Sunday, December 6, 2015

The tattooed remains of a soul mate. . .

Dear Abby included a column a while ago about a woman who had found her soul mate and had his name tattooed on her wrists.  He was killed at some point and now she married Brett.  (Note the absence of "soul mate").  It seems her current husband (no clue if she had actually married her soul mate and this was a second marriage or not) was bothered by the tattoo of her soul mate.  I surmised that this was less about the tattoo than about the fact that this guy was her soul mate and Brett was, well, her husband (and something perhaps less than a soul mate??).

I am not unromantic but this whole business about soul mates is a bit troubling to say the least.  If the reason people are not marrying or marrying at a later age is because they are trolling through the various venues of life in search of a soul mate, then that explains why marriage is not as robust as it once was.  Finding a soul mate is hard work and there is no guarantee.  I could go further and suggest that there is no such thing as a soul mate.  The pursuit of that once in a lifetime person who will fulfill all your hopes and dreams, meet all your wants and desires, and be the perfect complement to you is generally a dead end road.  In fact it just might explain why so many who do marry find it disappointing.  Soul mates have a habit of turning out to be mortal.  They disappoint and offend, they pass gas in your presence and leave the bathroom a mess, they even have the nerve to disagree, and, finally, they often end up boring and dull.  Oh, right, then they were not the soul mates then, were they?!

Modern romantics really do seek a soul mate -- someone who completes us emotionally, intellectually, and sexually. This soul mate is defined as the “perfect person for me” whom I can deeply love. Soul mates must find an instant yet deep connection, one that awakens a “passionate, or boiling [love] from the get-go.” If this does not happen right away, then little time is spent on developing it for that would be time wasted.  The soul mate model promises levels of fulfillment that previous generations never dreamed of from their partners and yet it also has the highest potential for disappointment. Couples quickly break up when their expectations are not met: if he or she doesn't get your jokes or share your affinity for certain movies or play your video games or swoon over your favorite Facebook posts or instantly get and respond to your emojies or if the sex isn't mind-blowing.
Modern romantics have high expectations for potential mates but couple that with the desire for a low-hassle way to find them. Like the internet has exponentially expanded consumer options, soul mates are more and more sought through various dating apps that have expanded their reach from their neighborhoods to the world.  Check out a related story here. . .

Marriage is a choice and its power lies not in the perfect man or woman (yeah, I am still stuck on that kick) but on the power of your commitment and your willingness to suffer, sacrifice, and struggle through to make the choice work.  There is not one perfect person for you in all the world and your job in life is not to find this heaven send bookend to your perfect shelf of happiness and contentment.  Marriage is a choice -- the choice of a man or a woman who shares your values, whom you can trust, who will be a good parent to your children, who will prove a reliable companion, and, if it is really right, will share your faith (yeah, that should have gone first).  Marriage is a choice.  A commitment.  It is not the end of the yellow brick road that leads you to your prince or princess.

The vows of marriage hint at this.  Well, that is not quite correct.  They are blunt about this.  For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health...  Yeah, in good times it is easy but in bad times it is a burden but love's burden.  Love is a choice.  It is not raw passion shaped for good but a choice that fuels its own passion and desire.

So lets just help the world out by Christians giving up talk of perfect soul mates and put the focus where it should be -- the choice to love, the commitment to love in every circumstance, the promise of fidelity, the sharing of faith and values, and the covenant that ends only in death.  Then maybe Dear Abby could get onto other emergency problems instead of a woman whose wrists pine for the soul mate who got away while she had to settle for a husband.

3 comments:

Carl Vehse said...

From the Lexical Investigations: Soul mate, the phrase was first recorded in 1822, when the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote in a letter, "To be happy in Married Life... you must have a Soul-mate."

Coleridge had married in 1795 in spite of the fact that loved another woman who was engaged to another man. Coleridge's wife separated from him in 1808, in part because of Coleridge's increasing addiction to opium, which was Coleridge's "soul mate" for the rest of his life.

Kirk Skeptic said...

A wonderful post, which I have shared with both my married and single children. Once again, perfection shows itself to be the enemy of good.

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