So my husband and I did this thing a couple months ago! I received an email from Groupon with an advertisement for dance lessons from the Fred Astaire School of Dance. We had done a little country dancing when we were dating and first married and had loved it. We had our daughter’s wedding coming up and so on a whim I bought the 3 lesson package and before we knew it we were showing up for our first dance lesson!
Remember how nervous you were the first time you showed up to the after school dance at Junior High? That’s how I felt walking into the dance studio – totally out of place. Neither of us had the right dance shoes on and we were not dressed like the other dancers there who had obviously been dancing for a long time! Not to mention that we were some of the oldest in the dance studio! But we walked in none the less determined to learn how to dance for our daughter’s wedding.
It turned out to be an emotional experience that I wasn’t prepared for. Our instructor, Katie, was awesome. She helped us feel comfortable even though we were not seasoned dancers. She didn’t make fun of us for our lack of proper dance attire. She was just willing to work with the effort and desire we brought with us. She started teaching us the proper positioning with our arms and hands. She taught my husband that in order to lead me around the dance floor he would guide me with a little pressure on my shoulder. That only worked if I was paying attention to his lead. Then she started by teaching us the footwork individually. I would need to lead with the opposite foot than my husband. So we both practiced our footwork separately and then after a few minutes we were ready to try and start putting it together.
Well, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I grew up clogging, so it’s not like I don’t have rhythm, because I do. But initially we found it hard for us to stay on the beat together. I would step on his toes and then he would step on mine. He would forget to give me the signal when he wanted to start a turn or change directions on the dance floor and at other times I would totally miss his cue. It was not graceful to say the least.
And then something miraculous started to happen! All of the sudden we found our groove. We settled into the rhythm. He was giving cues and I was following them. We weren’t stumbling over each other as often….we started to resemble Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers! Ok, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration – but we were getting it!
I looked up into my husband’s eyes and I couldn’t hold back the tears. This was so symbolic of the process we had been going through for the past several years of strengthening our relationship! Just like when Katie had us learn our own footwork first, when we first started working on our relationship, we had to do some individual work first. We both needed to learn how to do our part as an individual first. Then when we started to work together, it wasn’t pretty. We did it wrong. Sometimes I stepped on his toes when my efforts to manage my emotions failed. Sometimes he stepped on mine when he would turn to defensiveness when difficult conversations came up. But we kept starting over and trying again.
After many months of working on the techniques of the marriage dance, we started to find our groove! We found out that we weren’t having so many missteps and when they did happen we were able to recover quickly and get right back into rhythm with each other. It was a beautiful thing!
Are we professionals in the marriage dance now? No. But just like our willingness to step into an uncomfortable dance studio where we felt like beginners, we still keep showing up each day willing to keep practicing. Willing to keep working individually and together to try and get it right.
If you and your dance partner find yourselves out of rhythm, let’s chat! I’d love to help you learn some of the tools that helped us get in sync in our marriage dance!
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