To Change A Dance

People often get stuck in an unhealthy relationship dance. The dance may take many forms. Regardless of the form it takes, each partner plays a specific role. Some couples dance the “I chase while you hide” dance. Other couples dance the “I’ll do all the work and complain while you just sit around” dance. In both cases, they sing a rousing rendition of “Blame in Counterpoint.” Each partner blames the other for the mess they are in. You’ve at least heard some of the lines from the chorus: “Nag, nag nag—you never leave me alone.” “He never wants to talk.” “You’re so lazy and you don’t care about me at all.” “It doesn’t matter what I do, you are never satisfied.”

There is only one way to stop the music and change the dance. I know it may sound simplistic—even cliché, but…. At least one person in the couple has to quit the old dance and start a new one. That may sound too simple, but it’s true. It may not sound fair, but such an act of grace can lead to change. If you choose to take this grace challenge and change the dance, your partner will do everything they can to maintain the old step. They will sing the “Blame in Counterpoint” even louder. They will step heavier and try to force you back into the movement of the old dance step. With everything in you, you must resist and continue the new step until they change, too. You have to show the grace to continue the new “Dance of Love” until they get in step.

How can you begin the new dance step? Here are some ideas to consider.

  • Stop singing “Blame in counterpoint” and sing “The Prelude of Love” instead. “The Prelude” begins with telling your partner 1-2 things you love about them… everyday… even when you’re angry.
  • Carefully consider your part in the old dance. How do you respond to your partner? How do you provoke them? Are you the one who chases or the one who hides? The one who compulsively works or the one who sits around?  Once you can admit your part in the old dance, you can decide on a different response—a different dance step. When your partner starts the old dance, practice your new steps.
  • Find some healthy relationship dances to observe. Or, read a book about healthy relationships.  Learn from the healthy dances you see and read about. Take the time to clearly describe what you like in those healthy relationship dances. The better you can describe the kind of dance you want to have, the more likely you are to act accordingly.
  • Things may not change overnight. You might make mistakes. Don’t get discouraged. Simply recognize that it happened and start the healthy step again. Use those moments to reaffirm your love for one another by renewing your new, healthier dance.
  • Finally, sing new music. Three of my favorites are “A Harmony of Praise,” “Variations on Gratitude,” and “Encouragement in E flat Major.”  Sing the songs often. Sing them loudly… and enjoy the “Dance of Love.”

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