You And I Are One. . .
By: Kathy
August 26, 2012

And Two Shall Become One!  This common belief in marriage is a great concept – unless there is a debate about who gets to be “the one”!    When this power struggle begins, codependence and counterdependence (unhealthy behaviors we talk about in therapy) begin to develop.  I often see couples where over time the counterdependent person has gained all the power in the relationship, while the codependent person has given up most every aspect of themselves trying to please the other person.   Harville Hendrix aptly coined this dynamic as, “You and I are one – and I’m the one!!”

In this scenario, the counterdependent (I’ll use “He” only because it’s more commonly men, but certainly not exclusively!) demands all the power in the relationship, and the codependent (She) gives up all of their power.    She does everything he asks, desperately trying to please him.  Instead of achieving the harmony they are seeking, he is still unsatisfied and she is growingly more and more frustrated at not being able to please him.  Her subconscious belief is that she can only satisfy herself if she satisfies him.  The silent anger that is growing inside of her comes out in unhealthy and juvenile ways; cut-off, rage, criticism, control, cynicism, or other passive aggressive behaviors.  Her behavior pleases him even less, so they are further and further from their goal.

This is not to say that a counterdependent is a selfish, power-hungry clod.  Quite often the contrary is true . . . down deep he is really just an insecure little boy looking to be loved by his bride.  He is, however, going about it in equally as juvenile a way with a belief that his way is the right way.  When she questions his way, the insecure little boy inside of him is threatened.  His response is to convince her that his way is right so that he will be good enough to be loved.  The bigger his insecurities, the bigger his argument to sway her.  The bigger her insecurities, the less of a fight she will put up and the more of herself she will give up.

The net result is that he persuaded her to be more like him, but he still isn’t happy.  Why?  He doesn’t really like himself that much.  She gave everything she could to get his love, but still isn’t happy.  Why?  She doesn’t really love herself.  They both were looking for love but this cycle prompted them to love each other LESS, not more!

How do you fix it?  We can’t really change these cycles unless we remove what is driving them in the first place!  We must first start with learning to like and love ourselves before we start demanding that someone else do it.  By demanding that someone else love us when we don’t love ourselves is to ask the impossible!  Most of the couples that come into my office have been doing this same thing over and over again but expecting different results.   Try working first to like what you are asking your partner to like, then strive to love who you are before expecting your partner to love you!