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1 Sexuality in marriage PART SET Dr MargiAnne Isaia, MD MPH PCC-T DrAnneenthusiasticLife 2

2 CONCEPTS Differentiation is “the ability to maintain your sense of self when you are emotionally and/or physically close to others, especially as they become increasingly important to you”. Individuality is the capability to be “yourself, follow your own directions, create a unique identity and live independently”. Togetherness is the capability “to be part of a group and live interdependently”. David Schnarch, PhD “Passionate Marriage”, 2009

3 CONCEPTS Emotional Fusion is a “different kind of connection” where the person has no individuality and gets alienated from those he loves. Pseudo differentiation is the characteristic of poorly differentiated people who try “to make them feel better by increasing physical or emotional distance when they feel the pressure of emotional fusion”. David Schnarch, PhD “Passionate Marriage”, 2009

4 CONCEPTS Borrowed Functioning is “suppressing the functioning of one partner while it enhances functioning in the other”. Reflected Sense of Self or relationship dependent self is the identity we develop when “we need continual contact, validation, and consensus (or disagreement) from others”. David Schnarch, PhD “Passionate Marriage”, 2009

5 Understanding the concept of differentiation is life-changing. In the area of sexual relationships it creates the conditions for more satisfaction and intimacy. It helps in finding the meaning of love and making distinctions between living in reality or in my illusions. It helps in feeling well in relation even though my partner wants me to agree or conform to him. Also, I feel close with him when disagreeing with him. REACTIONS

6 Individuality could be developed while looking for mutuality and working against individualism or selfishness. In order to succeed, you must depend on something from outside yourself. I call it “faith”. Psychotherapy helps in providing self-knowledge and evaluating the level of differentiation. But it cannot help in providing the power to overcome your self-centeredness. REACTIONS

7 As therapists we need to bring the moral dimension in the sexual relationship. Mutuality in the relationship is the result of the interaction of two people who are personally connected with God as the only source of love. When the moral dimension is introduced in the relationship emotional fusion is destroyed. Every partner is empowered to increase in his/her differentiation level. REACTIONS

8 The paradox of differentiation is expressed in the following statement: the closer the partners with their CREATOR, the closer become to each other, without losing their selves-in-relation. He makes you balance the pain with the blessing of love. The relationship helps the person discover hidden parts of him which weren’t available when single. Becoming aware of these gives you a lot of work to do with yourself. Differentiation depends on the degree of honesty you have and the desire to stay in the relationship. In a committed relationship when you really love your partner the pain of love is surpassed by the joy of bettering your relationship. REACTIONS

9 The understanding of the concept Borrowed Functioning creates the opportunities for the couple to get the sense of security in relationship and prevent the most subtle form of intimate partner violence: emotional abuse. Even if one of the partners feels good when his self is “inflated” he works against creating intimacy and compromises the growing process of their relationship. Both partners get stuck in a never improving relationship. The courage to be honest and solve unfinished emotional business results in gain for the partners. REACTIONS

10 Encourage the couple to see the normality of their difficulties in sexual life. Help people understand how their sexual relationship is correlated with their level of differentiation. Show how working on increasing their personal differentiation is an act of love and concern for the partner’s happiness and well-being. Assist the partners in their process of self-knowledge and show that the pain is a normal feeling associated with the growing process in relationship. IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE FOR SEX THERAPIST

11 IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE FOR SEX THERAPIST Make the partners understand the importance of evaluating their emotions: every partner has to evaluate his/her emotions (and his/her partner’s) and go beyond his/her selfishness. Teach the importance of choosing to be guided by the partner’s best interest and the quality of sexual relationship.

12 Explain the concept of Differentiation using the cell development from Biology. Show the importance of differentiation in providing greater variability for special conditions in order to get the highest functioning level. Analyze the context and conditions which promote differentiation and help in building a solid self. FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION SPECIALIST IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE

13 Describe the family as a system of cells where differentiation of each member impacts the differentiation of the other members. Explain the process of gaining and losing in differentiation level over the generations and the importance of intergenerational boundaries. Emphasize the capacity of every partner to increase his/her differentiation level and empower him /her to do it. IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION SPECIALIST

14 Make clear that people correct their misunderstandings regarding life in relationships. Motivate people to embark on the painful and beautiful journey of loving relationships. FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION SPECIALIST IMPLICATION FOR PRACTICE

15 IMPLICAII PRACTICE CONSILIERUL COLAR Assess the differentiation level of the student. Discuss the concept of “emotional umbilical cord”, the right time for cutting it and its correlation with the process of personal identity development. Let the student evaluate how his parents understand their role as the persons who need to cut the emotional umbilical cord.

16 If the student perceives that the parents were not doing this, help him/her to do it (in situation of emotional fusion between parents and children). Discuss the concept of emotional fusion and its catastrophic effect for child differentiation. Analyze the concept of Reflected Sense of Self and its relationship with peer pressure. IMPLICAII PRACTICE CONSILIERUL COLAR

17 Make the student understand the difference between Individuality and Individualism. Address the issue of self-in-relation and its importance in dating. Analyze the meaning of jealousy and its impact in dating violence. Show the correlation between differentiation and intimacy. IMPLICAII PRACTICE CONSILIERUL COLAR

18 Let the student understand the role of differentiation in the quality of sexual life in a committed relationship. Equip the student to prevent the first disappointment in love or to wisely face it. Promote the importance of mutuality in relationships. IMPLICAII PRACTICE CONSILIERUL COLAR

19 CLASSICAL AUTHOR “Christians who have married should duly consider the result of every privilege of the marriage relation, and sanctified principle should be the basis of every action.” EGW --2T 380 (1870). {1MCP 221.1}

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