Your Spouse Should Be Your Soul Mate ~ and Other Marriage Myths
During the final semester of my undergraduate degree, I wrote a paper discussing how the soul-mate model of marriage has negatively affected successful marriages. I examined in detail the history of romantic marriage customs, the rise of the transcendental precept of soul mates, and the results of these on our culture.
At the time, I was single and didn't have a personal relationship with Christ. I completely dismissed that fact that marriage is not a secular phenomenon, God ordained it ~ Genesis 2:18-24
Still, I believe the points addressed in my paper are consistent to why marriages struggle. Thus, I want to revisit the points or myths about marriage and look at them from the perspective of God's Word and His intention for marriage.
The first recorded instance of the word "soul mate" was from English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He wrote, "To be happy in Marriage Life, nay … in order not to be miserable, you must have a Soul-mate as well as a House or a Yoke-mate…." (Merriam-Webster, 2017).
A study, "Who Wants to Marry A Soul Mate?" based on a statistically representative sample of 1,003 young adults in the United States, ages 20-29, conducted by the University of Virginia's The National Marriage Project, states that 94% of the never-married singles confessed to wanting to marry their soul mates first and foremost (Popenoe and Whitehead). Soul mate is defined by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, as "a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament"(Merriam-Webster, 2017).
Therein lies the problem. Life.Church Pastor Craig Groeschel said in the message series The Vow that “When we idolize our spouse or partner, we eventually demonize them.” Why is this? If we find our "soul mate" someone we believe is perfectly suited to us, why would we eventually demonize them?
Because our soul mate is Christ in that our souls long for Him! ~ CLICK TO TWEET
When we idolize our spouse and look to them to fulfill the deepest longing of our soul, we have our priorities wrong.
If you are single, "Seek the One while preparing for your two" (Life.Church, 2017). And if you are in a relationship, each of you has to keep Christ first individually so you can keep Christ first in your relationship.
Marriage is 50/50
Philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment reallocated value-systems from collectivist to more individualistic, think about our selfie-centered culture. Where the collectivistic value system stressed duties obligated by the norm, identity established through social groups, and pursuit of shared goals of groups, ideologies such as those of John Locke, lead to individualism. So, the pursuit of marriage was advocated as a pursuit of individual happiness through love.
Consider though Matthew 19:4-6,
"And He answered and said to them,“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”" ~ Matthew 19:4-6
When a husband and wife are married, it is no longer about the individual; they are "one flesh." ~ CLICK TO TWEET
Marriage isn't about "me" and "you" it is about "we" the collective unit of the husband and wife united before God.
Also during the Enlightenment, along with the growing idea of individual freedom to pursue soul mates and love marriages came the freedom to dissolve the marriage once it no longer provided the ideal soul mate image.
In the 1960s and 1970s, different Western countries began to enact "no fault" divorces. This type of divorce allowed for neither proof of fault by either party or any evidential proceedings; therefore, allowing the acquisition of divorce to be easier. With no-fault divorce, it became an accessible, no guilt way for those in search of a soul mate to escape a seemingly "wrong choice" in mate selection.
With modern cultural values, marriage is losing reverence and becoming viewed as simply a civil contract that can be easily disposed.
Yet, marriage isn't meant to be a contract that we can just dissolve when it is no longer working for us, or when the other person isn't holding up their end of the deal. “Marriage isn’t dividing everything in half. It’s giving everything you’ve got" (Life.Church, 2017b). Again reflect on Matthew 19:6, "Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” ~ Romans 7:2-3
Happily Ever After
Highly popular romance movies and books, often end with some variation of "happily ever after." The guy pursues the girl, and after some conflict, he eventually wins her over, and the story ends. My favorite novel Pride and Prejudice ends like this.
Romance and pursuit don't just wondrously continue after the wedding, however, they take continued work. ~ CLICK TO TWEET
Romance is important ~ Song of Solomon 4:9-10 and when something is important, you have to cultivate it. Marriage also holds great joy at times ~ Jeremiah 7:34. But realistically, there will also be difficult times. It is vital to remember that we have a God who pursues us continually through the happy and the hard, so we too must constantly pursue our spouse.
Some couples increasingly become dissatisfied with their marriage, but instead of ending it to find another "happily ever after," some advice from Pastor Craig Groeschel is “If you want something different, be it” (Life.Church, 2017c).
"What They Don't Know Won't Hurt Them"
I would venture that most people want to build trust in their marriage and that they do not want a marriage built on secrets and lies.
Trust is the foundation of all relationships. Trust allows for intimacy and vulnerability. "Secrecy is the enemy of intimacy" (Life.Church, 2017d).
As marriage partners, we need to confide in our spouse and not hide. Maybe we have some sin that we are hesitant to share, but we are called in live in the light and not in the darkness. ~ Ephesians 5:8-11
Further, think on Proverbs 28:13,
"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."
So, if we are on the receiving end of a confession, we have to take the confession with grace and mercy. Of course, that is easier said than done but God can help soften hearts and provide healing.
I want to say that in no way I am hoping to inflict guilt or shame on anyone who has experienced a divorce or any other less than joyful marriage experience, there is no condemnation in Christ but grace and forgiveness. Christ can heal marriages and relationship wounds. The point of this article is to look at what the Bible says about marriage and to provide a foundation for future marriages if you are single and hope to be married and to provide some guidance to strengthen marriages for those who have already taken their vows.
Marriage is valuable and honorable ~ Hebrews 13:4. It is also a beautiful living symbol of Christ and the church ~ Ephesians 5:23 and Ephesians 5:32 It is my prayer that marriages will be healed and strengthened through Christ!
LORD, thank You for Your sacrifice for our sins. Forgive us for placing any relationship or thing before You. Give us the fortitude to always put You first. Help our marriage be centered solidly around You.
Help our marriage to be about "we" and not "me." Help us love our spouse the way You love us. Please teach us to be godly partners.
As You always pursue us, please help us to pursue our spouse continually. LORD help us align our hearts to righteousness and resist temptation. Help us see our sin and bring it into the light. Help us be full of grace towards our spouse.
We pray all these things in Jesus name, amen.
Yours Truly, LeNae
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Coontz, Stephanie. 2007. "The Origins Of Modern Divorce." Family Process 46.1.
Life.Church. 2017a. The Vow of Priority. Accessed July 6. https://www.life.church/watch/the-vow/the-vow-of-priority/.
_. 2017b. The Vow of Partnership. Accessed July 6. https://www.life.church/watch/the-vow/the-vow-of-partnership/.
_. 2017c. The Vow of Pursuit. Accessed July 6. https://www.life.church/watch/the-vow/the-vow-of-pursuit/.
_. 2017c. The Vow of Purity. Accessed July 6. https://www.life.church/watch/the-vow/the-vow-of-purity/.
Popenoe, David, and Barbara D. Whitehead. 2001. The State of Our Unions The Social Health of Marriage in America 2001: Who Wants to Marry a Soul Mate? : New Survey Findings on Young Adults' Attitudes about Live and Marriage. Accessed March 6, 2012.
"Soul Mate." Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed July 6, 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/soul mate.
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