In my late teenage years and early twenties I was an ambitious ballroom dancer. Sport is not my kind of pastime, it mostly bores me, but this was different. Dancing involved many things I value: it was competitive, it was challenging, it required concentrating on complex routines while always looking your best. And it involved music which was a main aspect of my adolescent life – playing the flute, the piano, singing in the choir and receiving lessons in musical theory and composing, there was hardly a day I did not enter the our municipal music school.
There is a dance the capital is famous for. It is especially challenging because if done correctly* one wrong tilt of the head can cause the unity of two partners to break apart. Suddently the pace is too fast, a foot is in the wrong place and next thing you know is you are falling – hard and fast. I have seen some spectacular crashs in my time. It never happened to me because I have avoided this dance whenever possible. For a woman it means totally handing over control to your partner, as you are practically blind. Always keeping your head in the center of rotation, you can only see the world swirl by. If I would have to state the one thing I do worst, it is letting go of control.
In five years of dancing I have learned one rule in particular: no matter how tempting it might be, never pick your significant other as your partner. Not if you have any ambitions. Simple matter of fact statements so quickly turn personal accusations if the relationship goes further than the dancefloor. “Your foot was not supposed to be there” is understood as “why can’t you do anything right” and at a later stage of frustration also literally said that way.
The White Queen is wise in her view that a team that has to function under a lot of stress and be aimed at success should remain on a professional level. Too much personal affection clouds the mind, makes you soft to criticism and turns statements into insults.
Now, why do I tell you this?
The most obvious theoretical consequence would be to end my relationship with the Knight. We were exactly at that stage of frustrated dance partners, both of us. Matter of fact statements or simple actions were taken as “why can’t you do anything right?” But in further consequence, there is another lesson. Sometimes “your foot is not supposed to go there” means nothing more than just these words.
Someone had to make the first step of not taking every damn thing personal.
So I decided to let go of my grudge and anger and start with a clean slate. When something bothered me, I took care of it, quietly and matter of factly. Every day I did some tidying up, cleaned the kitchen, did laundry if necessary. I never said a word about it to the Knight. At first he reacted as expected, angry and defiant. He saw my cleaning as me accusing him of making a mess. Which as a matter of fact he did. He did make a mess. And I tidied it up. But I never put an accusation into anything I did, not anymore.
What time I had left I spent with Elsa, without tongue in cheek remarks about him not leaving his computer for the whole evening. Every single day he prepared Elsa for the daycare center, dropped her there, sacrificed his lunch break to pick her up and drive her to the afternoon daycare lady and on most days he was to one bringing her home as well. Looking at it that way, I had to admit it was very understandable that those two needed a break in the evening.
After a while he stopped his tantrums, because one can only be angry for so long at an impassive opponent. We had finally reached serenity. A good basis to build upon.
* On most social occasions it is danced in its easier version.