What Would a Great Marriage Feel Like?


When you’re thinking others have a great marriage and yours is so-so or worse, what do you imagine a great marriage would feel like?
I think a great marriage feels like swing dancing. It’s not static and unchanging. It’s being pushed away and pulled back with just the right tension in the bonds connecting you. It’s being wrapped in a hold then spun back out on your own. It’s never forgetting you’re dancing, almost never missing the beat, always paying attention for the subtle cues from your partner, whether you’re leading or being led.
It’s challenging at times, joyous at others. It can be sensuous, energetic, or minimalist, just moving in tandem to the rhythm of life. You made need to duck, turn, loosen your hold, or hold on tight, one right after the other.
If you start dancing your own way, you’re likely to stumble or step on your partner’s toes. You must lead or follow. When you follow, you listen for cues with every part of your body, then deliver what’s asked for, even if it’s not what you expected. When you lead, your goal is to make your partner look like a great dancer, even if it means making your cues more obvious, doing a quick shuffle to correct for a misstep, or extending an arm to prevent a run-in your partner cannot see coming.
A great marriage feels constraining at times and joyously free at other times. It feels like three bodies: yours, your partner’s, and the one you become when you’re dancing well together. It feels safe, but it also pushes you to dance faster, try some trickier turns, and adjust to the music and the dance floor that the two of you have no control over.
The only reason to talk is to ask for what you need or encourage your partner, never to bemoan the dances you’re sitting out. Remember to put on your dancing clothes and turn on the music often. Find couples to befriend who are even better dancers than the two of you.
If you don’t like the way your spouse is leading, don’t take over leading. Instead, follow well and ask for the new steps you want to add. If your spouse does not want to lead right now, you lead. But remember your role as leader is to make your spouse look like a great dancer. Call upon his or her greatest strengths. If you want to add something new to your partner’s repertoire, make sure you prepare him or her for it and prepare yourself to compensate gracefully for any missteps.
A great marriage feels like a rush of uplifting endorphins from the exertion plus the trusting, binding comfort of oxytocin from brushing hands over arms and backs and shoulders. At its best, marriage feels like the joy of dancing close to each other and as one, then apart so you can feel with all your body the pull of the connection between you, then together again into an elaborate turn that elevates you or is just plain fun.
What in your marriage already feels this way?

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • That is a really good analogy. I like the positive feel of thinking of marriage as a dance instead of something else. Also, letting him lead and making him look good fits well with dancing and marriage. I don’t think I do that enough.

  • This makes me think that another analogy could be made to doing two-person improv. (I’ve been taking improv comedy classes lately.) When I have more time, maybe I’ll write it up. Thanks, as always, for another thought-provoking post! (I also liked the one about good teamwork not being required for a good marriage — quite counter-intuitive for me, but important!

  • Wow! I had to share this on FB. I love your words in this post. I think you give the perfect analogy to the marriage I hope to have. Thank you for this!

  • What an excellent description of the beautiful dynamic in a strong and lasting marriage.
    My husband George and I always say that “being happily married” is a choice two people make every day…
    We’re very happily married but at the same time, that does not mean that we are always happy.
    Following your imagery, we “always know that we are dancing together as we go through this marriage” and if we we occasionally trip over our feet and miss a step, we can always pick it up on the next beat.
    Thank you for writing and posting this!

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

Assume Love in Your Inbox!

Read About

Recent Comments

Popular Posts

Visit Patty’s Other Site

Enjoy Being Married logo


Social Media