I am reading a book by David Schnarch, ``Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love & Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships.'' He introduces the idea of differentiation using an example of his own problems while writing his dissertation that forced him to choose a difficult path to stay honest to his own beliefs. His concept of differentiation has something to do with knowing who we are and insisting on it, and he argues that it plays an important role in our relationships, including marriage.
I tell you this story for several reasons: for one, it illustrates differentiation, a cornerstone of a passionate marriage---and of this book. By differentiation, I am referring to standing up for what you believe. Calming yourself down, not letting your anxiety run away with you, and not getting overrreactive. Not caving in to pressure to conform from a ``partner'' who has tremendous emotional significance in your life (in this case, my professor/chairman). Great abilities to have when you're married. ---p.14, Passionate Marriage