The Myth of the Ready-Made Soul Mate

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Verily_The Myth of the Ready-Made Soulmate

Art Credit: Shannon Lee MIller

Our society is obsessed with soul mates. Watch any romantic comedy these days. Or notice the online dating ads on TV.  Have you found your one—your soul mate?  We are told that our soul mate is that one person out there who completes you. It’s love at first sight, you totally click, and once you find that person, everything will work out perfectly.

But marriage doesn’t actually require a pre-existing soul mate; rather, the person you marry becomes your soul mate because you married him. Not to say that we don’t have to be choosy about who we marry. Nor that marriage magically makes everything work out with a sub-par mate. But when you marry, you vow to honor, love, and cherish your spouse through easy times and hard times until death do you part. When you’re married to someone who loves you unconditionally—that person is your soul mate.

A marriage is the most comprehensive relationship you will ever have.  It's not easy; it's not magical. But marriage is meant to last, and that can be a wonderful source of comfort and stability during uncertain times.

For the majority of people, getting married is what you do after you've found a soul mate. But this rom-com model of finding a soul mate is pernicious and leads to major pitfalls. First, this ideal tempts to delay marriage until you find the supposed soul mate. It encourages you to set unbelievably high standard for a person who completes you in every way— but finding such a person may never happen.

Second, a rough patch of marriage with someone initially considered to be a soul mate could cause one to question whether the person you married was really the one. One might later meet someone who gives that magical feeling of completeness and conclude this new person is the actual soul mate, as opposed to one's actual spouse.

The truth is, for any given person, there are several suitable mates, and none of them are perfect.  Like everything worthwhile in life, marriage takes work. Once married, a couple will have struggles, but true soul mates recognize each other's flaws and work through whatever difficulties come.

The real way to find a soul mate is to find a man who shares your goals and beliefs, strong work ethic, and willingness to problem solve. He won’t be perfect. But remember, what makes marriage unique is being committed to the good of the other person for life. Those are the ingredients for a true soul mate.

(Photo by Shannon Lee Miller)

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Julia Shaw

chill out music

Julia Shaw is a writer in Washington D.C. Julia's most recent article “Married Young” was published in

Slate

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