Last week we talked about having a right attitude when it comes to our spouse and our marriage. This week we will expand on that idea with the analogy of dance.

I once heard someone compare marriage to a dance. Sounds kind of odd, but bear with me as I explain. I am originally from Minnesota. Growing up, the most popular dance up North was the polka. After weddings, everyone would go down to the dance hall and polka. My daddy polka-ed, my mama polka-ed, brother and sisters polka-ed! We did the Big Bird Polka, the Beer Barrel Polka – we were polka machines!

When I moved to the South, I met a beautiful young woman. The dance they did growing up was the waltz. Her daddy and mama waltzed, her two brothers waltzed, she waltzed! They did the Tennessee Waltz, the, um, well I don’t know any other waltzes. Anyway, they were lovely to watch with their turns and dips. Well, we met, fell in love, and got married. We then started our marriage dance. She would do the dance she grew up with (the waltz), and I would do the dance I grew up with (the polka), and boy, what a mess. Can you imagine that combination?

Because she wasn’t moving the way I thought she should, and I wasn’t moving the way she thought I should, we would look at each other and say “You don’t even know how to dance.” Conflict! The fact is, we both knew how to dance, we were just listening to different music! What we needed to do (and we did) is learn a new marriage dance – one in which we weren’t stepping on each other, but one that complemented each other.

We will now look at steps to take to create a new dance, which also means creating a right attitude within ourselves.

The first step is to lose interest in pointing fingers at each other, stop blaming each other, trying to change each other and focus on learning new steps. This means working together as a team, communicating and having the mindset that we can learn a new dance no matter how long we have been married. We have to throw away all the excuses as to why we can’t change your marriage dance.

The second step is to recognize what we are doing that is not working in our marriage. It seems that we keep doing what is not working, yet expect different results. That equals frustration. We each have to look at our own part in identifying what is not working and what is hurting our marriage. Jesus said, in Matthew 7:3, “And why worry about the speck in your friend’s eye, when you have a log in your own.” In this step, we are not reciting all the wrongs of the other, but we are taking ownership for our role in the marriage. We each bring to the marriage some wonderful attributes.

On the other hand, we also bring things into it that are not so good. A lot of the time, it means we swallow our pride, and do what is best for the marriage, not what is best for self.

Once you both have identified and taken ownership for your part of what is not working, you then become tenaciously committed to removing those things from the relationship. Understand that if you don’t, and you continue with those harmful practices and behaviors that are stifling your relationship, they will act as a thief, robbing your marriage of intimacy, peace and joy. It will keep you from having the relationship that hopefully you both want.

So, your homework is to think about your marriage dance. Are you each dancing two different types of dance or are you dancing your own dance? If you’re not doing the same dance, start working on the steps outlined above! More to come on this subject next week. Stay tuned!

Dr. Rick Roepke is a certified Christian marriage and family therapist with Christian Family Institute in Bowling Green.

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