Call Your Relationship Onto the (Dance) Floor
Seattle-based dance instructor Ari Levitt uses dance as a tool for healing, compassionate listening, and conflict resolution.
Put your best foot forward — but that’s not the whole dance. “On a date, someone may put their best foot forward, but often you tend to forgive things that should be red flags. How truly companionable are you? There’s no right answer. But it’s very clear on the dance floor.” Don’t blindly follow the steps. “Dancing with steps is the shallowest way to think about how we’re flowing together. Once you’re engaging and listening, you can start getting into the language of movement and riffing off each other. You’re inspiring each other. Let’s really go deep. Those are different levels of conversation. You can have a deep, profound conversation in three and a half minutes that will leave you feeling appreciated and all the things you want to feel in a relationship.” Work on your conversation style. “In social dance, the follower has power, and it’s liberating. It’s more about being quiet and listening to the movement. It’s a good conversation. Off the dance floor, when you’re really listening to someone, you’re not listening to the words they’re saying and being hijacked into your own thoughts or getting defensive. You acknowledge their narrative and process it at a deeper level. You can go into deep levels of conversation. You have to be aware of it to do it well. When you’re dancing, a lot of people have to be made aware of those conversational styles of dance.” Don’t get stuck in the same routine. “Dance is a great catalyst. Are you continuing to grow together, or have you grown and is it habitual? The process of learning it is enjoyable. You’re bonding in a way that’s incredibly profound.”
Five Tips for a Better Partnership
Easy things you can start doing right now for a stronger relationship, from Carrie Cole, certified Gottman master trainer and research director for the Gottman Institute.
Be quick to say, “I’m sorry for my part in this misunderstanding.” Say that sooner than later. We live in a culture that tends to blame others. It’s hard to look at ourselves. It takes two people to have a conflict, so both people contribute in some way.
Look for all the good things your partner does. They get the kids’ school clothes or supplies ready; they take out the trash. There’s probably 100 tiny things each one is doing we take for granted.
Tell your partner something that you love about them everyday…and not the same thing. Find something new to say the next day. Even if they’re doing something for someone else. There are all kinds of things you can say.
Ask for what you need in a positive way. Sometimes we expect our partners to read our minds: “If you loved me you’d know what I want” — but they don’t.