Sheila did not date for more than a year. Then she began to go out with some men from the office. She expanded this to men friends recommended. This intensive dating went on for more than three years. At first, Sheila didn’t want to remarry, and she gave off that vibe. However, as time passed, she became more and more frustrated. She decided she needed to find her soul mate. When asked what such a man would be like, she answered by saying, “He will know me better than I know myself.” We heard nothing more from her until a friend said she met a man and got engaged.

Later, Sheila said Phil was the man she had been searching for. She knew he was “the one” when he opened the car door for her. He wasn’t like the others she had dated. She and Phil immediately hit it off when he told her he was looking for his soul mate. That triggered a discussion for hours. They were of one accord. Sheila did marry Phil, almost immediately. Problems began early because Phil was about to be laid off at work, something he failed to mention during courtship. This put an immediate strain on the marriage. Phil had to sell his home, and they had to move into a small apartment. The pressures eventually forced Sheila to realize that Phil was not her “soul mate,” and she filed for divorce.

Sheila let herself become a victim of the “soul mate mentality.” After intensively dating men with her attitude of “I’m not interested,” she suddenly got desperate and devised a simple formula for deciding when to get married. They would both be of one accord—meaning he would be looking for a soul mate, too. Phil fit the bill, and his gentlemanly courtship behavior was icing on the cake. No need to dig any further in learning more about him or determining if they were compatible in various areas. Being in tune with each other was enough.

We’re Just Alike

Andy and Joyce had led a hard life until they met. Andy married a girl in high school, divorced before 19, and dropped out of college at 20. He had one job after another. He never could earn enough money to even afford to take someone out on a date. He moved back home to live with his mother. This made things worse because his self-esteem dropped even further. His older sister and brother were both successful professionals, which was salt in his wound. From early childhood, Andy’s mother acted as if she thought Andy was a loser. He’d had poor grades in high school, a failed marriage, a failed college career, and a failing business career all before the age of 25. The more he failed at something, the more his mother reinforced that he was a loser. He acted out her script of a person who could do nothing right. It was a vicious cycle of negative feedback and failure.

Andy met Joyce when a mutual friend suggested they would have a lot in common. Sure enough, the friend was correct. Joyce had grown up in the same town, yet she and Andy had never met. When they began comparing notes, they found tremendous similarities. Joyce’s mother was a very controlling woman who judged Joyce and always found her lacking. No matter what Joyce did or accomplished, it was never good enough for her mother. As a result, Joyce had developed an overeating problem in her teen years. Whenever she tried to lose weight, some conflict would develop with her mother and cause a setback. Even when Joyce went away to college, her “failure in her head” mentality kept her from achieving what she knew she was capable of. Joyce had even tried marriage. In her sophomore year, she married a graduate student who left her after seven months. She attributed the marriage debacle to her eating disorder. She always blamed herself for whatever went wrong.

Andy and Joyce saw in each other some amazing similarities that they interpreted as signs that they were meant for each other. Their relationship seemed to help them, too, because instead of dragging each other down, they were mutually supportive. For the first time, they began to feel good about themselves. There were some red flags, however. Occasionally, if Joyce became depressed, Andy couldn’t handle it. They even separated one time because of this. Another problem was that Joyce was Catholic and Andy was Jewish. Joyce’s mother was totally opposed to the couple marrying. Also, Joyce wanted children, and Andy wasn’t sure. He’d had so much trouble as a child, he didn’t know if he could be a good father.