I believe the idiom “it takes two to tango” is dangerous, relatively speaking.
Generally, this idiom is used to suggest that in a struggling relationship both parties are equally to blame. Of course, there are instances in which this is true. However, it is delusional to think that another’s misdeeds justify our own, which is often exactly what this expression insinuates.
Take for example a cheating husband. If the idea that it takes two to tango is absolute, then we have to look not only at what the husband did, but also at what the wife did or did not do to cause her husband cheat; to break not only his families’ heart, but his marital vow to love and honor his wife no matter the challenges. In other words, the victim is also to blame for the perpetrators behavior (or misbehavior, I should say). This strikes me not only as strange, but dangerous in its effect on relationships.
Living in a loveless marriage is mentally and emotionally draining. Nevertheless, it is a choice; your choice, in fact.
When you married you promised to love and cherish your spouse. Period. There were no asterisks attached to that statement. And to love her doesn’t require that she first love you. Of course, we hope that the love is mutual, and it most likely will be if you do your part. But what happens when one party fails in that effort; say, for example, to appreciate you? Are we now justified to likewise fail in ours? “Well, she stopped appreciating me so I stopped appreciating her. Oh, and by the way, I got myself a girlfriend, too. And, yes, it’s all my wife’s fault. You know, because I need to be appreciated in order to be happy and I deserve to be happy.” My friend, you’re deluding yourself if you think you’re justified. Your obligation to honor marital vows extends beyond your spouse’s real or perceived slights. Did you mean what you said when you said ‘I do’ or didn’t you?
Now there are times when both parties are mutually complicit in the breakdown of a marriage. However, there are also times when only one party is the jerk despite the best efforts of the other. Yes, that is possible. But what is not possible is to justify our mistreatment of our spouse in the name of his or her mistreatment of us.
So I repeat: No, it doesn’t always take two to tango. Sometimes, you’re just being a jerk of your own accord. But even if you were negatively influenced, you’re still wholly responsible for your actions. So, I admit, it’s a catchy phrase. Nevertheless, regardless of what our spouse does or does not do, we are not absolved ever of our responsibility to do what we know is right. And, more specifically, to do right by the person we’ve committed our lives to, even if that person (our spouse) refuses to do likewise.
I’m convinced that if we are true and faithful to our commitments, even if the marriage ultimately ends, we’ll be able to hold our heads high because we never sacrificed our integrity on the altar of convenience. And that, my friends, is the essence of enduring happiness.