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SOUL MATE OR CELLMATE?

By: Bodé Adeboyejo 

Would you divorce your spouse because of incompatibility, to go find or meet your soul mate? Or would you try to find a common ground to relate with each other and make the marriage work?

A Christian counselor told the story of a woman who had asked if it was alright for her to divorce her husband of many years, so as to be free to meet her real intended husband – her soul mate.   

According to the Christian counselor, the woman had given incompatibility as her reason for wanting to divorce her husband.  She said the fact that she and her husband didn’t get along, and disagreed on almost every subject was an indication that she had married wrong, and as such not her soul mate. She believed that if her husband was the one intended for her they would not be fussing as much, and would have a lot more in common.  So, with the belief that her real husband, her soul mate, is out there somewhere, she wanted a divorce so she could meet and marry her soul mate some day. 

Who is a Soul mate?

Growing up, I remember hearing people say (whether jokingly or seriously) that a man is not complete until he finds a woman to fill that “void” in his ribcage (using Adam’s missing-rib story)!So, when a man is old enough to marry he’s often advised to find that special person who will fill that void; i.e., a person made specifically for that purpose.  Therefore, it’s not unusual to find people waiting all their lives searching for that proverbial missing rib or what some refer to as a soul mate. 

Many people use the word soul mate to refer to that special someone made specifically for them and them only, no one else.  That is, the special person, specifically molded for them by God; i.e., a compatible, easy-to-get-along-with person, with whom everything fits like a puzzle.   

Even Webster’s definition of soul mate is similar to this.  Webster defines a soul mate as “a person temperamentally suited for another.”  Another definition says, “One of two persons compatible with each other in disposition, point of view or sensitivity.”  

But going by these definitions, a soul mate could be ANYBODY you are compatible or get along with (in this instance, someone of the opposite sex you are interested in).  And not just one particular human being in the whole wide world.  Besides, being compatible with someone does not mean that you’ll agree on every issue, all the time.    

Before we dismiss the idea of a soul mate merely by what Webster says or what many people believe, I think we should turn to the Bible – the all-inclusive Manual for Christian living, particularly marriage.  After all, the idea of having a soul mate sounds biblical.  Especially regarding the creation story, and how God made Eve for Adam out one of Adam’s ribs.   

What Does the Bible Say?

As good as the word soul mate sounds, it is not biblical!  No where in the Bible will you find the word soul mate or the idea thereof; other than the unique scenario of Adam and Eve.  Not even in the Songs of Solomon!   

To say that there’s such a thing as a soul mate is to say that God created someone specifically for a person (See Does God Choose Mates?).  And should that be the case, how does one reconcile the fact that in the Old Testament many people had more than one wife?  So, who among the wives of Abraham will be his soul mate?  Sarah or Keturah?  Not mentioning Hagar because she was a circumstantial concubine.  Keturah, at least was legal, whom he married after Sarah died. 

How about the story in Matthew 22:23-30, about a woman who married 7 brothers because of the death of the first brother.   Who among the seven brothers will be her soul mate, the first husband?   

Even though some people who have remarried after a divorce will swear that their new spouse is their true soul mate, I still say that the Bible teaches no such thing.  Instead the Bible teaches more on the idea of a “cellmate” rather than a soul mate.  Cellmate?  Yeah, cellmate!  If you don’t believe me read 1 Corinthians 7.  Referring to marriage, Apostle Paul used the word “bound,” to describe marriage; which must explain why marriage is said to be an institution.  That is, a prison institution -- a life-sentence without parole!   

Marriage is not an institution of learning, where you graduate at some point or even change schools if you don’t like the professors, curricula or rules.  In a prison institution, you don’t make the rules, the rules are predetermined.  Whether you like the warden, the food, rules and conditions or not you have no choice but to keep the rules!  But what some married people want to do is find ways to jail break when they find the conditions or rules uncomfortable. 

I believe that one of the reasons the divorce rate is so high today is because many people are getting married with a soul mate mindset, even though it’s not biblical.  And as such expect a smooth-sailing marriage, with little or no effort to make it successful.  And when the marriage fails to meet their envisaged expectations, they assume that they must have married wrong.  What these people fail to realize is that for any marriage to succeed (even between the most compatible people in the world), it requires WORK!  That is, work on the part of both parties. 

Also marriages fail because many people don’t see marriage as a prison with a life sentence without the possibility of a parole.  If they do, there will be less divorce or at least less people entering in ill-advisedly.  If most married couples consider their spouses as cellmates rather than soul mates, perhaps it will help them to understand that they have a role to play in order to have a successful marriage.  And as such would find out about the rules of the institution, and learn the personality of their cellmates so as to live peaceably in the institution.   

Married couples need to realize that their comfort, or lack thereof, is dependent on how well they keep the rules; as stipulated by the rule Book – the Bible.  For instance, the Bible is replete with passages that teach us how to live within the confines of the institution.  Apostle Paul, having urged Christians to submit to one another in the fear of the God, said, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.   

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  Ephesians 5:21-28 

Also, Apostle Peter urgesHusbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.  1 Peter 3:7.  To dwell with a person with understanding, you’ve got to learn the person, and then apply the knowledge in relating with the person.  

Married couples need to understand also that their comfort or lack thereof, is dependent on the comfort of their mates.  There’s a Nigerian proverb that says that, “The comfort of the tree is the comfort of the bird.”  That is, if the tree is unstable or sways back and forth, the bird on it definitely can’t be comfortable either. 

So, even if it there’s such a thing as a soul mate, or if one finds the right person, it takes a cellmate mentality to keep a soul mate.  A cellmate mentality says “we are in this thing together.  And I either have to learn to live with you according to knowledge, or we’ll both be miserable in this institution!”   

Therefore, rather than people spending their entire lives looking for a soul mate, or even worse seeking a divorce to go find a soul mate, they ought to be looking for a cellmate; while they learn how to be good cellmates themselves.    

After all, it takes a cellmate to be a soul mate!