But I’ve often thought of marriage as a dance. The country music song that says “Life’s a dance, you learn as you go” does seem to be true — especially in marriage. Perhaps a good marriage is a bit like ballroom dancing. It takes time to learn the steps in marriage. Beginner dancers are often awkward and clumsy. The movement doesn’t flow with the music, and everything becomes ill at ease. To dance with a partner takes sacrifice, determination and concentration from one person, and gentle guidance and skill from the other.
When you dance with a partner you are pushed away and pulled back, you are wrapped in a hold then spun back out on your own. It requires you to dance in time to the music, pay attention to the subtle cues from your partner, and try not to miss the beat, whether you’re leading or being led. One person has to lead, as when two people try to lead, nothing flows. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, and two become one unit, moving gracefully and beautifully. If you start dancing on your own terms, you’re likely to stumble or step on your partner’s toes. You must lead or follow. When you follow, you listen for cues with every part of your body. When you lead, you must aim to make your partner look like a great dancer, even if it means doing a quick shuffle to correct for a misstep, or extending an arm to prevent a collision that your partner doesn’t forsee.
credit – http://www.slowmarriage.com
The dance of marriage is important. God loves marriage. But no marriage is perfect. The brutiful truth is that marriage isn’t always easy. But if we have children and we are married, what better gift can we give our children than the gift of graciously loving their father or mother?
I recently came across the concept of ‘Slow Marriage’. The therapist who developed this concept writes:
‘Often spouses expect a marriage to support them through a breathtakingly busy life without realizing that a marriage nurtures us only when we nurture it’.
‘Slow Marriage is not about off-loading the stuff you love, or giving up on your dreams. Instead, let’s get past silly tips and mommy wars and figure out how to make love last in the midst of a hurried life.’
Time can be a silent yet significant factor in any marriage. And busyness can be a barrier to having a flourishing marriage. If one is not mindul of this, busyness can even slowly squeeze the life out of a marriage so that the couple is co-existing in parallel universes. And are we expecting more from marriage today? In generations past, to a certain extent people married to have their physical needs taken care of, that of having a roof over their heads and food on the table. But today, do we have higher expectations? Do we expect that our spouse will help support our personal growth? Do we expect marriage to accomplish much, without giving our marriage the time that it so needs in order to flourish? Does a focus on personal growth make it difficult to stay married? So often in marriage we get busy with the demands of life and we end up functioning on auto-pilot, which is not helped by the reality that we live in a world that attacks and devalues marriage all the time. Consider that the current social trends toward helicopter parenting or longer work hours may mean that our marriages are surviving on reduced rations. They may even be starving or struggling for air.
If this is the case, how do we get more ‘oxygen’ into our marriage?
Consider that if we were to be gasping for oxygen on an aeroplane, we would be advised to put on our own oxygen mask, before we place an oxygen mask on our children (if we have children). Perhaps this is the same in family life. In a world that is child-centred in some ways, perhaps it is our marriages that require the application of an oxygen mask before our children.
There are many fantastic marriage resources available today. Many couples may be embarrassed to attend ‘a marriage course’ for fear that others may think that their marriage is in crisis. But these courses are for any couple, not matter what the health status of their marriage is, and they aim to enrich and strengthen one’s marriage, rather than functioning as the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. My husband and I have attended a few marriage enrichment courses over the years. ‘The Marriage Course’ was beneficial. Structured over five or six enjoyable evenings out, we studied the course material and watched the DVD’s at a candle-lit table for two with coffee, dessert, and no interaction with other couples (See: http://www.alpha.org.nz). We would really like to attend a WeekendtoRemember conference at some stage, but this is also on our to-do list, childcare permitting. (http://www.familylife.com/WeekendToRemember).
And recently, ‘Refresh’ a women’s group that I attend has been studying The Love Dare Challenge. The Love Dare Challenge is referred to in the movie FIREPROOF, which I saw a few years ago (www.fireproofthemovie.com). In FIREPROOF, a couple dares to rescue their ‘choking’ marriage from the ‘flames’ of divorce and temptation using The Love Dare book as a guide. The love dare series aims to fireproof one’s marriage through ‘melting hardened, separated hearts into an enduring love that can withstand the flames of fear, pride and temptation’. As a women’s group, we studied the Love Dare Devotional, which aims to steer participants through the ‘fiery’ challenge of developing a strong, committed marriage in a world that ‘threatens to burn it to the ground’. We didn’t complete the 40-day journey, however we had two different ‘dares’ to carry out each week, over a four week period. These dares were simple acts of love for one’s spouse, such as being aware of how we are speaking to our spouse, and how we greet them. Daring to spend time together without talking, just being, shoulder to shoulder. Areas that I fall short in time and time again.
But the love dares were very useful exercises. And we are trialling 20 minutes couple time a day, with no technology (not easy for me, a self-confessed technology addict!). We are daring to dance with each other, even though dancing (for me anyway) is not really my cup of tea! To find out more about the Love Dare book, please visit: http://www.thelovedarebook.com.