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Men often say that they are mystified by what women think, but sometimes women may wonder what men think -- at least what they think of marriage. In VoiceMale, Neil Chethik explores what husbands think through surveys and individual anecdotes. The book contains insight, as well as practical advice.
Among the subjects it touches on is the ideal of marrying a soul mate and the ramifications of that expectation. Chethik refers to The National Marriage Project's 2001 report, State of Our Unions. Among its finding is that nearly all agree on is the ideal of the One: An overwhelming majority (94%) of never married singles agree that "when you marry you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost."
The "Someday my prince will come" idea popularized by Disney movies also extends to men's expectation of their own soul mates, as 88% "think that there is a special person, a soul mate, waiting for you somewhere out there." .
On p. 216 of the book Chethik points to the potential problems that can arise from a fixation on soul mates: "There's nothing wrong with high hopes. But unrealistic expectations can kill a marriage." He quotes one man as saying: "'Your wife may be your soul mate, but not every minute of every day. There are going to be hard times, down times.'"
This is important to remember for Jewish singles who have absorbed society's obsession with "the One" into their spin on finding their "bashert." Both reflect a belief that they will find a person who is a perfect match, meaning that they will "just know" they are right, feel they are right, and have everything proceed smoothly from there.
Expecting everything to work out on its own just because you've married Mr. or Ms. Right is not the way tobuild a successful marriage. As Popenoe, one of the authors of the Marriage Project study, says, marriages would be better if men and women "focused 'less on finding the right mate than on being the right mate.'" (p. 25)