The Myth of the Soul Mate

Posted on August 31, 2011 by

For those happily married, such as myself, the title of this post, as well as its premise, may not make much sense. However, I have been thinking about this for a while now due to the disproportionate numbers of readers who’ve stumbled upon this older post  at Breathing Grace as a result of Google searches  such as “leaving bad marriage to marry soul mate”, or “man in unhappy marriage”, or my personal favorite, “in bad marriage to soul mate.” Why is this my personal favorite you ask? Brace yourself, because here comes that premise that may not make much sense:

I don’t believe there is such a thing as a soul mate, and we set ourselves up for either a lifetime of loneliness or disappointment when we buy into what is in essence, a Hollywood created fantasy.

For the record, my husband and I had great chemistry from the beginning. During the entire year that we dated before getting married, my heart skipped a beat at the very thought of him. I was certain he was my soul mate, right up until we had been married about a week and it seemed our opposite personalities were totally incompatible. Thus began a tug of war of our wills that was always present in some subtle way, shape or form for the next five years or so. On the plus side, our life was never boring. Intensity was the order of the day and there were just as many days when that was a good thing as there were when it wasn’t.

Have you ever been on a week-long vacation to a city where there are theme parks galore? At the end of such trips, you are just as tired as if you had worked over time every day for a week. Conversely, when taking a vacation such as a cruise, or a trip to the mountains or a place of natural beauty, you feel refreshed at the end, like you’ve actually been on a vacation. We used to have the roller coaster ride, exciting but exhausting. What we have now is like that relaxing cruise of a vacation. Refreshing for the most part, though not without a few rough waves every now and then. After all, we’re still two human beings. We couldn’t get here however, until we understood that our marriage is not all about us. In fact, as Christians, it really isn’t about us at all! Which brings me to the point of all this, and it’s a point I’m certain some of you will dismiss out of hand, but I believe it to be true:

I believe that almost any two people, who are truly committed to living out Biblical principles in their relationship can have a great, fulfilling, romantic and even exciting marriage. And yes, I said almost any two people.

I know that my statement flies in the face of every thing we have been lead to believe in western culture about love and marriage, not the least of which is that the main purpose of marriage is our personal happiness and fulfillment. Is it any wonder that the divorce rate among Christians is roughly the same as it is among non-believers? If, however, we would approach our marriages with the mind of Christ, and a commitment to dying to our selfish natures, we could enjoy our spouses and children so much more than we do. When “what about me?” is no longer in the forefront of our thinking, deep and abiding love can take root, the kind of love that transcends the poor substitute that we have come to mistake for the real thing.

Obviously I believe that God has a plan for each of our lives and that an integral part of that plan is who we are destined to unite with in marriage. I also believe however, that who we marry is a choice we make, and that it really is up to us to choose who we will spend our life with. With much prayer, wisdom, and leading of the Holy Spirit, we will most certainly find our way to someone with whom we can make a good life. Part and parcel of walking the Christian walk is that we will, more often than not make good choices, particularly when making major life decisions.

What of those like me,who married a non-believer while living in rebellion to the faith I grew up in? After having done every thing wrong, Biblically speaking, when choosing a mate, how did we end up a with a good marriage? Because  we learned, and are still learning, to live out Biblical truth in our relationship. Had that not been the case, even if we were soul mates we would probably have parted years ago.

What about physical attraction? What about shared interests? What about compatibility? Does any of this matter? Of course it matters, and I’m not saying that it doesn’t. There’s always something that initially attracts us to our mates in the first place. (In many cases it’s those same things that drive us insane when we have to live with them day in and day out). But when I note the number of hits I get on this blog as a result of searches centered around soul mates, bad marriages, or some combination of the two, I can’t help but wonder if we realize that the success or failure of our marriages depends on the choices we make on a daily basis. If we understand that great marriages, or for that matter bad marriages, don’t just happen.

And all the fireworks, attraction and romance in the world will never undo the destructive effects of selfish hearts and self serving motives.

Reposted from Breathing Grace.

Posted in: Relationships