I was asked an intriguing question in a counseling session recently.
“Don’t people often change after they get married?”
I thought about it for a bit before answering. It’s a complex question because the answer is both yes and no.
I say no, because there are core personality characteristics that don’t change much such as extroversion/introversion, our preferences for certain things, cerebral verses athletic pursuits, etc. It is possible to shift some of these things in time, but generally we are “bent” in a particular way.
I say yes, because some change is inevitable – and even desirable when it means growth in the direction of maturity. I do not want to remain the same and I don’t want my partner be static, either. Life and age brings us all kinds of situations where we must learn to adapt. But I am wondering if the real question that was being asked was:
“Are couples often not completely honest with each other before they get married?”
An anxious question to be sure, but a good one. My answer would be:
“If they are smart, they will be as rigorously honest as they possibly can.”
I think it is critical that couples not only share the complete history of their lives, but their fears, anxieties, frustrations, hopes, dreams, struggles and ambitions. If there are hidden addictions or instances of past physical or sexual abuse it must be discussed. They need to know what to expect from each other if they decide to tie their lives together.
If there are things you are afraid to discuss, then you really need to discuss them or ask yourself why you are so hesitant. Is there a lack of trust? Do you feel if you share this information or expectation you will be rejected? Do you really think it will get better or easier after you have taken your vows?
There are other forms of dishonesty as well. I have seen an instance where a guy had quit his job soon after being married, hoping to be taken care of by his new wife while he “finds himself” or “pursues his dream”. Unfortunately he didn’t inform his wife of his plan.
There have also been women who maintain their weight right up to the wedding and then as soon as the ring is on their finger they figure the job is done and the pounds start coming. And the poor guy doesn’t know what to do or say.
Save yourself some pain. Talk about this stuff before you get engaged. Be as honest as you possibly can.