Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ask Asha: If He Isn't My "Soulmate," Should I Marry Him?

[You can ask your own question here.]


Hello, Due to circumstances I have to marry someone without my full consent. My parents think that this is the perfect situation and this marriage will bring me a lot of happiness.The man that I am marrying is a good person. But, I am not attracted to him.I don’t get the feeling that he is my soulmate. I have lost a lot of faith in God-the only thing I asked god all of my life is for me to be with my soulmate. Do soulmates exist? I am bitter towards God &parents. How can I marry someone I dont love?

from USA


Dear KT:

I am very concerned about you and even more concerned for your husband-to-be. To enter a marriage unwillingly is a recipe for disaster.

With every little disappointment or conflict you will throw into your husband’s face the fact that you never wanted to marry him anyway. Not a pleasant prospect for him.

You say he is a good person. Then out of consideration for him — quite apart from your own happiness — you should stop this marriage now.

You say you “have to marry” but if you are old enough to marry, I presume you are old enough to walk in and out of a room under your own power. I presume you can get a job, a passport, or anything else you might need in order to have your own life.

What you are saying is that to avoid this marriage you will have stand up to people you are not accustomed to defying. You will create disharmony and be perceived as willful and ungrateful. Perhaps the pleasant home you now share with your parents will become far less pleasant.

In other words, it will be inconvenient for you not to marry him. That is not the same as saying you “have to marry him.”

Do take this seriously. If you are going to be rebellious and unwilling in this marriage, don’t enter into it. It isn’t fair to the poor man who will be stuck with you for the rest of his life.

Now, that is one side of the question. The other side is, “Is this a suitable marriage?”

You say he is a “good person.” Are you compatible in other ways? Do you have similar interests? Education? Goals in life? Cultural and spiritual values? How well do you know him? Does he come from a good family? I am not talking about social status, but rather is his family harmonious, loving, kind? Is he a man of good character? Of noble habits?

What about you? Are you a good person? Do you have high values? Do you have noble habits? Are you generous and loving by nature? Are you willful and self-centered?

There is a spiritual reality called “soulmates,” but it exists on a level far beyond romance and marriage. Paramhansa Yogananda referred to soulmates only a few times in all his years of teaching and in all his writing. That’s because he knew everyone would immediately lower the concept from the spiritual level on which he was speaking to the question of men and women falling in love.

Soulmates, as Yogananda described it, is a union of spirit that comes as part of final liberation — moksha. At that point you have transcended the physical completely.

For the most part, when people speak of “soulmates” they are not talking about what Yogananda was referring to. In fact, usually they mean just the opposite — a gender based attraction that is both romantic and sexual.

Is there a reality to a having a “special connection,” whatever we call it, on this level? Of course there is. Our relationships are determined by past life associations. Whenever we meet friends from past lives the present is always colored by whatever happened before.

Is there only one destined romantic partner for us in each incarnation? Not likely.

Over the course of incarnations we have innumerable wives and husbands. Each relationship helps us learn certain lessons and develop needed qualities within ourselves. Relationships naturally repeat over the course of incarnations.

It isn’t possible to learn all our lessons in the relatively short span of one lifetime. But we have so many lessons to learn, we have to experience life with many different people in order to face and overcome all the various karmas.

I live in America where we are accustomed to choosing our own marriage partners, usually without help from anyone. I wish I could tell you that the perception, “We are soulmates” at the time of the wedding ensures a happy marriage. As far as I can see, it does not. I don’t want to go so far as to say it guarantees failure, but I will say that too much emphasis on how unique and special the attraction is between the couple often leads to an ego-based connection that does not stand up well against the test of time and changing circumstance.

Yes, I know this is hard to understand. Frankly, I did not understand it myself when I was 20 years old. Experience has been my teacher. Over the last several decades I have performed many marriages and done a great deal of marriage counseling, often helping people through the painful process of divorce. And I have been married 30 years myself.

Yes, of course, finding your marriage partner attractive is a great help to your relationship! But the kind of instant attractiveness, especially sexual attractiveness, that is so highly valued these days is not the most important factor in success together. Romantic and sexual feelings can be generated for a wide variety of reasons, not all of them spiritually inspired or helpful over the long haul.

I don’t mean to make light of your intuition. We recognize our friends from past lives. That’s a fact. And love at first sight that lasts for a lifetime does happen.

What I have learned is this: It is not hard to love someone. If you are sweet, tender-hearted, generous, understanding by nature — loving comes easy.

What is very challenging is to make a life together. To make a home, to raise children, to be loyal through the hard times, to understand and support one another, to earn a living, to be faithful — that is the difficult part.

This is what parents think about. Having lived long enough to raise you into adulthood, they know first-hand what really counts in a marriage. In a culture where parents are involved in the choice, they will definitely look for lasting values, and will be, as you find them, not particularly interested in your ideas of “attraction.”

Yes, attraction is important, but attraction that grows out of respect and appreciation for a depth of character that may take time to reveal itself — that is the kind of attraction that makes for a happy marriage.

And yes, it may be possible to have it all, but attraction alone is not the deciding factor. Character is.

You say you have lost faith in God because all you ever wanted was to be with your soulmate and you feel this man is not the one.

Here is a question, “How well do you know him?” Are there objective reasons for your “feeling” that he isn’t the one for you? Sometimes we don’t know our own minds.

Another question, “How much do you trust your parents?” Do you feel that they know you well? Have they shown themselves to be insightful where you are concerned? Are they generous by nature? Are they bullying you into this or is this an act of genuine, thoughtful, loving concern for you?

I guess I have asked you lots of questions, as much as answering the ones you have asked, but this is such a personal situation, it seems you need to look deeply within and try to weigh the factors objectively.

You may still come to the same conclusion: That this is not your husband. Your parents are likely to take you more seriously, however, if you approach this matter in a serious way.

An obvious solution is to postpone the wedding — but not necessarily cancel the whole idea. Maybe if you have more time to get to know this man, to meet his family, to spend time with him, to experience whatever it is about him that your parents find so suitable, that the whole idea will be more attractive to you. Or, it will be so obvious that it isn’t a good match that it will be less difficult to extricate yourself from it.

If you do take that solution — to postpone and get to know him — I urge you to enter into it with good faith. Don’t be a sulky, reluctant person. Open your heart; be interested and sincere as you explore the friendship.

And if, for some reason, postponement is not possible, and, despite your doubts, you do marry him, I plead with you: Give your heart to the marriage. Be a friend to your husband. Be kind, supportive, loving. Above all, accept responsibility for having married him. Don’t blame him, your parents, or anyone else. Getting married is the act of an adult person, so behave accordingly.

And who knows? You may be surprised to find that God has brought your soulmate to you. He may turn out to be everything you hope for in a life partner.

That result is far more likely if you offer to him the kind of love and friendship you have dreamed of having with your soulmate.

Rather than giving up on God, pray that He guide you and help you, either to step away from the marriage if you can’t enter into it with sincere good will, or to make a success of it.

I will pray for you.

Nayaswami Asha

[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of]


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