How premarital counseling and therapy can help us accept ambiguity in our romantic relationships

In the early stages of a relationship, we often idealize or overlook all of the negative qualities in our partner. Or, we may see one small flaw, get scared and run away from the relationship. It is easy and common to describe somebody else simply as a good person or a bad person. However, that often is an incomplete and unhelpful way of describing someone, especially someone who is close to us. In reality, everyone is a mix of good and bad qualities. No one is completely perfect and without any flaws. Premarital counseling can help couples learn how to accept imperfection in our partners and ambiguity in our romantic relationships.

This ambiguity and imperfection in relationships can make relationships challenging because we expect others, especially those close to us, to be perfect or damn close to perfect. However, if they fall short of perfection, then we begin to question if they are a “good” person and worthy of our time, love, respect, and relationship. Or, we become afraid that if that person falls short of perfect, then they might hurt us in the future and we may subconsciously or consciously cut that person out of our life. This type of black or white and good vs bad thinking can prevent us from fully enjoying the depth of relationships.

Becoming aware of other people’s flaws can become a difficult process because we are left with 3 challenging options. The person’s flaw may be so great that it is not safe or healthy for us to be around and we actually are better off distancing our self from the person or ending a relationship. We only have so much emotional energy available that some people’s flaws may use up all of our energy or be unsafe to be around.

The second option is not easy to, but can be effective. We can confront the person about their flaw in a kind, direct, and assertive manner in hopes that they change. This can be effective at times because at the very least we are expressing how we feel and increasing the likelihood of change. However, this option is not a magic pill because sometimes people simply can not or will not change their flaws even if we confront them about them.

The third option is to simply accept that the other person is not perfect, but still worth having in our life. We can accept and acknowledge the other person’s less than perfect qualities, while understanding that their good qualities outweigh their bad qualities. I have tried this approach with a friend who routinely shows up late. It bothers me that he shows up late nearly all of the time and I have talked to him about it, but he still continues to show up late. Still, his other good qualities far outweigh the fact that he shows up late. So, I just accept him showing up late as simply a less than perfect quality in him and enjoy our friendship.

In reality most people have a mix of both good and bad qualities. The process of accepting imperfection and ambiguity in relationships may become easier if we accept that we are not perfect either. Part of being human is to make mistakes or have certain characteristics that are not perfect. Oftentimes, we expect others to give us the benefit of the doubt and overlook our imperfections or mistakes, but we have trouble doing the same for other people.

If you are in a close relationship with someone you love, and that relationship is worthwhile to maintain, then try to accept the other person’s flaws and imperfections, while still appreciating their good qualities, and the value and love that the relationship gives you. At times this may be a difficult process because of our insecurities, stressful external circumstances, or problematic communication patterns. If you need extra support accepting ambiguity and imperfection in your romantic relationship prior to marriage, then premarital counseling may help. For more information on premarital counseling, you can visit