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A slow song came on and I thought to myself, good time to refill my drink. I didn’t even waste a brain cell or heart pang on how he never wants to dance because after 12 years I’ve pretty much accepted him for who he is. Then, shockingly, before I could even begin to stand up, my husband said “do you want to dance?”

Um, who are you and what did you do with my husband? 12 years and you’ve never asked me to dance. I’ve begged and bribed you and dragged you on to the dance floor at a couple family weddings where I knew you were in a compromised position to treat me like a princess in front of my father. But you have NEVER been the one to initiate this.

I think I stuttered and didn’t really say yes. I definitely didn’t linger enough in the moment to fully appreciate it. Shock was the predominant reaction. How attractive is that? Open mouthed drool. But we danced. And not just high schoolish hands in awkward positions kind of dance. We were in rhythm and looking in each others eyes with sweet smiles. And…it must have been obvious that this was a special moment because someone thought to capture it on camera.

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How did this happen? How does this happen? Was it liquid courage? Perhaps a little bit of that removed some inhibitions but there was something bigger. It was a very special moment in time that created the right environment with the right people and the right atmosphere. We were in a very safe place full of couples who were in love. Couples who had just spent the past 2 days together, without kids, soaking in speakers and discussions and fun activities. Couples who had gotten to know each other starting with the common ground of being a firefighter and spouse. Couples who trusted the journey they were about to take when day 1 of Flame Fest 2014 began. And mostly, I believe, in a room full of men who would never judge him for honoring his wife with a dance. Men who were equally honoring their wives and had their love tanks full to the brim.

I’m not making this up. Being the primary coordinators of Flame Fest I really expected this week to feel like a lot of work and that we were sacrificing our marriage experience for the good of furthering strong marriages in the fire service. We both expected that and we were totally on board to let that be the case. And it did feel like a ton of work the first couple of days. Including staying up way too long on the first night still finalizing presentations while everyone else was out having a good time. Having that as an equal expectation really got us off on a good start. I enjoyed it when he surprised me from behind with a hug while I was busy in our planning room. When we smiled and waved at each other across the ball room each deeply engrossed in our own conversations. And by the time the 3rd day arrived and there were no longer a thousand details in front of us, relaxation struck and we were able to take a deep breath and smile right into each others eyes.

All of that was amazingly wonderful and the dance was, well, just icing on the cake. Actually, dancing in a room full of big tough firefighters who were sweeping their wives off their feet was absolutely PRICELESS!

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How can we freeze this moment? Bottle these feelings? I know the tough times will come. It’s inevitable. How do we make a savings bank where we can draw from these precious moments when our stress is high and our tempers short?

I wish there were a formula or a magic pill or a time capsule transporter I could give you all. But I’ll try to sum it up with the ingredients that were in this secret sauce.  Because this is going to keep us filled up for a very long time….

1. Hang with couples that are in love

Surround yourself with people who honor marriage and their spouses. Doesn’t mean they are perfect all the time and every day is a slow dance. But these are the people that will give you the big “Hey!” when you start getting frustrated and taking it out on your other half.

2. Spend time near the dance floor

If you aren’t there, he’s never going to have a chance to ask you to dance. (or whatever it is you’d like him to do). It’s not just about the physical place you are though. It’s about space in your mind and heart for the moments. Time to make the connection. And the location, the music, the ambiance, are just the last few elements.

3. Use Gentle words

If you’ve never told him that you’d love to dance more, he may never know. And he’s not a mind reader. Gentle words to tell him are far more effective than words that sting and bite and leave marks of guilt. “You never ask me to dance” in a haughty tone. Probably never gonna.

4. No expectations

Yes I had mentioned in the past that I love watching so and so dance. Or that it would be nice to. But I knew it wasn’t his thing so I just didn’t expect it. I’m not saying that lowering expectations is a way to be surprised and rewarded in life. But definitely lowering demands of a spouse removes a whole lot of tension.

Oh, and a sweet, sexy song that he likes won’t hurt either. Thank you John Legend for your perfect “All of Me” ballad of the summer!

Now, dare I go further?

The night got even better. Well, yes, even better still when we were alone *wink wink* but not even 5 minutes later, I saw my man do something else I had NEVER, EVER, in the life of me, watched him do before. (For those of you who knew him in his teens and twenties, please don’t ruin my moment with stories!)
All the firefighters in the house were asked to come up front. Um, yes please. We knew what was coming next. Then, the dueling piano players proceeded to play “Bringing Sexy Back” and persuaded a large number of our men to strut their stuff in front of the crowd full of their screaming wives. No. Way.

I was barely over the fact that he slow danced with me and the next thing you know he’s front and center peeling his shirt up past his chest. WHO IS THAT MAN??? I don’t care anymore. It’s been years since I’d seen him so happy and care free. I’m chalking it all up to this amazing group of 100 people who gathered in the name of strengthening marriage and encouraging our fire families.

And yes…it was caught on video and camera (hopefully he doesn’t get mad for this one!)

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Stay tuned for the next installment of marriage strengthening stories from Flame Fest 2014. It’s titled “Bromance

PS – Flame Fest 2015 to be announced ASAP! We can barely contain our excitement and are ready to top this year again.

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For some more reading

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Firefighter Wife on a mission to save fire marriages, nurture and encourage other fire wives and love on Jesus, my firefighter and our 4 kids. Blessed to be leading this amazing community of Fire Wives.

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