by Rob Furlong
Watching people dance can be a fascinating exercise at times.
Some are out on the dance floor, busting a move and they look great – but they dance alone.
Others dance with a partner, moving in beautiful symmetry together as they look into each other's eyes.
Occasionally you see a couple where one partner is fully engaged while the other stares blankly over their shoulder, plainly bored and disinterested.
In case you haven't noticed, marriage is a lot like dancing!
Great dancing requires great communication and understanding between the couple – and when they get it right, magic happens out there on the floor!
Likewise, a great marriage requires two people who are committed to each other and who are also prepared to grow and change in ways that produce a deeper understanding and care for each other.
When one, or both, partners are disengaged in the relationship, indifference sets in and the very real likelihood that you will end up dancing alone.
When it comes to dancing, I have two left feet while Karen is the dancer in my life. Through her loving encouragement, I have mustered up the courage to get out on the dance floor with her and not make a complete fool of myself!
Yet in the dance of our marriage, neither of us can claim any expertise.
Over the years, we have had to discover and apply many valuable principles that have enabled us to dance well together in our marriage.
One principle has been a commitment to be truly present with each other when we are talking.
It can be very easy to "zone out" or become distracted by something else when your partner is talking to you.
Our simple discipline to help us break that habit is that when are aware it is happening we admit it and apologise for doing so. It is humbling to confess that you were not paying attention, but it is also an effective circuit breaker that produces real change.
The principle of apologising when you are wrong in other areas has also enabled us to dance well together in our marriage.
We keep it pretty simple. We admit our mistake, apologise sincerely for it and ask for forgiveness – there is something humbling in that as well!
Most importantly, with the apology comes a genuine commitment to change our behaviour. People who only apologise but never change are extremely "unsafe" people.
Thinking of the marriage relationship as a dance also reminds me of the great dance of life that God invites us to be a part of.
One of the beautiful images that we have of God is that of the dance of relationship that exists between the Father, Son and the Spirit. They communicate, act and love in complete harmony – it is the great dance of God!
On the night He was to leave His disciples, Jesus prayed that they would all "be one". His prayer was grounded in the unity that exists between Himself and His Father and Jesus' desire was that His followers would experience that same unity and oneness; that they might dance in unity and love in their relationship with God and with each other.
Interestingly, the oneness Jesus prays would be between us and God the Father is also the same concept at the heart of oneness in marriage – unity, love and openness.
It was for this oneness – with God, others and our partners – that Jesus died and rose on that first Easter centuries ago.
He invites us all to the great dance of life with Him and each other, not indifferently but as fully engaged participants!•