“You can get your partner to lead however you want; kick him or tell him the next move, but you do not lead!” joked our dance instructor, addressing the women in the salsa class. My husband and I signed up for salsa classes some time ago, and from the very first class I have been amazed at the parallel between dancing and marriage. A healthy Biblical marriage, I’d like to suggest, is a lot like a good dance. Here’s how:
1. The man leads - The man has enormous responsibility. He needs to know his steps, and know how to lead the woman. Based on the tug of his hand or the gentle push of his palm, the woman should know what step he is leading into. A gentleman leads his partner courteously to the dance floor and presents her. He bends to her level, when necessary, so that she can move with ease.
2. The woman submits - There is no shame in submitting; this is the nature of the dance. Submission does not mean that the man is a better dancer. For all you know, the woman may dance better, but the man still gets to lead. Why? Because God’s constitution said so. Can you imagine the utter confusion if the man and woman tried leading at the same time? There would be no dance; it would not be a pleasure to be a part of or a delight to watch, and it could result in serious injury.
3. The woman knows her steps - A woman knows and practices her steps. She can dance solo. When the man tugs her hand a certain way, she moves along with grace and without confusion because she knows her footing. A man is not essential in order for her to be able to do her steps, but when he’s there, she joyfully submits.
4. The woman doesn’t resist - The woman trusts the man’s leadership. Even when she is uncertain about what step he is leading her into, she follows knowing that she will be okay. She knows this dance, and he knows it too. She doesn’t fear.
5. The woman guides with gentleness - When the man messes up, she does not rebuke him harshly or embarrass him in front of others. She doesn’t sound an alarm, each time his imperfections slip through. Instead, with gentleness and a kind smile, she reminds him the right step. She bears with him as he improves without giving in to discouragement. As they keep practicing, they both get better, at leading and submitting, and the dance becomes a source of happiness for them, and a pleasure for others to watch.
There have been times I wished that I was a man so that I could be the leader. But, God thankfully has been helping me to appreciate how He created me. A man who wants to be the kind of husband that pleases God, has a more difficult task than us. A woman is called to joyfully submit to her husband like the church submits to Christ. Now if you are a part of the church, you know how often we fall short. But the man! The man is asked to love like Jesus; no room for imperfection there.
Happy dancing, people!
Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash
I appreciate all the parallels drawn here and-- disclaimer, I'm not married-- but I do salsa dance a ton, and I feel the real-life parallels are there but different. Basically they're not black and white at all! While the man leads, he also has to listen to his "follow" and like in relationships, the woman is initiating and leading a lot, especially beyond beginner level. Before the man's ask, the woman usually makes a friendly eye contact and smile to indicate she wants to dance. While dancing, the woman suggests different moves and has total freedom to shut down other moves (btw this is very important and can prevent an injury or uncomfortable moment) or even hijack the dance when the man is off beat or struggling. Dancing is always two people interacting, responding, co-creating. That sounds like a much better marriage to me than women submitting to their husbands if you consider submission total surrender. Sometimes the wife needs to step out and lead to save the marriage. Why shouldn't Christians support those wives? Let's not teach girls to "just follow, don't think," like some dance instructors thoughtlessly say. It would be great if men/husbands were all like Jesus, but that is tragically laughable 🙂