Phil and I took a swing dance class a couple years ago with some friends. After one lesson, I was amazed at the parallels that emerged between my role as a dance partner and my role as a wife.

1. The Woman Can’t Lead
In smooth and successful swing dancing, there is a clearly identified leader that knows the tempo of the music, the order of the steps, and what’s coming up next. If the partner is always struggling for control, the steps are clumsy and there is no rhythm.

We were never able to establish a fluid motion of dance when I was vying with Phil for his role. I certainly needed to be paying close attention and know the steps for myself; I could not be a passive, uninvolved partner. But, I did need to wait for the gentle pressure that Phil would exert on my hand or shoulder, sending me off in the right direction.

In the same way, I cannot lead in our marriage. God gave that job to Phil and our life is much more beautiful and smooth when I let him fulfill that calling.

2. Don’t Tell Your Partner What to Do
Our instructor had to correct me for this several times as I was regularly “reminding” Phil of his steps. Problem was, I didn’t really know Phil’s steps. I had an idea of what was required of him, but I truly had no clue. He was standing opposite me, using different feet for each unique move. He knew his prescribed set of steps and I didn’t need to know what each was. I simply had to trust him to lead so I could more easily concentrate on what I needed to do.

Similarly, I do not have the entire picture of what God has called Phil to be and do as leader of our home. I need to trust that he is seeking God for his calling, which frees me up to focus on mine.

3. Add Creative Flair at the Right Time
I came to discover that my favorite part of dancing was the extra shoulder shimmy I was free to slip in when I was headed in the right direction.

As a wife, there is so much creativity and flair that I can add to my marriage when I am under Phil’s leadership and protection. The overall effect is a delightful and unique version of this dance called life — Phil and Jen style.

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4. Stepping on Toes Is Painful
It’s gonna happen; especially when we are just learning or trying something new. We must humble ourselves enough to ask forgiveness for the toe smashing — no matter how painful or whether it was intentional. It makes for restored closeness for the rest of the dance.

5. Don’t Compare Yourselves to the Couple Dancing Next to You
Phil has a very calm, cool, understated manner about him in life, and on the dance floor. He is not the guy with the flashy moves and crazy stunts, but I do know what I can expect from him: he is consistent. Our teacher complimented him on his smoothness and I would miss it if I’m looking around to see how good we look compared to the next couple.

God has called us to our particular rhythm, tempo and moves for our marriage; we don’t get to dance to someone else’s song!

6. Remember the Basics
Sharon, our instructor, always reminded us that if we got lost in the dance sequence, we could always come back to Step 1 and get re-synced. We both knew what came next when we remembered where we came from.

In our marriage, there are times when one (or both) of us has forgotten the way — lost sight of what we are about. When we re-orient ourselves on the basics, we find our way again.

Our marriage is about reflecting Jesus to each other and the world around us. Our marriage is about worship — enjoying God’s presence together. When we get spun out of control and focused on the wrong dance, we must always go back to the basics: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:9).

7. Keep Going
This last lesson is one of the hardest for me: perseverance. It is required on the dance floor and it is required in life. We are going to make mistakes, be off tempo and out of sync, but we must keep going. There are no do-overs in life — only do differently. We must have our eyes firmly fixed on Christ — the author and perfector (and choreographer) of our faith. As we continue the dance, we will recognize him more and more in ourselves and each other.

Copyright © 2011 by Jen Smidt. Originally seen at Power of the Home. Used with permission.