What determines the soul of a marriage?
Every once in a while, I read something so profound that I tuck it away in my heart. That's what happened when I was reading a book called "Soul Mates, Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationship."
Author Thomas Moore talks about finding soul mates in friends as well as in a marriage partner.
There is much about the book that is worthwhile reading for those who care about understanding and strengthening the special relationship we find with someone we call a soul mate.
This is the part of the book that jumped out at me and implanted itself within me:
"The soul of a marriage is created by
And Small everyday interactions."
Those words resonate with me because I've long believed that it's not the big stuff that determines the strength of a marriage. It's the everyday routine of how we treat each other.
When I look at what sustains my inner happiness, again, it's not the occasional cruise, the expensive present or the big, special event. It's the small everyday interactions of marriage.
Thomas Moore summarizes it well when he says the soul of a marriage is created by small acts, small words, and small everyday interactions.
My husband and I have been planning a vacation to St. Augustine for his birthday celebration. We are splurging on a four-star bed and breakfast and a private, guided eco-tour, two things we've never done.
While I am having fun planning the trip and am looking forward to it with enthusiasm, when it is over, I doubt that it will stay in my mind as a soul-feeding part of our marriage.
On the other hand, there are so many touching, small things in our everyday interaction that make my heart sing with joy and with gratitude.
This morning, as Dave was heading out the door to bike while I wrote my column, he suddenly walked back in. "I forgot to kiss you goodbye," he said. "I never want to forget that."
Over the weekend, I brought home some beautiful plants I wanted to add to my garden. Before I could do it, he started digging to put them in the ground. "Go sit in the shade," he said. "It's too hot in this blazing sun."
See, it's things like that that make me feel cherished.
I think a lot about the care and feeding of a marriage. And what it all boils down to are the little things we do for each other.
The other day I left our house early in the morning and was doing interviews and running errands all day. By 6 o'clock, I was just looking forward to getting home and relaxing.
But when I called to ask Dave if he needed anything before I got home, he asked for a slice of pizza from Sam's Club.
Friday night is the worst possible time to go to that busy place. And standing in a long line for two pieces of pizza was truly not something I wanted to do.
But I did it away, thinking of all the things he does for me that he probably doesn't want to do. Soul mates look after each other.
"We care for the soul in marriage through praise and celebration," writes author Thomas Moore.
That sounds so simple. Nothing but common sense. But in everyday life, how much true praise do you get? How much do you give?
I just interviewed a male marriage therapist who touched on that subject. "Most married men are starved for affection," he said. "And women are too."
My pal Jeanne and I think we are always praising our partners. We tell each other how lucky we are to have them. So of course we give them plenty of praise.
Or, so we think.
The other day when we were with Jeanne and her husband, he said to her: "I just wish for once you would tell me what I do right instead of just what I do wrong."
She and I talked about that later. It's easy to say things like, "You never got around to cutting the grass."
But do we remember to say, "I appreciate the way you always take care of me" or, "I admire the way you always keep your calm"?
Who does not like to bask in the sunshine of sincere, sweet words?
Of course, our partners are not the only soul mates that can come into our life. Sometimes, a close friend can be a soul mate.
Many of us have found that every now and then, something magical happens in a friendship and two people become so close they declare themselves to be soul mates, the category we reserve for only extraordinarily special people.
And a soul mate doesn't have to be someone you know for a long time. Sometimes, you just click right off the bat with a special friend, forming a bond we can only describe as soul mates because we lack the words to better describe that close friendship.
Whether your soul mate is your husband, your partner or your friend, you know that you are blessed to have one.
Now ask yourself this question: In what way do you honor your soul mate?