I could tell you about the other day when I screamed with burning eyes, “I’m so angry with you” right in front of the kids.
I could tell how we’ve slammed doors and walked out of rooms.
I could tell you how we’ve ruined entire weekends because of how we roll in the wounds and resentment.
My friend calls it the dance of marriage.
If that’s so, my husband and I have been stepping all over each other’s toes lately. We feel clumsy and awkward, and we have an audience of three midgets watching our every move.
The night before our wedding, our South African friend gave us a quick, 20-minute dance lesson. Although I knew that no one cared whether our first dance was choreographed or not, I still wanted to avoid embarrassment. I didn’t want to fall or trip over each other. I wanted more than just a gentle sway back and forth, cheek to cheek.
We watched enviously as our friend glided across the floor. I wondered if his feet ever touched the ground? He whisked the girl around the room, with rhythm and class. She stayed in time with his steps and they made it look effortless.
Then it was our turn to practice.
After teaching us a few basic, go-to moves, it was our chance to shine.
In front of a few good friends, whom I didn’t really want watching, we attempted to swirl and swing across the floor.
We all knew it didn’t look anything like our friend’s dance.
To start with, I felt nervous. This was different than dancing in the seat of my car with the windows rolled down. My shoulders were tight, my arms felt stuck, and my legs were stiff. I more resembled a moving brick.
My husband was cautious, not wanting to mess up or step on my feet. He tried to lead me around, moving more like a robot than a flowing river.
Our smiles felt forced the whole way through and it felt good to just laugh after it was all over.
In the end, we shrugged our shoulders and hoped no one noticed our amateur skills the next night.
When the time came in the order of events, every guest gathered ’round, surrounding the outdoor patio. Much to my surprise, they were all ready to watch us sway under the stars.
I don’t remember our song, but what I do remember is- we did it…we danced! And way better than our previous night of practice.
Almost instinctively we knew what to do and how to move with each other. Indeed the dance of marriage had begun, and it was sweeping us off our feet.
I wouldn’t say it was our technique or memorized moves that helped us stay in rhythm, it was our heart. Being a beginner worked in our favor because all we knew were the basics; all we had was our love.
Now that we have been dancing for eight years together and have three kids in the mix, I look back on the couple we used to be and realize I’ve got to get my groove back.
More often than I care to admit, I’m the stoic, unforgiving, dance partner. I’m doing my own thing in the corner and joining him whenever I feel like it. We are making a mess lately. Knocking down vases and slamming into walls and yelling at each other across the room.
What we have now hardly resembles our first dance under the August stars in my parents’ backyard. Sure, they were amateurs, aren’t we all though? Could anyone ever say they’ve mastered the marriage dance?
Lately, I’ve been turning my ear to that newlywed couple, listening in on their simple dance lesson.
Here’s a few timely secrets they’ve been sharing with me…
Relax: The rhythm comes when you let go of the stress, drop your shoulders. Learn to sway and swing again. Loosen those hips lady. Besides, you’ve got nothing to prove. No one is taking notes or grading your performance here. Take a deep breath. Let out all your striving to set your marriage right.
I know all the disagreements can be intense and the emotions can run thick through your blood. It may feel like you’re sinking or wanting to give up. But relax, God is the one who brought you two together, remember? A marriage is too big for two people to carry on their own. Give your disunity to Him and watch how it slowly defuses and dissipates into a steady, sweet flow of forgiveness. Suddenly you’ll start to hear the music again. Your marriage will never be perfect, but you can still have peace, let it come.
Gaze into each other’s eyes:Don’t worry about the whispering guests, the murmurs and chuckles from the crowd, or the experts out there who do it better than you. Don’t stay locked into the voices of your past either, glancing behind you every second. Stop hashing out the hurts and wounds you’ve caused one another. Instead, start seeing the soul of the spouse you married. Practicing gazing deeply into one another’s eyes, even if for a few seconds. The heart connection you form will keep your feet in step even when you’ve forgotten the moves.
It may seem counter intuitive to keep your eyes off your feet, where you’re going and the next thing, but all the best dancers know the secret- you need only to look into each other’s eyes, pay attention to what is being said there. Soon your bodies and hearts will find their song, their unique waltz, and perfect beat.
Hold each other securely: Remember how you danced that night? There was a coming close and a letting go, you did both so gracefully. Sometimes your bodies touched firmly, and you could feel each other’s heartbeat. Other times you released each other, playfully and willfully liberating your beloved to find their own feet, all the while, still holding hands or locking eyes.
The only way this back and forth dance works is when there is a strong, firm foundation, a basic move you can come back to every time. Don’t ever forget you are doing this dance together, even when it feels like you are drifting apart, plodding along with heavy steps, or being swept off your feet. Keep holding on to each other, everything starts here, under the August stars.
The dance of marriage never stops. We do our love a favor when we commit to staying amateurs, making mistakes, and practicing the simple steps when we’ve lost our groove.
For all the married people reading this, I’d love to hear what “dance moves” you come back to when you feel like you are out of step with each other?
I am thankful that God is the perfect husband. He romances us and pursues us with an undivided heart. He longs to dance with us and sweep us off our feet. All we have to do is put our hands in his and let him lead. If you want a simple way to cultivate intimacy with Jesus and practice dancing with Him- check out the Good Morning Beautiful: 40 Day of Love Letters journal in the Shop!