Three Things I Learned About Marriage During Preparation for My First Dance

My husband is not a dancer. Not at least by trade. He is an extremely talented musician - a pianist - and like me, he runs a studio where we teach the intrepid what will hopefully become a lifelong skill. He is completely flummoxed that I rarely sit down at one of his pianos (I never learned an instrument) and likewise, I can't understand why he doesn't want to learn all the steps to the foxtrot at the end of the day. 

When we set out to prepare for our first dance four years ago, First Dance Charlotte was still just a dream. My current studio had dingy carpet from the previous owner and all my wedding DIY supplies were spread out all over the floor. We waited a bit too long to get started (don't make this mistake, dear reader!) and certain steps I wanted to teach my husband didn't really go as planned, forcing me to chart a new course for our dance at the last minute, which luckily turned out to be better than the original plan anyway. 

Once we really got started with our first dance, I realized a lot of things about our relationship - what areas we need to work on, where we are completely in sync, when to let things go, and when to change course when things aren't working the way we wanted them to. Dancing together gives you insight into your relationship and can reveal a lot of things about you as a couple and as an individual. Here are three things, among many, that I learned while dancing with my husband. 

  1. He is patient and kind with me, even when I am not being my best self.
    My husband is a fast learner but I (unrealistically) expected him to pick things up as quickly as I do, which, of course, is extremely unfair since I am the dancer and he is the pianist. Even when I seemed exasperated with his pace (I'm sorry, honey), he didn't storm out or yell at me or give up. He actually kept working on it. And that showed me that he wasn't going to give up on our marriage, even when things get hard. 

  2. It's OK to give up control and let your partner take the lead. 
    When you are dancing with a partner, one person is the leader and the other is the follower. That's just the way it is. For women, especially ones that are intimately involved in the wedding planning process, it can be really hard to let go and let your partner lead you. It's OK for you to know exactly what's coming (that's called choreography), but what happens if you forget the steps and your partner hasn't had any practice leading? You'll both fall apart. Give your partner the chance to show you they can lead and it will give them the confidence to do so in other areas of your lives.
  3. Communication means actually communicating. 
    For some reason, I still kind of believe that my husband should be able to read my mind. This is completely absurd - I can't read his mind either - so why do I still expect it? (I blame Rom-Coms and the Bachelor.) Dancing together will not teach you how to read each other's minds, but it will help you learn how to better communicate and practice at it. Verbal and non-verbal communication can be learned through dancing and you can carry this into the rest of your marriage. You can't expect me to twirl for you unless you tell me that's what you want. 

One of the best things about my job teaching engaged couples to dance for their wedding is that I get to see how other couples deal with the same stresses I went through four years ago. I am constantly learning from you, my students, and if I apply what I learn, I really do think it will make me a better wife to my husband in the process. 

I hope to continue sharing what I learn here on this blog, albeit rather infrequently, so stay tuned.