Thursday Thought — Does it take Two to Tango?

A gem from our Gems page….

‘It takes two to tango.’  UGH. I hate that saying! As a ballroom dancer it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me to hear that misquoted. Both people have to know their steps for the dance to look good but ONLY ONE person can screw up the dance by not practicing the steps enough or refusing to move their feet! (Or even worse, purposely trying to trip you!) Don’t even get me started on how the man is supposed to lovingly and firmly lead!! (And, yes, the woman should gracefully follow but she can only do so if she trusts that the man is not going to dance her right into a brick wall.) One of the reasons I love ballroom dance is because, to me, it is symbolic of the way God created a marriage to be when it is healthy.  (By a survivor, calling herself ‘Wondering’,  who left this comment at Leslie Vernick’s blog.)

11 thoughts on “Thursday Thought — Does it take Two to Tango?”

  1. As a visual person, I can see a lot in a few words. The word ‘tango’ as you describe what can be, stirs up negative, dark emotions. Thank you for your description of ‘ballroom dance’. I feel much lighter and hopeful.

  2. I hate it too because of the implication that there is never a victim, that this is a normal marriage in which neither party is an abuser and both are equally responsible for the “problem”. It falsely accuses the innocent party before all the facts are known and even after they have been brought to light, as if a victim somehow wants to be mistreated.

  3. My husband says something similar to me all the time..”it takes two hands to clap!” Drives me crazy…question on my heart this morning: when I keep trying to speak up to church & family members, people keep saying things like, oh that’s “normal”..every marriage has problems. Really? Ripping doors off their hinges is normal? Road rage is normal? Retaliating at my kids is normal? How do you respond to that?

    1. In all honesty, you can’t respond to it. These people don’t understand because they are not educated about what abuse is. Too many think that abuse is only the physical. I would encourage you to find someone who understands abuse for what it is; otherwise, it just makes you feel more crazy.

    2. NT Wife, it’s so frustrating isn’t it! They keep bleating this “that’s normal” mantra, as it helps them live their blinkered lives. . .

      I think that it’s often impossible to educate these folks who want to remain clueless. But when we do attempt to educate them, I think it helps to bear in mind a few things, so we don’t exhaust our energies needlessly.

      1. Tell them you think they are not well enough informed about domestic abuse, and ask them if they would like to learn more about its dynamics.

      2. If they say they are willing to learn, tell them that it’s not just a list of discrete behaviors (e.g. slamming doors, yelling loudly, using verbal put downs, road rage, etc) it is a pattern of coercive control. That pattern of behavior can be made up of many ‘small’ things, things that each in themselves may be relatively insignificant and each of those things may indeed occur from time to time in “normal” marriages. But in domestic abuse, it is not just the fact that these discrete things occur, but the intent with which they are done and the ongoing pattern which is the sum total of all the parts, which is designed to obtain and maintain control over the other person, and which has the effect of crushing them and taking away their freedom of choice and keeping them living in fear.

      This pattern is designed to keep the target walking on eggshells to avoid ‘trouble’. It corrodes and shreds their well being and sense of personal dignity and integrity, and the abuser does this very subtly, by degrees, so it’s like the frog being slowly boiled to death in a pot of water.

      1. Barbara,

        Your comment was so well put. I would go one step further, too.

        At the end of my 42 year marriage to a Jekyll / Hyde with a big anger problem, I was not only walking on eggshells and feeling more and more like the frog in the put of boiling water unable to get out, I sensed that something was “breaking” inside me. Hard to define, here. Perhaps that “crushed spirit” we read of in Scripture is a better way to describe it.

        For the first time in all those years I truly felt that despite having done all I knew to do, or felt inspired to do (counseling, reading, growing up-I married as a teen-following all the advice I got) nothing was going to ever change. I gave up in a kind of numb, “what’s the use” emotional catatonia. I believe that may have been both what inspired him to rage at me that final time (bemoaning my “silent treatment,” as he thought it was), and my sensing the “prompting” by, I believe, the Holy Spirit, to “leave, now,” in the middle of that last vicious spate of verbal abuse. I have heard many other survivors of abuse who are also Christians mention that prompting, too.

        Enough was enough.

        And, no surprise here, after my ex stated in his follow-up letter (I only texted him after that and through the divorce proceedings, having been advised to have no other contact) that he could understand if I could not longer trust him, he also referenced “but it takes two to tango.”

        By the way, by far, the two best books of the stacks I have read in my recovery (besides the Bible), are The Lundy Bancroft book, Why Does he Do That? and Truama and Recovery. It’s nice to see them referenced here, too.

  4. For me, this is what bugs me about “it takes two to tango.” It only takes one person to be a grouch. It only takes one person to upset the entire family. You can be as peaceful as humanly possible, but for some reason, these abusers love drama.

    I would have to respectfully disagree that a marriage is where the husband lovingly leads as that is what a Godly marriage is. I believe that each spouse has strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes the husband may need to lead, and sometimes the wife may need to lead.

    When people say that the man is the head of the home, are they stopping to think what that really means? I am finding that too many believers take that statement to mean that the husband makes all the decisions, or the final decision, etc. Being heading of the home means “a source of love and security.” He is to love and physically protect his family. It has nothing to do with making all the decisions. Another thing to consider is when the disciples asked Jesus about who will be the greatest in Kingdom of heaven, He responded by washing their feet. Being a leader in God’s eyes is being the greatest servant. Being a leader in the world’s eyes is giving directions, as in dancing. It’s important to keep Scripture in context.

  5. It only takes one person to ruin a relationship like one drop of dye can color a whole glass of water. Perhaps I did have a part in the tango, I used to be nicer, trusting, more needy, and blind to this type of person. I also probably believed in the two to tango because why else would someone behave this way? Now I know

    1. It take two to tango if both of them know the steps of the dance.
      It only takes “one bad dance partner” to mess up the whole dance “all by himself”
      I refuse to share in the blame game now that I see how my abuser worked against me for his ultimate gain.
      Plus if I was guilty of anything it would have been #1 Wrongly trusting him to be a good man.( Not a Crime) .And #2 upon realizing he was an imposter/deceiver,wanting to free myself of him. ( Also not a crime) and #3 responding in self defense to his abusive nature. response to his abusive nature. Gee I’m looking pretty good compared to my abuser .
      So I’m Vindicated! Let the blame remain on the abuser. where it belongs.
      Even one of his enabling friends tried to get me to admit to “some of the blame”, as that would have put a sly foot in the door for the next “reconciliation game.”.
      No thanks, not guilty again
      ( And even so why reconcile what never was right to begin with?)

      1. Soldier girl, I agree the abuser is responsible for their own behavior and the blame should rest on them. I’m glad you were able to see through your abuser and his ally’s nonsense.

        I probably could have written my post better to explain how I feel. For me, I find some strength in learning how I can be different and stronger now and after I break free. I don’t ever wish to go through this again, spouse, friend nor family.

        I grew up with abusive family members but figured my husband wasn’t like them so he must not be abusive. Now realizing they pretty much have the same core beliefs. Looking back, I now see the signs I missed (ie. doing nice things for me even though I said no, speaking poorly of previous relationships etc). I was too agreeable and not discerning enough, and even early on I allowed him to tell me and do what he thought was ‘best’ for me. Not blaming myself as I certainly did not ask for this for me or my children. It has been a blessing to have learned from Lundy’s book and this website and I feel like I’m not the same person I was so hopefully I can avoid these type people in the future and not get slowly sucked in. I see why people believe the two to tango theory because if you’ve never been through this or witnessed it, it sounds almost unreal how one person can be such a nightmare. Maybe they need to watch the news more!

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