‘The real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to’ – Tolkien on love

The Catholic English Teacher is one of my favourite blogs. Written by Roy Peachey, it not only discusses Catholic writing, but provides a thoughtful and deeply orthodox Catholic perspective on literature and literary history. I often turn to it when I’m finding it difficult to reconcile my shaky, newly-rediscovered faith with my interest in literature and culture.

Among the unexpected gems I discovered recently at Roy’s blog were these reflections by J.R.R.Tolkien on love and marriage. In a week when yet another person we know has left their (second) marriage to be with another partner, the author’s words offer a profoundly sane and deeply Catholic vision of lifelong commitment that will strike a chord with those who have been married for a while, however much they love their partners:

When the glamour wears off, or merely works a bit thin, they think they have made a mistake, and that the real soul-mate is still to find. The real soul-mate too often proves to be the next sexually attractive person that comes along. Someone whom they might indeed very profitably have married, if only -. Hence divorce, to provide the ‘if only’. And of course they are as a rule quite right: they did make a mistake. Only a very wise man at the end of his life could make a sound judgement concerning whom, amongst the total possible chances, he ought most profitably to have married! Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to.

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