I remember having a phone conversation with my ex; it was during our separation a few months before the divorce was final. He had left, filed for a divorce and failed to share with me his reasons. Getting information out of him about the failure of MY marriage was like sucking peanut butter through a straw. It was a hell of a lot of work with little return on my investment.
That was the story of our relationship though. I worked and worked and worked and emotionally he gave very little. During that conversation, he shared with me that I was “codependent.” I can remember being so excited…I finally had an answer. And, having an answer meant I could fix it and he would come home. I could work some more!
I did my research, found out what codependency was and BAM, I had to agree with him. I also realized that for my own sanity it was time to take a step back and, if he wanted the marriage, let him begin to do some work. He didn’t and here I am a recovered codependent with no regrets.
I can sum my marriage up in one short paragraph…I became a self-imposed victim suffering frequent emotional abuse, blaming myself for not being everything he needed me to be. He, on the other hand, skated through the marriage waiting for his needs to be met with no regard for the health of the marriage or me.
As a wife, my job was to…
Rescue him from his pain, problems, and suffering and at the same time do virtually anything I could to maintain the marriage. That was my belief when I entered the marriage and it suited what he needed from the marriage. I needed to rescue him from his childhood traumas; he needed me to be the mama he had never had.
Is it any wonder it all fell apart?!?!?!
The Codependents Role in a Marriage:
It’s simple; the codependent feels it is her place to…
- Sacrifice her own well-being and sense of self in favor of the well-being of her spouse and the marriage.
- Take on more than her share of the emotional work in the marriage.
- Engage in self-sacrifice for the sake of the marriage, to the point of resentment and self-hatred.
- Blame herself and her inability to solve problems when problems arise in the marriage.
- Continue attempting to have a relationship with him even when he is emotionally distant, beating the hell out of her, cheating on her, emotionally detached from her, needy as hell and downright irresponsible with her feelings.
- Become the mother he never had, the bank, the security blanket and the clean-up crew all wrapped up into one tightly wound, self-loathing woman who keeps on ticking in spite of feeling like a wretched failure.
What Does the Codependent Get in Return?
- Her own suffering prolonged.
- A husband who, due to her enabling reactions is able to avoid dealing with his own childhood traumas and the role he plays in the marital problems.
- An unhappy marriage, one in which the only person with anything to gain is the one she continuously sacrifices herself for.
How Does the Codependent Break The Cycle?
She sets boundaries in relationships and let’s go of her need to control others and the outcome of situations she finds herself in. She learns that the health of a relationship is not dependent on her losing herself for the sake of the relationship. It is her job, not anyone else’s to make sure she is getting what she needs from relationships she engages in. Whether that is love relationships, familial relationships or friendships.
She starts by setting clear physical and emotional boundaries which allow her to take care of herself physically and emotionally. She defines what is and isn’t allowed to happen to her in her relationships.
Physical boundaries help her define who can and can’t touch her, how she can and can’t be touched and how physically close she wants to get to others. If she has firm physical boundaries she will walk away the first time he hits her. She will not shy away from telling him he is “in her space.” She will be able to respectful say, “you aren’t allowed to touch me in that way.”
Emotional boundaries help her define where her feelings end and his feelings begin. They keep the lines from becoming blurred. If she has firm emotional boundaries she takes responsibility for her feelings and needs and allows him to take responsibility for his. She is be able to…
- Say “no” without feeling guilty,
- identify and ask that her needs be met,
- let go of her need to please others,
- share her feelings regardless of how they may be received,
- not take responsibility for the bad behavior of others,
- let others solve their own problems,
- gain control over her life and say, bye-bye to all the chaos!