Soul mates? Apparently not.

MomLovesBeingAtHome has a great post (Adultery – it leads to disaster) that reminded me of one of my least favorite terms: Soul mates.  Go read her post about the warning signs.  It is important to know that you can cross the line long before a relationship gets physical. 

I’ve heard people rationalize divorce and remarriage because they supposedly found their soul mate or true love.  That handy bit of rationalization conveniently ignores the concept of commitment and is wildly irrational.  After all, if they haven’t screened all the people on the planet then how do they know there isn’t an even better soul mate around the corner?

As she notes, those who do marry the “forbidden lover” get divorced again quite often.  I actually feel sad for them: One day they’ll wake up and realize they married someone who left their last spouse when things got difficult or dull — forgetting that they did the same thing. 

We know a woman who did just that, leaving a long term marriage with three children to marry a guy who abandoned his wife of 18 years.  A few years later they are getting divorced, leading to more carnage for everyone involved.  Turns out they weren’t soul mates after all.

As always, forgiveness and healing is possible in Jesus.  This isn’t to pick on people who have made mistakes, but to provide a warning against highly destructive behaviors.  Heed the signs and stay committed for life.  It is a great formula.

And be sure to read MLBH’s follow up, How to reduce the risk of adultery.

0 thoughts on “Soul mates? Apparently not.”

  1. Neil:

    This is proof that you need to write a book, very well written. BTW, where the heck is my foreword? Or am I going to have to get the esteemed biblical scholar Karen Armstrong to write it! lol (if you knew how I felt about Karen, you would see the obvious sarcasm and humor in that).

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    1. Thanks, DJBA, and major apologies to you for being so delinquent! I will not go to sleep tonight before I finish that foreward. I started it and just didn’t get back to it.

      Good dig about Karen Armstrong — ugh — with “defenders” like her who needs enemies?

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  2. Guy here at work just got married. The perennial bachelor type. I told him before had congrats, and that was I surprised to find out he was engaged.

    His response: “I figure give it a try and if it doesn’t work you you get divorced.”

    What a terrible attitude. When I pointed out that the vows said for better for worse for richer for poorer in sickness & in health as long as you both shall live, his response to me was: “dude, not all of us can have The Waltons existence like you do.”

    How can a marriage like that be anything but doomed to failure because one spouse is already saying they will hit the road as soon as the going gets tough.

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    1. My best friend of a few years back said the same thing. Yep, divorced now. How sad.

      That’s it though. Giving it a go is not the same thing as giving it your all. I’m sure glad my wife knows how to give it her all, then a little lot more!

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    2. While that is a terrible attitude towards marriage – and I agree that I don’t fancy your colleague’s marriage lasting all that long, unless that attitude changes – it does seem to be a prevalent attitude towards marriage.

      I have some friends to whom marriage is just a piece of paper and nothing more. As a result, they cohabit and never intend on marrying. I’ve heard them laugh / scoff at people who do, too!

      I know of others who, as well as arguing that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, that clauses such as “voluntarily entered into for life” also should be dropped from the definition of marriage. Apparently, marriage for life is “unrealistic”. I wonder if such people just realise that it’s unrealistic for same-sex couples to remain monogamous, hence they want to drop the “for life” tag from marriage?

      Duh! Probably because, like your colleague, they approach marriage with the wrong attitude and the wrong understanding of what marriage actually is to start with.

      In fact, I’m convinced that Western society the world over needs a re-education as to what marriage really, really is for. They seem to have forgotten it, perhaps buried it alongside of the Late Mr Common Sense!

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      1. I am a proponent for making marriage more difficult to get into, and much more difficult to get out of it. It has become a routine rubber-stamp these days. Make it harder to get married, and very difficult to get a divorce, and people will take it more seriously.

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  3. Couple of days back, I was talking to my eldest sister. She’d be married for 14 years, come December. She sounded a little depressed. So I kind of prodded her to tell me what the problem was (and that’s a mighty task ’cause am 13 yrs younger than her and all my siblings still consider me a kid!!! :-l) and she told me that friends of her’s (apparently childhood sweethearts, deeply religious couple, who had kids around the same my sis had her’s) got divorced last week. She had no idea and the reason happened to be adultery from the husband’s side!! She was deeply distressed and spoke about how it is said that Satan roars like a lion when he wins a soul.

    My golden rule of friendship with guy friends is that, we talk casually after i or they get married, whichever happens first. And no sharing emotional stuff after marriage. One of my best friends told me he likes me so much that the only extra attention his would be wife would get over me, is sharing his bed. I was grossly offended when it was meant to please me. I told him then and there if that indeed was the case, I’d rather quit talking to him altogether!!! Honestly, a guy-girl friendship is such a risky thing, and I actually feel quite guilty now that I’ve allowed my guy friends to depend upon me emotionally. Obviously none of us are married yet, but I just hope that they realize I really don’t want to be there when they’ll have their wives to go to.

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    1. Shalini, it sounds like you have the right attitude about it! If I may share one thing, one example that our pastor gave (which is what inspired the post of mine that Neil linked to) is to ask yourself this question if you are not married yet (and I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t remember his exact words): Would you be comfortable having your future husband see and the things that you’ve done and hear the conversations that you’ve had with other men?

      Adultery isn’t just for married people – if you (being general now) ever plan on being married and your are intimate, whether it be emotionally or physically, with a man or woman other than your future husband or wife you have, essentially, cheated on him/her.

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      1. MomLovesBeingAtHome,

        First of all, am sorry I didnt come and comment there but I did read your post. I’ve always considered the passage that points out adultery by just seeing quite seriously in my life. And I have tried practicing that and have been quite successful. (Am not being boastful seriously! I am just quite strict about the chastity I practice and you really can’t ignore this passage when you are quite intent on your chastity being something which please God and not self.) And I try telling people that it really isn’t that tough. Our thoughts can be controlled too, not just our actions.Now I have to find a way to get a bad memory. Good memory (my biggest weakness) means forgiveness without forgetting and I know that’s not how it should be done. If any science genius is out there, can you guys please let me know whether sending thoughts to the white matter or gray matter of the brain can be voluntary as well????

        Though I am not too keen on getting married for personal reasons, I am not ruling anything out. But your suggestion is very valuable and I try as best as I can never to engage in conversation which is beyond the norms of friendship, even while comforting a distressed friend. But thank you really for that one. That’s something people really ignore mostly and it was great of you to blog about it.:)

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      2. Our thoughts can be controlled too

        That’s a very important point, Shalini. We will have thoughts pop into our head that we don’t completely control, but what we do with them at that point is critical.

        We can be slaves to so many things and just turn our thoughts over to whatever comes up and let them run — lusts, guilt, old hurts and more. A daily challenge is to realize that we get to decide what we think and channel our thoughts to something more productive, just as how Paul teaches not to be anxious but to think about positive things.

        Philippians 4:6-8 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

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      3. Shalini, please don’t feel like you have to apologize for not commenting on my post! 😉 Discussion anywhere is good – it doesn’t matter where it is. You have made some great points! I’ve enjoyed reading them.

        Neil, that verse in Philippians is one of my favorites. 🙂

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  4. Thanks so much for the link, Neil! Marriage is one of the most important aspects of life to me and any way that we can help preserve that is time well spent in my opinion. My hope and prayer is always that the right person will read something I’ve shared and that it will affect them in a positive way – in issues like this more than any!

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  5. As someone who has, er, some experience of both adultery and the notorious “open marriage”, some advice for what it’s worth: Don’t do it.

    This is a private matter for me so I won’t say any more. Trust me; don’t go there. Monogamy is the only way to go.

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  6. Good post Neil. As a single man 40 years old, I heard this term a lot of times and I hated it as much as you do. It seemed like such an excuse or so much rationalization. The idea is that there is one person out there that is “destined” to be your soul mate for life. Or, in some people’s minds, your soul mate for a while, then you move on to another.

    Wasn’t it Isaac who (literally) married a woman that he picked up at the local watering hole — or rather someone picked her up for him? And he had never met her? God blessed that marriage because they were obedient to His word.

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  7. Randy – your last comment reminds me about arranged-marriages. When I was younger, I had thought they were terrible things: after all, shouldn’t you be free to love who you want to love??

    But as to how marriages can and do work, I don’t dismiss them as readily anymore – I think there’s much good that can be said about them. (Sure, they can be abused and misused and match-ups can be poorly done … but show me the difference between that and our Western idea of marriage??)

    I would like to see some statistics re: arranged-marriages, particularly their length of duration and fulfilment. Must dig up some info somewhere …

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    1. Also, I think there are varying degrees of how flexible the terms are for arranged marriages. Some dear Asian Indian friends had an arranged marriage, but it wasn’t a “marry each other whether you like it or not” thing at all. The family did some preliminary work then the couple could veto it. They have a beautiful family and thriving ministry.

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    2. I don’t see the differences between arranged marriages, and marriages where the couple does not live together first. In both scenarios, the people do not know each other, and do not know if they are compatible. I’m not saying they don’t work – they often do, and I believe that two people that choose to love each other for whatever reason, can live a fulfilling life together. I would just prefer to spend my life with a person of my choice – an informed choice.

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      1. I have no objections to people choosing whom to marry and obviously did the same thing myself. I do see merits of having family input, though of course getting to know the other person well ahead of time is crucial.

        But under no circumstances would I recommend that someone live together first to try each other out. People need to commit for life then weather the ups and downs. Those who rationalize that they are living together as a compatibility check are naive in thinking that there is a chance that if they find just the right person that things will always go smoothly.

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      2. This is unbelievably short-sighted. First, statistically marriages where there was no shacking up prior have a much higher rate of success than do shack-up marriages.

        Second, shacking up has been around for a few decades. Not living together was the overwhelming norm until the 60s and 70s. Yet it wasn’t until the 60s and 70s that divorce rate skyrocketed.

        Ryan, your theory sounds good intellectually, but falls flat when put into practice.

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      3. Divorce rates today are actually lower than they were 30 years ago. Rates are indeed lower for those couples that do not co-habitate before marriage but that is almost certainly due to the disdain, and sometimes impossibility of divorce that is often correlated to the rules against cohabitation.

        That said, I really didn’t propose a theory at all – just an opinion.

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    3. Being an Indian, and having seen mostly arranged marriages, I’d say its not all that bad. Both my eldest sis and eldest bro opted for arranged marriage while my 2nd sis opted for love marriage. The one’s who got their marriage arranged by parents are happier than the latter. You really don’t have definite answers as to which can be more successful. It depends on how willing we are to be obedient and trust God, that this person my parents chose for me is the one. Besides as Neil pointed out, parents like mine do a lot of background checks and stuff, and they never force us to marry. Despite everything, they only want our happiness and not their duties to be done. No offense to love marriages at all, but I still think the thing about arranged marriages are that it’s all about obedience and trust in parents and God. After all, wasn’t Adam’s marriage arranged?? 🙂 I mean, God gave him Eve and that was that.

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      1. Interesting isn’t it? Seems maybe our parents do know what is best. I think there is validity in this. My feelings tell me that arranged marriages are bad because it isn’t what I would want. But my thinking says that it has been like that for much of the world for as long as the world has been around, maybe there is something to it.

        The problem with love marriages is they are too often not true love, but lust and “in-love” marriages. Lush and in-love are temporary conditions, where true love is something that grow over time. 2/3 of marriages don’t make it to the true love state as they end in divorce after the lust and in-love feelings fade.

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  8. I was 35 when I first got married. That was after about seven years of dating. I had always thought in terms of “once only”, that no matter what happened, it was supposed to be for life. I was intent on learning the most I could about this woman so as to enter the marriage without any hidden surprises. By the time we did marry, it was a formality for the most part. We had already committed to each other. Now, almost twenty years later, I can’t say that I am doubt free about the whole idea. That is to say, I do wonder about what if?

    However, there are some things I can’t get around. She’s very attractive, she says she loves me (even after all these years), she’s a great lover, wife, mother, she keeps a neat home and cleans my shorts. Add the fact that I’m just too lazy to cheat and we’ve got a marriage that’ll last forever, or until we run out of wine and meds.

    I like to say to the kids that there is one very important thing that the wife in I have in common that makes for a great union: She loves me very much, and so do I.

    I think people simply don’t understand that “love” in a marriage is something that one chooses to do. If the type of love one is riding on is unconscious or not of one’s conscious will, it’s likely not sustainable. When I got married, I was no longer in the bubble of being “in love”. I loved and still love my wife because I promised to do so. I choose to. I am not tied to her by some romantic gravitational pull I am powerless to fight. What possible good is that when all the negatives of the typical list of vows rise up between you? For better or worse. Most put no limit on the former, but the least taste of the latter drives a wedge between too many couples.

    I got married knowing who my wife was as a person as well as a sex-partner. The plus side was greater by far than the minus side, but the minus side exists and I found nothing that could make me regret my choice to marry her. I didn’t wait until after the vows to find out who I married. Since that time, I’ve met many women who I thought would make me a good wife based on what was easy to find out. Assuming nothing was hidden, I know that I could be happy with most any woman, but I choose to remain where I am because I promised her, I promised God and I promised myself that I would make it a one time deal.

    I am more than happy with my decision and I like the idea that it’s all a matter of choice. No matter what, both my wife and I each have the choice to stay or go. I like that she chooses to stay. I know she doesn’t need me and can find happiness without me. That’s the kind of love that matters. And she cleans my shorts.

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  9. Wow, so many comments. I’m glad that Shalini spoke up about arranged marriages. I have some dear friends who are Indian who “chose” an arranged marriage. They had the choice to back out, but decided to stick with what their parents had arranged out of respect for them.

    I chose my first wife and we were together for 17+ years before her death. Not all of those 17 years were great, but none of them were bad because we chose to work out any problems we had.

    I’m not sure if I chose my second wife or she chose me. Most times, I don’t think I had a choice, I think God arranged it. We choose to love each other. On the 29th of this month, we will have been together 8 years. I’m hoping for 80 more.

    Last night I spoke to my cousin who was celebrating her 21st anniversary. She said she told her husband she hadn’t found anyone yet that she would trade him in for.

    Final comment about sex. Some of the comments here sound like the idea I’ve heard others say, that you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive. There’s a lot of ways to find out if you are compatible without going for a test drive. There’s that submission thing going on and submitting to each others’ needs. I’m a slow learner, but my wife is teaching me. She understands this much better than I. One of the nice things about both of us being in a second marriage, we know what is good and what is bad and we both want what’s good. We’re willing to work for it.

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