Archive for September 23rd, 2008

On Relationships: Monogamy and Soul Mates

Several things got me thinking about this subject.  One is having one son older than I was when I got married, and two more almost at that age.  I see the relationships they’ve gotten into, and then gotten out of.  Some were quite serious; these kids were convinced they were in love.  I’ve even let my mind wander thinking what if they got married, and for the most part, I was OK with most of their choices.  But then, as people are prone to do, they suddenly fall out of mad passionate love, become just friends or in some cases enemies, and fall madly in love with someone else.

Then I see couples like my aunt and uncle, married for almost 70 years.  If you ever watched Seinfeld, they remind me a lot of George Costanza’s parents.  There’s always a lot of eye-rolling and VERY LOUD TALKING, but underneath there’s a lot of affection there.  For as long as I can remember, it’s the way they’ve interacted with each other.  It seems like they can’t live with each other (but obviously they can after 60 some years), but I don’t think they can live without each other.

I don’t believe in the concept of a soul mate.  I think it would be a very shallow world to think that one single other person and yourself could make a complete universe.  I think each of us is one small part of the whole big puzzle.  I believe that one selects a mate that compliments one’s life and fulfills one’s needs at that time.  But since people grow and change, so does the relationship.  That is where commitment comes into play.

Not so long ago, when people married, they made a commitment for life.  Society frowned on divorce and so people made the best of the life they chose.  Women did not have the choices they have now to be able to support themselves economically, so they stayed in marriages that they might not stay in today.  By the same token, I’m sure many men stayed put with nasty partners due to the sense of duty they felt.

In some ways, this was tragic.  Like today, I’m sure many of these marriages were abusive.  No one should ever be stuck in a marriage where abuse occurs.  But there were probably a lot of normal ups and downs that people worked through, instead of baling out with a quickie divorce like they might today.  People didn’t expect everything in their lives to be perfect back then, and they didn’t run away from their problems.  Facing problems, then working together to find solutions builds character.  And relationships.

Sometimes staying together just doesn’t make sense.  If someone just doesn’t want to be with you, it’s pathetic to hang on to something that just isn’t there.  There are deal-breakers that no one should have to live with, such as abuse.  I’m glad people have choices today, and are able to find happiness if they make a terrible choice in their youth.  But I hope my boys take a long time to find a mate that they can share a happy lifetime with, who will share similar values and sense of commitment.  There’s something comforting in planning for the future in the same house, with the same spouse.

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September 2008
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