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Dancing With the Stars? Not Exactly.

I learned more than rhythm while taking dancing lessons with my husband.
By Barbara Rainey

For Christmas last year, our six adult children gave my husband and me dance lessons. Amazingly to us, one of them had remembered one of us (it was probably me) saying several years ago how much fun it would be to learn to dance.

I had loved dancing as a teenager. As a teen in the late 60s I mastered the twist, the mashed potato, and other dances of equally elementary difficulty. My best girl friend and I would practice the jitterbug with each other, and if she wasn't available I practiced alone by holding the door knob of my closed bedroom door. In my freshman year of college I dated a guy for several months just because he was a great dancer.

During my sophomore year I became a Christian and stopped dating just for dancing skills. Four years later I married a non-dancer. On our honeymoon Dennis and I danced once, but it was just the slow dance style of rocking back and forth from one foot to the other. It was fun at the time because I loved my husband, but I knew further dancing was not in my future.

So when we received our Christmas gift, I was delighted. Dennis was skeptical. But he was a good sport and was willing to give it a try for me. We intended to sign up right away, but the pace of life kept me from making the phone calls to schedule the lessons until May.

"On the first lesson," our kind instructor said, "rhythm is learned." Right, I thought very skeptically. My husband is not naturally gifted in rhythm. But she did not lie, as I've watched him make great progress. We've now had six lessons, and I'm thrilled to say we are actually making noticeable progress learning the waltz, the rumba, the tango, and the swing. All very much at a beginner level, but we are learning.

I've realized how many parallels there are in dancing to marriage. For example, in dancing the man has to learn to lead and the woman has to learn to follow his lead. (Emphasis on the word learn for both partners.) I must admit that I have realized I am not naturally gifted in following! I went into these lessons thinking it would be easy for me. It was my husband who needed the instruction, not me. Wrong. As I understood that I was not a good follower in dancing, I left the lessons several times pondering how to be a better follower in our relationship.

Connection is another very important element in dancing. The woman has to pay close attention to the man's movements so she knows to follow when he is changing directions; otherwise she'll get her toes stepped on. It's called maintaining connection.

Even when he makes a misstep, a good follower will go along with the misstep knowing he will correct it on the next step or two. If she does this no one knows a mistake was made. Our instructor even had the women close their eyes and practice feeling the tension changes in his hand on her back and his other hand holding hers. The application for marriage was obvious: Keeping a close connection takes focus.

Another marriage lesson is that my husband needs to learn from the master Teacher. It's not my job to try and teach him what I think he doesn't know yet. He doesn't respond as well to my suggestions as he does to the teacher's. I'm so prone to "help" him and to want to show him the right way to do the dance, and I've realized how true that is of me in daily life. When I do that in dancing and in life he feels it as criticism and mothering. Ouch.

You'll never see us on Dancing With the Stars, but learning to dance has been great for our marriage as we've learned something new that's taken us outside our comfort zone. Dancing has also rekindled some romance as we've practiced the deep connection of eye contact to the beautiful sounds of music.

© 2009 by FamilyLife, all rights reserved.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.

Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



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