Part 2 – How to Have Harmony Instead of a Tug-of-War
Last week, we broached the topic of submitting to your husband. I have been in situations in which the topic became contentious. Looking at the topic through the lens of ballroom dance gives a different perspective.
In dance, the woman follows the steps the man leads, but she must also follow him in many subtler ways. The term, “staying in the arm,” describes the lady who dances within the framework of her partner’s gently guiding arm. If she responds to his lead, the couple floats together. If she does not respond, the couple will tug and bump each other, and the result will not be pleasant. Every married couple has experienced the unpleasant jostling that occurs when partners have different ideas about what step should be taken next and are determined to do it their way. While wives should certainly give their input, (and a wise husband will listen to his wife’s input), someone ultimately needs to make the decision. “Staying in the arm” in marriage means you agree to allow your husband to make the final decision—and you support him in it. For those who are not yet married, make sure this is someone whose character you trust so that you will be more comfortable doing this.*
The lady dancer must also be sensitive to the man’s timing, rhythm, and speed. For example, a “syncopated step” might be counted “1-2-and-3” or it might be counted “1-and-2-3.” The lady must feel the man’s lead to take that extra half beat and be ready to take it at precisely the same time he takes it. If she doesn’t, they stumble rather than moving together. The woman must gear the size of her steps to the man’s. If the step size is mismatched, someone will get trounced. In the same way, marriage partners must also feel each other’s rhythm and speed or the marriage will be a struggle rather than a flow. Many arguments are not a matter of what we should do, but how soon we should do it. As in dance, if a wife wants her husband to lead their family, she needs to let him lead. For most men, leading is a learning process. It doesn’t come automatically. She needs to encourage him. If she keeps insisting her way is best, he will stop trying.
Finally, men have different styles when they dance. Some add more bounce in Swing, for example. Or, in Foxtrot, some men will lead a sway step with their left arm up first; others will do it opposite with their left arm down first. If the lady tries to change her man’s style and make him do things her way, the two will be at odds with each other rather than functioning as a team. Anyone guilty of trying to change her man’s style? Guilty here.
If a wife sets her heart to be sensitive and responsive, to match her man step-for-step and movement-for-movement (and trusts God to handle the rest), she will “float in her husband’s arms” and contribute to a marriage where the partners “move together as one.”
* There are some special considerations for husbands who are living way outside the will of God. We will attempt to address that issue in another blog post.
Next week: What it means to supply some cooperative tension in the marriage—and why that’s not a bad thing. This post was based on the “Follow with Strength” chapter of The Marriage Dance by Bob and Roxann Andersen, available on Amazon.
The photo in this article is of our beautiful daughter and son-in-law. Thank you to Jessica Williams and Samanthakait Photography for permission to use it.