Part 3—How Tension Actually Helps
For the last couple of weeks, we have been discussing what it means for a wife to “follow” her husband. (Find Part 1 and Part 2 on our blog.) The Hebrew word ezer denotes a strong helper. But following involves a decision that you will allow the other party to lead—even if you don’t always agree. So, what does this following look like?
Allowing the husband to lead does not negate the wife’s participation in the decision-making process. In fact, her input and contributions are what make the process work. Our dance instructor, Steve, often stressed, “Ladies, you have to maintain your tone and resistance.” The quality of the dance is determined by tone and resistance, which means that the woman places her hand firmly in her partner’s hand. The muscles in her arm provide a cooperative tension so that when he pushes, she steps backwards, or sideways, or into the turn. The man must move against the strong arm of his partner or his lead will not be felt. If he presses forward and she limply acquiesces, there is no way to guide in the right direction. Neither following in dance nor submitting in marriage makes the woman a doormat or a wet noodle. It is impossible to guide a wet noodle.
Picture the resistance in the steering wheel of a car. If the wheel is too hard to turn it could cause an accident or if it spins at your touch, the vehicle will be out of control.
When a wife submits to her husband, she is not leaning on him. She is not waiting for him to make all the decisions or initiate all the actions. Neither is she aggressively pushing back or making demands. She understands the beauty of tone and resistance. Instead there is cooperative tension. A husband begins leading a certain move in marriage; his wife offers strength and resistance in the form of insights, observations, gifts, and life experiences. He brings his life experience to the discussion and she brings hers. The two are equal participants in the decision that needs to be made. God has given women valuable insights, experiences, and gifts. If a wife does not contribute to the decision-making process, she is shirking her duty. If she goes limp like a wet noodle, she’s not doing her job; she is not helping her husband to steer well. The key word in the phrase “cooperative tension” is “cooperative.”
This post was based on the “Follow with Strength” chapter of The Marriage Dance: Moving together as one by Bob and Roxann Andersen, available on Amazon.