Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley teaming up to write the first of many books together

Dan’s Interview with Gary about The Dance

Dan: Of all the characters in this book, which one do you
relate to the most and why?

Gary: With the husband, Jim. As we were working on this
book, I remembered so many things that I had said and
done to my wife Norma, things like Marilyn had to put up
with. Norma could have left me after five years, because
I didn’t have a clue of how to value her above fishing, the
church where I worked, and the youth department where
I also ministered as the youth pastor. I took better care
of other church kids, wives, and husbands than I did my
own children and wife. When she admitted to me, after
five years, that she was “dead” inside when it came to love
from and to me, I woke up and started changing. She told
me that she was never going to divorce me because she had
committed herself to God and had given me the promise
that she would remain forever until death. But the death
came earlier than she had imagined.

I began to listen to her more, to interview older wives in
my church on how to love Norma, and to read everything
that I could get my hands on to improve as a husband. I
started teaching a college Bible study on marriage, and
the students helped me refine my message to couples. My
new knowledge actually began the roots of my present
ministry to couples.

The main thing that I began to learn was that no one
can love a person until they first learn what it means to
honor them. Honor is to consider someone highly valuable.
One way to honor someone is to list everything about
them that is praised, valued, important. That is, valuable
memories with them, things about them that are beautiful,
character qualities that reflect the high value of God. A
person can find unlimited reasons to value someone, and
as Christ said, “Whatever a man treasures, that is where
their heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) Affection, desire,
caring—all spring from honoring someone.

The second thing I learned was the awesome importance
of keeping my anger as low as possible toward Norma, my
kids, and all others. Anger destroys love and connection
between people. First John 2 indicates that when a person
harbors anger or hatred toward another, they cannot live
in God’s love or light. If you say that you know God but
you hate your brother, the truth is not in you and you don’t
love God or others. It is impossible to continue hating
someone while God’s love is flowing within you.

Dan: I drew much of my inspiration for our story from your
bestselling book The DNA of Relationships. In that first
dance lesson in chapters 26–27, Audrey introduces Jim to a
word picture she calls the “Fear Dance.” Is there anything
more you’d like to say about this Fear Dance?
Dan and his wife speaking to a book club in Florida

Gary: The Fear Dance has been one of the best metaphors that
Norma and I use to remain in harmony and love. There’s
an entire chapter about this in the DNA of Relationships
book. When my son, Greg, taught us how our “core fears”
affect us, we began to understand why we argued in anger
at times. For instance, my core fears are of being belittled
and of being controlled. One of Norma’s core fears is the
fear of failure or not doing things right.

When Norma believes that some of my actions toward
her or others are not up to the highest standards of God,
she may try to suggest certain changes in my behavior.
But for most of our married life, I would perceive her
suggestions as her way of trying to control and belittle
me. I would react by requesting that she not point out
my flaws, and she would hear me telling her that she was
not “doing the wife job correctly.” She would then react
by trying to change me, and I would again perceive her
as trying to control or belittle me. When we figured this
“dance” out, our new understanding allowed us to take
full responsibility for our own core fears and start working
with God and his words to become more mature in him.

Dan: Can you share an example of what it looks like to break
free from a “core fear”?

Gary: One time, Norma was inside our house getting the final
touches of a big Fourth of July party ready. My daughter
Kari yelled across the creek that she didn't have anything
for dinner. So I invited her and her two kids to join us for
dinner just as Norma was walking out the back door. She
immediately knew that two grandkids can destroy an entire
house in seconds and that the meal I was offering to Kari
was actually being readied for the next day.

It seemed to me that she was belittling me and controlling
me as she uninvited Kari. I wanted to say, “Wait
a minute, I live here too.” But instead, I kept my mouth
closed and took full responsibility for my emotions and
thoughts. I began praying and immediately remembered
two very important things I had been needing and praying
for in my own life.

I’d been asking God to show me how to establish him
as the controller of my life and how I could become more
like his Son in humility. So, in that moment, I thanked him
for taking me under his wings and showing me how to lay
down my life for my wife and daughter.

Once I saw this, I suggested quickly that we all go out
for dinner, my treat.

Dan: In my experience as a pastor, I often found that the
wives seemed more concerned about the quality of the
marriage relationship than the husbands did. Has that
been your experience? If so, why do you think that’s the
Dan speaking to a book club talking about his different books
Gary: God said that it is not good for man to be alone. So, he
gave us a “completer.” I have found that most wives have
a built-in relationship manual. They use this natural gift
from God to help their husbands become a better lover
and a better parent. I have never found an exception to this
amazing gift given to women of all ages. I can interview
women from any country on earth, and they all know what
a good relationship should look like.

Most tell me three things that make a marriage or friendship
a better relationship. Better communication, better
loving (with a gentle touch), and better ability at honoring
each other. Communication, they tell me, is listening in
order to understand, which places a high value on who
the other person really is. The result is the number one
cure for divorce. That is, a husband listens until he deeply
understands his wife and vice versa. Then, they value each
other’s opinions and ideas and try to help their mate “win”
arguments because of the high esteem they have for each
other. When they both like a suggested solution to a disagreement,
they both feel like a winner, and deep harmony
and love remain between them.

Dan: In chapter 32, during the lesson where Audrey and Jim
actually danced for the first time, she explained to him a
concept called the Power of One, which is right out of The
DNA of Relationships. What was it about this truth that
caused you to decide it should be the first “dance step”?

Gary: The Power of One is when a husband or wife decides
that their mate is neither the cause nor the answer to a
higher quality of life. God and his words are the source
of the highest and best life possible. When the husband
or the wife expect their mate to “fulfill them” somehow,
those expectations result in stress, frustration, or anger. It
is amazing what happens to a person when they “fire” their
mate as the one responsible for their ultimate happiness.
Christ is the source of life as Colossians 3:4 states. The
enemy of God is the ruler of this world, and he is a liar and
tries to steal, kill, and destroy all that is good in people’s
lives. Whereas Christ came to give us a more abundant
life! So, when a mate finds the secret to the abundant life
is in Jesus, and makes it their responsibility to see him as
their source, the happiness they get in their relationship
with their spouse becomes more of an additional blessing,
not their only hope.

Dan: At the end of another dance lesson in chapter 38, Audrey
talks with Jim about the importance of safety in a marriage
relationship, particularly in the way couples communicate.
Could you share a little more about that? Why is that so

Gary: Marriage researchers have discovered that when a husband
or wife feels safe with their mate, an amazing thing
happens. When a person feels like they will no longer be
condemned, criticized, or judged, the safer they feel. The
safer they feel, the more they begin to open their heart, and
the best type of friendship happens naturally. The single
greatest goal a married couple should set for themselves
is developing a lovingly safe environment for each other.

Dan: To keep the story moving in The Dance, we sort of
skimmed over the third and fourth dance steps mentioned
in the DNA book. Could you tell us what they are and a
little about them?

Gary: All four of the actions taken in the Fear Dance are:
(1) When someone pushes my fear buttons, I start hurting
and feel very uncomfortable. For instance, if I believe
someone is trying to control me, it hurts and I want to
make the pain stop. (2) I want something. I mainly want
a solution to stop this person from pushing my buttons. I
may believe that when a friend or my mate realizes their
actions are hurting me, they’ll say, “Oh, sorry, I won’t
keep doing that” or “I’ll never do it again.” Wrong. People
are not like that, and, if anything, just by the way that
I explain my hurt, I might be pushing one of their fear
buttons. Then, the dance gets moving faster for both of
us. (3) Now, I really do fear that my relationship with this
person may be damaged, and I really don’t want that to
happen. My fear increases, and the dance may become
worse. (4) I tend to react then by using my best skills to
get the other person to change their ways toward me. But,
more often, the fear dance just turns ugly instead.

It’s always best to stop the dance at any point and begin
to address your own core fears and seek God and his words
to find your own healing and maturity. Stop blaming your
mate or others for your own immaturity. It’s your journey
that you get to go on, to discover the cure to your own
problems. This is one reason why life is so much fun and
so exciting. I get to cry out to God, or search Google, or
get advice from an older mature follower of Christ, or
pursue any number of other ways that will help me grow
up and take responsibility for my own life. (Note: These
steps are all found on the website or on
pages 25–29 in The DNA of Relationships book, paperback version.)

Dan: In chapter 42, Audrey talks to Jim about the fifth and
final dance step in the DNA book—teamwork. She shares
something you wrote about called a No Losers Policy. I
loved that. Is there anything more you’d like to add to

Gary: The No Losers Policy is when a couple agrees that
both have ideas that are important and worthy of honor,
both have opinions that are equally valuable, and it is unacceptable
for either of them to feel like they are losing
an argument or a disagreement. My wife and I can spend
five minutes or as much as a day discussing a disagreement.
But only after both of us have listened and tried
to understand the deep feelings and needs of each other,
then and only then will we start offering various creative
ideas to solve our disagreement. After that, we can offer
any suggestions whatsoever, no matter how wild they may
seem (because often it’s a weird suggestion that sparks a
solution that we both love). I no longer lose any arguments,
nor does Norma. We help each other win no matter how
small the conflict. This is wonderful and highly valuable
for each of us.

Dan: Finally, I wanted to mention something that both Audrey
and Uncle Henry discuss with Jim—humility. What
does humility look like in our relationships with God and
others and why is it so vital?

Gary: Humility is simply an attitude of deep awareness of
how helpless we are in developing a loving heart and having
the energy or power to live a life that truly reflects God. As
a human, I am not able to become like Jesus. No amount
of effort on my part could earn me a place in heaven or a
high spiritual position on earth. God’s Word tells us that
“it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and
this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by
works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8). So, as it states
in James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to
the humble.”

Humankind cannot do any of Christ’s commands unless
they are filled up with God’s love and power. And God
gives his power and love (his grace) only to the humble;
he resists anyone who is proud or puffed up with their
own importance or self-sufficiency. A proud person leans
toward self-centeredness, being “cocky,” selfish, boasting,
and crediting all their accomplishments to their own abilities
and skills. They tend to see themselves as better than
others, and are therefore judgmental and arrogant toward
others. They are usually not aware of or grateful for all
the other men and women who have helped them become
what they are today. The proud tend to avoid crediting their
Creator for their existence and the gifts he’s given them
but live as if they had created themselves and are singlehandedly
responsible for all of their personal successes.

The humble, however, tend to be very aware of their
Creator and realize that their accomplishments are only
possible because of how they were created. Their brain,
body, and senses are all a part of how God created them.
They happily give God the credit for everything about
themselves. They acknowledge that God’s commands are
far superior to their human plans of finding and living the
highest quality of life. If God’s Word tells them that loving
him with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength
and loving others as Jesus loved people are the greatest
commands, then the humble person believes it, and they
live that way by the power invested in them from God
Almighty. As Proverbs 22:4 puts it, “True humility and
fear of the Lord [standing in God’s presence with awe
and trembling] leads to riches, honor and long life” (New
Living translation).

The humble are very aware of their helplessness and
powerlessness in trying to create God’s kind of love and
power by themselves, with their own human abilities. They
simply “cry out as beggars” to God and wait patiently for
his grace to empower them to follow Christ and live in a
way that pleases him.

Dan Walsh with Melody Carlson at an ICRS Conference

THANKS to Revell Publishers for giving me permission to publish this interview for you all to enjoy!

THRILLED that Revell is giving away 5 copies of this book at The Book Club Network. drawing is going on now and Dan Walsh is doing a great job of interacting with readers. THANKS Dan!

I really enjoyed this heart felt book, especially after reading this interview which is in the back of every book!

ALL ENTRIES are to be there and not on this post!


Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! 


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