Nathaniel and I signed up to take ballroom lessons. We were excited to venture down this new path for lots of reasons…
My husband was willing to engage in my kind of activity; dance!
I was willing to learn a new style of dance that was very foreign to me.
I was excited to learn how to follow my husband in partner dance.
My husband was excited to learn how to lead me in partner dance.
We were both excited to have a shared activity that focused on something we both found to be challenging.
Nathaniel was going to learn techniques in leading and I was going to learn to succumb and follow…this was the most enticing aspect of all (besides it being dance). He tends to be more of a follower while I tend to be more of the commander/leader. Sometime last year I made a conscious decision to actively follow my husband, to allow him to take the lead in our marriage and our household; not out of co-dependency nor out of my weakness, but because it is where God wanted me to be.
I often feel God’s push to step aside, to step out of the lead so I can allow my husband to slide into the lead. As I hear and feel this push from God I end up feeling more confident making the choice to move out of the way; to follow God’s moving and to follow my husband. Moving out of the leadership role in my marriage has not always gone smoothly, but I keep trying, I keep practicing until it eventually becomes second nature.
Ballroom dancing requires the man to lead and the woman to respond to his non-verbal cues while traveling backward in heels…I think that means we are the superior sex! C’mon backward in heels! But, I digress, this is about the guy leading despite the fact that he can see where he is going, or at least he has to make us girls think he can see the path. Perhaps, that was God’s plan all along…he wants us to depend on our husbands even when we think we may know more or think we can see the path for ourselves thank you very much. Maybe, God wants us to be at such a level of beauty and dependence, heels and backward, that we are forced to follow our mate’s lead. Making our role in a marriage not a disadvantage but loaded with purpose…all great leaders need followers or they cease to be leaders, even bad ones have at least one follower. God created wives to follow husbands but not in a subservient, lowly, co-dependent manner. He wants us to follow them with grace and beauty and confidence in ourselves and in our husbands.
I knew full well, with my 34 years of dance experience, I would indeed steal the lead from Nathaniel every chance I got, while we took ballroom lessons. I would steal the lead purposefully because I knew I’d catch on to the steps faster than he would and I’d want to fly around the floor like Baby from “Dirty Dancing”. Or I would steal the lead accidentally because my innate musicality would fire up and take over pushing him to the side. These traits are exactly what I was hoping ballroom lessons would allow me work on not doing. I was tired of taking the lead all the time, and I was ready to move my focus from face first to backward and heeled.
When we signed up we met with the owner/instructor at Alegria Ballroom Dance Academy and she gave us a flyer; 4 Helpful Hints for Couples Learning to Dance. I thought the points blended well with dance and marriage.
- “Let Your Teacher do the Teaching”; My teacher is ultimately God, who enables my body, heart and mind to choose to follow Him, to choose to glean and learn from Him. When I let my teacher teach I can focus on being an absorbent follower instead of the “know- it –all” leader I can fall into being.
- “It’s Not How Many Steps You know, but How Well You Dance Them”; When I’m focusing on the skill set God gave me in my marriage I can put all my energy into it and perform it well instead of turning my attention to what everyone else has in their marriages that I don’t. The grass always seems greener on the other side and then I realize I am surrounded by grassy knolls standing on a mound of dead grass. When I mind what I have, and cultivate it, my grass becomes just as vibrant as the neighbors’ and I end up not caring about the comparison.
- “Keep Your Lessons Close Together”; In dance and in marriage continual practice actually does make perfect, or at least pretty darn close, which is more attainable anyway. The more I practice following my husband on the dance floor and in marriage, the easier it all becomes to be partners with each other. Following him doesn’t mean I lay down and give up, nor does it mean I put up a constant resistance. What it allows, is for my husband to take his God given place as the authority figure in his marriage with my ability to challenge him in a loving, growing manner.
- “Communicate with Your Teacher”; It all starts with and ends with the teacher, who, in a dance class knows best. When we question a dance step or pattern we ask the teacher for clarification. When I take the lead on accident the teacher notices and questions us, “Who’s leading?” she asks with a coy smile knowing the answer but wanting to hear me admit I stole my husband’s leadership again. Teacher-student communication is important in a dance class, but even more so important in the God to child- of- God relationship. When I’m out of communication with my Heavenly Father teacher I know I’ve taken back the lead and I can see the sour fruit of that labor manifest in my marriage.