Last week i described the practice of "Hugging Til Relaxed". Today, i want to talk about the theory of differentiation as it applies to what seems to be a simple activity. David Schnarch writes in his book, "Passionate Marriage":
"Differentiation is your ability to stand on your own two feet, physicaly and emotionally... It allows you to stay close while your partner "bounces off the wall". If you can quiet yourself while your partner is flooding with anxiety, you don't have to move away or make him or her feel differentlly in order to control your own emotions. You can stay near- all you have to do is calm yourself down...
If your spouse is your support system, when he or she gets nervous you have to grab onto him, physically or emotionally, or let go of him all together. If you depend on your spouse to "be there for you", you have to be wary all the time. When your spouse is upset, you can't relax when he's holding you, and you can't relax when he isn't.
Hugging til relaxed provides a way to learn to self soothe, or quiet yourself in close proximity to your partner... You can also feel how "holding onto yourself" eventually brings connection with your partner"
This is not easy to accomplish but certainly worth the efforts of practicing this exercise over time which will strengthen the couple's connection.