A friend’s comments recently reminded me of one my favorite articles, SEEING BEYOND THE WEDDING. Even though the article targets engaged couples and newly weds, much of what is said applies to every married couple, especially these paragraphs:

We live in an age of “soul-mate marriages”—where love is frequently portrayed as a matching with one’s “other half” and marriage is seen as an easy pathway to personal happiness. In a recent national survey of single young adults, 94 percent agreed with the statement “When you marry, you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost,” and 88 percent agreed that “there is a special person, a soul mate, waiting for you somewhere out there.”

Soul-mate marriage may work for Hollywood films, but most married couples in the real world know that, while marriage is definitely worthwhile, it is not like relationships portrayed in popular culture. They will admit that maintaining their marriage requires work, patience, personal growth, compromise, commitment, and sacrifice.

President Spencer W. Kimball warned young people of the soul-mate culture of our day: “‘Soul-mates’ are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”

Does believing in soul-mate marriage really do any harm? The evidence indicates that it does and that the trouble lies in unrealistic expectations. When marriage is expected to be a trouble-free relationship, many couples are left grasping for answers when they have their first major disagreement or when a spouse’s lack of responsiveness leaves one partner feeling hurt and alone.

The romantic notions of soul-mate marriage offer couples very little direction on ways to improve, restore, and maintain a marriage in the real world. Unrealistic expectations can lead disillusioned partners to believe that their problems result from a “faulty match” and, therefore, that the solution is to “unmatch” and “rematch” with their “real” soul mate.

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that sustained love in marriage is not primarily about matching or finding; rather, it is about becoming and choosing. This perspective fosters the realistic expectation that marital companionship must be nurtured, repaired, and chosen daily as spouses bind themselves together with their love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

I especially like the last sentence that states that we must choose our spouses daily.

Here’s the full article: http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=1348.