One of my favorite movies is “Shall We Dance” with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. While I like Richard Gere as a romantic actor (think “Sommersby” and “First Knight”), what captured my heart in this movie was its story. Gere plays John Clark, a middle aged man in a long term marriage with a delightful wife who becomes bored with his life and starts looking for something more.
As usual, “something more” is a beautiful young woman about half his age. She is a dancer named Paulina, played by Jennifer Lopez, and Gere’s character, John, signs up for ballroom dancing lessons for the sole purpose of hoping to meet her.
Colored by my own personal experience, for the entire movie my heart is screaming, “Don’t do it! Don’t buy the lie, John! You have a beautiful, faithful wife and two great kids – don’t throw it all away for the illusion of excitement and fulfillment of all your wildest dreams with this hottie who is young enough to be your daughter!”
The most romantic scene in movie history unfolds after John’s wife extends him amazing grace, buying him dancing shoes (you have to watch the movie) to attend a going away party for Paulina, causing the scales to fall from John’s eyes before it is too late. John then decides, in the face of great temptation, to do the right thing. I cry my eyes out every time I watch this moment:
With Peter Gabriel’s “Book of Love” playing in the background, John comes up the escalator at a department store where his wife, Beverly, is working, looking dashing in a tuxedo, wearing the dancing shoes she bought him and carrying a single red rose. (Oh, be still my heart!)
John to Beverly: It’s a silly rose.
Beverly: It’s beautiful. Why aren’t you at the party?
John: Oh, because it’s a dance, and to dance you need a partner, and (looking deeply into Beverly’s eyes) my partner is right here. Beverly, dance with me.
Beverly: I don’t know how.
John: Yeah, you do. You’ve been dancing with me for nineteen years.
Beverly: I don’t know the steps.
John: I’ll teach you.
John: Right now.
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! My heart is pounding outside my chest! Pass the Kleenex!
Gentlemen, this is what women want. This is romance!
There is simply nothing more sexy, alluring and irresistible than a man who is strong and faithful in the face of temptation, who loves his wife and kids day in and day out for 19 years…or more! Through all the joy and sorrow, happiness and misery, peace and turmoil, a steady man who still says, “I do.” I do love you, I am committed to you, I still want to laugh with you, play with you, pursue adventures together with you and serve alongside you. I want you and no other.
Are you, like John, looking for something more? If you forfeit your family for a fantasy, you will live with the pain and bitter taste of regret for the rest of your life. You may change dance partners, but you will take your same dysfunctional dance steps into your next relationship. Don’t do it. Instead, learn how to dance with the husband or wife of your youth.
If your spouse is unwilling to take dance lessons – focus on your own dance steps. Even if only one of the marriage partners is a talented dancer, your dance can be beautiful. If you don’t believe me, watch the television series, “Dancing with the Stars,” where a professional dancer is paired with an amateur. Although only one of the partners is a skilled dancer, their dance together is lovely. The one who knows how to dance teaches and inspires the one who does not until that partner becomes a better dancer.
The Book of Love has something to say on the subject: husbands, love your wives, and wives, respect your husbands. Not because either of them deserves it, but because it is the only way to lasting happiness in a marriage. God said it and, as the Author of love, He knows a thing or two about it.
Love is a decision. Choose to keep your wedding vows. Give your spouse the best gift of all this Valentine’s Day – your rock solid commitment to stay in your marriage and – as far as it depends on you and by the grace of God – to make it the very best dance it can be.