An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Follow My Lead

“Dad dances like Bill Cosby. My mom dances like Winnie the Pooh,” our daughter, Lolly, informed her high school friends. I’d have choked her if she hadn’t been right. George has rhythm and can really move his feet. I can clap in time to a brisk rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” but dance rhythms are too complex for me to get the message from my ears all the way down to my feet while the music’s still playing.

Nevertheless, George and I decided to liven up January this year by signing up for a ballroom dance class. I expected George to excel, but no. He’s an individualist on the dance floor rather than a leader—and my rhythmic limitations require a strong leader to push me around the dance floor in time to the music.

People often use the leader/follower dance pattern as an analogy for marriage. So long as the husband leads and the wife follows, a marriage flows with grace and harmony. Now, I don’t know any professional dancing couples, but I doubt those who stay married carry the leader/follower pattern into everyday life.

Lolly actually married a former member of the BYU ballroom dance team, but she refuses to dance with him because he won’t let her lead. Fortunately, they don’t try to extend the leader/follower pattern in their day-to-day living.

Back in the ERA era, we had a bishop who preached, “The husband is the head of the family. It’s not a question of who is more qualified; it’s a question of following God’s counsel.” Obviously, our good bishop interpreted the “shall” in Genesis 3:16 to mean “should.” Another, older meaning of “shall” is “will.” I suspect the phrase, “thy husband shall rule over thee” is predictive rather than prescriptive.  

Our ward was full of couples where the wife had more common sense than her husband. Young wives agonized over their husbands’ decisions to buy newer, faster cars rather than save for a house down payment. One distressed sister asked me, during a visiting teaching visit, if she had to accompany her husband to the X-rated films with graphic sex scenes that he enjoyed. I quoted Brigham Young’s advice, “No woman has to follow her husband to hell,” and escaped before she could ask my advice should her husband expect her to perform the erotica he enjoyed viewing. A visiting teacher’s responsibility only goes so far.

But back to dancing. George and I have never figured out who leads, either on the dance floor or in our marriage. He does his Bill Cosby glide, while I bobble like a stuffed bear. We never really know where we’re going. We’ll never impress a judge, but at least we’re on our feet.

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Comments on: "Follow My Lead" (2)

  1. Funny, my husband and I did few twirls in our kitchen yesterday afteroon. He can’t lead or follow and I excel at both.

    • Does your excellent leading extend beyond the dance floor? I’d hate to think of your husband hiking the hills in his boxers singing “I wear no pants!” a la the Super Bowl Dockers ad.

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