Abandon the idea that there is only one soul mate for you; the ideal partner is the one you create

I grew up in a conservative, evangelical Christian environment. From childhood we were taught that “God has just one person He has selected for you to marry. To be happy in life you must find that one person.”

Even as a child I struggled with the mathematical probability of this suggestion. “Okay,” I reasoned, “out of the three billion women on the planet I’m supposed to find that one, and only one, that is right for me? What happens if I make a mistake? Or, what happens if the person I’m supposed to marry makes a mistake and marries the wrong person; am I then doomed to accept ‘Plan B’ and a second-class marriage?”

This is nonsense. Abandon the idea that there is only one soul mate for you; the ideal partner is the one you create.

I do believe that we should seek God’s guidance in all aspects of our lives. I do believe in following biblical parameters. But I also believe that we should use common sense when making decisions and that in any given situation there are probably multiple options that will work. (In this essay I’m using marriage as the primary example of my persuasion but the same thought applies to all aspects of life. There’s not just one job that will make me happy. There’s not just one house that I can live in or only one car I can drive and still be in God’s favor.)

Relative to marriage, I believe that a fulfilling marriage is more made than mystically conceived. It is forged through deliberate and steady hard work. I’ve done enough marriage counseling to know that all marriages struggle and that the good ones have been made so through discipline and steady commitment.

I concur with J.R.R. Tolkien’s statement, “Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates.” He went on to describe spouses as “companions in shipwreck, not guiding stars.”

As I observe couples who have long-lasting marriages, and as Mary and I celebrate our 40th anniversary, I am convinced that good marriages are formed, not born.

Tolkien said, “The real soul mate is the one you are actually married to.”

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20 Replies to “Abandon the idea that there is only one soul mate for you; the ideal partner is the one you create”

  1. Don, I suggest it isn’t best to tell us how we should think (“abandon the idea that . . .”). Rather, it would be good to tell us what you believe and why – as you did in the article – and then leaving it to us to come to our own conclusions based on your information, our experiences, and our frame of reference. I may come to the subject with a completely different reference point. Your information can help me modify that frame, of course, without throwing out what may have been useful to me.
    I’m not saying this is the case; only that this was my response to your article.
    Together, in Christ,
    [Gal 2:20]

    1. Hi Ralph, thanks for writing. I usually don’t use black and white statements and the phrase “abandon the idea” does come across as inflexible. I meant to convey “I feel strongly about this” but should have used a different approach. Don

  2. The preamble gave me pause; but when fleshed out, I believe you are quite right. Though Tolkien’s statement (your last quote) may we’ll be true, it takes cooperative work to insure the permanence of that state.

    And congrats on 40!

  3. This is encouraging given my multiple attempts. I realize that I am the one common denominator and have resolved that I’m a bad picker. Some say that my “picker is broken”. I think I am wise to be unmarried, at least for some time. lol. I always appreciate your insight, Don.

    1. Lisa, thanks for taking the time to write. I’m sorry to hear of the pain of bad choices; we all have made them. The past need not determine our future, so I hope your best days are ahead. Thanks for singing in our choir. Don

  4. Well Don, this is certainly an interesting subject for further family discussion. I just passed this on to my four grandchildren, one who is very successfully married, one is recently divorced, and two are in serious relationships. It will be an interesting discussion on Thanksgiving Day. Kay and I were both brought up with your early teaching, in fact, we enrolled in a “courtship and marriage” class in college where the standard “one and only one” was taught as scriptural, but I don’t remember the chap/vs as my mind was on “other things”.

    1. Thanks, Floyd, for taking the time to write. I do think this gives a much broader and safer interpretation of God’s will for our lives.
      Thanks for our friendship. Don

  5. It has been 6 months since my wife has passed away. I still feel married and still wear my ring.
    The thought of dating and possibly marrying again is not in my thinking, at this time.
    The other factor is, at my age of 82 , marrying again is probably never going to happen.

    1. Marlon, I continue to grieve with you about the passing of your wife. Your pain must be severe and constant. I’m so sorry. Hopefully, our group of friends will help you get through this difficult season. Don

  6. Mr. McMinn, I completely agree with not only the “abandon the idea” statement as related to marriage, but also the application of it to all life aspects. It very much reminds me of the ideas advanced in the book, DECISION MAKING AND THE WILL OF GOD. I believe God gives up his guiding Biblical principles to make the best life decisions from where we are and our life circumstances. An outstanding essay! And, thank you for the beautiful worship music you give us week after week.

  7. Our wedding officiate challenged us to read one book about marriage per year. We are on year number 13–14 in December. We are always looking for recommendations! (hint, hint) 🙂
    I particularly enjoyed the Tolkein quotes you incorporated in this article.

    1. Liesel,
      What a terrific idea, reading one book on marriage each year.
      If you send me your mailing address (send to [email protected]) I’ll send you two copies of Signature Soulprint – a book I wrote last year about how we can deeply understand ourselves and others.

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