Dear Carolyn:

I am 23 and getting married in the next six months. I have a lovely bride-to-be and am the happiest I have ever been in my life. We were high school sweethearts and are both very excited. Having said that, my scenario is: "Jane" is very hot-tempered (she claims to get it from her father) and gets agitated very easily. She often uses vulgar language in spurts of anger. I am very relaxed and docile. She claims I "do not care" enough to get angry, and that I do not show any emotion when something has made her mad. To say I do not care about whatever angers her could not be further from the truth. Also, when she is angered by something I do (which is quite often and mostly my fault), she acts the same way. In my view, being confrontational will only hinder the resolution. Is it possible to show her I care but not get angry in her manner?

Relaxed Groom-to-Be in Omaha

So, you're the happiest man alive except for the fact that your fiancee is enraged on a regular basis and blames you for it.

The my-life-is-perfect-except-that-I'm-miserable plea -- I have a special place in my heart for this breed of letter. And some special dents in my forehead.

Maybe "miserable" is an overstatement for you now, and I hope it is, but I have zero faith it'll stay that way. Obviously, two different temperaments can meet and fall in love and live yin-yangedly ever after. But the secret to their (and any other couple's) longevity is their fundamental pleasure in, grasp of and respect for each other.


From what you say, she doesn't understand or appreciate you as you are -- so how long will she feel love for someone she doesn't entirely like? The odds get uglier when you throw in that she's immature at best, with the worst-case possibility of having some real emotional problems, and offers a lame defense of the indefensible. "I get it from my father"? Which makes ripping into people okay?

Meanwhile, your eagerness to be her brunt-boy, till death do you part, puts you under a cloud of suspicion as well, even though you seem wise about handling confrontation. Also to your credit, you love her as-is, for all her vulgar spew -- but what's with that? Why do you take the abuse? How long will you love her heat without her reciprocal love for your cool? You're already scorching.

Probably because you already show her you care -- in your way, good or bad. She needs to see your way and either embrace it or articulate what she'd prefer. Then you decide if that preference is an adjustment you'd even want to make, much less be able to sustain credibly, as an integral part of yourself, for life.

Then you say yes or no to changing, then she says yes or no to your yes or no, then you both decide if the wedding stays on.

Then the advice columnist stops believing that people who don't communicate will suddenly learn how to (too many blows to the forehead), and instead suggests, somewhere between "emphatically" and "screamingly," that you get some premarital coaching. And, please -- exchange no vows till it takes.

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