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I Didn’t Marry My Soul Mate

By: Quinn McDowell

You read that right. My beautiful new bride isn’t my soul mate.

In the confusing world of relationships, guys often make a crucial error in their approach to finding a wife: we operate under the assumption that we are destined to find our perfect soul-mate. (Yes, this applies to the ladies, too, but here I want to address the guys specifically.)

You know the woman I’m thinking of–that ideal someone who magically balances your flaws, completes your insufficiencies, and satisfies your deepest desires. While searching for a spouse, we hold fast to the ideal of marrying someone faultlessly compatible with us – even if we concede that she herself is not going to be completely flawless. We develop a complex dating detection system, equipped with a built in “wife-finder” that automatically eliminates anyone who doesn’t strike us as potential soul-mate material. These methods of sifting through prospects beg the question; should we even be looking for a perfectly compatible spouse? Or, have modern dating notions – as perpetuated through movies, magazines, and the internet – narrowed our outlook to the point where our imaginations are saturated with shallow ideologies that undermine the potential for a healthy marriage?

One of my favorite theologians, Stanley Hauerwas, once argued that “you always marry the wrong person.” Hauerwas challenges the notion that we should be searching for the one person who perfectly and comprehensively fulfills all our needs. This faulty outlook creates immense pressure to make absolutely sure we pick the right person. We become imprisoned by the fear that if we make an error in judgment, we could ruin our lives forever!

I firmly believe that we should abide by general guidelines that steer us in the process of finding a suitable spouse. However, once those basic principles are faithfully observed, we have an incredible, liberating freedom to choose the person we want to marry. Recently I married my beautiful wife, Lindsey, and I believe that it was God’s perfect will for us to wed. But that does not mean that she is the perfect person for me–because such a person does not exist. Nor does it mean that I could not have entered into a healthy and fulfilling marriage with another woman. But I chose Lindsey (and she chose me!) in full confidence—even though we are not perfect for each other.

Men, what if our approach to finding a wife was not fueled by an endless compatibility test, but by a relentless effort to transform ourselves into the best husbands we can be?  In this process, we certainly do need to look for a woman with whom we share a certain level of chemistry and compatibility, as well as our core values—especially when it comes to an understanding of marriage itself. However, we must also recognize that finding our flawlessly compatible, perfect soul-mate is not the key to marital happiness. Once we’ve made it that far, we can start soul-searching—and quit soul-mate-searching—on how we are going to become the best man and husband we can be. As a wise man once told me, if I wanted to marry the Queen, I would first need to become a King.

Quinn McDowell is a recent graduate of The College of William and Mary with a degree in Religious Studies and Economics. He is a freelance writer and is currently pursuing a career in professional basketball.

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23 Comments on "I Didn’t Marry My Soul Mate"

2 years 4 months ago

whoever said “The “soul mate” idea is a dangerous trap to fall into for sure” is right, kind of. If you have ever been in a torrid relationship (not affair) with a sexual soulmate, you are changed forever. I know this sounds, well maybe insignificant, but it’s not. Once you’ve been to the highest high with another, anyone else in any other capacity (LTR, or marriage) does not compare. It’s sad, but true. Relationships and marriages do evolve, good or bad and both. A combustible relationship is exciting & makes you feel most alive, but it is exhausting and the fire will not last forever. I didn’t marry that one, I didn’t even marry a best friend. I chose to marry a man who makes me feel safe, yet swallowed in ennui. He is into political rants, poker & the outdoors – While I am ignited by art, music, new scenery, adventures. We often don’t marry the “One”, we marry the person who teaches us and shows us what we are missing or need to work on or learn with. I guess that’s everyone. I think anyone who is truly happy and blissfully married is lucky, but I never wanted to or want to be lucky. I want to feel alive; I’m glad I experienced it.

2 years 6 months ago

The word ‘soulmate’ doesn’t mean sinless perfection in someone or effortless, near-constant smooth sailing in the relationship – even though I’ve heard statements from married people along the lines of, “She’s my soulmate and the perfect wife” or “He is perfect for me.” And I’ve heard of some who said that after losing a soulmate-spouse through death, they then went on to another blessed union with another soulmate, which I do believe possible. At any rate, I think soulmate unions refer to a deep level of compatibility between two personalities (and shared worldview) that makes solving relational problems and growing together, as two-in-one, comparatively easier. Such a situation with someone is likely what most people in soulmate unions mean by “perfect” – they don’t mean flawless persons or flawless relating.

2 years 8 months ago

Great article. I agree! I am not married nor dating or engaged or anything and I often joke about God bringing “the one” into my life but it’s always a sarcastic “the one” seeing as how I don’t think “the one” really exists. I do however think that God knows the future and He knows who I will end up with and will “assist” in the process of meeting each other and just opening the right doors. It could be a number of Godly men in my life right now and I would be ok with any one of them, but none of them are interested in me and I’m not particularly interested in any of them at this point.

I had heard the whole point of soul-mates talked on in a youth group I attended in high school. I was a sophomore at the time and one of the seniors made this point; “if there is really a soul mate or the one what happens if you make a mistake and marry the wrong person. Forcing your soul mate to marry the wrong person and your spouses true soul mate to marry the wrong one. So on and so on. No one would marry “the right on” after a while. So how can we say their is only one for sure soul mate out there? There’s not. God gives us options.”


[…] exist. Just pick a girl and go with it.” Take, for example, this article called “I didn’t marry my soul mate.” Because apparently not finding The One petrifies Christian […]

3 years 19 hours ago

I married my soul mate, too (an aside: before we met, I didn’t believe in soul mates, though he did).

We married each other because God led us together. Before that, we followed God’s path for us (we did NOT trowel the earth looking for our soul mates).

This is not mutually exclusive with putting in the work and effort in a marriage; for us, it’s actually more of an incentive. This is the person God chose for us to love (and we chose to accept this call), so we better love each other as best we can!

I understand why everyone is so down on the Hollywood idea of soulmates and constant searching for “the one,” but I don’t think this means we need to throw out the idea of soulmates altogether.


The Love and Fidelity Network is the principal program of the Collegiate Cultural Foundation