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Consider this horror shot a before picture. Mr. Perfect and I at the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.

The one thing that is odd to me about doing premarital counseling before being engaged is the idea that I am preparing for something that may never happen. It’s really weird to me because I have a strict line for things pre-engagement/marriage and post-engagement/marriage that I don’t like to cross or blur. There are just some concessions I am not willing to make for a boyfriend and certain privileges not available to any less than a husband. Meanwhile, one of our more recent sessions was about how two become one, a session in which I was called upon to do something on the other side of the line.

We finally had the session where we talked about our lists about a week ago. The point of this exercise, I concluded, was to see how we could compromise and work towards making each other happy. In order to share this story appropriately, I have to tell which undesirable we discussed and the ensuing miscommunication disaster that followed, both of which are very personal. So, bear with me.

In our session, we talked about one of the undesirables that I wrote down for Mr. Perfect. I’ve been trying to think of a word that better fits what I meant, but I have to admit I’m a bit stuck on a poor substitute. The word I wrote down was “vain.” Mr. Perfect is not vain in an absolute since. What I meant was that he is very concerned with looks, both his and his future wife’s. I find this to be an undesirable because it can often feel like a requirement, sort of a “you have to be this fine to enter this marriage,” if you will. At least that’s how I saw it. While talking to Brother Drummer, Mr. Perfect was asked why this was important to him, and I was asked to voice my opinions on it as well. In an effort to sum things up, he felt that it was important for him to have a wife he was attracted to both because of health reasons and as an aid to helping him stay faithful. Basically, he wants a wife he can lust after instead of lusting after random women. All men want a woman that other men would want, someone they can be proud to show off; I get that. What I wanted was for it not to be a requirement. I wanted acceptance and unconditional love. Brother Drummer did a great job of showing how taking either one of our views to the extreme or to the exclusion of the other would be a mistake and gave us a challenge. He asked us to take on the other’s view, really embrace it and work towards trying to make the other happy.

My issue with this (because you knew there had to be one) is that I have been a slave to how other people have wanted me to look, and it has taken me a long time to be happy with myself. I had no intention of changing how I look to please anyone but a husband. I mean, at that point, my body is his and vice versa. I didn’t want anyone who hadn’t made a commitment before God and aforementioned opinionated relatives to love me as I am having any say so in my looks. I didn’t want to change all this about how I look only to be single again next week. No. But after reflection, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if I could look the part, a dress rehearsal, so to speak. So I decided to embrace this exercise a little bit.

I got up early and went walking for some exercise. This wasn’t too hard the first two days, but a front and change in the weather meant the last few mornings I’ve been walking/jogging in 40 degree weather at 7:30 in the morning. Then I took another step and actually shaved some things I haven’t shaved in years. That’s right; I shaved my arms.

I never shave my arms, just my armpits. I don’t have a lot of hair on my arms. But I figured I would fine tune my look. I shaved my arms (which still feels weird), plucked stray hairs on my face (which is painful!), trimmed up hairs, perfumed and oiled down everything, and took time over my face. I felt great. Then I spoke to Mr. Perfect.

Mr. Perfect knows a few things about me as a result of a nearly five year courtship. One of those things is that I am a stickler for being on time. We hadn’t been on time the last few Sundays for church. Since I had taken my morning walk, shaved everything in creation, washed and oiled and powdered everything not nailed down, and took my time picking out an outfit, I knew we would be late again. I wasn’t going to sweat it this one time. But Mr. Perfect didn’t realize I’d decided that trying to live up to embracing his wish to have a PYT on his arm was worth being a little late. He thought that I would try to rush him now that we were running late and somehow make it all his fault. So, not only did he not notice all the pains I took getting ready, he was downright angry. I tried (really tried) to not say anything, to make it his fault, but after one too many comments I didn’t like, I had to tell him that I thought that me taking the time to look nice was what he said he wanted. *Cue half the day argument*

At the end of all of this, we learned a few things. We know each other, just not the way that we thought we did. We are always changing and the rules can get switched at any time. Secondly, neither one of us is a mind reader. I should have made it clear that I was going to try to embrace his way of thinking and make some changes (which was the first thing we were told to do, LOL), and he shouldn’t have assumed that I would blame him for being late. We were both looking for verbal and non-verbal cues to confirm what we already thought, which only made it worse. Third, it is impossible to figure out anything when you’re trying to defend your position instead of working to understand each other’s position. Once we were able to stop defending ourselves and listen to the other person, it was obvious that we weren’t even mad for the same reason. I was feeling vulnerable because I’d put myself out there and gotten snubbed, not made because we were going to be late; he was made because he thought I was mad that he was making us late when I’d taken a long time to get ready. We are getting better at communicating, but we still haven’t perfected it yet.

Through all of this, I have come to realize that while I still believe some things should be reserved for marriage and some privileges only given to husbands, there are some things it wouldn’t kill me to show and prove I’m willing to do. It’s hard for someone to take your word on everything and gamble on forever. It’s equally as hard to put yourself out there with no guarantees. I’ve no idea what the next couple of months holds, but either way no one can say I didn’t try.