Becoming Soul Mates and The Impact of Addiction

People often say, “I married my Soul Mate.” But, the fact is that no one marries their Soul Mate. Couples become Soul Mates after sharing their lives together through good and bad times. They eventually reach a point in their relationship when they are two bodies but one mind and one Soul.  

The couple will know when they have reached that level and it makes perfect sense to them. Their longing for one another is at a peak when emotionally they are one - two separate bodies connected to one Soul. You can compare this to an individual’s achievement of self-realization or self-actualization because in a way, the relationship as a separate entity also self-actualizes. 

My inspiration for this article is the relationship my parents share. They have been married for 65 years and are in their late eighties. The affection I see in their eyes is so strong and yet gentle that it impacts everyone around them. They are content in their lives together and yet also ready to depart from this world - but not alone.  Death is acceptable to them but not separately.  I have come to believe that this is an example of a Soul Mate relationship.  

What does it take to become Soul Mates?  

The couples must start with an understanding that the life in togetherness is not easy. There are going to be good and bad times. Infatuations and early romances will wear off. Stress will take a toll on their lives and the demands of living and raising family will be enormous.  Also, society expects people in relationships to behave in a certain way and oftentimes, depending on the type of community people belong to, roles have been defined as appropriate or inappropriate. When expectations are not met, the relationship may begin to falter.  But, in spite of those internally and externally imposed burdens, life together can be fun if both people in the relationship do their best to keep the relationship alive and healthy.  

The relationship or marriage needs to be treated as a living organism which requires nurturing because without nurturing, all living organisms will die. The couple will need to commit to nurture their relationship in spite of all hardships. Addictions and other diseases create an extraordinary burden that can leave the relationship broken and emaciated just like the human body.

What is the basis for Becoming Soul Mates?

Friendship is the very basis for creating a close relationship between two people.  Therefore, the bulk of the effort that is put into a relationship should be focused on becoming best friends. When the element of friendship is injected into the relationship, and becomes the most important goal, the burdens of roles and expectation seems to lift away from the relationship. The couple starts working together on all of their life challenges instead seeing their day to day lives as falling within a certain type of division of labor.   Daily challenges become fun, shared experiences. 

Friendship has magical effects. It provides a healthy space between the couple, and opportunities to excel individually.  And, at the same time, enhances togetherness.  True friendship is without any boundary and there are no limits since a good friend will sacrifice without hesitation. 

Unfortunately, relationships that are plagued by addiction will suffer dramatically because of the affect that addiction has on the friendship element. A friendship relies on trust, enjoyment, and overall health. But, addiction is like an active cancer that will eat away at all of those essential components.  One of the earliest fatalities is trust.  When there is lack of trust, feelings of betrayal and hurt trail behind... closely in tow. 

The next problem that happens is that the couple begins to ignore their friendship. There is no physical, mental or emotional violence in friendship, and the couple knows this objectively. However, soon enough, an addict will affect the family system. The couple will twist this easy-to-understand concept of “a good friend will never hurt his/her friend” into something that is false and unhealthy for the relationship.

Even without the plague of addiction, as soon as the memory of early romance fades, intolerance, abuse, and finally hatred can set in.  All of the promises made earlier in the relationship suddenly mean nothing.   I met a woman who told me that she had been married for 30 years, but when I asked how many happy years she spent with her husband, she looked at me with teary eyes and said “none.” After the first few months of romance, their relationship dramatically changed.  They lived their lives under one roof and had occasional sex, but their relationship was empty because there was no intimacy. They frequently fought, raised kids as single parents and continued on with their lives in isolation.

On the other hand I have also seen fabulous relationships, where I see that couples are actively doing what is necessary to keep promises of love and friendship alive.   What is their secret?  They diminish all expectations for the other person and instead focus on what they can do to improve relationship.  I have even seen couples where there is an addict working on personal recovery and simultaneously asking the most relevant questions: what I can do to make my partner happy?

Just imagine if every couple thought that what I can do to make my wife, husband or partner happy.  Such a beautiful thought!

Does this mean all relationships can work?

The fact is that not all relationships will work. Sometimes two people are simply incompatible. For them, the best course is to part with kindness and with friendship before malice and hatred become the focus. How many times we have seen the situation where people become obsessed with hurting each other although they once loved each other? Parting in kindness and with an element of friendship means avoiding this type of hurtful behavior, and figuring out all aspects of the separation with equity: that includes equitably dividing their property and serving best interest of their children in addition to other things. Believe it or not, some of those who part in this way manage to maintain their friendship.

What can people do on a practical level to improve the friendship in a relationship and thus become Soul Mates?

To keep the relationship alive, sincere assessment is needed. Periodically assessing your relationship is like checking on your relationship pulse.  Don’t be afraid to ask “Are we happy together?”

Also, communication is very important. However, it’s important to note that communication with care is especially crucial and is a skill learned overtime. One must learn to communicate with heart, eyes, ears, attitude and mind.  Just like individuals, relationships are unique and cultivate different kinds of communication experiences. Get in tune with your relationship’s uniqueness, and decide what kinds of communication yields the best results for your relationship.  As you do this, don’t forget the importance of silence and nonverbal communication.

True friendship will never be understood without mindfulness. Be mindful of each other and be emotionally and physically present to the needs, wants and joys of your significant other.  Couples will eventually become Soul Mates after years of practicing friendship just like they practice individual mindfulness.  

A relationship without intimacy is like a hollow can. It makes noise but there is nothing of substance inside. Many couples I see in therapy do not care to understand the real meaning of intimacy outside of sex.  It includes physical, verbal and emotional support. Without intimacy all relationships will be dull and boring.  Therefore, I highly recommend spending adequate time becoming intimate on many levels and letting go of unhealthy life styles that can severely hamper intimacy. To get more specific and practical on how addiction impacts the relationship, I will note that it causes the communication to become jumbled and misunderstood. The Soul Mates stage has its own language that will only be fully and easily understood when a couple actually reaches that stage but until then, substance abuse will only dull the beautiful sounds of that language.  Further, with problems like addiction, intimacy, both physical and emotional, is never fully realized because the addiction stands almost directly in the way like a separate entity. Instead of becoming best friends the couple lives a lonesome life, together yet miles apart accompanied only by their addiction and misery.   Therefore, the only practical way to get closer to each other is to remove the thing that stands in the way.

Finally, I want to tell you that my parents, the inspiration for this piece, do not have extensive formal education. They never consciously attempted to reach a goal of becoming Soul Mates. They are merely simple and ordinary people who cherished each other’s companionship, which slowly evolved into a real friendship. Without even realizing it, any and all distance between them vanished over time. They were two separate bodies so deeply connected that they did not even realize that they became One. This is what I mean when I talk about becoming Soul Mates.

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