“Do you believe in soul mates?” The question came from one of my high school youth group students. I laughed on the outside as I panicked on the inside, trying to find the right way to answer. “What do you mean by a soul mate and why do you ask” was my response. It was to help clarify what he was looking for as much as it was to give my brain an extra minute to process a response. “I mean, do you believe there’s one person each of us is meant to be with? For when you get married. How do you know if they are ‘The One’?”
The topic of love and marriage seems to have been very prominent in my life recently. There have been several weddings for good friends of mine and my own anniversary all within the past month. Not to mention all the gay marriage news and just talk about life around the water cooler. And no matter how much someone loves going to weddings to see how beautiful the bride is or sitting and debating gay marriage, at the end of the day does anyone really care about marriage?
This past week I came across an article about a same sex couple who had been married for three years later were now seeking a divorce. The problem was, the law had been changed so they could marry, but not divorce. After laughing at their lack of foresight the situation made me sad. It was a prime example of how worthless marriage has become. These were two people who fought and struggled against cultural norms and government policy for the opportunity to show the world that they loved each other enough to commit their lives to one another. They swore before friends and family “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part”. And to me they are now just giving up. All the promises and vows were worthless.
I’ve been married 9 years and I will admit that my wife has changed quit a bit from when we were dating to now. She’ll say the same about me. Neither of us are who we were 9 years ago. The days are spent taking care of the kids, working on projects around the house, and late nights in the office. Long walks on the beach at sunset are replaced with discussions at the dinner table over who’s paying what bill.
The pastor at the wedding I attending this past weekend said “Love is a choice, it’s not just an emotion or chemical response”; and that was similar to my response to the student: “Soul Mate is a cop out term for people who don’t want to work on a relationship anymore”. It infers that there is a divine connection beyond your control that you can only have with one person on the planet. It therefore gives anyone who doesn’t feel like a relationship is working an out clause. They don’t have to work on the relationship any longer because the other person “just isn’t the one”. You then wind up with people having these hyper-fantasized pictures of relationships and 3 years into marriage they realize it’s not like that at all. So they file for divorce and start all over looking for their soul mate like 50 percent of all marriages.
Now, this isn’t about divorce, gay marriage, or what the Bible says about either. It’s about marriage. What does it really mean to be married? Is it just two people who live together? Every marriage isn’t perfect and every day isn’t perfect. And some people’s marriages are just happier than other for a variety of reasons. Some couples argue more and some couples are more blissful.
But if people are going to go around protesting gay marriage, enacting new laws, and proclaiming the sanctity of marriage it’s time to stop and ask if anyone really, truly cares about what it means to be married. To be with the same person everyday for the rest of your life. To live together, to invade each others space, to see each other at your worst, and to engage in life for more than sexual reasons. To see what the other 50% of marriages that stay together have that so many people ignore. Does anyone care that much?