Detaching Yourself from a Codependent Relationship
In a healthy relationship, both parties can manage their own emotional and personal needs. In a codependent relationship, one or both partners cannot do this for themselves, so they rely on each other to manage all their personal needs. Do not confuse emotionally supporting a spouse with codependency – in a healthy marriage, both partners should be expected to be there for each other. Codependency goes beyond this level of emotional support. Codependency describes a relationship where one partner sacrifices his or her own needs to fulfill the other’s, causing him or her to suffer from the difficulties that come with poor coping mechanisms like internalized shame, people-pleasing behavior, and perfectionism to the point of fearing failure. A codependent relationship is not healthy for either party or if they have children, the children. Often, divorce is an important step toward recovering from codependency.
Recognizing Codependency in Your Marriage
Often, a codependent spouse is known as an enabler. The term “codependency” first arose to describe spouses of alcoholics, because often, they would exhibit this type of behavior and enable their spouses to continue to drink dangerously. Individuals in abusive relationships and relationships with addicts also frequently exhibit codependent behavior.
Codependency symptoms can be seen in the spouse who is not addictive or abusive. It is the enabler who suffers these symptoms, which include:
- Low self-esteem;
- Little to no respect for others’ boundaries;
- Internalized shame;
- Learned helplessness;
- Difficulty with communication;
- A need to control others and situations; and
- Denial that there is anything unhealthy about their relationship.
Preparing for Your Divorce
If you are codependent on your spouse, it can be especially difficult for you to detach yourself from him or her and prepare for a divorce. You cannot change another person. You might need to repeat that to yourself every day: you cannot change your spouse.
You can change yourself. Whether you have already filed for divorce or you know you need to in the near future, start working with a counselor who specializes in codependency issues. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is often used to treat individuals who suffer from codependency. In therapy, you can identify destructive patterns in your past and your current relationship, learn how to make time for yourself and take better care of your own emotional needs, and distinguish between supporting a loved one and enabling him or her.
Knowing you need to make a change is not the same as actually making it. When you recognize that you need to exit your relationship, start working toward that goal immediately.
Work with an Experienced St. Charles Divorce Lawyer
When you are in an unhealthy marriage, divorce is often the healthiest option for every member of your family. To learn more about how codependency and similar issues can impact the divorce process, discuss your case with an experienced Kane County divorce lawyer. Contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. today to set up your initial legal consultation with us to start working with our firm. Call us at 630-584-5550 for help.