy a laugh.
/YS

(6) Michal, September 27, 2005 12:00 AM

Dating

B"H

I went on a date with someine and it seemed as if it was going very well. Same interests, goals, etc. Then no explanation, no calls. I sent an email and finally got the response to "move on". This was totally not what I was expecting.
I do have otehr option, but don't feel ready to just through myself back in there.

m

(5) Shaul, September 15, 2005 12:00 AM

To Nanci and her husband - you have a lot going for you!

To Nanci (and her husband),

I just saw your letter on this page and I am very sorry that you had such a bad misunderstanding with your husband that you were devastated his comment about a “soul mate”. A woman by nature needs to feel at one with her husband, and if she senses that he does not love her, then she can certainly feel devastated, because her marriage and family are the most important things in her life. While men seek satisfaction and prestige in their pursuits outside the home, women need it most at home, and a woman’s favor in her husband’s eyes is her single most important need in life.

Having said that, I nevertheless believe that you have a lot going for the two of you. First of all, you are still married… In this day and age, this is definitely something that we can’t take for granted!

Secondly, you have been growing together and sharing together for many years. This is a singular achievement, and I’m confident that you will soon be back on the road to mutual happiness and satisfaction.

Finally, and most important, your husband reads and takes to heart articles about marriage. This means that he really is open to discussion about these matters. Not many women are blessed to have a husband who takes his marriage seriously. You have much to be thankful for, and definitely have the potential for a perfectly loving marriage.

If so, why did your husband say what he did? What did he mean, and how can you give him the benefit of the doubt?

I hope that by the time you and he read this, you will have made up, but I still hope you will find the following comments helpful.

First of all, without considering your marriage in particular, the very notion of “soul mate” is a very modern thing. Rosie and Sherry themselves have commented elsewhere that the expression itself didn’t exist when they got married. It seems that in former generations there wasn’t such a great need for emotional intimacy as there is today. Men received support from their close friends and women from theirs. Social changes have made us more insecure and have placed greater demands for emotional support on one’s spouse that what he can always meet.

Furthermore, as you note, not everything is, or can be perfect. Marital love, like all human endeavor, has its ebbs and flows. This is taken for granted in the Jewish tradition, which likens the periodic reunion of husband and wife to their wedding day.

Thus, it is unrealistic to expect your husband always to feel as close to you as you would like. Men are notorious for their tendency to close up emotionally when under stress for any reason. Often the source is tension at work and has nothing to do with you. He may be very reluctant to talk about these things at home out of fear that you will see him as a failure. Thus the Mishna (in Avot) cautions a man not to speak too much with his wife, and the commentator R. Ovadiah Bartenura explains this to include telling bad things that happen to him outside the home.

So I would humbly advise that if your husband makes such an insensitive remark, then you should try to attribute it to something that happened to him that he doesn’t want you to know about. He is probably not in the best of moods and at the moment isn’t able to take your emotional needs to heart. In such a situation it is best not to prod him into talking with you – this would be counterproductive - but patiently to leave him to himself until he comes back to you on his own initiative. That is the opportunity to speak to his heart and communicate to him your needs, without blaming, criticizing, demanding or trying to change him, but in an atmosphere of love and a mutual desire to provide satisfaction and encouragement to each other by giving compliments for every good thing one does, no matter how small.

In your case, while it’s obvious to you that your husband cited the maxim “We are created anew every day” out of context, it is, in and of itself, a very positive comment – just as you are created anew every day, so is your love. I would even write it down, sign his name to it, hang it on your wall and show it back to him when he needs encouragement.

It is a woman’s choice and merit to nurture her marital relationship with her husband. The Torah teaches us this by the example of Yaakov’s marriages with Rachel and Leah (Bereshit 29 and 30). With Rachel it was love at first sight, but this didn’t last long and even turned to anger when she didn’t bear children. Leah, on the other hand, was “hated” in comparison to her sister (our Sages say that Yaakov even wanted to divorce her after what she did on their wedding night…), but she was blessed with children, and with nearly every one of them she expressed her passionate desire for her husband’s love. In the end Leah won out. Everything of lasting value in the Jewish people – the Cohanim and Leviim, Moshe Rabbeinu, the Moshiach, even our name Yehudim – comes from her, in reward for her patient devotion to her husband Yaakov and desire for his companionship.

Recently I came across the book “Woman to Woman” by Aviva Rappaport (Artscroll – Mesorah) which presents the great womanly wisdom of the late Rebbetzin Esther Greenberg, for the benefit of the Jewish woman and her home. On flipping through the book, I found the following very simple but utterly profound story.

One rainy winter day, a woman was visiting with one of her friends who was particular in keeping her house clean and orderly. As they were chatting, her husband came home and tracked mud onto the spotless floor with his boots. The guest was irritated and complained, “Look at all that mud on your floor”. “Yes, I know,” replied the hostess with a calm smile, “but in with the mud came my husband.”

May your ability to see the good things in your husband, too, earn you the reward of his love all of your days together. Amen!

Shaul

(4) Anonymous, September 9, 2005 12:00 AM

how does your husband know you're not his soul mate? does he know who his soul mate is and how he would know her if she crossed his path?
my guess is that your husband is unhappy and chances are that the reasons are nothing to do with you. but blaming his issues on his lack of "true love" or whatever in his life.
get him to a therapist so he can work out his meshugas with someone other than yourself, meanwhile get a sitter and go out with your girlfriends for a drink and have a good laugh at your hubby's expense :-)

(3) Vlad Seder, September 8, 2005 12:00 AM

every day anew

Nanci's husband takes a right precept and makes a wrong conclusion out of it. Thue, it's said that "We are created anew every day!" Yet what it means for a marriage is this: everyone needs to renew one's commitment his spouse anew every day. We are partners in creation with our Creator, so we need to do our part, as He does his.

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