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Clark Kent seemed like an average guy, working at the news desk of the Daily Planet newspaper. But his identity went much deeper than how he was known around the office. He had a secret identity as a super hero, saving lives and fighting evil. Most of us do not have the secret identity of Superman, but we all have secret identities that we are not quick to share with the public.

Especially when meeting new people and dating someone new, we tend to put our best foot forward. We try to be our best selves, maybe not quite showing our true self. But that's what dating and courtship is for. It's a chance to discover the secret identity of the person you are dating as well as to reveal your own secret identity. We want to be liked, so we put on an identity we think will be favored. Maybe we express an interest in classical music while secretly favoring country music and dancing the two-step. Maybe we like to hibernate on the weekend, consuming ice-cream and books, but while dating we set that identity aside for one more extroverted. Our secret identity may be partying more than we should with friends, but we pretend to have set that identity aside for this dating relationship. Part of that is good manners, but part is hiding who we really are for fear of not being loved as who we really are. Pretending may work for a time, but we generally revert back to those previously established habits.

We may be hiding our identity because it brings us shame, but hiding things in our intimate relationships can only cause more challenges. Relationships can survive challenges, but they cannot survive secrets because it undermines the trust in a relationship. Ephesians 4:25 says, "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." Sometimes our secret identities our just our own secret indulgences and sometimes they reveal a deeper sinfulness. Pornography may have become an addiction, or perhaps gambling or drinking has become more than an occasional entertainment. No matter what the secret identity, it needs to be revealed. Intimate relationships are the perfect environment for refining our rough edges. When we have someone who loves us enough to confront our bad behavior and persist with us to exchange our bad habits for more positive ones.

So how can we discover a secret identity?

  • Asking is a good start. In healthy relationships we share more as we establish trust with one another. Talk about what your dreams are for the future. Discuss the goals that you have for career and family. Compare what your ideal day looks like. Talk about what a perfect vacation or career might look like.
  • Set the tone of sharing honestly by sharing honestly about your own passions. If you are open about your own challenges and short-comings than you open the discussion for your significant other to share their own.
  • Spend time apart to see what is the natural posture when you are not together. In a non-judgmental way seek to learn more about the passions of the person with whom you are aligning yourself.
  • Talk with the people who have know your significant other best before your arrival on the scene. Pay attention to the themes of the stories that they tell. Does every story involve drinking? Work? Service?
  • Take time to get to know your significant other. It is better to spend a year getting to know your future spouse through various experiences than to rush into a relationship with someone who you are still getting to know.
  • Be willing to call it off. As you get to know one another, you might discover differences that are deeply concerning. Do not expect big changes in personality, but rather, realize you do each other no favors to ignore deep concerns that you cannot live with forever.

Relationships can overcome all manner of challenges, but they do not do well with secrets. Secrets undermine the trust that is necessary for intimate relationships to flourish. We all desire to have someone know us and love us unconditionally. Although God is the only one who ever truly loves us perfectly, a marriage relationship at its best reflects the love of heaven. This love begins as we choose to invest in getting to know one another.

 

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