The Relationship Blog

Couples Therapy Can Help You Realize the Greatest Advantage to A Mutual Relationship

A common cause of unequal relationships – one that I see often in my couples therapy practice — is a belief by one or both partners that they are superior to the other. These couples often subscribe to simplistic gender stereotypes of the “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” variety, or the idea that opposites attract as a way to explain how such a caring, and loving person (themselves) ended up with such a selfish, distant, and unloving person (their partner). The fact is they end up with such a person because of the kind of person they really are, not the sort of person they try to seem to be.

By buying into the “Difference Game”, which I write about in my book “We’d Have a Great Relationship If It Weren’t for You”, these people are turning their relationships into a competition as a way of artificially boosting their ego and self-esteem. Instead of trying to “win” their relationship in couples therapy, they should be using their valuable couples therapy time to build a more intimate, equal, and mutual relationship.

A mutual relationship is one where both partners consider themselves as equals, and consider the needs of the relationship in addition to their own personal needs and those of their partner. Mutual relationships are characterized by a couple that forms real agreements, where both partners discuss issues respectfully, understand each other’s point of view, and eventually come to an agreement on an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual level. There also characterized by couples who think of themselves collectively, as one relationship comprised of two individuals rather than as two individuals who happen to be in a relationship.

One of the benefits of starting to build a mutual relationship as you attend couples therapy, is that your partner will start to change from adversary to teammate as the game changes from trying to be the best individual in their relationship, to trying to build the best relationship. As you begin working together, in couples therapy and in your daily life, rather than against each other, you can start to leave off all of your emotional armor. Emotional armor, much like physical armor, is heavy, cumbersome, and shouldn’t be necessary in your own home.

Another benefit of developing a mutual relationship is that it provides an almost certain end to the love-hate relationship dance so common in the couples I see in couples therapy. Mutual couples are emotionally proactive, rather than reactive, which means instead of reacting to their partner with fear, anger, or other negativity, they proactively look for ways to promote positive emotions in the other. This much healthier way to interact is often responsible for turning what was previously a battlefield into a paradise.

The greatest advantage, however, to a mutual relationship is that it gives a couple the tools they need to know, and accept each other honestly. Nothing is more rewarding than the honest acceptance of your true self by the person you love.

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.

Comments are closed

© Dr Bruce Derman 2014. All Rights Reserved. - Couples Therapy Woodland Hills Los Angeles - Sitemap