I recently saw a comic showing an eager wife leading her much less eager husband into a dance class as the husband remarked that taking dance lessons was something like #1,382,076 on his bucket list. I laughed because I understood the man's plight.
My beautiful wife grew up dancing. While still a pre-teen, she and her siblings traveled from their home in California to far off Utah for a major dance competition. I have seen the pictures of them on stage with their fellow dancers dressed in western looking costumes.
In fact, the first time I met my wife was at a dance at the local LDS Institute. But this was after the dance was over. During the cleanup I sat down at a piano to tickle the ivories into eliciting some songs that were popular at the moment.
I still recall the song I was playing as two young ladies walked up and introduced themselves. The cutest one was doing the talking. She asked if I knew a guy that was a friend of hers. I had worked with him on Boy Scout camp staff and we both served in the same mission (he was still there), so I knew him quite well. He had apparently told the young lady to look me up.
Although I really wanted to ask this girl out and I felt that she was angling the conversation in that direction, I simply couldn't bring myself to do it. I didn't even get her number. I had always been painfully shy around girls. And after all, there were two girls standing there and it seemed incredibly awkward to ask one for a date with the other just standing there.
Time skip 4½ years. I was surprised to discover that my blind date (which had been arranged by one of my former Boy Scouts) was the same young lady whose number I had failed to get that night at the institute. She eventually told me how disappointed she was that I had not pursued a date and asked why I had been so reluctant. When I explained my reasoning, she replied that her friend was there only for moral support and was already committed to a guy anyway. (As if I could know that given my lack of mind reading skills.)
This highlights one of the differences between male and female thinking. Unlike guys, gals tend to enjoy inviting their gal pals to visit the restroom together. Although I will admittedly never quite comprehend this penchant, my future wife must have employed this kind of thinking when asking her friend to come along to talk to a guy. It apparently never crossed the mind of my sweetheart-to-be that, while friendly female support might seem helpful to her, simple math dictates that 2 gals + 1 guy = no date.
Just a few nights after our first date, I met my wife again at the LDS Institute, where she was engaged in dance practice with the institute's folk dance team. I marveled at the dancers, since dancing had never been my strong suit. I know what good dancing looks like, but I've never been able to make my body do it.
During our courtship and engagement, I attended many folk dance practices and performances. At our wedding reception the folk dancers did a number of dances and then performed a wedding waltz while my wife and I slowly waltzed in the center of the group. My wife had carefully trained me to do this limited step and everything went satisfactorily.
A couple of years later my wife informed me that she had signed us up for ballroom dance lessons at the local university. Being madly in love with my wife and knowing how important dancing had been to her throughout her life, I acquiesced.
Our dance classes stretched over a couple of months. I learned many dance steps, some of which I can still sort of do. I learned to lead. But I can only do so if my wife is constantly reminding me of what I am supposed to do next.
Dancing is supposed to flow from the inside out. Learning the techniques of dancing is meant to merely hone the body's natural response to the music, making the experience more enjoyable. But I have never been able to get to that point.
For me dancing has always been a series of unnatural mechanical movements, each requiring deliberate thought, shrouded in the stressful fog of trying to make sure that everything happens when it's supposed to happen. If pleasure is at one end of a given spectrum, dancing is somewhere toward the other end of the spectrum for me—near the likes of surgery without pain killers.
A couple of years ago some friends invited us to their stake's Valentine's dance. I agreed to go because I love my wife. I'm sure that dancing with me is far from the most enjoyable experience in the world. I was grateful when the husband of the other couple (who knows how to dance) danced with my wife for a few songs. I was also very grateful when the evening was over.
Although my wife has always loved dancing, she willingly puts up with my lack of dancing ability because she loves me and apparently finds other compensating factors in our relationship. I will dance with my wife when she really wants me to, because I love her enough to do something that I find less than enjoyable when it's important to her. And somehow, mixing her grace with my awkwardness enhances our relationship.