Spiritual Partnerships: Soul-Mates or Whole-Mates?
By Debby Gullery
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat, Pray, Love”
There is a lot of talk about soul-mates these days but something about the term bothers me. The idea of soul-mates conjures up notions of chance and luck and infers a lack of personal responsibility. That mindset can lead us to think that if there are difficulties in our relationship, it’s probably because there’s something wrong with our partner – they’re just not our soul-mate! And that can block us from looking at ourselves and at how we might need to grow and change.
This is why I coined the term whole-mates. How are whole-mates different from soul-mates? A whole-mate is someone we become over time. A whole-mate is a work in progress. Whole-mates co-create each other through intentional spiritual practice and become instrumental to each other’s paths to emotional wholeness.
The real work in creating spiritual partnerships is not in finding the right person, but in becoming the right person – becoming a person who is capable and willing to build such a partnership. And then it’s about what we do on the foundation of that commitment and vision.
A whole-mate is not always fun to be with but by virtue of their constant presence, they can help us to discover the depths of what is in our souls. Discovering this is often challenging and uncomfortable. In the process, it can be tempting to blame our spouses for any difficulties we might be facing instead of looking inward, self-reflecting and growing our own capacity to love in deeper ways.
The incredible value of whole-mates however, is that they offer each other support and encouragement as they each work towards becoming more conscious and compassionate human beings. This is precisely how marriages striving for spiritual partnership can become the fast track to enlightenment and maturity! Marriages like this naturally become schools of love that teach us how to build families that are schools of love.
When we look at our marriages in this way, then we can see that any problems or disappointments that come up don’t mean that we’re not right for each other. They are simply part of the process of real and meaningful growth in a spiritual partnership. They are substantial evidence that we are becoming whole-mates.
- Am I becoming a person who is capable and willing to build a genuine spiritual partnership with my spouse?
- Is there something I can do that I haven’t been doing that would help me develop the skills and desire to do so?
This article is adapted from Debby’s book, Small Steps to Bigger Love, which is available through HSA Publications and on Amazon. It includes a study guide for small group use. Debby is also available for couple coaching and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.