Marriage as a Dance

“Oh they are so young!” (seems that this is my mantra over the past few months.)

I attended a wedding this past weekend of a couple of friends who attend school with me. I managed to miss the first wave of friends that got married right after I graduated from college, and so this new wave of friends of mine in divinity school is a new thing to me. Many of my friends that are getting married are my age or younger than I and I still cannot wrap my head around the faith and trust that it takes to commit to spend a life with another person. How can we make this decision when we don’t know how our lives will work out? Part of my trepidation arises from my experience of not having a long term relationship besides my family before a year ago. (Really, not having any romantic relationship besides my family, but that is another story.)

What has struck me is the faith that these couples have. How much determination does it take to get through the tough days (months, years) and still remain committed to a particular person, and the solemn vows that they have made? How does someone even know that they will be able to stick to it?

I have watched my parents through the years, and watched other families that have stuck through some truly hard times. It take something more than just a day when people get dressed up and prettified and come to eat some cake. The wedding is just for a day, and then as soon as the day is over, all you have left are the pictures. But with the wedding, begins the marriage, when you have to figure out who does what and how to live together.

It seems a bit like a dance. Music is playing, steps are prescribed, a rhythm is beaten out, but if the couple is not familiar to the choreography, then each begins to step on the other’s feet, or miss hands as they weave back and forth, as each one listens to the music their own way. No. For this dance to work, sometimes toes will get a little bruised, but if the couple is devoted to listening to the music, and learning the steps, feeling the rhythm in their bodies, then the dance will begin to make sense. Then the freedom of the dance allows the couple to invent new ways that they can move in this space. Beauty breaks in.

This is what I pray for. If I ever get married, I want to be devoted to learning the dance with my husband. I want to feel out how the music works for us, and feel the changes and the different movements that each piece evokes. Not all couples are called to dance in the same way. If one of us thinks we have the right steps down, but the other’s toes are being trodden, then patience will be necessary while we break the dance down to its elements. The going will be slow, and many times it may even feel as if we are going backwards. But that is the nature of the dance, sometimes (many, actually) one of the partners has to move backwards, especially if the couple is face to face.

A dance works if the dances are using the same language. Many times the couple speaks through gentle pressure of hands on backs and shoulders. But the lead can press a hand to a shoulder through the entire song and not get the expected response if the exchange means nothing to the follow. Only through the understanding between the couple does the dance communicate. If the motions and pressures are learned, those who watch from the outside may not even see the communication, all the outsiders see is the dance.

In all of my relationships I have been learning how to listen and communicate. I hope that I have been learning the ways to hear and to speak words of necessity. I have had to learn how to become both the lead and the follow in many different relationships. I have seen the leaps of faith that others have made in deciding to have a go at making a life together. No one person is perfect, it is preposterous to imagine that another person will be the answer for your life. But the adventure is learning how to craft the life you have, and sharing it with others. I do love adventures.

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