The Vicious Triangle
By: Christy Aloisio
September 23, 2011

We have finally come to the last characteristic of codependency, being passive in a relationship. Often feelings of being wronged or used; also called being “victimy” come with this trait. Feeling victimized in a relationship is the worst issue for a relationship. Marriage counseling is about shifting victims out of being a victim. If you are a victim you are helpless, and you are not helpless in your marriage!

Codependents get stuck in relationships in what we like to call the codependent triangle. The top point of the codependent triangle is not having a voice with your partner. It is not being heard, having an oblivious partner, and feeling like you do not have a say in important matters in the relationship. I always throw out a disclaimer here. You not having a voice in your relationship is not “your big bad wolf of a partner” that does not let you have a voice. It is 50 percent your partner not hearing you and 50 percent you not having any idea how to have a powerful, nonreactive voice with those in your life. So let’s use an example. You have people coming over to your house on Saturday and you would like your husband to help you clean the house on Friday, so you ask him on Monday if he will help you. WIth every great intention in the world he says, “No problem honey.” In your mind you have been down this road before and have a feeling something will come up and he will not end up helping you. So you remind him on Tuesday, and Wednesday, and by Thursday he is pretty sick of hearing you remind him.

Okay, so now Friday does come around and he gets a last minute business meeting and he forgets he was suppose to clean the house. So now you are at home vacuuming the house by yourself, cussing his name under you breath. This takes you to the next corner of the triangle; the +/- mode. Where it is, “I’m good, you suck.” “I do things right in the marriage and he doesn’t.” It is a judgemental and critical type of attitude. You also feel victimized that you are cleaning the house again alone and he is not helping you.

The third corner of the triangle is rage. This may come out when he walks in the door, but is more likely to come out in three weeks when several other issues have built up and finally you blow your top. You yell reactively and he is rather confused as to where all the anger is coming from. Then you return to the top of the triangle and start it all over again. What you have to see in this vicious cycle is that you lack the power to have a voice with your partner. If you had a voice with him he would have been there helping you clean the house on Friday, or he would have cleaned half when he got home later in the evening.

Codependents lack a sense of self. They learn from an early age to please others and to “not rock the boat.” They do not learn to stand up and get their needs met from those around them. There is in general a lack of anger. They do not learn who they are and what they want out of life. They live for others. Codependents may rage for the short term, but they do not hold onto anger. All of this leads to being passive with our partners and not having a voice.

If you need help in gaining a sense of self come on in! The best receipe for recovery from codependency is individual therapy and group therapy. I have groups available from Tuesday 5:45-7:15 pm or Thursday 7:15-8:45 pm. Please call to join or to make an appointment. [email protected] 317-607-8983