The leader is not the only one who can initiate a dance.
As a follow, I invite my partner to dance with me. I invite his leadership as a way of feeling our connection and playing together.
The last night of our recent trip, we were lying in bed and I invited him to lead me.
"Is there any way I can be a better partner to you?"
He thought about it and tenderly said, "you are such a good partner to me."
I believed him and relished in the beautiful feedback. I am a good partner to him and we both know it. I know his life is richer, more peaceful, more beautiful, and much more hilarious because I am in it. I let myself feel his love and his appreciation of the partner that I am.
And I stayed quiet, because I really want to know if there's a way I could be loving him better. Not because I think he doesn't love me or I think I'm not loving him well, but because I crave to love him better. Loving well is one of my favorite activities in the world.
I was feeling it in his body, there was something he thought of when I asked. I reflected on the kindness and goodwill he showed by beginning with praise. He's so tactful. I kept my heart open, there was no anxiety, just a gentle welcoming of what I could feel coming through him.
"Well, remember when you talked about not yelling to me from the other room? That happened for a while and then kinda stopped happening. I like a quiet house. And texting."
I warmed at hearing this.
Our house has an open floor plan but it's huge. It makes for a long walk to the other room, while the openness makes calling to someone seem like a good idea when actually it's not effective, for the same reason we don't wanna walk over there--it's far the fuck away.
Texting, on the other hand, makes it feel like we're both at work and touching in, keeps the house quiet and us only communicating when we're available. We choose exactly when we check our texts, which is opt-in that yelling from another room does not seek.
I said "I love how traveling lets us reconsider how we want the house to feel."
In this conversation we were tuning the container of our relationship, our living situation. This is a conversation about excellence, not about survival or injury or repair. This is the kind of conversation that stops us from ever getting to a place of resentment. We talk about it when we stray from the ideal, not when we're scraping for the bare minimum.
I invite his leadership and receive it. I do not receive criticism or complaint when we have these tuning conversations (or at any other time I'm receiving his leadership).
Leadership is for every day, not for when something goes wrong. It feels good in every instance, not just when everything is going right.