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The Dance

Marriage is a dance…isn’t that what they say?  Didn’t someone say that one time?  Often beautiful but also clumsy, awkward, hard and frustrating.

When we started…we can’t believe how much better we dance with this other person.  The way they move and look and touch makes our bodies come alive.  We can jump and spin and fly…arms wide open, chest proud, chin up…their attention and skill are making us an amazing dancer!  We are such incredible dancers that we sign up for dance classes!

One morning the teacher (or universe) tells us we both have to learn how to waltz together.  She doesn’t ask us, but tells us…and then tells us we can leave the class at any time.  Neither of us has actually waltzed before… ever.  You might say our past experience with dance has been more “freestyle”.  The waltz and its graceful movements, how exciting!  We’ve seen others do it and we’ve been so good together in our freestyle…how hard can it be?  It’ll be fun!

To prepare, we watch a video, read a book and even talk to other dancers.  The waltz will require us to look at each other, moving together as we do so.  It will ask us to hold each other in just the right way, with confidence.  It will ask us to wait for each other, reach for each other, develop our own strength so that we can move together with grace, head up, eyes on the other…for as long as the music plays.

Have you ever watched Dancing with the Stars… and seen the hours, the amount of physical and mental work and training it takes to learn a single dance…and that’s with a professional dancer!  They fight and cry and pout and laugh.  You see a fierce commitment to the work of learning a single dance.

As it turns out, a lot the work is actually just learning to trust.  Trust your partner…that they won’t drop you or fall down, trust that you won’t drop them or cause them to fall.  Our incredible freestyle experience gives us the momentum and the courage to believe we can do this, at all.

We start with the practices…exercises, workouts, coaching so that we understand the dance.  We see what we really need to work on and we work on it again and again.  How willing am I…or is he, to do something we’ve never done, to do something we may have never even seen.  How willing am I to look stupid in front of him so that I can learn how to dance?  How willing am I to be completely vulnerable in my weaknesses…making them so obvious so that I can be taught a new way.  If I do this terribly at first will he still dance with me or be too embarrassed?  Will I get hurt?  Who will lead and who will follow?  We begin to learn how to move across the room by ourselves with our head up.  We trip, we stumble, we fall a lot. Finally we stumble less often.  It’s time to practice together.  You’re moving wrong…you’re not looking in the right spot…your hand is holding my hand wrong…you step on each other’s’ feet. This all makes you terrified to trust your partner or yourself.  You are flung into their arms and they miss you.  It is hard, too hard.  We are terrible dancers.  I am a terrible dancer.

Our teacher (the universe) keeps at us.  We practice all day, every day.  We move, we jump, we lean and finally we stop falling so much.  They begin to support us the way we need to be held.  We spin and they catch us.  With time and experience, we begin to trust.  As they get it, we begin to get it too.

This trust piece is mutual…one cannot trust more than the other and do I trust myself as well.  Is my dance partner paying close attention to my spin, to my jump?  Do they know exactly how and where I will land?  Will she land in the same place she did last time?  Can he catch me?  Can I catch her?

Only time and practice and experience can give us this information.  There is no magic pill that reveals all the subtleties of the dance, or our partner or of ourselves.

Our shoulders come away from our ears, our grip begins to relax and we take a chance and fly into their arms…because we’ve practiced it again and again.  He doesn’t drop me and I don’t fall down.  Our chins are up, our shoulders are relaxed, we are looking into each other’s eyes and we feel the music…really begin to feel the music together.   We are moving together gracefully.

It is magnificent!  It is the most magnificent experience, this dance.  Not only because we have watched each other work so hard to learn it, but we were both there watching as the other fell, stumbled, broke down and almost quit.  But they didn’t.  We didn’t. We both stayed in the room.

Time and experience together teach us to trust.  Nothing else can.  We can’t just say “I trust you so I will let go now.”  That’s a mental decision.  The reality is that it can only come by practicing the dance together over and over.  We dance.

Remember that beginning freestyle?  Wasn’t it really just about myself and how I was feeling brighter and lighter and more alive with his attention.  It showed me what was already inside myself and possible.

A year, a month, a week, a day later…the teacher (universe) walks into the room and tells us we have to learn to tango together now.

We think…our waltz was so magnificent…how hard can this be?


The dance classes never stop.


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