Shannon Whitmore considers the relationship between the sacrament of Matrimony, the notion of soulmates, and the call to Christian perfection.
My husband is not my perfect soulmate. Even after over a decade of working with high-school students, seeing the faces of teens when I make that declaration never gets old (literally -- I swear their faces get even younger every year). It’s like watching every teen girl’s dreams get dashed. But this is not Disney World; it’s real life, and I don’t think anyone will ever marry their perfect soulmate. Even more, I think until we accept that fact and impart it adequately to our children, we will continue to live in a world that struggles with marital happiness and longevity.
But it’s true. My husband is not my perfect soulmate. I’ve accepted that since even before I was married, and I’ve seen the truth of that statement more times than I care to count. My husband and I are not perfect for one another, and we never will be. And do you know what? Our marriage is happier for knowing it.
As a girl, I remember dreaming about my future husband. In my fantasies, he was always a perfect gentleman, always loosely based on a Disney prince, and we were absolutely perfect together. We never fought, never disagreed, never experienced even the slightest hiccup of distress. I held onto that dream for a very long time, and I probably never would have abandoned it, except for the fact that I had a very wise adult set me straight.
Neither my husband nor I is perfect. We both make poor decisions from time to time. We both lose our patience, get frustrated, and even get angry on occasion. And if neither of us is perfect, we can’t really expect to be perfect soulmates. But I do know that we are good for each other, and that we are both better for having each other in our lives. We are both seeking perfection, but we’re not there yet. We want to help each other get to heaven, but obviously we haven’t reached our destination yet.
I also don’t believe that we were soulmates destined to be together. Honestly, I never wanted to be burdened by that kind of pressure. If we only have one soulmate, determined from the beginning of time, that leaves a whole lot of pressure on us. What if we make a decision that sets us on a path that does not cross with our soulmate? What if we get sick on the fateful day that we are supposed to meet? What if I screw it up, and he goes off and marries someone else? Who wants that kind of pressure?
Instead, I believe my husband became my soulmate when we were married. When we exchanged our vows before God and man, promising to be faithful and true, we became soulmates. We are bound to one another, the two that have become one, until death parts us. We have a common goal, a mission that unites us. We have been called to lead our spouse to heaven. And now that we have children? We’ve accepted the call to lead them to heaven too.
My husband was never meant to fully satisfy me. He was not meant to complete me, to fill every hole in my heart. Yes, he complements me, and he and I work in sync by acknowledging both our strengths and weaknesses, but he does not complete me. He does not fully satisfy me, nor do I satisfy him. The only person who can fully satisfy me is God. The only way I will be completed is by welcoming God into my heart, my marriage, and my life. As I’ve often heard it said, there is a God-sized hole in each of our hearts that only God Himself can fill. My husband was never meant to fill that hole. As St. Augustine wrote, “My heart is restless until it rests in you.” We will never be satisfied by our spouses; to place that burden on his shoulders is unfair and honestly, a recipe for disaster. He’s not God, after all.
My husband is not my perfect soulmate, and I’m honestly okay with that. I know that I’m not perfect, so I can’t expect perfection from my husband either. We both want to be perfect, but we are happy to know that we’ve been given ample grace and mercy when we inevitably fall short. We strive to be better, to do better, and even if he’s not my perfect soulmate, I am blessed to be walking this journey to heaven with him by my side.
How have you and your husbands grown as soulmates throughout your marriage and advanced on your journey towards Christian perfection together?
Copyright 2020 Shannon Whitmore
Image courtesy of Shannon Whitmore
About the Author
Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and working in youth ministry. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.