Complements by Design

In dance circles I’ve heard it said that “The woman is the picture; the man is the frame.” This speaks to the individual and complementary roles of the woman and the man in the dance.

A frame around an artwork provides a complement to the art not a distraction. It may be artistic in its own right, but it does not compete. Rather it focuses attention on and brings out the best features of the artwork it supports and protects.

The same can be said in dance, though it is true in some dances more than others. As a general rule, the man provides the structure through his lead. The woman is able to add creative flourishes or “art” to the dance as she follows, particularly if she is an experienced dancer. This may be most obviously demonstrated in ballroom dance moves such as an oversway, throwaway and develope. She is responsible for supporting her own weight in any move other than a lift,  but the structure or set up provided by the man is essential to the proper execution of such moves.

Additionally like the frame, the dance leader has responsibility for protecting his partner. This can be particularly challenging on a crowded dance floor.

How is this like a Christian marriage? Husbands and wives have individual, complementary roles. The man’s leadership offers structure and protection for his wife.

Christian author John Eldredge writes that the essence of a man is his strength and the essence of a woman is her beauty. Both strength and beauty are characteristics of God, in whose image both men and women are made. They work together like a picture and its frame.

Copr 2009 MarriageDance

Separate But Equal

Dance, like marriage, is about giving and taking … a cooperation of two people in balance as a unit. The balance of give and take creates a cooperative environment wherein each works with the other in complementary roles to dance in unison.

I received these comments from a dancing friend in response to one of my posts. They remind me that an inviting lead and a receptive follow are integral to the dance. The two roles are clearly distinct and equally valuable.

Imagine the results of one dance partner “gone bad.” Without a clear leader, the dancing couple would not move or, in the case of a contest of wills, the dance would become a tug of war. Without a willing follower, the leader would resort to pulling, pushing or dragging or else give up the dance altogether.

But when partners fulfill their individual roles with a spirit of cooperation, the result is graceful movement across the dance floor as a single unit.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NIV) Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18 (NLT)

Purposefully and in his image, our Creator crafted men and women distinctly, separate but equally valuable, intended to work together in a complementary partnership.

Copr 2009 MarriageDance

Thoughts On Leading

Men dance with their brain, women dance from a kinesthetic feeling, explains Peter DiFalco, a Master Instructor whose entire career was devoted to performing and instructing dance. His insistent word to followers: Never chat with the leader on the dance floor because he has enough things to think about without having to socialize with you.

It is true on the dance floor as in life, the leader has great responsibility. In dancing, he must lead the follower through the current step at the same time as deciding the next step and preparing to lead it. He must also navigate the couple around the dance floor which at a social dance means avoiding potential collisions with other couples on the floor.

I frequently tell leaders I dance with that they have the more difficult job; as a follower, all I have to do is follow. (They usually disagree with me, thinking that following would be more difficult. I wonder how many of them have ever actually tried it!)

In order that I not discourage potential new dancers here (particularly leaders), I understand that some of these responsibilities become “second nature” over time. Do leadership skills in life and marriage become “second nature” when practiced consistently over time?

In Take the Lead, the 2006 movie starring Antonio Banderas, the instructor explains to the student leader: The lead is an invitation not a command.

A dance lead is not pushing, pulling or dragging; the lead must be communicated clearly so the follower can execute the move by her own effort.

How do these dance principles correlate to marriage? According to Biblical principles, a leader is a servant not a dictator. Godly leadership encourages and empowers followers. It does not belittle or threaten. A Godly husband recognizes and values the individuality of his wife. Without this, the dance analogy breaks down. There is no grace in coercion and intimidation.

Copr. 2009 MarriageDance

Life’s A Dance

“Life is a dance, you learn as you go,” according to a classic country tune sung by John Michael Montgomery. It’s true that we can’t put life on hold until we think we know it all, so we might as well jump in with both feet, take some risks, be adventurous. As the song continues, we learn that the crooner avoids taking a risk and misses the opportunity to “dance” with his teenage crush.
What I am proposing in this blog is that not only life but marriage is a dance. As someone who enjoys partner dances (such as waltz, rumba, tango and swing), I have discovered a number of parallels between dancing with a partner and Christian marriage.
And I’m not alone in my observations. Moveir Ballroom posts this explanation for “Why Ballroom Dance?” on its website: At Moveir, ballroom is much more than dancing — it’s a way to build relationships, appreciate different personalities, and ultimately love on people. There are parallels between the technical aspects of dance and the skills in relating to each other.
To begin exploring marriage through this lens of dance, consider leading and following. Traditionally in partner dancing, the man is the leader and the woman is the follower. Perhaps that makes modern women feel “second class.” But is following really any less significant than leading? In the movie Take the Lead starring Antonio Banderas, the dance instructor tells his students that each role (leading and following) requires the same strength, energy and effort. In other words, it takes “two to tango,” as the saying goes. Without both a leader and a follower, there is no dance. Though the roles are different, they are equally important to the dance.

I would propose that the same is true about the husband’s and wife’s roles in Christian marriage. Scripture assigns spiritual leadership of the household to the husband. But that does not discount the value of the wife. Christianity affirms the value of both male and female, created in the image of God. Paul instructs men to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church….” (Eph. 5:25, NIV) That single verse ascribes great responsibility to the husband and great value to the wife.

Both life and marriage can be a beautiful dance — full of adventure, intimacy and joy — this is how our Creator intended us to live!

If you’re ready to step out and start dancing, then stick around and read more, or subscribe so you don’t miss future posts. If anything you read here resonates with you, please add a comment and share the posts with others.

Copr. 2009 MarriageDance