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Dancing on Ice

The most beautiful and descriptive picture of marriage is a world class ice-dancing couple.  To achieve success, each must first become competent as an ice-dancer in individual competition.  The self-mastery required to become a competent solo dancer equips each to master the intricate skills required to dance with a partner.

Consider the difficult and dangerous moves in which the couple must become competent if they are to survive and to become competitive.  How many painful and bruising falls must be endured in order to achieve beauty and grace on the ice?  When the couple falls on that cold hard ice, something went wrong. How do they deal with the pain of the fall, identify what went wrong, solve the problem, re-establish confidence in each other and try again?

If, while on the ice, each attack and blame the other and demand that their mate conform to their style of dance, the couple’s skill will not progress and the dance will end in bitterness and hurt feelings. When the dancers fall, if they are competent as individuals each will offer to make changes in their technique which will eliminate the problem.  Success is not achieved by blaming and finding fault with one’s mate, but rather by developing the competence and skill necessary to accommodate the differences in the other’s style.

Competence as an adult is measured by the degree to which we are willing to change in order to make room in our dance for the differences in our mate. This level of competence enables us to control our impulse to find fault with our mate when we fall on life’s cold and unforgiving ice.

If marriage is to have the beauty and grace of the ice dancers, each member of the couple must be willing to bring into the relationship what is needed rather than what is desired.  This is the self-mastery which enables a competent individual to coordinate their life with another even when what is needed seems not to be “fair” or “just.”  Marriage, like life, is not built on what we believe is “fair” or “just,” but rather on what is necessary to survive and to grow.  Specifically, a healthy growing marriage requires actions and attitudes which are in the best interest of the relationship rather than what is personally satisfying.

When the marriage is hurting, blaming and finding fault exacerbates the problem whereas competence gives the relationship what is needed rather than what is desired.   Just as the success of the ice dancers requires commitment and self-mastery, building a successful marriage requires hard work, a vision of what the marriage can be and the commitment to make that vision a reality.

–Dr. Orville Easterly

Copyright 2011 Orville E. Easterly All Rights Reserved –Do not copy.

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