In the early 1840s Joseph Smith proposed to Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner. Elizabeth recorded “Joseph said I was his before I came here and he said all the Devils in hell should never get me from him.” Joseph further told her, “I was created for him
before the foundation of the Earth was laid.” (Todd Compton. In Sacred Loneliness pg 212 italics added) This may have been the
early beginnings of a pre-existence forming in Joseph Smith cosmology. His words were similar to some of his other wives. For instance in 1841 Joseph made it known to Zina Diantha Jacobs (Huntington Young) that the Lord, “had made it known to him that Zina was to be his wife.” (Ibid. pg 80 italics added)
Perhaps these and other 19th century marriages helped plant the idea in the Mormon psyche that people met and fell
in love in heaven, promising to marry once on earth, foreordained if you will.
I find the myth of the one and only problematic for a number of reasons, one which can be illustrated with a passage from the
patriarchal blessing of a now deceased person, given in Logan 1949.
While in the spirit world you met and loved one of the noble daughters of God. You vowed with her that when you came to earth she would be your mate, the mother of your children. I admonish you to seek the inspiration of the Lord in choosing your mate that you may not make a mistake in this all important matter.
The blessing continues with promises of wonderful things if he marries the right person. But what if she didn’t keep her end of the deal? Would he be doomed? What would happen to her if he failed to keep his end of their pre-existing pact?
It makes me wonder if this article (and President Monson) is right. Are men (and women) looking for their
one and only soul mate, paralyzed by fear that they will marry the wrong person?
I’m kind of fond of the words of Spencer W. Kimball:
“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.
I don’t believe in a one and only, never have. My husband doesn’t either. But sometimes I think it would be nice for him to think I was so special that he couldn’t have married anyone else. Sometimes I wonder if people aren’t only looking for their pre-destined soul mate, but really want to be that special too, rather than the random person chosen from several options. And I’ve seen a few divorces of friends who were so convinced they had married the wrong person, they ended it to be with the person they were convinced they made marital promises with in the pre-existence (or find that person). The truth is none of us are that special.