Want to fix your relationship? Well, welcome back to Identity Magazine and our latest raw and real interview about relationships!
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Sanya Bari, a Relationship Therapist and Expert from New Jersey, who shared her important insights on some common mistakes people make in relationships.
We’ve all been there, but it’s hard to know how to ‘do’ relationships better if we’re not really sure what we’re looking for or even realize where we can go wrong.
Our chat dived into everything so many of us have been worrying about for most of our adult lives, hoping to bring some clarity and understanding of how we can all make our relationships a little better.
Especially when things get tough.
If you want to check out the live version of this interview, which includes even more bonus content, and our beautiful cheery faces, you can do so right here in the video or on YouTube, here!
So, Sanya, Relationship Problems?
We all know that every relationship has its fair share of issues.
No matter how hard we try, it’s impossible to avoid them altogether. However, some problems seem to arise more often than others, which are the ones that Sanya says she sees most frequently in her practice.
She explains that even conscientious people can find themselves in a downward spiral that can lead to divorce and separation.
“We really have to bring out and make common some of the very imperative misunderstandings and mistakes that we have in relationships that even the most well-meaning, conscientious people make. It always leads to downward spirals that can end in divorce separation.”
“And not just heartbreak, but also a loss of connection and spark. You know, everybody’s getting into relationships with such beautiful intentions. Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt that this world’s magic is in love.”
“But I also understood very early on that this place of love can also be a place of great pain and suffering. And so, it’s always been my goal in life to figure out how you can harness the beauty, power, and magic of love without all of the meanness and demoralization that can come with it.”
Sanya makes a crucial point.
It doesn’t matter if we’re the best people in the world, have the best intentions, or go into a relationship with our heads held as high as possible, fully assured we know what we’re doing.
If you’re anything like most people, you’ll still find yourself in a loop of making the same relationship mistakes you always make.
History always repeats itself.
Although you might not see them as your mistakes at the time, if you see every relationship you get into going the same way repeatedly, then the chances are there’s something about you that you need to learn.
But don’t worry; everyone has to go through this. Sanya explains how even some of the world’s highest functioning people who have achieved amazing things during their life and have solved some of the world’s most complex problems still succumb to their own relationship issues.
How Do We Save a Relationship?
There’s no denying that relationships are complex, and trying to fix them can feel like an impossible task. But according to Sanya, the key is identifying the mistakes you’re making in the first place.
“In a troubled relationship, there are two types of people: the person leaning out and the person leaning in. For someone who’s leaning in, despite the issues, they want the relationship or marriage to work. However, they’re leaning in with conditions.”
For example, you will love me because I do everything for you.
“On the other hand, someone who’s leaning out is, as the name suggests, leaning out of the relationship, and increasingly less interested in the relationship, and will eventually be the cause of the relationship ending.”
First, we need to identify which of these two people is in the relationship, which requires us to undergo ‘discernment counseling.
This three-to-five-session series of meetings enhances the couple’s ability to judge where they stand in the relationship. Some people, for example, are simply using traditional therapy to lessen the blow when breaking up with their partner.
This type of counseling is not therapy but instead takes note of where everyone is right now in the relationship and then provides three routes the couple can take.
- Leave things as they are
- Get separated or divorced
- Get professional help and therapy to overcome the more significant issues.
We all go through life with so much junk and stuff going on in our own heads, and each and every day, we’re bringing this with us into our relationships, so it can’t be any surprise that we experience so many issues.
Without awareness and effort toward solving these individual issues, a couple will constantly lean in, lean out, in, out, in, out, and so on. By proactively looking to fix these issues with ourselves, you’ll naturally start to fix the problems with the relationship.
Is It Really That Easy?
Yes, but also no.
There are forces at work that make this a more difficult journey. Sanya explains how just like in the Wild Wild West, when two duellers stand back to back, the question of who’s going to shoot first always hangs in the air.
In the relationship, this translates to an impediment where someone says or thinks along the line of ‘I’m not going to see a therapist, or ‘I’m not going to change.’ They may suggest the other go first, or there are excuses as to why this route can’t be taken if you both agree it’s a positive step forward.
All the while, however, time is ticking, and the relationship is still being experienced. The more help is refused, the harder it is to break the cycle.
This is where the real work comes into play.
“In my professional sessions, I actively caution couples and say that this process won’t work, especially with the limited time we have, if each individual isn’t taking responsibility for themselves, their growth, and their change.”
It’s common for people to watch their partners observe and judge their growth while neglecting and not focusing on their own. You must focus on your growth and addressing your own issues for yourself, not anyone else.
Not for your kids, work, relationship, or parents, but only for you.
As Sanya so beautifully puts it,
“You do it because, in your heart, you want to show up in this beautiful and complete way in your relationship that aligns with your personal values. Learn how to show up for yourself and your partner in turn. Treat yourself and them how you would like to be treated, without expectation of the outcome.”
What Happens if My Partner is Only Leaning Out?
Well, this is where it gets tricky.
The big problem comes in when one person is doing all the work, and the other isn’t interested.
You can change and grow and progress, but it will only make a difference if your partner wants to do the same. This is why discernment counseling is important early on in the relationship, to help prevent getting too deep and then discovering that you’re on two separate paths.
The problem is that the person leaning in starts to develop a ‘pursuer retreat’ or an ‘anxiety dynamic.’ You may think this is love, but it’s not. It’s that pulling feeling where you do everything you can to make the other person happy because you want them to love you, but you’re not doing it out of love.
You’re doing it out of fear of your partner leaving and doing everything you can not to give them a reason. This, of course, is very unhealthy.
The first step in discernment counseling is for both parties to agree that this is the path you want to take. If one person isn’t ready and willing, it won’t work. You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change themselves.
Both parties must be on board and committed before any real progress can be made.
If you’re the one who’s leaning out, and your partner is constantly asking what they can do to make things right, it can be very easy to get defensive and push them away. But it’s important to remember that they’re not attacking you; they’re just trying to improve the relationship for both of you.
You can try to be open to what they’re saying and see if there’s any truth to it. It might be hard to hear, but it could be precisely what you need to change the course of your relationship.
This doesn’t mean that both people in the relationship don’t love each other.
It just means that love isn’t always enough.
Love is essential, but it’s not the only thing that keeps a relationship going.
If you’re committed to growing and changing together, you stand a much better chance of making things work in the long run.
Bringing it all together, it should go without saying that so many couples are exhausted.
Exhausted from the games they play with each other, the unclear communication, and the lack of intimacy.
To bring it under control and to build a relationship that’s meaningful, fulfilling, and satisfying for both partners, it’s time to start taking responsibility for ourselves as an individual, sorting out the baggage we’re bringing to the relationship, bringing our true selves to the partnership, while supporting our partners on their journey to do the same.
Again, such a massive thanks to Sanya for sharing her knowledge with us! If you want to learn more about her work, be sure to check out her website or give her a follow on Instagram.
Thank you for joining us here at Identity Magazine. Don’t forget to check out the socials for the most up-to-date content fresh in your feeds, and if you want to watch the full conversation, which contains so much more content, you can do so here!
See you next time!