Editor's note: In September 2010 we were stunned and saddened by the loss of David Beasley, who died in an automobile accident. David was the husband of Sabrina Beasley, who worked as a writer and editor at FamilyLife for several years. David was committed to Christ and to being a man of God. He and Sabrina enjoyed seven years of marriage and have two young children.
Three years before his death, David wrote an e-mail about his concern over the cultural idea of finding a "soul mate" to marry. Following are David's words, used with Sabrina's permission. We run this to honor a man who, as his obituary said, "enjoyed life to the fullest, died without regrets, and longed to spread the message of Christ to the world."
I don't believe that society's definition of "soul mate" is healthy or spiritual. It's great for the movies and Hallmark cards, but no one's marriage is like the romantic movies you've seen.
A good friend of ours is divorcing her husband because she bought into the lie that God wants us to "be happy" in marriage and that He would bless the idea that her happiness would be found when she was freed from her current spouse to find her one, true "soul mate." Like most other people, she has this fantastical, unreal notion that God brings together two lost hearts who experience true compatibility in all the deepest longings of their being. Most people think that your soul mate is someone with whom you never argue and spend endless days of hand-clinching romantic walks on the beach. No hardships, no struggles, just starry-eyed wonder for the next 80 years.
The truth is, a soul mate isn't someone you find, it's someone you intentionally and prayerfully become.
Anyone in a successful marriage can tell you that "success" in marriage doesn't come from finding that one person you were meant to be with. It only comes from giving up the selfish behavior that served you while you were single, and focusing on selflessly serving your spouse instead.
A happy marriage requires a completely different mindset than the 50/50 concept most couples enter into marriage with. The idea that "If I do my 50 percent and Sabrina does her 50 percent, we will have a happy marriage" is ridiculous. Sabrina and I are both imperfect people and we both make mistakes on a daily basis. One of us will always feel disgruntled, thinking that we are contributing more to the happiness of the relationship than the other.
The only way to have a happy marriage is if I take the selfish focus off of myself and put 100 percent of my energy into serving Sabrina and she does the same with me. If I am focused 100 percent on serving Sabrina, I don't even realize when my needs and desires aren't being met, because I'm not focused on my needs and desires, but hers.
Nowhere in the Bible does God say anything about soul mates. God gives us the simple details on how to have a great marriage: Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Wives, respect your husbands. Both of these are intentional acts of selfless sacrifice that will guarantee us to have a happy marriage.
Even better than that, God chose marriage to represent Christ's love for us. Even though we didn't deserve it, Christ loved us so much that He sacrificed Himself to die for us. Neither Sabrina nor I are perfect, but God has called us to live out the gospel every day by sacrificing for and loving each other, even though we don't deserve it.
The fact is, if Sabrina showed her love for me only when I did something to deserve it, I would be in big trouble. But Sabrina and I are very much in love. We have a great marriage. But nobody sees us 24/7/365. They only see our public face, not the thousands of times I've thrown a selfish temper tantrum because I didn't feel like her world was revolving around me enough.
Sabrina and I have a very real marriage. We disagree, we argue, and we get frustrated with each other. But even in those times, we work even harder at treating each other with love and respect.
Despite what eHarmony would have you to believe, we are not compatible in every way. There are many times when we have to make changes and personal sacrifices for each other. We're in love and are soul mates because we work at it.
Most people don't like the idea of having to work for a soul mate. But you will never speak with a happily married couple that will tell you that they haven't had to work hard for the happiness they have together.
© Copyright 2010 by Sabrina Beasley. All rights reserved.