Over the summer, I have had a lot of time to reflect on what is so important about marriage. You see, on June 26th, my husband and I parted ways for one month. He went to Indiana for work and I went to Alberta, Canada to spend the summer with my parents. On a calendar, one month just looks like four weeks, but in real life, it feels like forever.
At first I was really angry when he left early in the morning on June 16th to catch a plane. I mean, how could he leave me without returning for just one more hug and kiss? As time passed, I found it easier to just immerse myself into the daily routine of summer sun and fun than to worry about missing my husband.
And then, one day, with one week left to go, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I wasn’t angry at my husband for leaving and it wasn’t easier to just forget about him. I needed him. I needed to be needed. So that got me thinking about relationships and soul mates and stuff. What is so darn important about a man and woman sharing their life together that we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, value it so highly?
Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.
(The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
Is marriage so important because we were put on this earth to find our soul-mate?
THE PHILOSOPHY OF MEN
And what exactly is a soul-mate? That is a phrase that has often been associated with marriage and relationships. Often it refers to the one person we were put on earth to find. So, in order to fully understand this phrase, I did what I usually do when I want to find something out, I did a little research.
And the results were slightly disheartening. Five out of five articles that I read relating to soul-mates discussed how a soul-mate was someone that:
- arrived when you were ready for them
- was sent to challenge you
- was there to awaken you so your soul could evolve
- someone who makes you feel complete
- bound by destiny to find them
- if it doesn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be
While all of these things sound really nice at first blush, thinking about them a little bit further starts me to wondering: If this person is able to do all of these things for me, they must be pretty much perfect. Why would a perfect person want me? Shouldn’t I be the one challenging myself and awakening my own soul? If I can’t make myself feel complete and whole, how is someone else supposed to do that for me? What if I missed my soul-mate because I chose to ride my bike to work instead of take the bus?
Just because this relationship has hit a rough patch and doesn’t seem to be working right now, that should be a reason to throw it out and start again? It wasn’t meant to be?!
One article I read stated that if you haven’t found your soul mate yet, you shouldn’t settle. Keep looking because some relationships are just a phase and aren’t the real thing. I clicked out of that article feeling a little empty inside. Was it really that easy to throw a relationship aside? Is that what the world thinks of relationships these days? You are not my soul mate so therefore we are through.
Ideally, yes, every husband and wife would be perfectly attuned to be each other’s soul mate. But that is not the case. None of us are perfect, and therefore, we are all in need of compassion and comfort as we try to figure out who we are.
WHAT AM I MISSING?!
And it was that thought that stuck with me. Being away from my husband for a month was not that difficult. It was exhausting being in charge of my kids 24 hours a day without a break, but it was doable. My life continued on just as it did in normal husband-at-home circumstances.
What I was really missing was someone who was my SOLE mate.
I began to pay more attention to my kids. It was me they came to when they were scared. Me who kissed their scraped knees and bruised elbows. Me who they wanted to snuggle with them at night, or read to them from a never-ending list of stories.
Their one mom. Their SOLE mother.
The one person they can count on for anything, anytime, anywhere.
That is what I was missing. My sole mate. The one person who lives for me.
Sure, I enjoyed being with my mom and dad. We have a lot of fun together, and I feel like I can tell them just about anything. But, while they have watched me grow from a child to an adult, they haven’t struggled side by side with me the way my husband has. Yes, they would never give up on me, but they are my parents—they are kind of stuck with me.
My husband however, chose me out of a bajillion other girls. And he promised me that he would never give up on me for the rest of our lives. And even though, if those articles I read this afternoon are any indication, society thinks that relationships can be defined as a phase that we go through at various stages of life, he doesn’t think that.
THE BIG REVEAL
Finding out that I really needed my husband was great. It was like looking at something old anew and seeing it for the treasure it really is. But I still had some more questions rolling around in my head.
Why has my husband become my sole-mate?
We have had our fair share of arguments. We have many times agreed to disagree and then argued about what to disagree on. We have both felt like the other person just didn’t understand us.
So, I went back to the original soul-mates idea. There were two things that did stick out to me.
1. A soul-mate was someone who made your soul evolve.
2. A soul-mate was someone who would challenge you.
And those things turned my mind again to an article previously quoted, and one I hold dear,The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Published in 1995, this document outlines the reason for marriage and families, the roles of husbands, wives, and children, and the importance of safe-guarding this basic social unit. One of my favorite lines outlines how marriages and families can become strong:
Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
My husband and I have worked hard to put these actions into play:
- Studying and living Christ’s example
- We have faith in each other and in the Lord’s guidance and will
- We pray together as a family, as a couple, and alone
- We have repented, and repented, and repented some more
- We work on forgiveness and respect for one another
- We love and have compassion towards one another
- We work together and play together
As we have individually put our souls into moving our relationship from point A to point B, and then to point C, D, and E, we have become solely responsible to one another. The effort we are making for one another is not simply a phase of life, or something that will last just because we had to settle.
It is a two and half hour drive from my parents home to the airport, with a border crossing from Canada into the United States to boot. It is a drive I have made a million times. Last Sunday, it seemed like forever. Here I was, only hours left of the long month alone, and I could hardly go the speed limit.
For the first time in my life I knew just how important my husband was to me. He wasn’t important because he was handsome, smart, and funny. He wasn’t important because he helped me with the kids when I was at my wits end. Oh sure, those things are important, and I know that. But this time I knew, like I had never known before, that the man I was driving towards was my sole mate. And I was his. Because we had put our souls into making our marriage work through every phase we have come to so far.
And we did it—and continue to do it– solely for each other.
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.