Friday, October 24, 2014

Marry Someone You Can Dance With




My parents-in-law recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and all their six children decided to throw them a big party to mark this major milestone. Five decades of marriage. 

Though admittedly, I've never been a fan of big, lavish parties, I do concede that being married to the same person for 50 years is indeed worth celebrating. It makes it even more of a big deal when you consider that my father-in-law is a stroke survivor and was severely ill, hospitalized, and almost did not make it back in 2012. Since then, his mobility and ability to care for himself have been affected, and to say that it has changed his life, as well as my mother-in-law's, is an understatement. 

In spite of all these challenges though, both of them clearly looked forward to renewing their vows in Church, and were more than game to put on their dancing shoes for the party that followed that evening. 

Original / Unedited Photo taken by my brother-in-law, James Manuel

It was a beautiful, fun party well attended by family and close friends. Good food, good music, heartfelt speeches by two of their sons and their grandchildren.

But to me, the highlight of the evening was when my father-in-law, or Big Dad as we fondly call him, requested that the DJ play the boogie. And this was after he and my mother-in-law (Big Mom) already danced to their song, Frank Sinatra's "The Nearness of You".

Big Dad could hardly move, walks with a cane, and sometimes has a really hard time breathing. And yet when he danced with Big Mom, you could see both faces beaming with joy and love. Most of all, it amazed me how, in spite of Big Dad's physical challenges, he still knew exactly where to place his hands to hold his wife, catch her turns and help her spin. It was undeniable that these two had a rhythm that each knows by heart.

It struck me that perhaps that's what happens when you love someone for a really long time and spend most of your life together. You get to know that person deeply, intimately, to a point where life turns into a graceful choreography that only the two of you can wonderfully execute. This knowledge of each other, this undeniable familiarity doesn't simply lead to a routine, but more importantly, to a rhythm

Routine implies a certain rigidity, predictability. You know exactly what's going to happen next and it's all about having an established pattern.

Rhythm on the other hand, implies some variation and necessitates an awareness of the other, an interdependence, and being sensitive to how the other is. Each person's steps may be imperfect and may vary from time to time, but the other still catches up, and both constantly choose to flow together. 

Marriages (or relationships) are never perfect. Missteps are bound to happen and a lot of the times, it's exhausting. But when you've found a partner who, for some miraculous reason, also hears the same music and beat as you do, it really makes it harder to just leave the dance floor and quit. 

Life spins us in so many different directions all the time. We trip, fall, bruise and bleed. And though we are strong enough to pull ourselves up, you can't deny that having that familiar hand to hold you, swing and sway with you, and help you keep your balance, makes a universe of difference. It's that one person that makes the spinning more bearable, the dance less tiring. When you know that the other person's hand is home, and that it's the only hand you want catching you when you fall, you know it's real and that you're dancing for keeps. Love like that is ALWAYS worth celebrating and you don't even need to wait before you reach your 50th anniversary.
Original / Unedited Photo taken by: Nel Bunag



18 comments:

  1. 50 years! wow! Huge congrats! That said, Joy, I have something to share here: my grandfather is a fantastic dancer. Really great. He is also a womaniser. Sigh...I wonder if there is a link? Anyway, I am glad that you enjoyed the party...

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    1. Thanks, Muriel! Like I said, you might just be on to something with that link, although I'm sure there are a lot of exceptions as well. But really the key is to choose one who dances well on AND off the dance floor.

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  2. so beautiful, Joy. I hope I find that rhythm someday!

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  3. That is just so incredibly beautiful Joy.

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  4. I love this so much Joy. I've been married for 23 years and I love to dance. I married my best friend. We love to laugh together.

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    1. Being friends and genuinely LIKING each other are very important. You're one lucky gal!

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  5. A really touching post, Joy, it left me with a tear in my eye. Not many people last this long in a relationship and not many relationships are this strong. Your in-laws are really lucky to have each other and I suspect that the amazing bond they have was a significant factor in your father's-in-law recovery. I think you got to the heart of it - no relationship is perfect, but finding the right rhythm, being able to tune-in and trust each other without a doubt, is what you need to survive life's ups-and-downs.

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    1. Thanks so much and I hope they were tears of happiness! :-)))

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  6. Congratulations to Big Mom and Big Dad! I liked this because it reminded me of my hubby and I. In 2009 I got really sick something I will be writing about this month. I almost died and spent a month in the hospital and still have trouble with my left side. I have been married for 23 years while not anywhere near 50 we have had our share of ups and downs. Even though I am mom's caregiver, he is mine. He works everyday, does the big house cleaning down to the mopping and vacuuming, He helps me when I can't get the right word out, buttons my pants sometimes when I use the restroom and ties my shoes but when we dance all of that is forgotten and I am just his #1 girl again and it feels wonderful. We have a language that we speak without any words and can be in a crowd and still get a whole conversation out without uttering a sound. We finish each others sentences more often than not. I am so blessed and I thank God everyday he gave him to me!

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    1. Love is truly in the details and the small things we often take for granted. You and your hubs have hit the jackpot! And it's something to be really grateful for, as you said! Thanks again Rena!!

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  7. So rhythm is the key! I have 2 left feet, my fiance has 2 left feet, so here's hoping. 50 years is certainly to be celebrted in this day and age particularly. x

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  8. Definitely don't wait! What a beautiful tribute Joy!

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  9. Love the dance/marriage analogy. It's so true, life can be tough, you need to be able to dance together. In all ways.

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  10. Awesome sis, I love the differentiation between routine and rhythm and then bringing it all back together. I second the notion of being able to find that someday.

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Let me know your thoughts!