There is no custom-designed soulmate for you. There; I said it. As I am already aware from having this debate on social media, some people will want to come after me with pitchforks. I’m okay with that. Just hear me out first, and wait for me to make a will so John and the kids get my stuff.
If you’re called to marriage, you choose your “the one.”
Practically speaking, Adam and Eve had to be “the one” for each other. I have heard of instances where people received a definite call to marry a specific person- St. Zelie Martin, for example (my daughter’s namesake,) heard a voice from God as she crossed a bridge and saw her future husband, St. Louis, walking toward her. St. Joseph was told in a dream to proceed with marrying Mary after she was discovered to be pregnant with Jesus. Signs, voices, dreams: they can happen. But that only proves that, in that moment, God called those individuals to action. Where did some of us get this idea that God has designed one person to be our soulmate?
Probably Disney, but not our Faith. Now, I think most people are smart enough to know that you have to work hard at a relationship to keep it going strong. They know happily-ever-after comes with a high price tag (and may I add: worth every metaphorical penny.) However, I have seen some Catholic people spiritualize this notion of “the one.” Maybe it’s because saving your virginity for your future spouse can be really tough in our culture. Maybe it’s because the highlight reels of everyone else’s life on Facebook, declaring engagements and babies, isn’t what your life looks like. Maybe as you struggle it helps to tell yourself, “there is someone out there who is perfect for me. I know it in my heart.”
If you’re lonely and struggling, I’m not trying to add to your burden. I think my view actually has a lot more hope than the ‘one soulmate’ view. Honestly, I think more marriages would last if we stopped expecting fulfillment from them and started expecting to constantly work at them. It’s the difference between, “But you’re my soulmate; why aren’t you making me happy? You’ve disappointed me,” and, “This is hard, but I know I have the ability to choose to continue to love you. I’ll commit to working through this with you and praying that God help us grow together.” Biiiiiig difference there in expectations, right? Check out the Catechism, paragraph 1700, on the purpose of our vocations:
“The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God; it is fulfilled in his vocation to divine beatitude. It is essential to a human being freely to direct himself to this fulfillment. By his deliberate actions the human person does, or does not, conform to the good promised by God and attested by moral conscience.”
Wow! Good job, Catechism. First, it’s clear the purpose of vocation is to lead us to beholding God’s face in Heaven. Marriage, if we are called to it, is the path. We are only fulfilled after this life is over.
Second, it’s pretty clear that our choices matter in attaining this fulfillment. I wish I could tell you how many moments I’ve had to ‘freely direct’ myself by putting on my big girl pants, taking a deep breath, and doing something that doesn’t feel good, like compromising when I want my way or patiently communicating when it feels like we’re on different planets. And the results when I choose well are simply awesome. Our love increases and deepens. This is what I’ve learned:
More important than finding “the one” is choosing to love the one you chose.
Let’s talk also about how the one soulmate view can cause unnecessary anxiety and fear. If we miss our “the one,” doesn’t it imply that we have missed our vocation and thereby missed our vehicle to heaven? It only makes sense that God is endlessly creative and gives us the ability to achieve salvation until the very moment of our deaths. As St. John Chrysostom says, “Nor does he (God) ever cease to work, trying every possible means, until he has raised man up to himself and made him sit at his right hand.” (CCC paragraph 358)
We have a definite moral code laid out for us by Scripture and Tradition, but there is nothing in there about how to objectively know who your “the one” is. How would we ever, ever know for sure that we had found our “the one” if such a person existed?
“Okay Stacey,” you ask, “how do I know whom to choose?”
Glad you asked. First, build a strong relationship with God. He will teach you what to look for in a spouse and you will know a deep peace when you find a good partner. Second, self-knowledge. The better you know yourself, the better you can operate in a relationship. Third, being a person of your word and choosing virtue now. Virtuous people attract virtuous people, and virtuous people make fabulous spouses.
At the end of the day, God gave us brains and reason, and we get to choose. I want not to dash your childhood dreams, but to empower you with the knowledge that you get to cooperate with God’s grace. Your future spouse will grow with you into becoming the people God intended through cooperating with grace. And whatever you do, don’t forget, my friend: if you stay close to God you won’t miss your vocation. He will smile on your heartfelt desire and choices for good. He wants to bring you a life of adventure and love.
Stacey has skills that have her singing and speaking at national conferences including the National Catholic Youth Conference and the LA Religious Education Congress, as well as dioceses and parishes around the Country. She hosts the Called and Caffeinated podcast and blog to serve those discerning their vocations and other life choices, and is a contributing author to Liturgy Training Publications' The Living Word and The Holy Ruckus Blog. She hails from upstate NY, and she is never bored.