A reader of my Amateur Dancers magazine articles wrote me the story of things gone wrong in her marriage and how ballroom dancing helped her mentally and physically to overcome this problem. Unfortunately, she had a mother in law who was geared to disliking this lovely young woman. She tried her best to break up the young couple and never showed any love toward her son’s two children. He had wonderful, beautiful and smart offspring and this terror of a mother in law always displayed her love and affection towards her daughter’s children. 

The son’s children did not really care since they had another grandmother who adored and loved them so much. This grandmother helped to make up for their father’s mother who was the opposite of their mother’s mother. Their father pretended that when they were all together and his mother made snide comments to his children or showed her love for the other grandchildren in a more positive manner, that he never heard the remarks.

 The young daughter would say to her dad as they rode home in the car from these “family” occasions “Dad, did you hear what grandma said?’ He said he had not heard it at all or if he admitted to hearing it downplayed the tone of the remark. After much time had passed, the children dreaded going to holiday dinners at the obnoxious grandma’s house. Also, there was his sister who was the mother of the grandchildren that his mother adored and she too was a duplicate of her mom. So the son’s children not only had to endure their hated grandmother, they also had another presence- that of their father’s sister.

Years rolled by and the two wonderful and beautiful children went off to college. They had grown up with one grandmother who completely and fully loved and adored them and on the other side, a grandmother who barely could carry on a conversation with them.

One day sparks flew and the two no longer talked to the other grandmother and life became easier. Unfortunately, the good grandmother passed away but her memory and her love for these two sustained them and they both named their own sons after her as was the custom of their religion to honor a dead relative or friend that you loved. So their sons has the male version of their beloved grandmom’s name to bestow upon her in death-their unforgettable love she gave them and they to her.

During the episodes of all this turmoil in the family and with the father’s constant denying that his mother and sister were causing unhappiness towards his wife and two children, the husband and wife took up ballroom dancing. They excelled in it and the wife went on to compete with their professional teacher in many competitions and every trophy or medal she won, she told her own mom that this was dedicated to her. Even when her mom had passed on, she always “spoke” to her beloved mom and thanked her for being her and for loving her son and daughter with all her heart. They in turn still remember and cherish the years they had with the “good grandmother.”

 Of course, the other one never really got to know or care about her son’s children even though she professed her love for this son. In her evil mind, she could not distinguish that if she really loved her son that much, then she should love his children too. To her, her daughter’s children were what mattered. Ballroom dancing helped the wife to forget the awful moments, nasty comments and terrible family holiday dinners. Ballroom dancing cemented the couple’s relationship and when they danced or took ballroom dance lessons at the studio happiness overcame the ugliness of the husband’s family. He did not really feel the pressure that his wife and children did because he had the marvelous attitude to look away.

 Looking away at problems is the way some folks cope with life. Not all can turn to a sport or hobby because they possibly cannot afford the costs or do not have the time to spend on it. In this case, the woman involved was able to stabilize her home, her life and her children’s lives because twice or three times a week she was able to relax and help her mind to cope with her in-law problems.

 So ballroom dance can not only be a wonderful exercise and hobby, it can be a calming moment in a hectic day. When advertisements are placed in magazines or newspapers for ballroom dancing recruits, it is rarely said that it can help your mind. We all know we need a keen mind to dance. Before I took dance up, I thought it was your feet that did the work. I remember thinking if I cannot look down at my feet, how will I be able to move.

We quickly learn we cannot look at our feet from our first lesson.

 The ads should say that ballroom dancing can ease the mind, clear the thoughts and also be good exercise. So the writer who wrote to me all about how ballroom dancing lessons, social dances and competition helped her to keep her marriage going and her mind clear is right on target when she says DANCE SAVED HER MARRIAGE AND GAVE HER THE GRACE TO CONTEND WITH HER LIFE. So to ballroom dancing, we give this accolade, honor and tribute because it surely is a beautiful entity.

 Elita S. Clayman
 December 2006

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