There are many words and phrases I have come to despise or at least dislike to some degree. Some phrases though have a rather pleasant exterior but not always the best of consequences.
The phrase lately to have annoyed me is “Soul Mates.” This is rather a nicely romantic term and on the surface not much more than that. A term used by a lot of people, though it does tickle my metaphysical funny bone when atheists talk of soul mates. This is also a term used within Catholic circles and I am certainly not condemning those who use it.
What annoys me about the term is the thinking behind it. When taken as sort of a romantic idea it certainly has it’s appeal. It is just amazing that so many people find their soul mates within distance of where they work, go out, etc. Luckily for us our soul mates seems to be rarely on the other side of the world from us. It also seems to me to have a bit of Calvinistic tinge to it in predetermination of people who are to be soul mates. God outside of time who sees time as the eternal now sees who our spouses are to be, but we still have total free will as to that.
But what if you are married and are having difficulties and buy the idea of soul mates. Do you then go in searching for your soul mate since things haven’t worked out? Or go through a string of marriages in pursuit of that soul mate? We already have a culture of when things get difficult, try and try again – but with somebody else of course. Or what if your soul mate dies? Can you have multiple soul mates?
Maybe what annoys me most is that love is an act of the will not some predestined bonding. There are certainly issues concerning compatibility and other points, But even romantic love is an act of the will, an act of the will that must be repeated. Nobody really falls out of love, they have fallen in their will to love. For those with a vocation to marriage who they marry will be determined by multiple factors including accidental ones along with things like personality, etc.
On the other hand at least soul mate includes an understanding beyond just materialism that we indeed do have a soul. The term also signals the exclusivity of the natural law understanding of marriage. The term as a romantic idea and not metaphysical one is probably harmless – but thinking the idea through just annoys me. Maybe also the idea of soul mates annoys me since after my grandfather died my grandmother later remarried to another good man. Her second husband was one of her high school boyfriends and she often joked about getting to marry both of her high school sweethearts. Wow two soul mates in one high school class. Again though, I am probably overacting and people just use the term in the romantic sense – but as a blogger I am duty-bound to write out my annoyances. Just part of the contract.
I have to agree with you, here. Another term I hate is when wives call their husbands their”other half” or vice versa. It’s like they’re telling me that they aren’t complete without this other person.
Soulmates is problematic. Other half… not so much. That seems to work with the notion of 2 becomming one flesh. I detest the term “significant other”.
God does have a plan for us, including the people we’re with. This shouldn’t preclude your grandmother or whomever from remarrying for the right reasons. You’re off base today. Really!
Soulmate is not a non-Catholic term. Diane does have it right… it’s problematic and usually when people use it it means “other half”… whether they mean it to be that they were incomplete before their marriage or not, we are never truly complete until reaching Heaven and having that full unity.
There is a lot of good Catholic orthodox theological material out there about how the Sacrament of Marriage does indeed mirror the Church and Christ. Don’t belittle here on your forum because you don’t like a term that can be abused.
How does God not have a plan… because we have free will? He still works with that and makes some beautiful things out of our broken responses to His love.
Also, I think you threw in the “predestination” tag a little to early…. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12378a.htm
Looking at what a marriage is — two in one flesh, “let no man put asunder” — what exactly is the problem with using the phrase, “other half?” This is innocent and contains far less error than the predestination inherent in “soul mates.”
Don’t be so annoyed with me and myself Jeff cause I was just kidding when I called The Anchoress my soul mate.
Hey my wife and I are going out for supper in celebration of our 41st Wedding Anniversary. I sure hope that our other spiritual half cells won’t get too jealous if you know what I mean? 🙂
Spot on Jeff. If there were a soul mate then the possibilities become bleak:
1. you don’t unite with your soul mate (misery plus failure to follow God’s plan for your life)
2. you do unite with your soul mate but one or both of you were already married (adultery)
3. you unite with your soul mate and were both free marry (a happy possibility but one simply isnt justified in believing this for all people).
So for the people who don’t fall into category 3, the only options are misery and/or adultery.
That being said, perhaps the phrase “soul mates” comes as a disordered response to the real problem that people have become replaceable and expendable commodities and they legitimately yearn for more.
“Maybe what annoys me most is that love is an act of the will not some predestined bonding.”
I am curious to understand how you are using the word “predestined.” If you mean in terms of a negation of free will, I’m on board with you. However, God has a plan for each one of us, specific to each one of us. Mary and Joseph were created first for God, which included being created to be husband and wife and the parents of Jesus. It wouldn’t have been ok for Mary to marry just any nice Jewish boy.
There are certainly “multiple factors” that are part of being attracted to someone, but to not see that hand of God in even “accidental ones” is a shame. There are no accidents with God. When two people have a vocation to be husband and wife, it’s not because they just happen to get along with each other. They are created for each other, truly. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, but rather that they are each other’s path to perfection. Likewise, it matters which order a young man or woman joins. It wasn’t accidental that St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican or that St. Francis founded the Franciscans.
I agree it is difficult to understand some marriages and (remarriages). In my family, one of my grandmothers never remarried after being widowed early on, whereas my other grandmother did remarry. Was one more right than the other? Was the second grandmother’s first husband the “wrong one”? I don’t have those answers, but those questions don’t negate God’s providence.
Burnt Marshwiggle, in his first bleak possibility, recognizes that God has a plan for one’s life. To me, that is something very hopeful, not bleak. Yes, one can and will make mistakes and not always act in accordance to God’s will. Certainly, when it comes to your vocation, you should discern with earnest. I believe that there are folks who have made the wrong choice when it came to their vocation, whether as a religious or married. We can’t just throw up our hands, though, and think it better that there be neither wrong nor right.
Somewhere a couple years ago while attending a lecture, the subject of the term soul mate was touched upon. We were told that the term soul mate was used in the ancient past in reference to a spiritual bond, similar to teacher/student or spiritual director/directee, or spouses, in which the other had the spiritual good for the other in mind. The spiritual good was for the other to be united to Christ. God does send individuals to assist us. Sometimes we are to blind to see it and blow past the individual, other times we know and stay around to listen and grow spiritually. Unfortunately, the term soulmate, like so many other terms, has been redefined by new age ideologies etc. It would be nice to see the true understanding return. Perhaps the next time someone states that they just found their “soulmate” with dreaming romantic eys, maybe we should respond: “This is great news! Do share with me how he/she has helped you to get closer to God?” What an evangelization opener ….
I really think it depends upon the definition people have of ‘soul mate’ or rather the manner in which they use the term (as they may not have an actual definition). For some (who are using it about their spouse), it might just be a lose way of expressing an appreciation that they have found someone compatible in a number of different ways, with whom they can share deeply in some way shape or form. For others, it might express that they are to some extent looking for someone like that, who can be their best friend as well as all the other things that go together with being a spouse. Of course, also in this sense it can express a bar which is simply to high, but in another sense it is a good thing to be looking for these qualities, someone with whom one is comfortable in a way that matters to whatever person is using the term (for some it might just be able to sit in silence with the person; for others it might signify being able to discuss intellectual ideas as well).
In the destiny kind of sense, i.e. there is one person out there for me and if I do not find that person my life is cannot be complete, I agree that it can be an outright dangerous idea. Yes, God does probably have the spouse as well as the vocation in mind (and it will be someone with whom we actually can meet) for those who are supposed to marry and the best congregation in mind for those who are called to religious life. However, an overly strong fixation on this can lead to paralysis and constant doubts. Besides, God may not have someone in mind for us that will correspond to what we would call a soul mate. He might have someone in mind whom we are supposed to help to Heaven but who does not at all correspond to that perfectly compatible person we would like as a spouse. In either way, one must do one’s best to discern the will of God and then when the choice is made, stick to it and not worry. Even if we have got our vocation wrong altogether and are past the point of redressing the error, God works all things to the good of those who love Him. If we have married and married ‘the wrong person’ (either in our mind or in an absolute sense, which we will probably not know anyway in this lifetime), our vocation from that present point in time is surely to help bring that person to heaven, to be open to life and help get our children to heaven.
As for ‘the other half’, I think it is a perfectly good way of expressing the reality that two have become one.