I was talking last time about how couples today often make the decision to marry based on a feeling of being soul mates. I thought similarly too, in my time, when I decided to marry my wife: that this is what will make our marriage last. But we are getting things exactly backwards.
The story goes that a pastor once visited a 3rd grade Sunday School class to test their Bible knowledge. “Tell me one thing Jesus said about baptism,” he inquired. A little boy’s hand shot up:
“John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
“Very good!” said the minister. How about the Lord’s Supper?”
“This is my body, given for you,” answered a little girl.
“Excellent,” said the pastor. “Now, how about marriage? What is one thing Jesus said about marriage?”
There was a long pause. Finally a boy in front raised his hand with definiteness. “Yes?” said the Pastor. The boy answered, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
The little boy in that joke was wiser than he knew. People getting married do not what they are doing, especially if it is the first time. They do not know how difficult it gets when sharing life with another person.
Ironically, thinking that the marriage will last because you are soul mates works against your marriage. It does not foster trust and commitment because when incompatibilities arise, you can very well start to feel like you are not in it with a soul mate. When money challenges come and one wants a vintage pair of Jordan’s and the other wants a new dining room table, or when the desires of a parent conflict with the desire of a spouse, or when there is clear competition between time with good friends and time with your spouse, you may not be feeling the soul thing.
You are then shocked by being unfulfilled or stifled in the marriage, and so start not giving yourself as much. When a spouse senses that the love coming is conditional, dependent on the feeling of being soul mates, there will be lower levels of trust and commitment which makes the partner less likely to emotionally invest also. This downward spiral leads to that thought that is poison for all marriages: Have I married the wrong person?
I once was dating a girl and her father took me aside to tell me, seriously, “Sam, let me tell you what marriage is. Marriage is taking two sinners and ramming them together.” I did not marry that girl.
But I never forgot her Dad’s words. Turns out, he was right. As I said in the last post, God’s design for you in marriage is for you to treat your spouse a certain way when the last thing you feel is that you are looking across the table at a soul mate. After many years of that, you wake up next to someone and say, I cannot imagine facing life w/o you. Because I have been changed by loving you.
Exactly backwards. Soul mates are made by marriage, not the other way around.
Did you marry a soul-mate or have you been made soul-mates?