Walk Like a Duck
By: Christy Aloisio
July 8, 2010

What is it about codependency that makes it so easy to not see issues that are right in front of our face? Have you ever heard of the phrase, Walk like a duck, and sounds like a duck, so must be a duck. Seems to make perfect sense right? Well then why do we continue to ignore what is right in front of our face?

One example would be a wife whose husband recently lost his job, is not looking for a new one, and all the financial responsibility of the relationship now falls on her. She is sad and crying and feeling completely overwhelmed and thinking, “how did I get here?” If you go back and ask her what her husband was like at the beginning of the relationship and she talks about how he did go from job to job a lot but, “we were young.” This husband has been nothing but truthful about who he really is since the first day of their relationship. He did not do anything or hold down a job for 20 years to prove that he put strong stock into being financially responsible for the family. He walked like a duck, sounded like a duck, but his wife is more than surprised that 15 years into the marriage, he is still a duck.

Another example would be a husband who is emotionally distant from his wife. When men are emotionally cut off in a marriage, it is because both parties have allowed him to be this way. A man who cannot connect emotionally would not get away with marrying a woman who truly needed emotional connection. He finds a woman that allows him to be emotionally cutoff in the marriage (this does not mean that the emotional cutoff does not bring conflict in the marriage, but the point is she continues to stay in a marriage with emotional cutoff). So one day this couple ends up in my office and the wife continually brings up the fact that her husband does not share his feelings with her, he doesn’t talk, and he never wants to have sex, aka emotional cutoff. He is being the husband he showed her he would be. He is acting the same way now, his wife is just able to see it better now.

There are many reasons we may overlook issues that are right in front of our face. First, when couples first meet they are in what we call enmeshment. This is the “honeymoon” phase. We spend all our time together, we have poor boundaries. In a nutshell we are deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid. Issues that are right in front of us are overlooked because the enmeshment bond is so strong.
Abandonment issues can be another cause of overlooking issues. The “honeymoon” phase feels really good and we do not want it to end. Abandonment feelings can make the end of this wonderful relationship to be extremely painful, so issues are overlooked. “Oh he is not working, but he is young, when we settle down he will have no problem keeping a job.” Or, “our sex life is not so good, but everything else is so good we will be okay.” This is our defense mechanism so we will not have to face who our partner really is. Fast forward seven years or so, and now these issues are huge in a marriage!

It is important to keep our eyes open and let people show us who they really are. Codependency can make us question our instincts, and even what is right there in front of our face. People will always tell us who they are, we just have to listen!