As I discussed in a previous blog, codependency is when both parties are dependent on one another in order for the relationship to function. Codependency can occur in any and all relationships, and it affects all relationships.
The codependency that occurs between spouses is unique because of the dynamic of the relationship. Because of the romantic aspect of this relationship, often times the spouse is controlled through affection and attention. This means that the addicted spouse will try and control the other using affection, sex, and giving them attention.
Codependency is dangerous in any loving relationship, but especially between spouses as physical/mental/emotional abuse is often involved. Abuse is used to control by striking fear into the other person, causing them to behave in a way that will please the other to avoid the abusive behaviour.
Spouses engaging in codependent behaviour often times try to “cover” for the addicted spouse. They will lie to friends and family about their spouse’s behaviours. If the spouse holds a job, they will sometimes go as far as to call in sick for their spouse when they are too hung over or sick from withdrawal to go to work. People in this position will do anything and everything to make sure that their relationship will stay together.
In these relationships, no matter what lengths the addicted goes to (lying, stealing, cheating, abuse, etc.), their codependent will continue to allow them to be a part of the relationship and treat them in a way that is toxic. This can go on for many years, however, it is possible to recover from codependency. Toxic codependent relationships can be combated in several different ways, and listed below are just a few.
Remove yourself from the relationship
Attend family/couples therapy during the addicted’s treatment
Make a safety plan if abuse is involved
Know what the signs are of codependent behaviour and recognize when it is affecting your life
Codependency is not something that will never stop. There is hope for recovery, but like recovering from an addiction, it takes a lot of hard work and it is a lifelong commitment. Take control, transform your behaviours, and learn to live a life you love.