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Someone once said that marriages are made in heaven but divorces are made on earth, it appears that the seven year itch we have all heard about is all but too real for many of us. Sadly today it's widely recognized by experts that 50% --60% of all new marriages across North America will end in divorce. Divorce has become indeed not only a staggering statistic but part of the very fiber of our culture and a fact of life.

So we ask ourselves, ‘Why are so many marriages failing?’
Perhaps nowhere in our lives is the rediscovery of our innocence as challenging or as important as in the realm of relationships. It has always seemed to me that other than food and basic security, there are only two fundamental human drives: the drive to achieve and the drive to connect with others.

Experiencing a second innocence in intimacy may be the toughest journey of all the realms, tougher perhaps than experiencing renewal in faith, more elusive than the reanimation of daily life and far less linear than a reawakening at work, the reanimation of love requires the participation of another human being.

Most intimate relationships begin when we first meet someone and for a few intoxicating weeks or months and yes even years, we believe that this person is our only soul mate, someone just like us and will make us whole. We speak of ‘falling in love’ with him or her, yet discovering a second innocence in love is perhaps more of a ‘stepping into love’. Falling is something beyond our control, the strike of cupid’s arrow, but stepping is an act of will, the choice to embrace this person for all they are and may yet become. This first stage in intimacy is almost always about us, we may care about this other person, but we are attracted to what we perceive he/she may do for us. This is precisely why so many people leave relationships when they no longer feel their needs are being met and wake up one morning to discover they don’t love their mate anymore, at least not as they did before.

Seeking a second innocence in order to renew ones relationship should not be confused with ‘settling’, it’s not about replacing true affection and spiritual regard with a conscious choice to tolerate this other person. Rather than settling for something else, evolution in intimacy is about embracing something deeper. Like all elements of our lives, love is a daily experience, a living process that unfolds in small moments, not in momentous events. Yes, you ask, what is the secret? Consider these 8 points to getting past your expiration date in your relationship:

1. Recognize there is ebb and flow to intimacy: Remind yourself why you loved this person in the first place, it is a cause for deep celebration and recognizing these moments come and go naturally. Keep awake to these moments as they come often enough to rekindle that initial fire.

2. Practice love and art of presence: If you choose to be in a long-term relationship you need to make way for something deeper. We must be present to experience the depths which love has to offer. Ten minutes of deep listening is worth hours with someone whose mind is somewhere else.

3. Cultivate a long term friendship of love: Long term happy marriages also have the characteristics of mature friendships: unconditional love, complete regard for your beloved’s well being, acceptance of their wonderful “otherness” and a focus not on what this person can do for ‘me, but how I can be of assistance to them.

4. Be willing to live with the tension between desire and commitment: It’s a choice to love this person regardless, to love them for who they are, to seek their ultimate spiritual happiness even if the pursuit of that happiness conflicts with your own

5. Seek ways to renew the flame of desire: Find ways to bring the sensual pleasure that is central to our humanity back into your relationship instead of away from it. Commit to doing the hard work necessary to renew that primal energy. Ask yourself “what could rekindle the romance in my relationship?”

6. Be deliberate in rediscovering your beloved: It is not necessary to leave this to chance. Every night before going to sleep take the time to tell each other one thing the other had done that day the reminded them why you had decided to spend your life with them, why you loved them in the first place.

7. Be attentive to the ‘art’ of love: Approach your intimate relationship with the mind of an artisan seeking perfection, become more mindful of the gifts you buy, the dates you plan, even the lovemaking you perform. Become more present in all of your actions and less routine

8. Invite a spiritual connection back into your home: After years of being together we sometimes rarely speak about things that we love the most. Have nights in your home when the following subjects are off limits: the kids, money, chores and in-law and work

9. Don’t settle for something less, rather embrace something deeper: Recognize your relationship not so much as one that fulfills you but rather as the wholly other spiritual being they are, replete with their own desires and will.

10. Learn to ask and then sit with the hard questions: Ask yourself: What aphrodisiacs affect my partner? What parts of myself am I willing to reveal as part of the gradual unfolding of our intimacy? How can I move towards selfless love for this person?

Genuine love is not love that never disappoints us, but love that always stretches us and challenges us to become a better human being. In rediscovering a second innocence in our relationship we can never cease to challenge one another to grow spiritually and emotionally. It is not always pleasant. At the same time, you have chosen through consistent effort and willing spirits to rediscover the fire you both felt that first day, when your eyes met for the first time. This, I think, is the second innocence.

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