Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Are Soulmates Real?


I'm such a huge dork.  I might be wrong, but it seems like everyone besides me has been over Napoleon Dynamite since, you know, 2006 or so.  I still watch it sometimes, and I still crack up.  Do you remember Uncle Rico's line about his dream of "making millions of dollars and living in a big ol' mansion somewhere, soaking it up in a hot tub with my soul mate?"  

Ridiculous.  But anyway, I've been thinking about that lately.  Have you seen this article floating around, "My Husband Is Not My Soulmate?"  A friend of mine asked my opinion on it a few days ago, and I realized there's something so...indescribable to me about the whole thing.  I feel like I agree and I disagree, and am having the darndest time putting into words why.


I get the point of the article, I think.  Hannah is saying that her real, live, flesh-and-blood husband is so much more fulfilling than the idealized, guitar-strumming man she imagined as a teenager.  She's saying that being his wife involves an intentional, self-giving love that she's happy to pour out to him; it's not a fairy tale.  "My marriage," she says, "is not based on a set of choices over which I had no control. It is based on a daily choice to love this man, this husband that I chose out of many people that I could have chosen to love."  Amen.  I totally get that.

Hannah got me wondering, though, if there really is a such thing as a soulmate for everyone called to marriage.  She's wise, I think, to point out that Scripture as evidence tends to come up short, but where to go from there?  My instinct says (and feel free to debate me on this) that vocationally speaking, and within the sacramental nature of vocations in the Church, that for a man and woman disposed to the graces of the sacrament of marriage, in which their relationship is literally transformed, the person you marry does become your path to Heaven, and hopefully, a fulfillment of your heart.  Grace builds on nature, you know?

At the same time, Andrew and I have had a few conversations where we wonder if we could've married other people.  I told my friend that we usually conclude there are probably good, holy people out there whom we'd feel fulfilled by, but that neither of us can imagine being quite as fulfilled, or understood, or as free with anyone else. I love my husband so deeply and feel so seen and so loved by him that I really can't imagine anything else. The other thing, or person really, that makes me tend to think there is such a thing as soulmates, is John Paul II. His writings are all about the immense dignity, value, and unrepeatability of every human person. So, if every person is completely unique and unrepeatable, wouldn't it make sense that the person the Lord intends him or her to enter into marriage with (assuming the person is called to marriage) is someone, not just anyone?


My thoughts are still coming together on this, and I'd love to hear yours. Read the article if you haven't, and tell me what you think! Do you believe in soulmates? Do you think the permanent nature of the sacraments of vocation has a bearing on who you choose as your spouse?



15 comments:

  1. Me and my friend had a conversation about this just the other night and we came to the conclusion that we don't think there are soul mates, as such.

    A soul mate, in our opinion, conjures over romanticised ideas about your future spouse. I think because God gives us free will in our lives, He gives us the option to choose our own spouse.

    And, then one needs to factor in that sometimes you can fall in love more than once...and to say, for example, that your second love is your soulmate would be almost rendering your first love completely invalid... just some disjointed thoughts we had on it! It's a tricky subject.

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    1. USCatholic.org actually posted on soul mates a few years ago. I guess it depends on someone's definition of "soul mates". What Claire said above is basically what the article said. The article had said that it is an American overly romanticized idea. And I find her 2nd point intriguing as well. It's a good food for thought. Although I love my husband dearly and faithfully, our personalities are so far apart. I don't think I can ever say that he "completes my soul" like the idea of "soul mate" conjures. I think the important thing here is that we are one in the Sacrament. Within that context, whether he is my "soul mate" or not becomes irrelevant. Yeah?

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    2. Definitely! I can agree that the term "soulmate" itself gets pretty loaded and overly idealized.

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  2. Yes, we have free choice in whom to marry. Yet I believe in soulmates and that God does have one person picked for you. He created Adam and Eve for each other, after all. And what about the story of Rebecca and Isaac, or Tobit and Sarah? Check out this verse from Tobit: "Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven!" –Tobit 7:11

    The person you marry is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) decisions you'll make in your life. So much stems from that and even history is made from your marriage: where you live and whose lives you touch and touch yours, the children that are born and what they do with their lives and how they affect the world, etc. Truly, I think God will lead you to that one special person.

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    1. Andrew and I were talking about how free will is still such a part of God's intentions for us; good point!

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    2. Lianna, but wouldn't it be against our free will (given to us by God) assuming that he decided for us that, you should get married and second who you marry?

      Personally I believe that our free will includes every decision we take, its different when we talk about God already knowing our future decisions, God gets involved when you decide to let Him in, by asking for his guidance when making a decision.

      What do you think?

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  3. Thanks for this great post, Stephanie. I didn't really believe in soulmates before, but your comment about JPII's focus on the unique unrepeatability of each human person is starting to convince me of the opposite.

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    1. Thanks, Karee! I need to think about it more, but I feel like there's definitely something there with the uniqueness of every person =)

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  4. Will and I both think we could have married other people - that being said, we fit each other so well, there is no question that God did not bring us together. :)

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  5. I just have to say I am so not over Napoleon Dynamite. If you're a dork, than so am I :)

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  6. Hannah is a former classmate of mine, so I think in some ways I have somewhat of an insight into what she's saying. Like you, I agree and disagree. I absolutely make the choice to love my husband everyday. But do I believe that from the beginning of time God was shaping us for each other and working out all the little circumstances that would bring us to that exact moment where we would see each other for the first time? Yes, yes I do.

    And as far as soulmates, I just, I just don't know. I was 18 when I first saw my husband, and while it definitely wasn't love at first sight, we were definitely both attracted to each other. When we did start dating, we knew within one month that we were going to marry each other, even though we weren't in love. We were married just a bit over a year after we started dating.

    The reason I hesitate to say it's just our choices that make us happy is because I know plenty of people who are perfectly good and perfectly compatible who just have lackluster marriages. It troubles me to say it's just my choices that made me choose the man I was going to marry, and that it's just my choices that make me happy from then on, and definitely troubles me to say it's just my choices that make me happier than someone else.

    Getting back to my earlier point about the article, though, I think that Hannah meant for it to be mostly a statement about how her marriage's happines is *in a great deal* based on the choice she makes to love and respect a particular man at a particular time. And I couldn't agree to that more.

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    1. How awesome that you two know each other! I think you hit the nail on the head in saying that the point of the article is that love is a choice, and that the concept of a soulmate, if one exists, is way different from the movie-style, love at first sight stuff. I think you make a good point about happiness, too, that it's not just about what we freely choose, but what God has in store for us. On the flip side, it's a good reminder, I think, that we shouldn't expect complete happiness from anything on earth. Thanks for your input, Sarah!

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