If you’ve danced with a partner, regardless of the dance style or tempo, you have almost certainly had the experience of a partner stepping on your foot or toe.
Hopefully, none of those incidents has resulted in an injury. Having danced socially for more than 12 years, I am thankful for that to be true in my case.
When a dance partner steps on your foot, how do you react? The most common reaction in my experience—a simple apology then moving on with the dance.
In comparing Christian marriage to a dance, I believe that spouses can learn from the dance floor incidents. How do you manage conflict in your relationship? When your spouse “steps on your foot,” do you react in anger? Does the misstep keep you from continuing with the dance?
As spouses and dance partners, we will step on each other’s toes – both on and off the dance floor. Conflict is inevitable; it’s how you handle the conflict that makes the difference.
I believe the instruction given to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:21 is applicable here. In The Message, this verse reads: “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.”
An attitude of courteous reverence for your spouse, particularly in times of conflict, will help keep you dancing together.
The most commonly used English term in this verse is submit, as in the NIV: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Curiously from the dance perspective, the same verse in the New International Reader’s Version is: “Follow the lead of one another because of your respect for Christ.”
Whether you are leading or following, there are some lessons to be learned from the dance floor about conflict management. Here are a few I’ve identified (with the help of some workshop participants):
- Communicate. Ask your partner kindly to get off your foot.
- Choose to get off of your partner’s foot when asked.
- Accept the apology when it is offered.
- Like learning to dance, learning to relate to one another and manage conflict in marriage takes many years of practice.
- Recognize a misstep for what it is. Don’t blow it out of proportion.
- Adopt a graceful and forgiving attitude toward your partner.
- Pick up where you left off when the misstep occurred, and keep dancing.
What are some others?
Copr MarriageDance 2009
Here’s a post with some practical advice on conflict resolution from Sheila Gregoire: