It makes sense. We’ve all been told to be on our best behavior in public. You know that old axiom: You only have once chance to make a good first impression. In fact, it was your ability to do just that that made it possible for you to attract your partner! After all, who would give any of us a second thought if we showed our dark side — our vulnerabilities, our whole selves — during those first few encounters?
Dating is fun! It’s the time when we go into “sales mode” and reap the benefits of having others actually see us as we would like to be seen. Too bad it can’t stay that way, right?
Wrong. (But you knew I was going to say that.) Research shows that it’s not how well we hold it together, but how we handle life’s difficulties — especially conflict — that’s a the better predictor of relationship success.
Women may be more guilty when it comes to keeping up appearances. After all, she probably spent a lot of time dreaming about her perfect man — the perfect relationship. And a lot of time working on her appearance whenever she knew he was going to be around. Why would she want to risk messing up all that work? So she tiptoes around the issues, and gets frustrated when her partner fails to maintain the facade after the honeymoon.
He’s not totally at fault, though. He just had a different idea: Win her over. He also ignored the issues and charmed her. She told him how great he is and made him feel like a Prince. At last! One person who will love him always and forever — just as he is! That ring she’s so proud of is his message that she’s locked in for life — for better or worse — so he can relax at last! The problem is that he didn’t let her know who he is until after the wedding!
So who’s at fault in this bait-and-switch scenario? Both of them are. (But you knew I was going to say that, too.) The truth is, they’ve both been tiptoeing through the tulips with good motivation: They didn’t want to risk losing each other!
Nobody I know would ever think of letting the cat out of the bag before the wedding. But good premarital counseling will actually help you risk letting your partner know who you really are — with grace, understanding, and style. You won’t have solved everything, and you still may not have decided who’s going to do the dishes and who’s going to take out the trash. But you should come away from premarital counseling feeling better than ever about your relationship.
So before you sign up for premarital counseling, be sure to ask about the counselor’s approach. You want someone who can help you establish a firm foundation for your relationship. Remember, the counselor won’t be there to help you say the “right” things in the middle of an argument. However, he or she should be able to help you explore your relationship dynamics and create a safe place where you can give and receive the grace and understanding you’ll need to create the lasting, satisfying relationship you both want.