Falling in love is like a spiritual experience
When couples first fall in love, it is the honeymoon — a time of magic and wonder. Hearts open. Spirits soar. In this expansive state, with ecstatic feelings of being in love, couples may feel they are soulmates.
This initial feeling of “being soulmates” is all about the incredible openness and receptivity, the expansion so far beyond our norm and comfort zone, the heightened access we feel to a passionate connection.
This is our internal state. We assume it comes from outside of us — from the other person we are with. In a word, we call them our “soulmate”. But what we are really talking about is our own internal state of expansion.
Some say the honeymoon is like a spiritual experience. But reality says the honeymoon does not last forever. So it’s important to refine our thinking about soulmates, true love, and what is essential for a lasting relationship. Love is everything, right? We want the honeymoon to last forever. If you find your soulmate, you live happily ever after, right? It’s predestined, right? What every honeymooner hopes for, and wants to believe, is that famous song is true: “All you need is love…”
Love is not enough
It takes more than just love — or that incomparable opening and expansion in the honeymoon — to have a lasting relationship. Countless couples start with total positive feelings of being in love, and then somewhere down the road, they painfully split up. What does this reality tell us?
In the honeymoon, we coast along in a purely receptive role. There is nothing we have to do. We just enjoy all those great honeymoon feelings of being in love. During this phase, we feel our partner inspires and uplifts us.
Yet when differences or upset feelings arise in a relationship, as inevitably they will, we find ourselves without our source of inspiration. Both partners want that missing uplift, and neither is able to inspire it.
Finding a “soulmate” is not enough
There is the moment in all relationships when a couple turns from the bliss of the honeymoon and encounters their first problem, issue, difference or upset. This is a shock, and may lead to disappointment or doubts. The expansion and openness of the honeymoon reverses, and there is a contraction.
Just like the initial opening, the contraction — the closing down — is an internal state. Yet, just as before, it is blamed on the other person. Now, we think, “This is not the right person after all…”
That is the soulmate myth coming alive inside of us, effecting us to think and possibly act in ways that will take our relationship down a negative path. In this sense, the common myth of soulmates is a very dangerous one indeed — because it usually ends up being a relationship-breaker.
Often people cannot see what to do when their relationship gets challenged or tested by time. Each partner hopes the other will reinspire all those great “in love” feelings of opening and expanding. This way of thinking is a trap. You make it the other person’s job to open you. Cannot be done. When you get right down to it, couples in this trap are being passive and out of touch with their own true power of loving.
The trap is this. Each person is depending on the other person to make things better again. But nobody is doing anything for the other person. As this goes both ways, it can never work. Nobody gets anything and each ends up resenting the other.
In the honeymoon, the relationship theme is: “You make me feel great!”
But when challenges arise, in the next phase of love — and if couples remain passive — the next theme becomes: “You make me feel bad.”
Deepening love beyond the honeymoon
There is that next phase to love, the one beyond the honeymoon. If we want a great relationship to deepen and last, we need to realize that “happily ever after” includes feelings other than happiness.
There will be challenges.
We are the ones who must realize it is our own openness that is the key to keeping a relationship great and growing — and then learn to re-open ourselves — even when there are challenges. Especially when there are challenges!
The myth of “soulmates” is about a relationship that is blue sky forever. Always sunny, and that sunshine pours down on us, brightens us up, lifts us.
In a real-world relationship, challenges come. The sky occasionally clouds. We are asked to stay present with what is — not run and hide, waiting for the rainy day to pass. We are challenged to put aside limiting beliefs and embrace the rain, realizing that even rain has a positive purpose.
Relationship is our greatest teacher. It tells us what we need to learn next in life for our personal growth. In love we are called on to do work — to become more skillful in relating, move beyond our past wounds and limits, and grow as human beings. This personal growth will include learning new tools and strategies in how we communicate, behave, and process emotions.
The inspiration for the book Relationship Tools for Positive Change was to share what I discovered to be the most effective tools and strategies to establish a lasting, great relationship:
- Learn how to change patterns that damage love
- Heal and overcome old baggage that holds us back today
- Improve communication skills to get good results
- Soothe difficult feelings in a relationship or within yourself
- Create a shared vision as a foundation for longterm success
In my couples retreats I have seen thousands of partners struggling to understand how the relationship they gave their hearts to in the beginning became such a deep source of pain. They are mystified how this could have happened. Some are frustrated. Others are hopeless. Sometimes this has gone on for decades, their hearts essentially shut down and their marriage feeling like an empty shell.
Over the course of a couple of days with me in the supportive environment of a retreat, each comes to realize how they never knew how to communicate in ways that enabled love to thrive. As they learn effective tools and begin to heal their wounds, I watch as most couples fall in love all over again. It’s like seeing a beautiful sunrise after a long dark night of the soul.
I am seeing the birth of true soulmates — ones who know how to enable love thrive, even in the face of challenges. How to tell if you are with your soulmate »