Now that I’ve been tango dancing for two years, I get the meaning of this old adage on a whole new level. But it took me a lot longer to really “get it” in my relationship.
Like many other folks I know, there have been times when I insisted that the main cause of problems in my relationship was the OTHER person. Oh sure, I played some part in the tiffs and unsuccessful attempts at communication. But mostly, it was his fault.
Years ago, during my master’s program in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica, we were assigned the book Conscious Loving by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. Of the many books on relationships that I’ve read over the years, this one really spoke to me because it talked about how each person is 50% responsible for the relationship AND 100% responsible for SELF.
This puts a new groove on things. It means that although my partner may act in ways that aren’t helpful or that trigger conflict, I still have complete responsibility for my own behaviors and actions in response. No matter what circumstances we are in, we always have a choice about how we respond. (Give Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning a read for some serious and truly inspirational writing on this subject.)
It is far too easy to point fingers, hold resentments and make excuses for why our relationships are not working. But when we get serious about improving our partnership, and really commit to making it fulfilling and successful we have to take responsibility for our own choices. It is within that we have the greatest capacity for change and the power to create the relationship of our dreams.
In the book mentioned above, Frankl states that “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
While tango dancing, I find I have the best dance experiences when I am open, “listening” to my partner, letting go of expectations, and staying balanced on my own axis. No matter what kind of dance we have together, I have 50% of the responsibility for its fun factor and 100% of the responsibility for my own dancing style and experience.
So next time I find myself thinking that it’s all my husband’s fault, maybe I’ll just start dancing with him instead! Because after all, it takes two to tango 😉
Sofia Jamison enjoys helping couples at all stages of their relationship to improve their “dancing” skills and transform their relationship challenges into self-growth and deeper connection. Her private practice is located at Cypress Beauty & Wellness in Sellwood.