Are You And Your Partner Out Of Sync?


Learn how not to step on each other's toes in the relationship dance.

Some years ago, I taught a ballroom lesson for a couple new to a studio. They had been dancing for several years in another part of the country and had dropped in for a lesson. I immediately noticed the women's hostile tone while at the same time she was telling me how dancing was her joy and passion in life. Finally, she admitted she was upset because she believed her husband was unable to provide an adequate lead. As I watched the couple dance, I could see that the real nature of the challenge did not lie in the inability of the man to lead, but rather in the inability of the women to receive. Interestingly, when the male partner tried to lead a step, the women became rigid and locked down her muscles. This effectively blocked his ability to lead, as well as her ability to receive a lead. Sadly the dancing had become a reflection of their inability to connect and communicate on the floor as well as off.

Often times the very thing you say you want most in life is the very thing you are blocking yourself from receiving. As the lesson continued, I suggested she relax her arms and body in order to better receive the lead from her partner. To this suggestion she immediately went into a discourse on how they "should" be better after all the time and money they had invested in the dancing. Again, she refused to accept any responsibility that the difficulties in the partnership had anything to do with how she was showing up to dance. 

After a few minutes of listening, I gave her some feedback. I suggested as long as she was invested in being angry about where they "should" be in their dancing, rather than accepting where they were, she would most likely continue to feel stuck and dissatisfied. I told her that if she desired to improve her dancing and feel passion and happiness she would need to learn to accept both herself and her partner at their current level. She raised a single eyebrow in acknowledgment of my comments and then with a little tip of the chin started listening to some of my suggestions and they started dancing better with one another. In my way of thinking, she allowed herself in that moment to start receiving. She had a choice to make; continue to be angry and blame others, or start listening (receiving) and explore another perspective. To her credit, she chose the latter. 

In relationships, it is easy to look outward and label what your partner is failing to do, but how often do you flip it around and look inward at what you bring to the table. You might be surprised to discover that your partner is offering things to the relationship, but you're so focused on what is not happening that you can't receive the offering.

We can become rigid in our thinking, just like the woman had in her body. When we are rigid, we get stuck. The healthiest and longest lasting relationships are those where each partner can relax and let go of how it should be and start dealing with what is. I don't know what became of this couple, but hopefully they are happily dancing having learned to give and receive by accepting one another where they are verses where they thought they should be.

Are there places in your life are you blocking yourself from receiving? Are you blaming another or an environment for lack in your life? Choosing to explore these questions is not comfortable, nor easy, but if you decide to explore them, you can uncover rich jewels that will free you and allow you to dance better in all your relationships.

Traci J Cleary, Ed.S, NCC, BCC
Connection Point Coaching, LLC


  • "Your task is not to seek for love, but to find the barriers in yourself that you have built against it." —A Course In Miracles
  • "Choose to see the barriers you encounter as gifts not obstacles. You will receive much more from adopting this perspective." —Traci J. Cleary

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