If I had a dime for every person who sat on my couch that saw him/herself as a strong, independent, and powerful person that was actually codependent in their significant relationships I would be doing pretty good. It happens a lot. It is hard for people to hear. How can the mom that runs the whole house, kids, and finances actually be codependent? How about that career oriented lawyer that has all the confidence in the courtroom really come home and be codependent in a relationship? Codependency is not always what it seems. It is not as simple as being the quiet, meek, no voice person. It is more about our fear of abandonment and how we deal with it than it is our strength.
At the core, codependency is all about the fear of abandonment. We fear so much being without our spouse or being alone, that we become people pleasers and lack power and a voice in our relationship just to keep the other person from pulling away. It is about trying to control how others are going to feel and react to things without caring so much how we feel about it. It is about pleasing them over any of our needs.
Often we don’t see this going on. We think we are being a good wife or husband trying to keep our spouse happy. This isn’t a bad quality, but with codependency it goes too far. It is sacrificing your happiness for theirs. If you find yourself going over how to word something you want to share with your husband a million times trying to decide which way will keep him from getting angry, then you are trying to control his reaction. If you are building up resentment with your wife for not helping with the chores, but are scared to tell her because she will be passive aggressive and cut off from you emotionally for several days, then you are putting your needs on hold. These behaviors can all be tolerated short term, but over the long term they start to build resentment and anger. Trust me, I see people 15-20 years into this pattern and they are pretty unhappy people.
If in reading this blog, you were connecting with any of these traits I encourage you to look more into codependency. Many people have preconceived notions of what codependency is and what it is not. It is more than just being married to addict. It is about putting your needs on hold. It’s time to change. Bitterness and anger are not a fun way to live.