Dr. Jerry N. Duncan Guest Columnist
Ada — What do we want to do with the idea of a soulmate? It is such a romantic and appealing concept. To find that one person that was intended for us- that completes us.
To find that person that we just click with- that doesn’t take any real effort to love or be loved and understood by.
It appears that at one time the whole world was going through a romantic era. Other cultures went on to the next era, while the United States clung to the beliefs and principles of romantic thought.
We developed huge industries based on romantic thought- cosmetics, clothing, movies, TV programming, books, magazines, gym memberships, weight loss products and programs, TV commercials, cosmetic surgery, and throw-away marriages.
Our culture seems to support the idea that if the relationship becomes too hard or develops “irreconcilable differences,” it is OK to let that relationship go so that you can be free to find your real soulmate- that easy one. This belief has been around long enough that it is hard to see it for what it is- a contrived and destructive notion.
It is a belief that gives cultural support for dissatisfaction in a marriage and justification for divorce. What do you think about that?
The alternative is a belief system that recognizes a committed relationship as a committed relationship- that gets worked on diligently and consistently, with assistance from others if needed. It requires an understanding of the principle of entropy.
Entropy is the natural tendency of a living thing to decay and die. As long as the living thing is growing it does fine. But, if growth stops, then entropy takes over and the living thing begins to decay and die. Flowers grow until they “mature.”
When the growth stops, the flower begins to die. Our muscles and our minds accommodate the same law. When we stop actively growing them, they begin to regress and die.
Marriages are the same way. While dating/courting we put a lot of deliberate effort into learning about and meeting the needs of our hoped-for partner. The relationship thrives and grows. What happens when the wedding ceremony is over?
Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled believes that a soulmate mentality sets our culture up for having one of the highest divorce rates in the world.
He believes that what makes a good marriage is not finding the right person, but having the three ingredients of absolute commitment, good tools, and hard work. It’s like riding a bicycle uphill. As long as you are pedaling, you do fine. But, if you stop pedaling and coast, the only direction you can go is downhill—entropy.
Romantic behavior is different than romantic belief. Romantic behavior is fun and purposeful and can create an ongoing thrill and a deep and abiding contentment in a marriage. A romantic belief system can kill a marriage.
Instead of looking for a new person, start looking for new tools.