This made me realize a key difference - perhaps THE key difference - in my relationship with my husband verses my relationship with the guy I previously thought was my "soul mate" prior to meeting my husband (I do not actually believe in soul mates, but I trust you understand the sentiment).
With the ex: we were young, and passionate, and oh-so-similar (so we thought), such kindred spirits (so we thought) that any minor disagreement was intolerable. We could argue a night away about something that had NOTHING to do with either of us personally, nor with our relationship, simply because ANY differing viewpoint had EVERYTHING to do with our relationship because it meant that we were different (I know, gasps and shock).
With Andrew it has been so different. To begin, he is nothing like I (nor in truth probably anyone who knew me) would have suspected. We seem different, rather than alike, in nearly every way (of course, please let me assure you, that what he does have that captures my utmost respect and adoration is a heart that truly longs after God amidst his blunders, a mind that is sharp and seeking truth, and a soul that bends to that truth as often as it is confronted). We were shaped by different generations, different socio-economic backgrounds, different interests, and different strengths. However, amidst all these differences has been a surprising absence of conflict. I attribute this in part, to the age of my husband (having seen his friends get married young and fight over stupid things, he was not so willing to have those fights himself), perhaps a wisdom gained from our previous failed relationships, and largely, an expectation to disagree.
But the most crucial element in our expectation to disagree, is a strong overriding commitment to understand. With my ex, we did agree on many many things and have many many things in common. However, we assumed that we knew one another and so there was not much effort to learn and understand one another better. With my husband, he is a delightful mystery even after 5 years, and we experience a continual, soft, non-epic, unfolding and discovery of one another.
My strong desire in all my other relationship pursuits was to find someone who would want to know me deeply, and who would want to be known by me deeply. I have that in my husband. I consider myself a lucky woman as I have seen other marriages lacking this essential quality.
What makes someone a "soul mate" is not some star-aligned fate bringing two, spliced souls together at last. No, what makes some one a mate for your soul is that they nurture your soul, and one cannot offer life-long nurture without intimate knowledge and life-long study. (This is part of how whomever you are married to can become your "soul mate". You do not have to worry you picked wrongly, you just have to take on the challenge of knowing and being known to the one you picked).
To my husband, whom I remain in love with, respect of, and devotion to, Happy Anniversary! Thank you for nurturing my soul and for desiring to know me and understand me ever better. May I do the same for you as our years together continue.