Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Change the Dance

Sadly I am not a dancer as a few brave souls can attest. I say sadly because I envy (I know that is not a good thing to do) those whose movements are like poetry in motion. My movements are more like a bear trudging through mud. The thing about dancing is that the music usually establishes the steps that the couples will take. Because the couple is familiar with the particular dance they can follow their partner easily because they can anticipate where they will go next – unless of course you are dancing with me.

There is much similarity between dancing and arguing, particularly when the conflict is over a topic that has been a source of irritation for a while. Once the topic is introduced the couple knows what position each will take. They know what their partner is going to say and how they will respond to what you say. Most likely you both know how the conversation will end.

The question has been raised “Can a marriage get better if only one of the partners is willing to work at it? The answer is absolutely. One thing the willing partner needs to do is to change the dance. Instead of having a disagreement about the same topic in the same way, the willing partner needs to change how they respond. So instead of pushing back with their point of view they might instead say, “You raise some interesting points. Let me see if I understand what you are saying.” Then the willing partner should proceed to articulate the other person’s position as accurately as possible. Then say I will need to think about this more. This will stop what Emerson Eggerich calls the Crazy Cycle.

If you don’t like the way your spouse treats you, change how you respond. If you dislike your spouse’s behaviors, change your behaviors. If you feel like you argue too much, stop arguing. If you nag, stop. If you criticize, stop. Continuing to do what you normally do, will continue the problem. But mixing things up a bit can make a big difference.

The willing spouse has to stop doing those things that irritate, frustrate or otherwise add stress to the marriage. The hope is that the non-willing partner will notice such a difference that they too will begin to change.

Ephesians 5:33 says, “…husbands, you also must love your wife as you love yourself, and the wife must respect her husband.” If a marriage is struggling no doubt one or both partners are not dancing to the melody in Ephesians.

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