The Relationship Blog

Couples Therapy – How Mutuality Can Help Couples Relationships

In order to have an intimate relationship, there are several things that are required. There needs to be a commitment to really be open to one-another. There needs to be a willingness to be vulnerable. There needs to be a willingness to deal and interact with your partner without judgment and without blame. There needs to be a willingness to share things that expose you, and a willingness to let go of all your defending and protective devices, so that you can approach each other and be naked with one another. Not nude, a lot of people can be nude, but not many can be naked. All of these things reflect my central focus with couples and that’s helping them to develop what I call a mutual attitude. An attitude where they can look at each other at eye level, not above nor below, and be willing to expose themselves to everything I just mentioned. To have the kind of commitment that says “I truly want a relationship with you.” Because even if you’re married, it doesn’t mean you’re in a relationship. From my perspective, unless you’re able to develop a mutual attitude, and all that goes with it, only then do you truly have a relationship that’s growing, that’s vibrant, has passion, and has openness to it. Unlike just some functional thing, or a relationship where you stay at a certain distance from one another, or one where you don’t really expose anything.

Couples Therapy – Images

There are couples that, when I ask them “Do you know what your partner is afraid of?” They can’t tell me. From my perspective, they don’t know who their partner is. If they can’t tell me what their partner is afraid of then all they really know is all the ways the partner protects, and defends themselves, and maintains whatever image is popular for them. Whether it’s being strong, pleasing, or being perfect, all they know is images.

To have a truly intimate relationship you have to be able to go beyond the images and really connect and touch one another. So that’s why I really emphasize developing a mutual attitude. But this is an art. It’s not easy, because all of your training and conditioning is basically to stay protected, and be careful that you don’t expose yourself. That you don’t get hurt and that you can’t trust and all of those things will keep you at a distance. But in a mutual attitude it will help you to move beyond that kind of conditioning where you really have a passion and an interest and an intimacy with one-another. Another big part of the mutual attitude is holding onto the idea that “we’re together, and we are really equal.” This is vital to be able to support that kind of equality. This is especially important in a culture that is constantly emphasizing differences and telling us how we’re not equal with one another because every time you say you’re better than someone, you’re saying you’re not equal with that person

Author: Bruce Derman Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Woodland Hills and Santa Monica, California who specializes in working with people in all stages of relationships. You may reach Dr. Derman by calling (818) 375-7194.

For more information on couples therapy, contact Dr. Bruce Derman PH.D. at

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