In anticipation of my upcoming course, Surviving Midlife, I have been addressing various topics relevant to the midlife, perimenopause and menopause transitions. The purpose of the midlife transition (at least in Western society), is to birth our Soul – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose, connection and fulfillment in our lives. One of the desires that frequently arises out of the midlife transition is the longing for what popular culture would call our soulmate. This longing creates conflict within existing relationships and often leads to divorce. In midlife, menopause, perimenopause, we are invited to confront this longing which is ultimately about finding fulfillment within ourselves and to cultivate more intimate connections (where and when possible) with those we love.
Midlife, perimenopause, menopause – longing for a soulmate
In short, when we long for “the other,” the magical, perfect love who will make us feel safe, whole, share our hopes, dreams, wishes and desires, we are most often not looking for our soulmate or twin flame, we are looking for ourselves. Or at the very least, this is where we need to start. In our youth, we most often seek outside of ourselves for a love that will “complete us” and end up in relationships which reflect some level of co-dependency. Eventually, we become disillusioned by our partner’s inability to make us feel whole, happy and complete. The hard truth is that THEY CAN’T. We are the only ones who can make ourselves whole (sometimes with the help of paid professionals).
Midlife, perimenopause, menopause – finding the sacred other
Psychologist, Carl Jung referred to this longing as the search for the anima/animus – the search for the sacred “other.” For women, this longing is about discovering and integrating within themselves the masculine qualities that they are lacking. For men, it is about embracing their inner feminine. Interestingly, the call of the anima/animus often comes in the form of a dream or through some other “mystical” state such as during meditation. Sometimes, the call simply arrives in the form of an excruciating longing for a different kind of love and an increasing frustration and even resentment toward our existing partner for not being this person.
Midlife, perimenopause, menopause – the journey and the destination
The call of the anima/animus frequently comes during midlife and can take the form of a midlife crisis. The best thing we can do for ourselves, and those we love, in response to this call is to tend to it. There are many tools and resources for tending to this task including:
- Meditation practices which invite a relationship between ourselves and a “spiritual” figure of opposite gender (Bhakti yoga for example).
- Taking an inventory of all the positive traits we think are missing from our partner and cultivate them within ourselves.
- Taking an inventory of ourselves and identify the traits we thing we are missing within ourselves and begin to cultivate them.
- Identify our fears, vulnerabilities, weaknesses and make peace with them. Forgive ourselves for being human.
- Forgiveness practices.
- Learning how to be present to our own fears, anxieties, etc.
The ultimate goal of these practices is to cultivate the sacred other within ourselves so that we can be present to our partners as a more whole being, one who is less likely to look for the other to complete us. It is important to note, (for more on this, see my blog on the Dark Night of the Relationship) however, that not all couples survive this important relationship transition. With some couples, only one partner is doing the work. It takes two working parties to make a healthy relationship. In other couples, they find after the midlife work that they no are longer compatible (if they ever were) no longer want to be together as a couple. And for some, because they have both done the work of integrating the sacred other within themselves, they find a new depth of love between them and together create a deeply fulfilling and healthy interdependent love relationship.
How has the longing for a soulmate showed up in your own midlife transition?
Lauri Ann Lumby has mentored hundreds of men and women in the birth of their soul. To set up a one-on-one session in person, over the phone or via Skype, contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.