It's a popular notion in western culture that there is someone out there perfectly designed for you -- a soul mate. This belief is actually rooted in Greek mythology.
According to the myth, the world was once populated by beings who were both male and female. As they became faster and stronger, the gods feared that these humans would challenge them and take over the world. Zeus had a great idea. He severed the beings into male and female counterparts. By doing so, he limited their power, doubled the number of humans available to worship the gods, and introduced a new way of reproduction. In the wake of Zeus's actions, the humans now search long and hard to find their natural mate, the one who is their specific counterpart, their "soul mate."
Of course, we no longer belief that Zeus was involved, but the concept of soul mates remains. Author Richard Bach said, "A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks." There is the ever-popular love scene from the movie Jerry Maguire in which Tom Cruise's character appeals to Rene Zelwegger's by saying, "I love you. You complete me."
I admit to being attracted to the notion of my "other half," especially when we Christians talk about two becoming one. One divided makes one-half, right? And having my hubby say something along the lines of "you complete me" or "you're my soul mate" can weaken my knees a little.
But I don't really believe it.
I'm not sure others do at their core. In fact, Tom Cruise has been married three times, Renee Zelwegger married and divorced once, and Richard Bach was married three times -- divorcing his wife whom he had described as his "soul mate" after 22 years of marriage. Despite what these people said in books or movie parts, they haven't experienced it themselves. I can find plenty of other examples of people claiming to have found a soul mate only to break up years later.
Instead, I believe in Sole Mates.
Of course, you want to choose someone with whom you have a special connection and a shared direction in life. But if you want a really great marriage and wonderful intimacy within that marriage, you'd do far better to adopt the biblical notion of sole mate.
Throughout the Bible, marriages come about in various ways. Fathers gifted their daughters as wives to worthy men, parents arranged marriages, kings selected wives, and men and women fell in love. The Bible's one direction in this regard is to marry within our faith.
After that, the focus is entirely on how you treat one another in marriage. Presumably, however you get your spouse, if you are both committed to God and His commands and to one another, you can have a great marriage. It isn't about finding your soul mate, but about committing to your sole mate.
Lori Lowe of Marriage Gems recently reported on a long-term study by UCLA psychologists looking at commitment in marriage. Fewer marital problems and reduced divorced rates were associated with the type of commitment that says:
"I’m committed to this relationship, but it’s not going very well—I need to have some resolve, make some sacrifices and take the steps I need to take to keep this relationship moving forward." In other words, the partner is willing to take active steps to maintain the relationship, even if sacrifices are needed. He or she says, “I’m committed to making this relationship work.”
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This shouldn't be surprising, since this is the very kind of commitment described by agape love in the New Testament. It goes beyond friendship love (philia), familial love (storge), and romantic love (eros). Those are all significant forms of love. But agape is a selfless, sacrificial love, committed to the well-being of the other. It says, "I value you, my sole mate, and our relationship above myself. I will seek out our good each and every day for the rest of my life."
Indeed, if you take that attitude, your souls will feel closer. You will have a spiritual connection, as well as an emotional and practical one. Taking this approach to the bedroom, you will experience an intense physical connection as well, as your bodies become "one flesh."
However you snagged your honey -- whether it was a beautiful romance and engagement worthy of its own film depiction or you got knocked up in high school and married the dad in a shotgun wedding -- God can mold this into a marriage worthy of heavenly applause. Your Father is rooting for you. He isn't concerned that you missed your perfect soul mate and instead landed your sole mate. Don't mistake God for Zeus. The LORD knows that if you do things His way, you can find joy and intimacy in your relationship.
Embrace your sole mate. Make sure he knows that he has your attention, your commitment, your whole self. Start tonight.