Have you ever heard the term “soul mate”? People use it to describe the love of their life, their favorite person to be with, the one they long to spend time with and do life with. It conjures images of a couple madly in love, gazing at each other with stars in their eyes. They are love-sick, raptured with each other. You get the warm fuzzies when you read their love story and see their perfectly curated photos on Instagram. They were made for each other. Their life is perfect. Soul mates are the stuff of fairy tales.
But the term “soul mate” never appears in the Bible. Nor does any term that means what we think of when we hear this one. So does God have one specific person for each of us—that one he created especially for us, to “complete” us and be the perfect match for the rest of our lives so we can live happily ever after? And if he does, what if you missed the right one? What if you didn’t know what you were getting when you married and now that you know the truth, you are convinced he is not IT? What if you are sure you’re not married to your soul mate? Are you doomed to a life of regret, wishing you had that intimate heart connection with the man of your dreams and Insta-worthy photos to go along with him?
I personally doubt God made one specific person for each of us to marry. I think that idea puts undue pressure on all of us to find that one needle in a haystack of almost 8 billion people. And what if two people marry the wrong ones? What happens to their perfect matches? Then they have to marry the wrong ones, and on and on and it gets exponentially ugly in a big hurry. But I can tell you this: the concept of “soul mate” does not have its origin in the scriptures. Maybe it started in Hollywood or the romance-novel industry. But when God describes the kind of man we should marry, he never tells us to look for our soul mate.
I’m going to tell you a secret: soul mates are not found; they are made.
It’s true! You have the ability to make your very own soul mate! My husband and I have been married 36 years. I told a friend recently that the first year of our marriage was probably the worst of my life—his too. Both of us had visions of what we thought marriage would be like but were completely blindsided by who we actually married. It was a rough beginning.
We are now 59 and 60 years old and we have learned a few things. We both tell people all the time that we could not possibly be more different. We are complete opposites in every way—how much we sleep, what we like to do, the foods we enjoy, our parenting styles, how we relate to others, the kind of music we prefer, what we like to read, the kinds of dogs we like, what temperature we want the house to be, whether we should sleep with a fan (or two) on, even where we would prefer to live. Yet here we are—36 years in—and we have not yet once contemplated divorce because of our differences.
Have we had a few disagreements? Sure. But beneath all of our myriad differences is the commitment to stay together, for better or for worse, ‘til death do us part. After all, that’s what we said in the beginning.
So are we resigned to just being miserable together because we are so un-alike? Can we be soul mates? How do we connect despite the differences?
We work at it. We do it on purpose. I learn to feed and water cows and help run fence. He learns to love my very expensive 7-pound dog. I put hot sauce on the table so he can have his food spicy. He cooks me perfect fried eggs. I agree to live in the mountains. He takes me for vacations at the beach. I go to baseball games with him. He loves me through my crazy. We dance in the kitchen. We raise children—and now grandchildren—together. We offer forgiveness and longsuffering and grace.
This is how a soul mate is made. Not on the mountaintop of fleeting feelings but in the trenches of building a solid relationship where each makes the other a priority, where both are committed to doing what God has called them to do toward each other.
Are you unhappy? Change your tactic. Instead of having a woe-is-me attitude, make your husband feel like a winner and he will want to do better. Condemnation never made anyone try harder. You make the first move of thankfulness. Appreciation greases the wheels of love. Fix your attitude and your soul mate will begin to appear. n