I had been dating a girl for about a year and a half, and we had sensed a deepening connection with one another. We enjoyed many of the same hobbies, we shared a similar vision for doing life together, and we found that we even enjoyed routine activities like grocery shopping together. I began to wonder, “Is this my soulmate?” The question felt both exciting and overwhelming. On the one hand, it floored me to think that, in biblical words, I may have “found the one that my soul loves” (Song of Songs 3:4). At the same time, I had a nagging fear in the back of my mind: “What if I choose wrong?” In other words, what if this person, who I think may be my soulmate, turns out not to be my one true companion? Will I spend the rest of my life in a mediocre marriage, while my real soulmate goes on with her life without me?
It turns out that I wasn’t alone. A poll conducted several years ago found that two-thirds of Americans surveyed believe that there is “someone out there they are meant to be with.” That means that if you are in a dating relationship, you quite possibly are considering whether or not the person you are dating is your soulmate, the one with whom you are destined to spend your life. Additional research suggests that most people believe that their soulmate is someone who is like them, a person who shares similar interests, hobbies, and characteristics. And, if you are presently dating someone, this will make sense. You likely feel a kinship when someone enjoys poetry or monster truck rallies just like you do, or they laugh right alongside you at the same jokes. Being with someone who is just like us feels familiar to us; we feel understood and connected because someone finally “gets” us! It’s no wonder that the intensity of a relationship can be strong when you feel as though you’ve found your soulmate.
Unfortunately, this can become a recipe for heartache down the road. Why? For starters, the purpose of marriage from a Christian standpoint is not primarily about our happiness or emotional fulfillment (though these are often a byproduct), but rather about our sanctification. In Ephesians 5, Paul writes about marriage as a mirror of the relationship between Christ and the church, and one of the implications there is that in loving and submitting to one another, God uses our spouse to reveal our brokenness, and to push us towards holiness. If we’re swept up in the emotion of being with someone who is like us, we may lose sight of God’s deeper desire for us.
And practically, inevitably, your relationship will settle into the everyday, ordinary routines of life. The bills need to be paid, someone needs to buy groceries, and the car needs repair. Somewhere in there, the passion and the excitement of “finding your soulmate” wanes and tensions escalate. Suddenly, you find that your “soulmate” doesn’t always see issues the same way that you do. Now what? This is often the moment when people want out of a marriage. “The one” wasn’t as much the match they imagined, so they might decide to leave the marriage; they may be prone to the temptation of an affair (where the passion of a new soulmate seems thrilling all over again).
So, do we have soulmates?
Sometimes, we are convinced that the soulmate we have found is the very one God has in mind for us, even if we're already married to someone else. I’ve known a couple or two who are convinced that their soulmate is a person they are not married to. Their marriage hits a rough patch and a couple feels disconnected. Suddenly, the person three cubicles over seems more attractive, and they happen to like many of the same things you do. The chemistry is electric, and a relationship ensues. “He’s my soulmate, I just know God brought me to him,” a woman might tell herself. A married person believing that they have found a soulmate, when that relationship would violate God’s word, is being deceived. Jesus promised that his Spirit would lead us into all truth; he will never lead us contrary to his word.
So, doesn’t God have a person chosen just for us? When we trust in a God who knows all and orchestrates all things for the good of his children, it only makes sense that he would know who, if anyone, he has for us for marriage. However, God’s sovereignty doesn’t do away with our responsibility to use wisdom and discernment in seeking a spouse and the necessity of living out our commitment to our spouse once married.
If you are in a dating relationship (especially if it is becoming more serious), this calling means that your primary purpose is to determine whether you are compatible with one another and if you enjoy one another. Rather than trying to identify whether this is your one true soulmate (because no one person can make you eternally happy), prayerfully focus on qualities like your shared vision for life, the extent to which you mutually challenge one another to grow, how well you share one another’s joys and burdens. Ask yourself if this person is someone to whom you want to make a lifelong commitment of serving and caring.
Once you make that commitment in marriage, you ARE soulmates because God has joined you together as one (Gen. 2:23-24). In marriage, God now sees you as one flesh. The joyful challenge of marriage is learning to live out this unity. You will not always feel compatible with each other. The passion will cool. You may be surprised at how different you end up being. You may even wonder if the fact that you don’t seem to have as much in common is a strike against your relationship. It is not. God intends that your ”soulmate-spouse” will be like a mirror at times, revealing your own sins and weaknesses for the purpose of your growth (a blessing that is lost when a person leaves a marriage because the hardship feels too difficult). At other times, you will find as you invest in the scary work of knowing and being known, there is no joy like the intimacy of marriage, and indeed you will see that God has made you to be soulmates.
I have been married for over 20 years to that “soulmate” I was wondering about. I smile when I recall how I thought we might be “soulmates” then because what we had then feels like just the surface of the relationship we enjoy now. It took conflicts (even some fights!), adversity, hard seasons, a lot of work, and much, much grace to get here. But in the end, God sovereignly brought us together, and allowed us to grow into soul mates.
Rev. Deb Koster
Dr. Robert Ritzema