I don’t believe in a one, true love.
Now, maybe that makes me a cynic. Or maybe it just makes me realistic.
But it seems like a lot of the big guys agree with me.
Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated, "While I am sure some young couples have some special guidance in getting together, I do not believe in predestined love."
And President Spencer W. Kimball explained that "'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."
This was the topic of Scott R. Braithwaite’s talk at BYU's Education Week in 2011. Yes, it’s perhaps an unromantic view of things, the assistant professor of psychology admitted. But in my view, that makes life a whole lot easier. Talk about relieving the pressure! Now, instead of having to find the one, I only have to find a one.
People who are focused on the idea of a soul mate may end up with “a lot of really stupid behavior,” Braithwaite explained. “You might turn down a bunch of people when you could have had a really fantastic life.”
God will not tell us whom we should marry, Braithwaite taught. This most important decision of our lives is left up to us. We can choose, and ask Him if he supports our decision, but we will not receive commands.
That makes things easier, in my opinion. If I want to marry someone (or at this point in my life, date someone), and I like him and feel good about it, I can move forward with confidence. I don’t need to worry that by dating him, I will miss out on the one that is truly meant for me.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can have a fantastic life with everybody. Just because you don’t have to wait for the one doesn’t mean you should settle for just anyone. President David O. McKay taught, "In choosing a companion, it is necessary to study . . . the one with whom you are contemplating making life's journey."
Factors such as money, life goals, mental health, differences in religion, pre-marital cohabitation, relationships with family, and basic personality should all be accounted for. Braithwaite concluded through his graduate work that studies can predict the likelihood of success or failure in a marriage with up to 94 percent accuracy based on many of these sorts of issues.
But no matter whom you pick to date or marry, there will still be troubled times. Braithwaite showed the thinking of many couples as such: “If things start to go wrong in my marriage, it is a sign I married the wrong person. You start to think, ‘I need to get out of my marriage.’”
Not so. If it’s up to us to choose whom we wish to marry, it’s also up to us to make it work. The one person with whom life will be eternal bliss with nary a conflict does not exist except in tween romance novels. Love can conquer all, but only with a healthy dose of compromise, humility, charity, service, and a whole lot more thrown in. Look back at President Kimball’s quote: “Almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”
No matter where you are in life, you can take this into account and apply it. If you’re married, realize that whatever problems you have don’t mean you can’t be happy, that you weren’t actually meant to be together and someone else would have made you happier. And if you’re single, remind yourself you don’t have to have fireworks exploding in the sky to give you confirmation this is the person you should date. If he (or she) makes you happy, go for it! That’s what I’m doing. :)