"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken, quipped Oscar Wilde. You've probably heard it's best to be yourself. Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Yet many of us, wanting to please someone with whom we are in a close relationship--or with whom we may hope to be--forget to follow this advice and end up in relationships that are less than fulfilling.

Self-Knowledge is Key

Ideally, you'll make sure that you know who you really are before marrying. You'll be able to name your strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Recognize them all, and know we can evolve and grow in whatever direction we choose. We are all works in progress and on a lifelong journey of discovering who we are and what we value. But in the meantime, accept and appreciate who you are now.

Knowing who you are also means being aware of your feelings. We need to recognize and be willing to share our emotions if we want a truly intimate relationship. Sharing feelings makes us vulnerable, which can feel risky, especially if we grew up in family that discouraged expressing them or labeled some feelings as right or wrong. But intimacy requires self-expression. Sharing one's real self with a partner must happen in order to create a marriage that supports you emotionally and spiritually.

My book, Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love, 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted, tells, step by step, how to communicate positively while respecting your authentic self as well as the person with whom you relating.

Know What You Can Offer.

If you need help to know what you can bring of value to a relationship, think about your positive traits. Are you loyal, trustworthy, and kind? Well-organized? Humble? Fun? Do you have a good sense of humor? Make a list of your good characteristics.

If you're content with who you are, you needn't quantify your good aspects because they will emerge naturally. You'll be appreciated for your presence. Also for your smile, insights, conversation, companionship, ideas, sense of humor, calmness or vibrancy, ability to listen and respond sensitively to another.

By being yourself, you are giving whoever you are with a unique and wonderful gift. If they like the real you, fine. If not, that's fine too because you'll realize that the two of you are not a good fit for a lasting, satisfying relationship and you can move on promptly.

Gaining Inner Contentment

Anyone who expects to blossom only after Prince (or Princess) Charming comes along and marries you is seriously mistaken. If you are not acting consistently with your essential self, how can you expect to create and authentic relationship?

If you first develop a sound, honest relationship with yourself, your glow (or aura if you think that way) will attract the right person to the real you, with your own unique combination of fine qualities. You're likely to enjoy dating much more after you become BFF (best friends forever) with yourself. Even if the one you're with doesn't turn out be "the one," because being yourself is much more fun and relaxing than being in people pleasing mode. Being yourself can be contagious because it tends to inspire who you are with to do the same.

Self-Acceptance Fosters a Good Marriage

Before thinking of marrying anyone in particular, make sure you know who you really are, what strengths you possess, your likes and dislikes, and what you feel at any time. Also be aware of your weaknesses; areas in which you can improve. Do not deny any of these. We can evolve and grow in whatever direction we choose. We are all works in progress and on a lifelong journey of discovering who we are and what we value. And in the meantime, accept and love who you are now.

Author's Bio: 

Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW, author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted (New World Library), is a psychotherapist who leads workshops for couples and marriage minded singles. She teaches continuing education programs for therapists and is a popular speaker at events for the public. www.marriagemeetings.com