The human potential movement has empowered individuals at the expense of relationships. We went from distinct traditional feminine and masculine roles within relationships to personal empowerment and the desire for self-actualization. While it has done wonders to grow assertive and successful individuals, this mindset has been at the expense of relationships.
In focusing on self, we have not acquired the tools to adapt our communication and behaviour to accommodate both personal empowerment and relationship empowerment. It doesn’t have to be an ‘either/or’ scenario.
In his book, The New Rules of Marriage, author Terry Real suggests that we need a recalibration of the pendulum to allow empowerment of the person while empowering the relationship. The concept of a relationship has changed, yet we are living with the old rules and expectations of the early 20th century.
According to Real, the golden rule of relationship empowerment is ‘What can I give you to help you give me what I want?’ It emphasizes the overriding attitude of cooperation rather than confrontation.
There are several winning strategies for empowering relationships such as:
• shifting from complaint to request ,
• speaking out with love and savvy,
• responding with generosity,
• empowering each other,
When we employ these strategies, we help our partner know what we want in a manner that allows them to feel good about giving it to us. It’s surprising how difficult people find it to simply ask for what they want. Yes, there is some risk that your request would be denied. However, it is more effective to be clear in your request rather than to complain after the fact that something wasn’t done to your satisfaction. Whether you realize it or not, complaining is an indirect way to attack someone. It rarely leaves anyone feeling warm and fuzzy about the relationship.
How you approach each other and your conversations is crucial to achieve empowerment. Whether speaking or listening, if you come from a place of humility, sincerity, and caring, you are setting the scene for a loving and empowered relationship. A genuine willingness and desire to help each other and to work with each other provides the frame of mind needed for success.
Committing to live in an empowered relationship means that we state to our partner what we need from them and listen to what they need from us. We also acknowledge each other’s positive contribution. An empowered relationship means working through challenges and conflict with your partner while remembering your love for them.
Introducing the concepts of Relational Life Therapy (RLT) to your relationship is a great way to empower your relationship. If your current relationship is healthy, the input from a trained RLT coach can help strengthen your relationship. If your relationship is injured, a trained RLT therapist will work with you toward repairing it.
Manon Dulude is actively training with Terrence Real. Should you want to learn more about RLT relationship empowerment, contact us.