Dear Neil: Can you tell me how my husband and I can become soul mates?
Ready in Toronto
Dear Ready: Following are the essential ingredients needed for two people to become—and stay—soul mates. These ideas were stimulated by Daphne Rose Kingma’s book “The Future Of Love” (Doubleday).
- Honesty. Each time we tell the truth we become more transparent, more visible, more at the mercy at one another’s love. Whether it’s a simple embarrassing truth or a more vulnerable revelation—we open the secret parts of ourselves to one another. Instead of reacting, we explore. Instead of judging, we will be curious. Bringing this degree of honesty into the midst of a relationship means taking the risk, moment by moment, event by event, of expressing yourself fully in any given situation. However, it’s not only you who are taking a risk when you speak the truth; the person who listens is vulnerable, too. I say this to remind you to be gentle and kind with your honesty.
- Generosity. Generosity is giving with no ulterior motive, expecting nothing in return. We can give not only our material possessions, but our words, bodies, insights, time, money, empathy, listening and our compassion. This gives us the grace of knowing that life is more than an endless struggle. Indeed, it is gracious, generous and kind.
- Empathy. When we have empathy we can gradually develop our capacity to see another’s suffering. We decide to attend to—and feel with—them. We thus develop our ability to look at another’s suffering and say “I see your hurt, and I’m here to feel it with you, to show you that you are no longer alone.” This of course needs to be reciprocal: it’s two people being there for each other, but not necessarily at the same time.
- Forgiveness. Forgiveness means to grant pardon without resentment, and therefore to let go of your urge to punish. We forgive in order to release our hurt, anger, bitterness and fear.
- Gratitude. Life is a miracle, a gift, a teaching, a celebration. We are blessed with an endless array of people, moments, experiences, surprises, curiosities and beautiful coincidences. The soul knows that everything in life—including life itself—is a stunning privilege, something for which we must always be in gratitude.
- Joy. We can’t live in joy every moment, but we can aspire to joy by acknowledging it whenever it occurs. We can strip our lives of whatever stands in the way of our receiving joy—too many things, too much noise, too many cardboard obligations, worry, no sense of humor, not enough quiet time with our own precious bodies and souls. With the words we say, with the way we conduct our passion, by opening ourselves to the blessings of nature, by looking into each other’s eyes—we can create more joy.
- Skills. There is no way around the obvious: Love isn’t enough. To be soul mates also requires effective skills in communicating, listening, resolving, problem solving, negotiating and compromising. It requires you to be conscious and skilled when you’d prefer to be angry, moody or punitive. Kind, respectful, skilled behavior matters enormously. Be the kind of intimate partner you’d like to be in an intimate relationship with.