It turns out that Edward and Bella aren’t the only people who believe in the romantic ideal of the soul mate. In fact, a recent study found that two-thirds of Americans believe in the idea that there is one perfect person out there for everyone. Romantic, right?
Except for one thing: The University of Virginia study also found that people who believed in this concept were 150 percent more likely to divorce than people who had less of a fairy-tale expectation of marriage. Why is this?
For one thing, the concept of having a soul mate is exclusionary. It creates an us-against-them view that doesn’t include the real world. Yet marriages take place in the real world, a world that includes family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and all the (occasionally unpleasant) responsibilities and relationships that comes with them.
Perhaps this is why the study found that people who viewed marriage as a commitment to family, fidelity, and community were more likely to be happy in their marriages. In other words, when you enter into a marriage with the understanding that you are marrying not just one “mate” but a whole host of people, beliefs, and traditions, you can better navigate all the potential pitfalls. After all, in the real world, we don’t ride off into the sunset as a couple without any ties or responsibilities. Instead, we have to find a way to balance our children, parents, in-laws, bills, clients…not to mention, each other!
Another problem with believing in a fairy-tale version of "happily ever after" is that it can make the real world seem like a bit of a letdown. Realistic expectations can go a long way toward preventing future disappointment. However, this doesn’t mean you should settle for less than you deserve! Instead, it simply means accepting that all relationships take work, especially marriage. Your partner can’t be perfect all the time, even if you consider him or her your soul mate. You still have to communicate your feelings, work through tough times, and even pick up the slack every now and then.
Unfortunately, many people think that if they are with the “right” person, then the relationship shouldn’t require any effort…especially in the bedroom. Nothing could be further from the truth! Every sex life takes work, regardless if you are soul mates or not. Scheduling sex might not seem very sexy, but if it’s the only way to guarantee that you and your partner can make time for intimacy in your busy lives, then it’s an excellent option. (And the good news is that if you get in the habit of making sex a priority, you will soon find that your experiences become more organic and you can eventually toss the schedule.)
Also, make sure you don’t get hung up on the idea that sex should always happen like it does in the movies or that everyone else in the world is having a wild, perfect sex life and you aren’t. That’s not the case. We all have to work at it sometimes; every couple experiences ebbs and flows. If you come to the table with these realistic expectations, you won’t be so hard on yourself when a dry spell arises…and more importantly, you won’t be ashamed to discuss this issue with your partner.
So is there such a thing as soul mates? It all depends on whom you ask, but one thing is for sure: Cinderella and Prince Charming wouldn’t stand a chance if they didn’t have strong communication skills, a willingness to compromise, and, of course, a healthy dose of fun!