All couples have a dance. A way they relate to each other. And usually, it fits to a season of life. Let me explain. Since certain elements of how Jeff and I relate to each other is a private matter, I will not be writing my personal story here. I will instead compile several stories I know of – and hopefully you will find yourself somewhere in the mix.
The first year or two of marriage, the dance often involves a lot of stepping on toes. “You want to do what for Christmas?” “Where did my favorite shirt go? Did you throw it out?” (Ok, that one IS from personal experience.) “I thought we were going to do ‘this’ with our money, careers, home, free time…and you want to do ‘that’?” It can be a tough thing, learning to live with another person. The logistics of it might be overwhelming at times. The dance may look choppy and uncoordinated. Getting your toe stepped on can hurt. Stepping on the toes of someone you love is also painful. Uncomfortable.Thank goodness for the power of sexual attraction in youth- acting like a magnet, pulling the couple together when they might otherwise turn away from each other.
For many couples, they learn how to dance. How to interact and move with each other in a comfortable way. He does this, she does that. Together, they figure out where everything goes and how to feel the rhythm. It may even get rather fun.
Then something changes.
A new job, a new baby, a move. What worked previously doesn’t work anymore. A new dance has to be learned. Who takes care of cooking, cleaning, doing the bills, the yard work now that schedules have changed? When will the couple focus on each other and not on the world, in order to nurture their relationship – especially now that time and energy are tighter than they were a few years ago? They learn a new dance, a more complicated one with more parts and more gravity-defying moves. There might be a few injuries along the way.
And then, life changes again. The couple experiences loss. Grief. One struggles with something significant. The other has to carry more than their share of the load for a while. How to handle pain? Anger. Disappointment. How a couple moves through these dark times…the dance becomes slow, painfully private. Those on the outside may have to look away for fear of seeing something so personal, so intimate…
On and on it goes. Marriages move through seasons. Some easier and more joyful than others. But this is life. And couples who want their marriage to continue to go on to the next place, to deeper levels of loving the other, to more one-ness must learn to navigate and negotiate through whatever life throws at them. They must learn to dance together – whatever the rhythm.
Some couples only learn one dance. Their marriage looks like the very awkward middle school slow dance where the guy doesn’t know where to put his hands and the girl is worried about what her friends are thinking and both just move in a box, not really enjoying the experience.
And then some couples learn to waltz. To foxtrot. To ball room dance. Sometimes it looks like a big band swing or sock hop. Some couples can hip hop. (Um, for the record, that would not be Jeff and I.) Over time, he learns to lead well. She learns to lean into him, to trust him. At different times they support the other.
And they move across the floor. Beautifully. Not flawlessly. Finding the beat takes time. But they move together.
What’s this? Alanis Morissette singing a happy song? Yes she is. And watching this couple move through a few styles, I thought it gave a good visual of how couples dance. Which one is Jeff and I? Right at the end, he dips her and she laughs. That is sort of me.