Hopeless romantics and cynics alike can debate whether everyone has a soulmate somewhere out there, or whether the concept of one person being another person’s perfect match is absurd. Debates aside, one thing about soulmates is sure: the concept is nowhere to be found in the Bible. In fact, the word “soulmate” was not commonly used until the 19th century.
What Is a Soulmate?
The earliest known use of the word “soulmate” dates to 1822 when the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge used the word in a letter to a female friend. In that letter, Coleridge warned his friend not to settle for any man as a husband.
Instead, Coleridge suggested that the lady find someone who would be her soulmate, with sensibilities suitable to her own so that the couple could marry and live amicably together. Finding such a person, according to the poet, would ensure a happy marriage.
Likewise, Merriam-Webster defines “soulmate” as “a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament,” and as “a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs.”
Today, the word “soulmate” has taken on an idyllic definition and refers to that one person in the world who happens to be alive at the same time as you, who happens to cross paths with you, and who is the only person who can make you happy as your perfect romantic match.
Unfortunately, if your relationship with that person ends or the person passes away, you’re out of luck in the soulmate department for the rest of your life. Put that way, it can be easy to see why some people (the author included) think that the concept of soulmates is unrealistic, to say the least.
How Can Believing in Soulmates Harm Your Relationship?
The way you think about love influences how you view conflict in your romantic relationship. More specifically, when you believe that there’s someone out there who is your “other half” and is destined to live in perfect harmony with you, you’ll eventually view conflict with the person you’re with as “proof” that that person is not the “one” for you.
This is because any disagreement in what you believe should be your “perfect” relationship must, therefore, signal imperfection. That’s not a very rational view to have of any relationship, let alone a marital one that involves the merging of finances, families, work schedules, and/or the raising of children.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that a university study on the topic of soulmates found that framing love as true only when there is perfect unity led to decreased satisfaction within the relationship.
In contrast, the study found that people who framed love as a journey with ups and downs were better able to contend with conflict in their relationship and, as such, were happier in the relationship.
Interestingly, the researchers noted that traditional wedding vows frame love as a journey of “better” and “worse,” “richer” and “poorer,” and “sickness” and “health.” This interpretation of love accepts difficulties as inherent in relationships and poises the new couple to grow closer through the shared experience of overcoming those difficulties together.
3 Tips to Find a Life Partner Instead of a Soulmate
The presumption that you’ll find a soulmate whose opinions and conduct will align with yours in perfect harmony is nothing less than a recipe for consistent disappointment. Also, thinking of yourself as incomplete without your “other half” is detrimental in that it negatively affects your self-image and leads you to approach dating from a place of need.
Rather than looking for a soulmate to fit into your life like a “missing” puzzle piece, focus on finding a life partner who is willing to grow with you and form a united household made of two complete and dedicated individuals. Here are three things to look for in a life partner.
1. You both put God first. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re a practicing Christian or feel a pull to become one. Even a lukewarm Christian can tell you that Christians are to love God above all else.
Jesus Himself identified this as the greatest commandment when He said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
Whether you’re already married or in a relationship headed toward marriage, it’s important that both you and your beloved willingly submit yourselves to God. The success of the marriage may well hinge on this important show of humility and obedience to the Creator.
Once you both put God first, you can establish a household that then goes on to love others and live according to God’s life manual — the Bible.
2. You both act as a team. From the beginning, humans were made for relationship. After creating Adam, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” and went on to create Eve as a suitable helper for Adam (Genesis 2:18).
In speaking of Adam and Eve’s unity as the world’s first married couple, the Lord instructed that a man shall leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife so that “they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Notice that Scripture does not describe Adam nor Eve as being incomplete without the other. Rather, Scripture tells us that Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, which clearly means that humans were made good and whole (Genesis 1:27).
When choosing a life partner to marry, look for someone who acts like they will do their part in creating a united household with you that gives glory to God. This unity takes commitment and prioritizes the marriage above the demands of work, friends, and relatives.
If you’re already married and your spouse doesn’t prioritize your marriage, both of you should focus on the sanctity of your marriage in being patient with each other while you clear this hurdle.
But the hurdle does need to be cleared. If your spouse persists in not prioritizing your marriage, help from loved ones, your pastor, or a professional may be in order.
3. You have common values. Our values consist of the principles and standards of behavior that we consider important. What we hold as important guides the choices we make. If your marriage is to be successful, it must include shared core values between you and your spouse.
You and your life partner do not have to have the same level of education, income, or background. But you do have to have similar values for the relationship to survive the highs and lows of the journey you’ve embarked upon together.
To have a harmonious marriage you should have common values when it comes to faith, family life, work/life balance, and financial management. A significant disparity of values in any of these areas can eventually drive a wedge between a married couple.
Importantly and as part of your family life values, you should have similar values when it comes to child-rearing. Scripture instructs us to start children off in the way they should go so that when they are old, they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6). In order to do this as effectively as possible, mom and dad should both be on board as to how exactly they are starting the children off.
What Does This Mean?
Believing the myth of soulmates is dangerous because it leads you to expect perfection in your relationship instead of pursuing understanding and mutual growth. Perfection is an unrealistic standard to expect when you consider that we are all imperfect beings who fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Instead of pining away for a “perfect other half” with whom you’ll live happily ever after with little to no effort, look for a life partner who’ll join you in putting in the work and commitment that it really takes to make a marriage successful and lifelong.
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Dolores Smyth is a nationally published faith and parenting writer. She draws inspiration for her writing from everyday life. Connect with her over Twitter @byDoloresSmyth.