“Papa,” I once asked my WWII grandfather whom I call Papa, “is Mimi your soul mate?”
He looked at me a little funny. Papa and Mimi have been married over sixty years.
“Well, I don’t think there’s this one magical person out there for everyone. Proverbs 18:22 tells us, ‘The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.’ Note that the Word doesn’t say, ‘the man who finds that certain someone.’ It’s less specific than that. You find a wife, you get favor from God. It’s not all that complicated.”
“Well, you found Mimi.”
“There were other women before Mimi.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I couldn’t imagine Papa without Mimi. “And I probably could’ve made it work with one of them too. So, no – I don’t believe in soul-mates.”
This stubborn realism might be the reason why they’ve been happy all these years. A new study shows that people who view their spouses as “soul mates” are not as satisfied with their marriages as people who view their husband or wife as a “partner on a journey.” Presumably this is because “soul mates” shouldn’t fight when one “soul mate” pulls the covers off the other in the middle of the night or when the other refuses to shut the kitchen cabinets. Alternatively, people who view their marriage as “we’ve come a long way on this journey,” don’t seem to get as bogged down in the ups and downs of life.
Monday night, with millions of other Americans, I watched as Josh got down on one knee and proposed to Bachelorette star Andi. I couldn’t be happier for the new couple and wish them nothing but love and happiness going forward. If you felt a lump in your throat, imagine how Catherine and I must feel seeing the proposal. It feels like just yesterday I was the one on one knee proposing in Thailand.
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette always starts the season with a former bachelor (like me) giving advice to the current bachelor or bachelorette, things like what to expect on the first night, how to handle rose ceremonies, and all the other cliché stuff that’s covered every year. (Okay, so my advice didn’t do much for Juan Pablo.)
Truthfully, the advice should come at the end of the season. You see, what Andi and Josh don’t know is that they are just now embarking on the hard part. Nobody told Catherine and me that our toughest challenge would come after we rode those elephants off into the sunset. Falling in love while globetrotting the world was the easy part. Learning how to love someone you’ve spent a collective 20 hours with is the really hard part.
So if I had the chance to give Andi and Josh some advice after the fact? I think I’d tell them that the post-show/pre-marriage time frame will be one of the most challenging. But mainly, I’d tell them not to elevate the other to the level of “soul mate.” It sets everyone up for unrealistic expectations and emphasizes the romance over the hard work of building a relationship.
Yes, it’s definitely taken work for Catherine and me (Don’t tell me you’re surprised it took work to get this Texas former football player on the same page as the Seattle vegan graphic designer!)
I wonder what the researchers who conducted the “soul mate” versus “partners on a journey” study would do with The Bachelor? On one hand, I’m not sure if it’s possible to meet and get engaged on the show without overly romanticizing each other. On the other, have you ever heard people use the word “journey” more to describe a relationship?
Either way, Catherine and I are so excited for Andi and Josh, and hope this time without the lights and cameras will bring them ever closer to the time when the minister pronounces them — not “soul mates” – but “husband” and “wife.”
Congratulations, Andi and Josh!