This is a question that plagues couples, both within and outside of Christianity. It comes in many different forms:
Is my spouse my soul mate?
Did I miss my soul mate?
Is my soul mate still out there?
If my spouse dies and I marry another, is that the one I was supposed to be with?
My spouse completes me!
I can’t survive without my spouse!
I’m looking for/have found my one true love!
All these questions/statements and anything related are all rooted in the concept that there is a soul-mate, a “one true love”, that there is one person predestined to be with you.
So, is your spouse your soul-mate, your one-true-love, are they who God has chosen for you?
Why? Because the very question is unbiblical. The entire concept of soul-mates has no place in the Christian worldview, and yet, we see it rolled into doctrine and theology of Christianity all the time, much to our detriment.
So, where does the idea of the soul-mate come from?
The first instance I could find was from Egypt, the myth of Osiris and Isis. Osiris and Isis were twins in the womb, and fall in love. Later, Osiris is killed by her brother, Set, because he is jealous. Isis merges with Osiris’ soul and they conceive Horus. Set, still jealous cuts up Osiris’ body, and in response Isis gathers up all the pieces and Osiris comes back to life.
Here we see the start of some concepts that have pervaded into our culture (even the mind of Christians):
- The idea that two people can be matched from birth
- That love can conquer anything, even bring people back to life
- That love can exist beyond death
This belief structure was further solidified in Plato’s The Symposium. In this text, the playwright, Aristophanes, makes a speech detailing a creation myth. That man was originally created with 2 faces, 4 arms, 4 legs, both male and female genitalia. But humans were so powerful and became so arrogant that they decided they could supplant the gods. So Zeus, in order to subdue mankind, cut them in half, making them less powerful and, dooming them to roam the world looking for their soul-mate, instead of making war on the gods. But, so as to lessen the blow, Zeus created sex in order to give us some means of reconnecting our soul into a whole again. From this we get a few more mythological points:
- We are incomplete as an individual
- Sex is the only way to be a complete person
- There is a specific someone out in the world, somewhere that we need to be whole again
Some of these have made their way into Christian doctrine. How many of us have heard (to us, or others), or said, “Don’t worry, God has someone special for you, just wait.” This also creeps up in Jewish mythology as some rabbinical teachings state that Adam was originally androgynous (of both sexes) and God split him to make Eve (thus making them soul-mates). This gets further ingrained in us from movies, TV shows, books, etc.. Every time there is talk of a “true love”, of “finding the one”, of waiting for “Mr. Right”, this myth digs further into our subconscious.
What’s the harm?
There are a few problems with this mythology.
What if you believe your boyfriend/girlfriend is “the one” and then they break up with you, or worse, die in an accident. What then? Do you “settle” for whomever you find later in life. How content are you likely to be “knowing” that they are not your soul-mate.
What if you are married, and you’re soul-mates. Then your spouse decides to divorce, or perhaps dies. What then? Should you refrain from remarrying because, well, they won’t be your soul-mate.
What if you are dating and now it’s time to get married. Do you get married? Are they your soul-mate? What if they aren’t. What if you are stealing someones soul-mate. Is that akin to adultery?
But, let’s say you get married, you realize they are your soul-mate. You are bound together for eternity, nothing can keep you apart. Well, then it doesn’t really matter how you treat them, does it? I mean, they are your soul-mate. Where are they going to go? It’s not like they have another option. If they leave, they are forever going to know that they are no longer with their soul-mate. So you can be safe to wallow in stagnation, never growing or striving to improve your relationship.
Alternatively, you can be married years and still worrying that they aren’t your soul-mate. What if someone comes along that stirs you. Perhaps they are your soul-mate. If so, it would be best to break off this “false” marriage and connect with your soul-mate, wouldn’t it? I mean, that’s what God would want, isn’t it?
These are just a few of the dangerous outcomes of this mythology that is perpetuated every time someone calls their spouse their “other half”, their “better half”, or says that they “complete me”.
What is the reality?
There is no “special someone” for you. The concept is not biblical. Does God know who you are going to marry? Yes, of course He does, but that’s another topic and has nothing to do with soul-mates, but rather more to do with his existence outside of time and having a perspective we lack. We all still have free will.
As well, we are all created to be complete individuals from the start. We aren’t lacking half of our soul, nor are we missing some critical component only to be found in another individual.
In the end, love is a choice, not a trick of destiny. It requires a constant decision to remain true to your spouse. In doing so, you, in a sense, make your spouse your one true love. If you work at it, that will last a lifetime.
What were you taught regarding soul-mates? What are your thoughts on this topic? How does it affect your marriage? Let us know in the comments below.
31 thoughts on “How do I know my spouse is my soul-mate?”
I have long believed that love is a choice and that it is less about emotions and more about actions.
Yeah, I agree, in fact I think I’m going to be guest posting on this topic in the near future.
AWESOME article JD! While not subscribing to the world’s (spirituality) idea of a soul-mate: someone designed and purposely born to be ‘perfectly’ matched for you. I do believe in a slightly different concept of soul-mate. Darrell became my soul-mates upon us joining as one; that is to say, at the consummation of our vows. Although, b/c we are one flesh, the more apt term would be flesh-mate.
Thanks. Flesh-mate sounds like a good term.
I liked the article, but I have to be honest… the whole idea of “soul-mates” is a man made ideology that Hollywood loves to promote. God made us in His image from the beginning but because of our sin nature, we fall short of that ideal. My wife Darlene and I have been married for 18 1/2 yrs and there are days when I know that she is the best thing to happen to me. But there are other days when she just plane drives me crazy, even after 18 1/2 yrs lol. I know without a doubt that I love her with all my heart and that she IS the one for me. I honestly believe that God doesn’t really care who you marry, but that they share the same beliefs and faith as you. Without those shared beliefs, you risk setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary struggle in the long run from what I’ve seen in the hundreds of couples that have been counseled in our church.
Yeah, I would agree about marrying someone of the same faith. It seems to me, from Genesis 6 that this is the reason our lives were shortened. Pretty serious stuff.
There are two extremes here, on one hand the concept that there is some ‘one and only one’ who you are predestined from birth to be with and you can only find real and lasting happiness with them. On the other end is the idea that God doesn’t have much preference on who you marry and won’t take any action to try and bring a couple together.
My life experience tells me that the truth is in the middle. I met my wife when I was 17, she was 15. We met at a church dance, both of us taking a break at the same time and enjoying some of the refreshments that were provided. Small talk turned into a very long conversation and we fell in love that night. On the way back, while thinking of her the still small voice of God literally butted into my internal conversation and told me (and this is a quote) ‘It’s her, you found her, she is the one.”
My first reaction was reply in my mind that I was too young to know who ‘the one’ was, but the message was repeated a second time. I replied again that it was not right for somebody to go and marry their very first girlfriend, and the message was repeated a third time. At this point I recalled how I often wondered why Peter had to be told over and over to kill and eat the unclean beasts in his vision instead of just doing it the first time he was asked since it was God asking him to do it. Now that shoe was on my foot, so I stopped objecting, pushed aside my fears and accepted it. I had all those ‘what if it didn’t work out for us’ fears listed above but I put my faith in what God said and pursued her even in face of obstacles that would have ended any other relationship. Eventually God cleared the way and we were married, and I have no doubt, none at all, that God wanted us together, and that he went out of his way to put us together and arrange things to make our marriage possible.
Does that mean that I was predestined from birth to be with her? No. If I had chosen to turn my back on God and live a different life I would not be such a perfect match for her, I would not have been there to meet her, and even if I met her some other way she would not have had anything to do with me. Likewise if she was the one to choose a different path. Does that mean if I chose a different path in life I would be doomed to have a bad marriage? No. We would have wound up with somebody else who would be a match for that different kind of person we chose to be. So it is not a destiny we were born with but a destiny we both created as a result of our choices. My wife and I are soul mates by choice. Because of who we chose to be, God wanted us to get together and helped make it happen but we still had to make our own choices.
I don’t think my wife and I are special or different. God cares about us all equally and none of us are more important to him than any other. When I look back I can see that God, knowing our circumstances and the obstacles we would have to face knew that I needed to have that surety of being told she was the one at the start for it in order to have the faith to choose to press on in the face of our circumstances. We still have our freedom to choose and either she or I could have made choices that would end our being right for each other, but those choices would have been contrary to God’s will too. In most cases God can quietly pull the strings in the background to put a couple he wants to be together in each others path so they can choose for themselves.
So, no predestined from birth ‘the one’, but God still plays matchmaker behind the scenes without removing our choice. When a man is considering asking a woman to marry him, he would be foolish to not ask God if he approves of him marrying her and hold off on popping the question until God answers him. Likewise a girl would be foolish to say yes without her getting God’s OK on it too. When that happens and they marry with both of them knowing God approved it, then that couple has chosen to be soul mates, and they should never revisit that question. God sanctioned their marriage, so there is no other person out there for them.
I also believe that men and women really are incomplete on their own. 1 Corinthians 11:11 “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” We are commanded to seek out a spouse, marry them and become one with them. That doesn’t mean it has to be one specific person no matter what choices you make in your life though.
LDM…. so, if 1 Cor 11:11 is saying that men and women are not complete without eachother, what is the “nevertheless” referring to? How do the preceding verses lead to this interpretation?
The preceding verses talk about how woman was made for man and about the relationship between spouses leading up to him saying in v10 that “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” Nevertheless (ie: even though all of that it true) it doesn’t negate that in the Lord ” neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man” which I take as meaning to fully achieve God’s design you must do it as a couple. I look at God creating Eve by taking a rib from Adam as meaning (among other things) that man is incomplete on his own. The first thing he commanded was for men and women to marry and become one with each other, so it seems pretty important to him.
What would you do with 1 Corinthians 7:38 then?
Now, some will quote Genesis 2:8 as proof.
But, that was talking about Adam, a specific man, not all of mankind.
I’m not sure I could back the argument that all should be married with the Bible.
v36 talks about a man who ‘behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin’ (which I take as meaning they fornicate) and goes on to marry her, and v37 about a man who ‘standeth steadfast in his heart’ which I take as meaning he remains obedient to God in all things. So I see v38 as comparing the two situation, it is good in the first case that they marry, but it is better to not fornicate at all even if means you remain single. I don’t see it as a slight against marriage, but an object lesson in the importance of obedience and self discipline.
With Gen2, in v24 it says :’Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.’ That is a command ( shall, not may or can, but shall) and it is general to all mankind, not specific to Adam.
Alright, could see that.
That is an interesting perspective. I’m going to have to dig into this one more. Thank you for challenging me!
I agree with you. If we follow Gods will, we will be with the one he knows is best for us. He gives us a confirmation in our spirit that says “this one is it”. Some are meant to completely souled out to Christ without ever marrying another, but God ordained marriage for us, so either life we choose is ok, but Gods will, as long as we seek after it…we will know what to do.
Great article JayDee. Quite educational! Thanks for that. I think that most Christians who refer to their spouse as their soul mate really aren’t advocating the mythology that we are missing our “other half” until we find them. I think it is probably just a way to say that their spouse is a good match for them maybe. But it is interesting to know the background so that we can be cautious in our terminology.
I could be wrong, but I do think that God has a specific plan for each of our lives and that includes a person for us to marry (or to stay single). Obviously we often make decisions in our own will, and when we do choose to marry someone who God had not chosen for us, He does expect us to stay committed and make that work… and grants grace to make that marriage a blessed union. Perhaps our spouse might fall out of the will of God and choose to leave us… God is not taken by surprise and can bring someone else into our lives. Nothing is impossible for God. He can take even our “wrong” choices and make them “right”.
I don’t have time to expound on these thoughts, but this has always been the way I have always believed. I believe He does have a specific plan for our lives… it’s our choice whether to live in submission to follow that plan.
Glad you liked it.
Discussions about the Sovereignty of God, and what that extends to are very heavy and lengthy ones (I hope to tackle it at some point over at my other blog). It intersections with the discussion on freewill vs. predestination (which I also plan to tackle, because I believe it is reconcilable).
Amen! I’ve written on this too (here, if you want to see it: http://hotholyhumorous.com/2012/02/soul-mate-or-sole-mate/). My research turned up the same stuff. Also, people in the Bible got married in various ways — falling in love, family matches, an award for a success in battle, etc. Scripture doesn’t say those marriages are doomed. Instead, the Bible suggests that, however you got your mate, you can have a good marriage if both of you live according to godly principles.
That doesn’t sound very romantic. But it actually is when you practice it and find that your mate starts feeling very much like your perfect fit because you’re both living out an agape love. Given the choice, I want someone I feel I have both compatibility and chemistry with, but a good marriage seems to be born out of loving your spouse as God loves us.
I knew someone in the CMBA had written about it, but I couldn’t find it back again. Thanks for linking.
I agree, a successful marriage is far more dependent on choices than on destiny.
Great wisdom here again! Marriage takes work – it’s not just about two people being destined to be together and living in perfect harmony – two halves of a whole.
I think of the idea of Anne of Green Gables kindred spirits more than soul mates. My husband and I are best friends and are closer than we are to anyone else. We share the same thoughts and feelings many times. We know so much about each other.
Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.
Mel from Essential Thing Devotions & Connect With God
I too like the idea of kindred spirits…of course, I’m a huge Anne of Green Gables fan too! 😉 But that totally describes my husband and I.
This is a second marriage for both of us, and I do believe that God brought us together. It was not just a chance meeting. I truly believe that God allowed us to cross paths at just the right time in our lives. If it had been any earlier we probably would not have gotten together since we were both going through divorces, mine after a 20 year marriage to an abusive man.
If I had met my wife a bit sooner or later than I did I would have asked her for a dance, danced with her, then moved on to dance with another girl and probably never see her again. Every chance we had to get together after that was one we had to make for ourselves. If I had met her even just a few hours before the dance that wouldn’t have worked either, I was too shy, too introverted, too lacking in self confidence to even ask a girl to dance with me then but God worked a miracle in me just in time to have me ready to meet her and a confident outgoing person. In hindsight I can see very clearly God moving things quietly in the background to prepare both of us and get us together at that time in that place. She absolutely was my kindred spirit right from the start, so much so that I was shocked to experience such a thing. I wrote off falling in love quickly like that as something that happens to people who were so shallow they fell in love based on looks alone, and here I was falling in love in just an hour or two because something real resonated between us having nothing to do with looks.
By that, do you mean you’ve grown together to become kindred spirits?
I just read an article by surrenderedmarriage.org. What if me and my spouse are really one? (Title is something like that) I wrote down this statement after the author wrote once our marriage vowels are said “being one is not something you do or become, it’s something you ARE.” It’s very good. That we page has awesome articles on marriage from a biblical stand point.
That’s a topic my wife and I addressed recently when we talked with the teenage girls in our church. I was surprised to find that many of them believed in the soul mate idea. Part of the problem with young men and women who believe in this is that they worry way too much about whether or not he/she is “the one”.
Yeah, it’s a pretty pervasive mythology that does a lot of damage, both to those yet unmarried and to those already married.
I never considered the soul mate thing, although I’ve had people describe our marriage like that. Since hubby and I work together, lots of people see us together. We really do work well together.
I knew the first night I met him that this person was someone I would mesh with. My only regret is not meeting him sooner. Have you heard that opposites attract? Let me tell you that it is the truth. He is so shy. I am not.
Good article Jay. Next time I am bombarded with the comment, “Oh, you guys are such soul mates”, I will now have a gentle correction. I would say something like, “Oh, you mean the way we work things out through the years, and still like each other?”
I very much appreciate this blog, but I must respectfully disagree with this particular post. I believe that if we pray for our spouse, God will bring him/her to us, and he or she will be the person God designed for us. For example, in Genesis 2 God brought Eve for Adam. God said “I will make him a helper fit for him.” Adam did not go out to look for Eve – Eve was designed by God for him. Additionally we see in the famous passage from Jeremiah 29 that God “knows the plans (He) has for us.” This does not mean that a biblical idea of God designing a spouse for us is the same as the secular “soul mate” notion, which is more of a cosmic/new age type of idea, but it is parallel in the sense of there being “one person” who is meant to complete us, who is fated for us. If God puts us in our particular families, and sends our closest friends into our lives for a reason, how much more will He send us a specific person that He designed for us, since the spousal relationship is more important than any of these? I believe if we submit to our Father’s plans for us, part of those plans involve a spouse that God chose for us, and if we wait on Him and not go out looking for that person on our own, it will be the perfect “mate” for yes, our souls.
Well, Adam and Eve were a bit of a unique situation, weren’t they? And Adam did go out and look for a mate…he just couldn’t find one among the animals.
And what do we do with Abraham then, who made his servant travel a fair distance to go find a wife for his son Issac?
Also, I’m curious. Let’s say you pray and God brings you a mate. Then your spouse dies unexpectedly and you get remarried (which is fairly common). Did God intend for you to have two spouses? Was that His plan for your first spouse to die?
Or what if the person God intended for you defies God and marries someone else. Are you then required to live your life unmarried, knowing that God wanted you to marry? If you do get married to another person, are you then going against God’s will?
Or what if you find a mate without seeking God first (which is very common), and then later realize who God meant for you to marry? Do you abandon your current spouse to go marry the person God originally intended you to marry? Or do you stay where you are, miserable, knowing you are defying God’s will every day?
These are my problems with this theology. While it seems romantic upfront, I worry about it’s implications and practical application, so many situations seem to be lose/lose scenarios, no right choices. Thoughts?
I’m going to disagree somewhat. While I agree that in general God isn’t putting people together with one perfect match, I do believe that some marriages occur because God has done so. I would add that my belief is that these unions are rare, but they do occur when God has a very specific ministry or goal as the end.
Most of the scriptural support comes from the Old Testament (but for a New Testament purpose!). I’ll start with the example you mentioned in a comment above, Abraham’s servant finding a bride for Issac. When the servant arrives in the city of Nahor he prays for God to help him fulfill his mission, as recorded in Gen. 24:12-14. I specifically want to focus on the part of verse 14 that says “let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac.” different translations use other words including selected, decided, and chosen, but they all indicate that the servant believes that God already has a bride in mind for Issac. God’s response to his prayer in providing the exact signs he had requested as indicators suggest that he wasn’t wrong in his belief.
Skip forward a generation in the history of the Patriarchs and we find Jacob in love with Rachel but being tricked into marrying her older sister Leah. This is a very unromantic view of the story, but it is my belief that God never intended for Jacob to marry Rachel. Arguably the two most important of Jacob’s sons were Levi and Judah. Both were born to Leah and their descendants would play important rolls in God’s plans for his people and ultimately his plans for the Salvation of the world. From Levi were descended Moses, Aaron, the priests, and the rest of the Levites who were instrumental in the worship of God and the sacrificial system God instituted among the Israelites. As important as this was, Judah is even more important. His descendants included not only David and the rest of the Kings, but also Jesus. This is despite Joseph being the clear favorite of their father Jacob, as noted in 1 Chronicles 5:2: “yet Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came a ruler, although the birthright was Joseph’s.” In addition to the evidence of the sons born to each wife and the important rolls their descendant’s played, one final clue as to why God preferred Leah to Rachel comes as Jacob and his family are fleeinig Laban in Genesis 31:34, ” Now Rachel had taken the household idols, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. And Laban searched all about the tent but did not find them.” I don’t know for sure the reason that Rachel brought her father’s idols along with her, but one plausible explanation is that she too worshiped the idols rather than worshiping God.
The final Old Testament example I’ll include is that of Boaz and Ruth. As with the other examples, Boaz and Ruth are part of Christ’s family line and thus part of God’s plan for the Salvation of the entire world. A complex series of events and choices lead to Ruth and Boaz’s eventual marriage including among others:
-Ruth’s first husband had to pass away. (Ruth 1:5)
-Ruth deciding to stay with Naomi, despite Naomi asking her to return to her own family and in the process Ruth chose to follow God instead of the gods worshiped by the Moabites. (Ruth 1:16)
-Boaz took special notice of Ruth in his fields (Ruth 2:5-6), despite widows and poor gleaning behind the hired harvesters being a right provided to them by God in the Law and presumably not very uncommon (Lev. 23:22).
-There was a relative more closely related to Ruth than Boaz who could have married her and was interested in gaining the property that had belonged to Ruth’s first husband, but he didn’t want to provide an heir for her first husband and declined to do so allowing Boaz the opportunity marry Ruth. (Ruth 3:12,4:1-6)
A modern example that I’ve heard mentioned in the past as possibly being a marriage that was destined by God would be Billy and Ruth Graham. The evangelist/pastor who had mentioned this in a message claimed that Billy’s ministry wouldn’t have been possible without the support that Ruth was able to provide to him. This obviously isn’t proof and I have no first hand knowledge to coo-berate, but judging by the fruit of his ministry and the lack of scandals that have been the downfall of so many other ministries, I think it’s at least plausible that God put Billy and Ruth together because he saw that Billy would need the specific types of support that Ruth would give him to be able to accomplish what God did through him.
Since I wrote such a long comment, I want to reiterate that for the most part I agree with you. I think that this type of “matchmaking’ by God is exceedingly rare and only occurs when God has something very big in the works that he plans to accomplish through the couple. As much as I love my wife, I certainly wouldn’t characterize my own marriage as being ordained by God. Early in our relationship when I was trying to figure out if I loved her, through studying the scriptures, other Christian writings (C.S Lewis’ The Four Loves is the one that immediately springs to mind), and praying I reached the “dc Talk conclusion” that “Love is a Verb”, that loving something isn’t a state of being, but rather a choice. I never heard/felt God saying, this is the one you are supposed to marry, don’t screw this up! But rather that God approved of my choice and was willing to bless us.
I will agree, on very rare circumstances (a handful in the Bible, as you mention, and even those are plausible, not proof), it may be that God chooses a mate for us. But, that still doesn’t mean we are incomplete without them, or that we couldn’t go against His will, nor be tempted away from our spouse.
Thanks for commenting.
I will agree, on very rare circumstances (a handful in the Bible, as you mention, and even those are plausible, not proof), it may be that God chooses a mate for us. But, that still doesn’t mean we are incomplete without them, or that we couldn’t go against His will, nor be tempted away from our spouse