“It Takes Two To Tango”
I wonder how many here heard this faux wisdom following the discovery of adultery and subsequent divorce. It really is just another iteration of “The Shared Responsibility Lie.” And it comes across as “wise” while being incredible hurtful to someone who has just survived adultery (aka soul rape). It is hurtful for faithful spouses because the statement essentially blames the survivor for the sin committed against him or her.
The truth to make this lie go down is that it takes two for any relationship to exist. And we all contribute our own fair share of sinful dysfunction or holy health to that relationship.
Besides suggesting a shared responsibility either for the divorce or infidelity, this statement obscures other truth. What this statement obscures greatly is the truth that it only takes one to end a relationship. One person can unilaterally end a marriage without any regard to the other person’s wishes. This is especially true in our “no fault” divorce world.
So, it may be true that “It takes two to tango” but…
It only takes one to leave the dance.
And it adds insult to injury with an abandoned spouse to be blamed like this statement does. The “it takes two to tango” statement suggests the abandoned spouse had power to stop their spouse from leaving. They didn’t. And this just rubs salt into the wound called “powerlessness.” We are not responsible for another person’s choices or actions. This line hints otherwise.
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul does not blame faithful, Christian spouses when their unbelieving Christian spouse decides to walk away from their marriage (I Corinthians 7:15). He does not do the subtle blame-shift suggesting the Christian spouse deserved this abandonment in some way because “It takes two to tango.”
The Apostle Paul exhorts Christians to allow the unbelieving spouse to leave the marriage in peace (I Cor. 7:15). The abandonment is not a verdict on the Christian spouse’s performance as a husband or wife in the marriage. The Apostle Paul does not make the abandonment a report card for the Christian spouse (as if Christian marriage is ever about performance–it’s not!), and he does not then instruct the remaining Christian spouse that he or she needs to work on themselves because the abandonment meant they suck at being wives or husbands. I just don’t see this response in Scripture. But I did, unfortunately, see this sort of response to my former spouse’s abandonment by people calling themselves Christian. It was not helpful.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we all can benefit from learning better ways to relate and communicate. However, I think the saying, “It takes two to tango” is unhelpful and destructive in situations where abandonment and adultery have taken place. So, I think it is past time the Christian world retires the saying.