The subtitle I chose was this: “it’s not that hard.” But I misled so I changed it. It’s not that hard once you’ve fully invested yourself in the process but it’s really hard to get going. Let me explain.

In an earlier post we looked at the masks we wear. Couples who wish to take their marriage from marginal to magnificent will need to a) raise their awareness about the masks they walk around with every day all day. Of course some of this is necessary social process but we’re not so concerned with that. The masks I’m speaking of lean more towards pretense, posturing and platitudinal speaking. They are the masks designed to protect you from real and genuine feedback.

In the classic film, the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is furious when, finally arriving after enduring amazing adventures, her dog Toto knocks down the screen shielding the ‘wonderful wizard of Oz’ from his subjects. Fraud! Liar! Deceitful man! is all she can think. But the wizard calms Dorothy and her heroes down - “I’m just a guy trying to do a job, I never intended to hurt anyone.”

Masks weren’t created by us malignantly. They were created to protect us from toxic feedback, micro managing by parents and teachers, shaming by peers. They were also created to protect us from the acclaim our particular genius might warrant. If this surprises you think of all the times you’ve been falsely humble in the face of praise, congratulations or real accomplishment.

Masks keep you in a comfort zone. That zone may not be the zone of the fully actualized person you are or want to be but it may help you avoid exposure and minimize challenge to your real beliefs and values. Marriage doesn’t do well with masks.

This morning we had to put our beloved Ben, our dog/person for 15 years, to sleep. We tried to be valiant and sober about it but once we were home the tears flowed. I am aware of how little of that I show and how much it means to both of us to touch each other at a deep level of vulnerability.

Take a look at the masks you have created that may serve a purpose as you stand in line at the coffee shop but only serve to keep distance in your relationship. Removing one or two around each other can change your day.

Author's Bio: 

Stephen Frueh is a marriage coach, leadership coach, speaker and writer. His latest book, to be released summer 2009, is: From Marginal to Magnificent. How to make your Marriage Sing. He is the father of many children and grateful for each of them. He is married to psychotherapist Dr. Lynn Comley PsyD.