life advice
How to Empower Your Marriage
Does your marriage need a relationship renewal? Learn to empower one another and make your marriage one of purpose.

Very often we allow days, dates, times and seasons to influence how we engage with our lives. This is a reality which crosses the borders of geography, ethnicity, race and culture. We all love the prospect of a new year because of the tremendous sense of hope and possibility which it brings. How then can we harness this sense of renewal to bring fresh direction and focus to our marriage?

This process can begin by choosing a word or idea which we think may best suit where we may want our relationship to go. When I tried to bring this home to my own relationship, I thought of the word "empowerment" and how I could use this idea as my own watch-word for relationship renewal this year. An empowered relationship to my mind is one that exists with a level of purpose. It does not coast on automatic pilot, but has a sense of why it exists and can draw on its own strength for present and future thriving.

The following should assist us in allowing our own marriage to be a source of empowerment.

Embrace the Phases of Marriage

Many of us do our marriage a disservice because we expect it to live forever in a particular phase. Because we are creatures of habit who get comfortable with the familiar, we expect to be constantly defined by the stages which may have brought us the greatest memories or pleasure. So whether it is the stage of romance and frequent sex, building our nest with children and their activities, or building our careers and financial security, we have to accept that each stage has the power to cement our relationship, while defining it for the next.

Does that mean an end to romance as we focus on child-rearing or careers? It should not. Instead we must harness the best from each stage to take to the next, even though the focus or emphasis may be different. By dove-tailing core-needs through the various stages of marriage, we allow our relationship to be flexible where it needs to be, while retaining certain constants which should never be relinquished.

Decide Not To Be Stuck

One of the greatest hindrances to relationship empowerment is a lack of self-empowerment. Failure to grow and develop ourselves can lead to imbalance, particularly if our spouse is on a trek towards self-improvement and we are not. While there is no need for us to be clones of each other, finding our individual niches and passions is important because it can bring a sense of fulfillment, which relieves the marriage of the burden of expecting it to meet our every need. While pursuing our own growth allows us to add value to our relationship, this must, however, be carefully balanced so that our individual interests do not serve as barriers to couple-intimacy.

Actively Seek Renewal & Reinvention

One of the great advantages of being together for a while is that it can encourage our latent creativity. It is true that we are often affected by the unavoidable humdrum of life, but we can also decide to purposefully renew and reinvent our relationship. This may be different for each couple but should focus on the relationship attributes you value together.

Since my husband and I are both romantic and sentimental to the bone, we tend to favor weekend getaways, romantic dinners, exchanging gifts and the things that allow us to focus on the expression of feeling. Another couple may value sharing sporting activities, hobbies or charitable ventures. The thing is to allow the interests you share to inject new passion and fresh ideas into your marriage. Finding new ways to re-kindle romance, embarking on a new business idea together, starting a new hobby or physical challenge or using anniversaries and special dates to re-focus on your relationship, are all critical steps towards re-inventing and redefining what you have.

Ultimately, empowering our marriage speaks to the need to empower ourselves to be a better partner than we were previously. This involves, as a couple, developing a keen sense of marriage awareness and a shared intention to not take our relationship for granted.

Denise J Charles is an educator, counselor, relationship-coach, published author and blogger. She holds a Masters Degree in Education and is a qualified trainer-of-trainers. Denise is Executive Director of "Better Blends Relationship Institute," a counseling and training entity founded by herself and her husband Gabriel. Denise’s blog on sex can be found "here". Denise’s new book is "How To Have Mind-Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain." Follow her on Google+.

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