In a blog post titled Friends with Benefits, Mark Driscoll, a pastor at Mars Hill Church in California, explains three kinds of marriages: back-to-back, shoulder-to-shoulder and face-to-face. Here’s how he describes them:
A back-to-back marriage is one in which the couple has turned their backs on each other. As a result, they live
separately and do not work together (shoulder to shoulder) or draw each other out in friendship (face to face). In such marriages the partners range from strangers to enemies, but are not friends.
A shoulder-to-shoulder marriage is one in which the couple
works together on tasks and projects, such as keeping the home, raising the kids, growing the business, and serving the church.
A face-to-face marriage is one in which, in addition to the shoulder-to-shoulder work, the couple gets a lot of face-to-face time for conversation, friendship and intimacy.
When I read this, I recognized a correlation with dance as a picture of marriage. Dancing with your spouse is primarily a face-to-face experience. If your marriage is characterized as back-to-back or shoulder-to-shoulder, dancing face-to-face with your partner may feel awkward, even invasive, at first. However, it could be a first step toward transforming your marriage to a deeper level. If your marriage is already characterized as face-to-face, then dancing can add a new element of intimacy and intrigue to your relationship.
The depth of intimacy is a key factor distinguishing these kinds of marriages. And as Driscoll writes in his post, “intimacy is ultimately about conversing.” The topics of conversation in a relationship change as intimacy grows. Driscoll writes:
When a relationship becomes most intimate, we begin to share our feelings. We become vulnerable with someone, telling him or her not just what we do (facts) and what we believe (opinions), but who we are (feelings).
Dance is a conversation in its own right, essentially a non-verbal conversation. If you want to increase your face-to-face time and take steps to greater intimacy in your marriage, try this conversation without words.