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John and Bonney

Becoming Soulmates
by John Grey, Ph.D., and Bonney Grey, R.N.

When couples first fall in love, it is the honeymoon of a new beginning. This is a time of magic and wonder. Hearts open. Spirits soar. It's like encountering the divine. In this phase of love, in this expansion of our souls, we may feel we have met our soulmate.

Some say the honeymoon is like a spiritual experience. But many say the honeymoon does not last forever. So it becomes important to refine our thinking about soulmates, true love, and what constitutes a soulful relationship.

Becoming Soulmates

Contrast a Spiritual Experience with a Spiritual Tradition

A spiritual experience is spontaneous. It's a gift. We are in a receptive role.

A spiritual tradition, on the other hand, asks us to get involved in an active process. This may include developing skills that tap into our own power to expand our souls, such as meditation or prayer. Spiritual traditions encourage us to evolve as humans, to go beyond our limits, to do our soulwork.

In love, at least in the honeymoon, we can coast along in a purely receptive role. All we have to do is receive those great spontaneous honeymoon feelings. During this phase, we may feel our partner embodies inspiration, that they lift and expand our soul.

Yet when differences or upset feelings arise in our relationship, as inevitably they will, we may find ourselves without our source of inspiration. Both partners may be looking for that missing uplift, and neither is able to inspire the other.

This is the moment when a couple turns from the bliss of honeymoon to the sadness of missing it. Disappointment or doubts can set in. Each may begin to resent the fact that their soul is no longer being lifted up by the other.

Deepening Soulfulness Beyond the Honeymoon

There is that next phase to love, the one beyond the honeymoon. If we want a soulful relationship to deepen and last, we need to realize that "happily ever after" includes feelings other than happiness.

There will be challenges and we will be required to do work. As the honeymoon ends, we shift out of the purely receptive phase of love. We enter the next phase, which asks us to actively show up in a new way.

Relationship is our greatest teacher. It tells us what we need to learn next in life for our soul's growth. As in a spiritual tradition, in love we are called on to do soulwork, to expand our soul, heal our past wounds, and evolve as human beings. This will include learning new skills in how we communicate, behave, and process emotions.

Love is that which brings up our lesson plan. This is an inescapable truth in relationship.

Love Attracts Anything Unlike Itself

This means that our deepest wounds, fears, self-doubts and pains are likely to arise into the light of love. Why do they come up? For healing and transformation.

Doing the work of relationship is doing our soulwork. A soulmate is someone with whom you do your soulwork. In the most challenging case, soulwork means showing up in a new way when both partners are stuck in upset or negativity. It means embracing the upsets and learning how to expand and elevate the situation.

As a Japanese proverb suggests: "The Obstacle is the Path."

In the soulwork of love, you are called on to instigate positive transformation. Each partner needs to come forward in times of challenge and expand to the occasion, rather than closing down. The main thing that prevents us from doing this work is the lack of a good model for how to do it.

Spiritual traditions offer us leaders who serve as models, and they offer rituals and guidelines for how to stay in contact with our spiritual side. They provide us with new understandings for times of challenge or life crisis.

Where is Our Model for Doing the Work of Relationship?

In love and relationship, we are sadly lacking in useful guidelines, rituals or models. We have few understandings that lift us to transform, much less resolve, our upsets.

Most of us were raised in families which did not model how to do the soulwork. We have seldom seen it done well, and may not even know a couple that can do it at all. For over three decades, our society has had persistently poor statistics on the lasting success of love, relationship or marriage.

It is becoming clear that if we want to beat the odds and succeed in a soulful, long-term relationship, we need to learn to do the work of relationship ourselves. We need to pioneer a new path. Let's start this work now, by updating our definition of the word "soulmate."

How do you know when you are truly with a soulmate?

You Know You're with a Soulmate if You're Both Doing Soulwork

This means that you can only find out if you're with a soulmate by going through the potentially growth-filled times of challenge or upset. You cannot gauge it by the honeymoon phase alone.

To know if you are with a true soulmate, you need to see how you both show up to work with upsets, sensitivities, differences and challenges. With this in mind, we invite you to contemplate the following skillful responses to challenges in relationship.

These are illustrated as 8 cards taken from an online oracle of 64 cards that we created to support couples on the path of soulful relationship. Is one or more cards that particularly attract you? If so, click on each to see the full message it has for you.

Excerpted from John & Bonney Grey's book, Becoming Soulmates (Leap Frog Press).


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