It takes two to tango.
My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years. I married my first boyfriend on a hot July day at the age of 20, in a nondescript ceremony notable only that it was an elopement and despite the situation, I was never more sure of anything in my life.
Sixteen years. Five residences. College. Jason pastoring a church. Lots and lots and lots of work. Four kids, an autism diagnosis, food allergies, difficult high risk pregnancies, postpartum depression, more laundry than you might ever be able to imagine, home schooling. Too much burning the candle at both ends. Bearing the heavy, heavy burdens of others we have tried to minister to. Trying our very best to parent our children as God would have us to, so that they might grow up to glorify Him----and being crushed down repeatedly by our mistakes and stumbles. Crying tears of sorrow together, laughing together, and crying thankful tears of joy to God for one another and this beautiful, blessed adventure He has put us on. Bearing one anothers faults and weaknesses with tender grace and love that only He could give us for one another. Enjoying one another, preferring one another----knitted together, he and I.
As part of my Christmas gift this year my husband purchased ballroom dancing lessons for us. This is sort of a “bucket list” activity for me, if I had such a list. One of those things that logistically wouldn’t be too difficult to do----but the reality is babysitting, work, home responsibilities . . . and it became another one of those hopes deferred.
I have realized that I have a lot of tiny hopes deferred. Little things, like making a quilt, going on a fun girls only trip, vacationing with my hubby alone, taking music lessons, replacing the kitchen sprayer with a Diet Coke gun like caterers use. This is just a stop on the train of life, in FullTimeFamilyland. If you get off the train and constantly look to when the next train is coming, and how soon you can get on it, you will surely miss the tremendously great things to be found here.
Back to the dance lessons.
I have no dance knowledge whatsoever. I don’t even watch “Dancing With The Stars” (who decides when one is a star? Hmmmmmm). So our first night of lessons the instructor gave a very good preface to how ballroom dancing “works”.
“Ladies, don’t try to take the lead. In ballroom dancing, the men always lead, and the ladies always follow. Men, you must give clear directions to your partner if you want her to do something. Take small steps. Relax and enjoy what you are doing. Practice for five minutes every day, or you will forget what you have learned and when you have to learn a new step, you won’t be able to just get up and figure it out.”
She demonstrated both the men's steps and the ladies’ steps. It was helpful for me to see what the men would do, as I could better prepare my steps with a view of the bigger picture.
On the floor we went. Jason’s feet slid forward, mine slid backward. Our legs stepped in time to the rumba beat of the Drifters, he leading and I following. Occasionally my mind would wander, and I would not know where we were in the step. So instinctively I would charge ahead in my box step, throwing us both off course.
In ballroom dancing the man leads with a gentle hand motion just under the woman’s shoulder blade. There were times when I understood the signal; other times the signal was hastily given and I was not prepared for the step in proper time.
But the times where we both knew the step, where we both knew what was coming and what was expected, we moved in a seamless, fluid motion. I found it easy to relax when I stopped trying to lead. Jason was better able to anticipate his signals when he didn’t have to fight to stay on course. Then we could just relax, enjoy the dance, and (almost) let the dance take care of itself while we simply enjoyed being together.
Aside from good Godly premarital counseling and prayer, I cannot think of a better thing for an unmarried couple to do than to take ballroom dancing.
Enjoying the dance of marriage requires a few things. One, it helps to know what the dance looks like in the big picture. If you get in God’s Word and beg Him for a vision for what Godly marriage looks like (DISCLAIMER: I KNOW THIS IS TRUE. I HAVE DONE THIS. TRUST ME. GET READY TO BE VERY SURPRISED AT HOW WRONG YOU ARE IN YOUR VIEW OF MARRIAGE), you will soon find that it is a beautiful reflection of His love for us. It is a servant relationship, one in which the husband loves the wife as his own body, and therefore would do anything to preserve her. And one in which the wife, in a meek and quiet spirit, lays aside her desires and focuses on the needs of her husband. When you both have the “big picture” in sight, you can each relax knowing that your needs WILL be met----by God, and by your spouse.
Secondly, each partner has a job. That job remains static and must be fulfilled at all times. The husband leads. The wife follows.
It is much, much easier to follow the dance, or the husband, when
gentle and timely instruction is given. Many a wife has used the reason of faulty leadership for not following her husband. A woman’s need for security and love is very great, and a thoughtless, selfish, or unprepared man is very, very hard to follow. It is kind of like taking a cat and throwing it into a bathtub. Every fiber of its being is fighting against the bathtub.
It is much, much easier to lead the dance, or the home, when the dance partner is
patient with mistakes in leadership,
encouraging when appropriate steps are taken, and
trusting that the lead is following the “big picture” that she has educated herself about, and thankful for his efforts.
Many a husband has used the reason of a wife that won’t be lead as an excuse to bow out of leading his family. A man’s need for respect is very great, and a harsh, brazen, selfish woman is very, very hard, nearly impossible, to lead. It is kind of like a mom sweetly inviting her son to learn to write his letters, then abruptly grabbing the crayon, hastily demonstrating it, and telling him that he is not anywhere close to forming it correctly so we should just quit, all while he is only four years old. (Yes, I need to wear the cone of shame).
Are you enjoying the dance? Do you know God’s purpose for your marriage? Husbands, are you providing clear, purposeful direction and modeling a preference for your wife’s needs above your own? The Bible states that “whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). Wives, is your trust in God or your husband? Are you encouraging to him, a breath of fresh air, seeking to ease his burdens----or as the scriptures describe, “a contentious woman is as a continual dropping of rain” (Proverbs 25:24)?
The music started on the day you said “I do.” For the dance to work you must both do your part. And you must practice the dance every day. When life throws you a new step----a new baby, a job loss, a health problem, grief----you need to already know how to dance.
We came home last night to excited kids asking what we learned, and so we decided to demonstrate, much to their satisfied, peaceful, happy faces----faces showing the serenity and security of children who know their Mama and Daddy are crazy about each other. I count it a blessing and have thanked God many times to have grown up in a home where I could rest knowing that my parents were committed to their vows and to one another.
May God bless you in the dance, and may you seek His face to learn how to enjoy it, that your home might be a fruitful vine for the Lord---as many eyes are watching this demonstration of God’s love.
Love and God’s richest blessings to you,