Three Ways That Differentiation- Based Couples Therapy Changed My Life

Part of taking responsibility for myself and emotional maturity has been to learn about my attachment hurts and to understand my patterns. Developing earned secure attachment means that we ground safety in our own systems while also keeping ourselves connected in relationship and available to be touched, influenced and affected. When we are in intimate relationship our attachment patterns play themselves out and we need to learn how to navigate this ourselves although it can also be enjoyable to observe the dance between each others' patterns. 

Differentiation based couples therapy has rocked my world. It is a good counterbalance to codependency patterns and an immensely valuable scaffolding for developing emotional maturity. It is never too late! 

Here are 3 ways in which differentiation based couples therapy has rocked my world:

1.  Instead of focusing on how I feel hard done by and upset that I am not getting what I think I want, I can focus on how I am acting with destructive entitlement patterns.             

  • Why do I think the other owes me something?
  • Why am I focusing on what I am lacking more than what I have?
  • Did the other person sign up to the job of making me feel happy? 


An example of this is when something happens and I immediately go into thoughts of my own righteousness and how the other has wronged me. I stop. I notice this. I question my assumptions. I stop seeing myself as the blank sheet upon which others are acting. I am also an actor. I also have agency. 


2.  The difference between having a reflected sense of self as opposed to having an internally sourced sense of self.                    

The more that my sense of self is reflected to me by others the more I make myself vulnerable to be manipulated and gaslit. If I want to be loved, liked, appreciated by the other person more than I listen to myself then I set myself up for trouble. I start to see how I can be taken advantage of if I am so reactive to someone's disapproving glance or sigh. Does my hypervigilance really keep me safe by noticing and reacting to the reactions of the other. How am I anchoring my sense of self and also my safety in myself?


3.  The goal is not to always try to be in sync with my partner but to learn how to be out of sync. This is what gives a huge sense of freedom (as do the other two points above). 

My partner does not owe me anything, in particular, it is not their responsibility if they do or do not regulate and trigger me. If I can regulate myself, my partner and I both have the freedom to be ourselves in the connection.  At the same time I do not shy away from seeing that we are an emotional system and that I can let myself be touched and influenced and affected by my partner. 

In general these points make me look at myself and at my patterns and be able to work on that to shift my relationship. This is very different from thinking that I need to change my partner in order to have the relationship I want. 

(That is also a big paradigm shift!!!) 

Do we go into couples therapy because we want to change or because we want our partners to change? 

With much gratitude to my teachers Amittai Megged, Shuly Megged, Assael Romanelli, Galit Romanelli, Elisha Azar, Ofra Shachar, Michal Shochat and more.