• Susan Pope

Dance with Me - In Sickness and in Health

“Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner.” Amy Bloom

13 years ago today, I married my friend, my dance partner. In front of family, friends and beach

goers we vowed to love each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health. We never imagined 8 months into our marriage our vow of in sickness and in health would be tested. A simple same day surgery procedure turned into a catastrophic event. Darrell ended up in a coma in ICU. Once he came home, it was a long, long road to recovery. That test changed us. Our outlook on life became brighter as we felt as if we had looked death in the face.

Today we are both healthy and happy. We know now that things you do to nurse your spouse back to health are necessary practices for everyday life. We eat right, exercise, are proactive in our health and pray together. Regardless of finances, we try to live each day to the fullest. Dance has always been our common thread. Darrell was a great social dancer, me a professional dancer and dance educator and both of us liturgical dancers. Dance has kept us grounded, weightless and balanced all at the same time. Dance kept us close to God and to each other.

So often in a marriage or any relationship for that matter problems start long before you really notice them. When there is tension in a marriage, one of the first things we do is stop touching. We create more space then is needed between us and become comfortable with not being physically close. Our arguments then begin to be about other stuff than about what really is at the heart of the matter.

On Darrell’s road to recovery we started taking ballroom dance lessons. The lessons we’ve learned dancing together parallel so many lessons of marriage. For me the biggest is following the leader. So often when we dance together, Darrell will say, "Let me lead!" I always want to say "but I'm the better dancer and you aren't doing it right!" Of course I don't say that. We had to learn how to dance together and make it work and look good. He realizes that if he doesn't lead correctly we go the wrong direction and it is his responsibility to get us back on track. He has also learned that I trust him to show me the way. If I make a mistake it’s because he didn't give the right lead at the right time. There has to be a give and take when we dance together. There has to be a balance of power and weight. We complement each other without overpowering each other. Dancing together has definitely strengthened our marriage.

I’m not saying dance can save a marriage; but it can help keep the lines of communication open. It keeps us touching our partner in a positive way and forces us to look at each other. It encourages us to talk to each other and not at each other. Saying to your mate, “dance with me!” is similar to saying “Talk to me. So today I dance because, God blessed me with the best dance partner I could ask for. Our marriage is “a long, slow dance for two, and the more years we practice the more beautifully we can dance together.” I dance because…


© I Dance Because