It Takes Two to Tango

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- Ouch! You're stepping on my toes!

Sorry, but what do you expect? I'm not a professional dancer!

Quit it!

What?

You got to go right!

I'm going right!

Not your right, my right.

OK, I'm done dancing!

This is not a scene from Dirty Dancing or Footloose. It's a painful memory from early on in our marriage. Usually, when things don't go according to plan it's easy to give up. But don't give up yet, there's hope! In dancing, as well as in marriage, that first step is crucial. For a successful marriage the crucial first step is learning how to manage expectations.

WordNet.com defines expectation as "a belief about or mental picture of the future." When individuals enter marriage they do so with a mental picture of what their future will look like. Marriage is like a dance. For a dance to go well both partners need to know what the other is expecting. When one is learning how to dance, audible communication is a must. "You move to the right, then move to the left." "You step here and I step there." At first it seems tedious. However, after enough practice, the dancers become so in tuned, soon music is all they hear.

Once the newness of marriage wears off we're left with reality. And reality is the enemy of that bright future we all envisioned when we wedded. Most couples have high expectations of their marriages. But every couple lives in reality. If reality is left unmanaged, it will leave most couples unsatisfied and disillusioned. To solve this dilemma couples must narrow the gap between reality and expectations. Through communication, developing a vision for their marriage, having good conflict resolution skills and honoring and protecting their marriage, couples can bridge the gap between reality and expectations.

Once a couple closes the gap between reality and expectations, the dance of marital bliss becomes a simple tango both can enjoy with minimal toe torture.

(Deanna Vazquez, Capt. Vazquez's wife, contributed to this article)