“There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.” – Vicki Baum
The other night, my wife, Cheryl and I were hanging out in our living room with our five-year-old granddaughter Violet. Cheryl and I were acting a bit snitty toward each other. Most of our conflict is related to issues related to neatness and order, where we live on opposite ends of the spectrum like Felix and Oscar from The Odd Couple. However, this and other dissimilarities have not prevented us from living harmoniously together for nearly 45 years.
Violet, sensing the tension between us, said to us incrementally,
“We need to have a meeting.
It’s about marriage.
Face each other.
I don’t know where this wisdom came from, but it was profound and powerful and brought instant obedience from us.
Dancing is not foreign to us. We took East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop lessons for two years so we know how to cut a rug, even if it is literally on our living room rug. Somehow obeying the wisdom of our five-year-old granddaughter and dancing together broke the impasse between us and brought a sense of levity and joy and whatever the issue du-jour was, it instantly vanished.
Other than being male and female, there are other factors that often cause dissension between us. For example, we are both first borns and have been socialized from infancy to be the center of attention and get our own way.
In addition, we both have strong choleric personalities. Cholerics are dominant and seek to be in control of situations. They are extroverted in the sense that they will meddle in others’ affairs and ‘speak their mind’ if they feel it is necessary, rather than minding their own business. And they can be proud and generally believe that they are right, and have immense stubbornness about admitting their flaws, unless admitting these flaws would make them look better than others (“I’m strong enough to admit I’m wrong, unlike you”).
Cheryl and I have many friends who have walked with us and encouraged us on this marriage journey. Many of them are neither first borns nor choleric, but they have issues too. Cheryl recently told me that one of our best couple friends were having disagreements about a situation in their lives. I said incredulously, “You mean Tim and Nina (names changed) have disagreements?” “Of course!” she said. “Well how about Rob and Dinah?” I responded. “They are human too”, Cheryl replied. All of a sudden, I started feeling better about the state of our union.
Dancing can do wonders to release tension between people. Unless you are Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, it will reveal your shortcomings and make you feel vulnerable. It also brings unity between two imperfect people and makes the “serious” things between them seem less important as they move and groove together.
Cheryl and I have learned to dance together for 45 years and we manage to work through our issues and grow in love and commitment. I wonder what good could be accomplished for our nation if, for example, Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi danced together.
P. S. We just signed up for a five-week seminar called CHERISH where we will learn more about how to move beyond loving and respecting our partner to cherishing them. I need this.