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Middle Aged Ballet Conflict

Guest Maverick

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Guest Maverick

Here's a topic that poses an interesting question: "What does a middle aged guy do when he becomes interested in ballet, but his wife becomes furious at the tought of it?"


Some background:


Husband is mid-fifties; CEO of successful company; MBA; former aviator; married 30 years; Christian; tennis player; Pilates student; all around good guy.


Wife is fifty; former "sports mom" who gave her all to two wonderful sons (now grown and gone); married 30 years; Christian; fun companion; all around good gal, and right attractive, if I say so myself.


Husband and wife are open-minded, yet conservative. On the arts side, husband enjoys musical theatre (pretty good musician when much younger); wife enjoys country music. On the physical side, both are fit and enjoy the energy of living life to its fullest. On the relationship side, we're still in love after all this time.


Here's the rub - I've taken Pilates for about five years at a local ballet studio. Great results, by the way, in avoiding the knife for back surgery. In the process, I've come to know many adult ballet students taking class before and after my Pilates classes. It's a friendly group and I have had many offers to, "Come join us." Well heck - why not?


So, I sign up and take a class.....character-building is all I can say! A rather humbling experience to boot. Despite the soreness and overall feeling of being a "klutz," I find myself energized by the effort. When I tell my wife about this new, exciting adventure, she reacts with ......how do I say this gently - more than distain. What a surprise! I would have thought most women would have embraced the idea of their husband trying a ballet class. It seems her main objection is the shoes...."they look sissy on you" and "what will I tell my friends?"


Good grief! After 30 years of marriage, we come to a conflict over something as elegant as ballet? I confess, I'm at a loss and thought I would see if any other adults have experienced a similar situation, and if so, how was it handled?




Maverick (actual call sign before there was a "Top Gun.")

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  • Mel Johnson


  • silvergreydancer


  • Xena


  • Clara 76


I know a couple like this. First hubby invited wifey to take class. She refused. Then he dared her. That worked. They studied together for some years. Both still in pretty good shape. They credit the ballet training.

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I wonder if you could get her to come on this site??


Perhaps her fear is more than what is on the surface?


She obviously loves you and perhaps she sees ballet as a threat to your marriage in some way.


Romance her, tell her how much you love her, and like Mel said, invite her to come try it.


I think she will change her opinion of ballet once she actually tries it.


I don't try to offer my opinion on Country music, simply because I have not heard very much of it-perhaps it wouldn't be fair if I made a judgement about all country music based on what little I know of it. :sweating:


Good Luck and you have a support system here!


By all means keep dancing-it is the secret to eternal youth!


Clara :D

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After 30 years of good marriage -- and you clearly being a pretty tuned-in guy -- I'm betting you'll find some rapprochement here.


I'm noticing that you describe yourself in terms of what you do and accomplish, and your wife in terms of .... well, family service. Does she have interests and activities of her own? Perhaps she feels threatened that you have so many rich pursuits, and/or worried that she will lose you to one of them. Or, in the case of ballet, to one of the young, lithe, lissome, scantily clad beauties she imagines will surround you at the barre. (Hah! as if!)


So, yeah, I'm in the "invite her to come with you" camp. If she thinks the shoes look sissyish, offer to dance without them. Wear baggy sweats (at least, when you go out the door).


Another possibility is that her own self-worth is tied up a little bit with YOUR image (the "what will I tell my friends" comment). CEO, MBA, aviator, tennis -- all good. Ballet dancer? Hmm .... Again, the solution could be to get her into class too, so she can see what hard work it is.


Finally, you can try asking her what will make this situation better for her, short of your quitting ballet.

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I think these are good suggestions. I'll add my 2 cents worth:


1) Try to understand more about WHY she is opposed to ballet.


It sounds like it might be because she knows and sees you as a

take-charge, successful, responsible, perhaps even "macho" male,

and she sees ballet-for-men as non-macho "sissy" kind of thing.


And, as Treefrog points out, that may be a red herring, and what

she's really concerned about is you amongst other women students! :sweating:


2) If her problem with you-as-a-dancer really is the former, point out

to her how ballet really is "in character" for you -- it's demanding, it

requires discipline, it rewards focus on details, but also the big picture,

and so on. You didn't get to be a musician or pilot or CEO or MBA by being a

slacker, right? Well, ballet isn't a hobby for slackers.


3) Another idea -- have you taken her to see ballet performed live?

If she sees this as some kind of "dainty" art form, one good live performance

should cure her of that notion!


4) If the issue really is that she's uncomfortable with you as the lone guy

in a class of ballerinas, then by all means (as others have said) take her to

class. It might be another great way for the two of you to enjoy "the energy of

living life" together.


For what it's worth -- I've been a musician (and even played in a few country

bands) over the years, and my recent adventures in ballet have given some of

my musician friends pause, exactly because of the stereotype that it sounds like

your wife might be connecting with. Then, after I tell them more about it, or they

come to a recital/performance from our school, my friends have nodded wisely and

said "Oh yeah, doing ballet is just perfect for you: it's perfectionistic, and driven,

and musical and hard to do." (I'm learning to play pedal steel these days, which is

more difficult than anything else I've ever tried..... except ballet :D )


Good luck, and keep us posted on how it goes.... being a maverick is a good thing,

even when it involves explaining things to the rest of the herd!

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I agree, getting your wife to talk more about her feelings in this respect is crucial. She could be thinking and feeling just about anything.


Given the background you describe, it's quite possible she fears that you're gay and this is your way of coming out of the closet. The ultimate fear is one of abandonment, that down the line you'll leave her for a man. I know it sounds ridiculous, but this is a common fear among Christian women.

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Hi Maverick


Welcome to the adult ballet boards. First of all congratualtions on getting started with ballet :D

Secondly, many men who have partners both male and female and who start ballet do unfortunately meet this kind of resistance with family members that you mentioned. The thing is not to take it personally. We all get it at some point, regardless of sex/age, and it is normally only those ill-informed about ballet who give these sometimes unintentional,hurtful comments. So it is time to re-educate your wife about what ballet really is about, and not what she thinks it is about from watching a film 20 years ago, or reading bad press.


You can start by printing off this article in The Times ( it was printed on the 3rd of May and you only get the past 7 days free so get to it quickly). here is an excerpt from it:

" Provided the whole small-head-and-slender-limbs thing does it for you, the world of ballet is an obvious paradise for any straight man. It is thus striking that among the general public the widespread assumption seems to be that it doesn’t contain any. Not true. At least half the male ballet dancers I have met are straight, some rather dramatically so. “In this country girls outside ballet always assume you are gay,” says Martin Howland, 27, a decidedly roguish freelance dancer I meet after class one day at Pineapple Studios. “But who cares? I work a lot in Japan, and there they love it. And anyway, you might say it’s a dream job, know what I mean?”


Well, yes. Watching a pair of sylphlike Spanish girls in leg-warmers perform simultaneous splits, I have to admit I can see what Martin is driving at. And there is something especially sexy about ballet’s internationalism — among the ENB’s 64 dancers there are 23 nationalities, from Brits and Russians to Spaniards and Japanese.."

If you want the entire article, and I recommend it to any of our ballet alerters,

go to : www.timesonline.co.uk.

Write 'Ballet' in the search box at the top of the page.

This will open another window and you will find it has put ballet in the 'Search the site' section.

Click Search, and at the top of the Search results will be the article

" I'm in ballet so every girl assumes I'm gay ... but the dancers know different 04 May 2004.

Inspired by a new movie, our correspondent took up ballet. He found a world of high art and hard work with a hint of sexual tension for which he would have been perfectly suited if only he had the talent"

Print that off and let your wife read it.


You should also get out some documentaries from the library, and films and ballets. A new film has just come out called 'The Company' which may be worth going to.


Also, maybe your wife had a bad experience with ballet when she was very young, that may have left a bad taste in her mouth, and hence 'the look of distain'.


Take her to the ballet, and include her in as much of it as possible, is probably the way to go.


Hope you keep us informed.



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Guest Watermill

You may be right Citibob. In deference to my wife I have avoided all contact with men in case I'm gay and don't know it. It keeps things calm at home, but my social life has been reduced to tupperware parties and the occasional Julia Roberts movie.

But a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do...


With a wink,


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Guest Maverick

I am astounded by and grateful for the many insighful replies to my posting. Thank you, all, very much.


Yours is clearly a group of very special folks, each of whom knows ballet well and enjoys it thoroughly. I am envious and most appreciative of your comments and good wishes. You also have a keen eye into human behavior; amazing how I did not think of these things myself.....must be too close to the trees.


Perhaps this adventure will open up old lines of communication between my wife and me that may have become cluttered over the years. This would be a good thing for our next 30 years. I will work on it.


I'l put your suggestions into action and let you know how it goes. Many thanks.


Press on,



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Do tell your wife to come to view class, she may not want to participate because of the competitive nature of women; she probably belives that dancers are 98 pounds and 6 feet tall beauties.

When she sees the frumpy people taking class and the layers they wear, she will let some of her guard down.

I don't know where you live Maverick, but outside of large cities and suburbs, not many men do dance.

There must be something that makes your wife feel alive, besides the obvious. :) Letting her know how you feel about dance will go a long way.


Keep it up, to dance is to live.



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Frumpy, lumpy, stumpy, grumpy, sleazy, crazy, and stupid. Oh wait, that's the Board of Trustees, not the Seven Dwarves.

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Guest mic31

Some people just have a tendancy to react negatively to things that they don't understand or thing that come at that from way out in left field.

I'm married with a kid, I'm an aviator, I own 3 companies, ballet was the thing that people least expected me to take up. especially since nothing that I'd ever done had even given a hint of interest in ballet. I've even been an Airbourne soldier.

My only comment here comes from my own exoierience. This might have been the last thing that she expected, Her views may temper over time. But don't stop that won't solve anything.

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Maybe her objections have nothing to do with it being a ballet class, but simply that she wants you at home with her :D or less romantically, that she wants you home taking out the garbage or fixing the leaky faucet....

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Guest Maverick

Follow up comments from Maverick:


Mel - Encouraging to know there was another couple that took ballet together. I see that you are the administrator of this forum. Thanks for all the time you invest in this effort.


Clara - I think you are right that my wife sees ballet as a threat to her marriage. Not sure why, but we are talking it out. I guess it's the "Venus v. Mars" thing.


Treefrog - You are probably right that my wife derives much of her indentity from our marriage/my identity. It's a throwback to the cornbread aristocracy of the South, where ladies often publish their names as "Sally (Mrs. Bob) Johnson." By the way, if only your description of "lithe, lissome, scantily clad beauties" were true. Not in our class!


DreadPirate - You got it; wife sees husband as provider, take-care guy and ballet as sissy girls stuff (she was a cheerleader in college). I like the notion of ballet being in character - disciplined, detailed, etc. - for my personality. I'll run that up the flagpole and see if it draws any fire.


Citibob - Talking about feelings is a good thing and I should do more of it with her. I can't imagine that my wife fears that I may be gay, however. It's simply not a choice I would make.


Xena - Thanks for the kind comments. I retrieved the article you recommended. Very interesting and helpful. I am so new to all this that I really had no idea of the depth of mystery that surrounds the art of ballet. I hear that the film, "The Company" will be out next month, so I'll get a copy and see if she'll watch it with me.


Watemill - Great sense of humor. If Julia Roberts were in my class, then I guess my wife would have something to worry about!


MJ - We live in a suburb of a large metropolitan area. There are two other guys in our class. One is a retired IBM executive and other an accountant who also takes ballroom with his daughter.


Xena & Mel - Frumpy and lumpy certainly describes a few of us.


mic31 - Roger that. Coming at my wife with an unexpected and sudden interest in ballet was certainly out of left field. No doubt she viewed this as an attack. In retrospect, I should have done a better job of softening things up.


Mrs. Stahlbaum - Are you from the South, my dear? (see above) I'd prefer to think my wife has given up on me fixing much around the house anymore. Did all that for a long time, but admit to still taking out the garbage.


Thanks, again, for all your comments and suggestions. I've decided to roll this ballet thing out slowly with my wife and see if we can reach a consensus. First step - I've bought the New York City Ballet Workout and we're going to try it in our home gym. If she gets comfortable with that, then I will see if she will observe the class without me in it. If that dispells the "surrounded by lovley ladies" fear, I'll challenge her to take a class with her klutzy hubby. This may tke the entire summer, but I'll drop an update as things progress.


Press on,



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