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Codependency in the Marriage: A BS’s common mistake

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lordhasaplan? posted 5/13/2011 09:15 AM

Hello all my SI friends,
I write a lot to deal with the affair think it through, process and work through my issues. I wrote this about a month ago, I really think it might help, I was thinking about my Marriage and some observations from what I have seen on SI. Hope this helps someone else.

Codependency in the Marriage: A BS’s common mistake
Given the devastation that is unleashed on our lives in the wake of discovering that our spouse was unfaithful, it’s not uncommon to find ourselves holding on and attempting to fix the WS or control the Marital outcome. Codependency, means making the relationship more important to you than you are to yourself. Are you making your relationship more important than yourself? I know I did, prior to the affair and increased that in the aftermath of D-Day. Please let me say this as clearly as possible. You cannot make the marriage work with someone else who’s not. The harder you try the worse it will become; you do it at the detriment to yourself, putting that dysfunctional relationship first. Many BS’s here wanted my marriage so bad they were willing to negotiate with thier WS to their own emotional and mental peril.
There are many reasons I have seen here on SI for the codependency within the marriage. One partner may have trouble controlling other impulses, or simply not show much interest in the partnership. It can be about controlling outcomes and assuming a motherly/fatherly role with the WS. It can be a historic need by the BS to work the partner’s problem or issue in an attempt to “fix” their problems. But other issues in a couple’s lives can foster codependence, too. I will discuss a few that I have seen in hopes to allow the BS’s to relate and identify their codependency issues and address them head on.

Codependency issues seem to gravitate around a few common things here on SI. The first being control. Many times the BS grabs control of the relationship and allows the WS to give less and unplug from the Marriage. They do this because they perceive the WS as out-of-control person or to have some flaw the WS refuses to address or BS is not allowing them the space to address. This dynamic allows the BS to get to be the person who is in control and thus be respected for being the responsible one or one who steps up. It allows the BS to be the better person, the smarter person, the person who’s recognized as having it all together. They’re defining themselves as strong enough to deal with it, when actually they need to realize that maybe they should be taking care of themselves instead of proving their strength. This dynamic also allows a WS to feel less than capable, if they have underlying self-esteem issues it creates a further expansion of the space by which they can spiral that place.

Another common codependency issue is codependency to the self-absorbed or uninterested partner. This may happen in a relationship where only one of you is ever asking to get together or making moves toward the other one. Still, the codependent partner often finds some type of reward in this setup. For them simply being in a relationship - even one that’s not ideal - may also be comforting and allow them to see themselves in a particular way that they perceive is positive. A lot of times this is the case when the BS is the one with the low self-esteem . The BS says to themselves, I’m no good, no one would want me, and therefore I have to or should put up with this. These negative thoughts are very common, and they have a big impact on why people stay in relationships that may not be good for them.

Ask yourself a few questions regarding your relationship, see if you believe your codependent to the WS or the idea of the marriage. Is this relationship more important to me than I am? While love does have a selfless element, we all want to make partner happy, do you see yourself as “the giver” and your WS “the taker”. If so you might be codependent. Giving a lot for that person because you love them is fine, but you shouldn’t be destroying yourself to give it. If I have to do that, something’s wrong.

Ask yourself , What price am I paying for being with this person? This is a big one post affair. It can be helpful to jot down a list of things you’re giving up to be in this relationship. If you seem to always be putting yourself last, that’s not generally healthy for a person. If the price is costing you, well YOU! Its not worth it.

Ask yourself , Am I the only one putting energy into this relationship? If so you are definitely codependent and setting yourself up to be abused emotionally. You cannot make the marriage work with someone else who’s not. You need and deserve a partner, which means they give to you as much as you give to them. There is no couple when only one person is putting forth any effort, it’s a mother/father relationship.

Co-dependent marriages are the most abusive form of marriages. They are based on need, but are not healthy. Each partner in the marriage tries to take advantage of his or her hold on the other partner. This can often deteriorate into the sort of marriage where the two partners can neither live together nor live apart. This is where BS’s need to be aware, and stop the marriage from sliding into co-dependency. The individual needs the confidence to become independent, to stand on his own feet. There is no harm in encouraging inter-dependence, but co-dependence in a marriage must be avoided at all costs. This is really the beauty of the 180, it focuses back on us, not he WS and their behavior, not the desire to have a marriage that is other than what the piece of crap it is.
Hope this is food for thought!

fraeuken posted 5/13/2011 09:21 AM

Thank you. Reading a book about co-dependency right now and it describes me to a T.

ineedtoleave posted 5/13/2011 09:23 AM

Thank you for this. I needed it, it really opened my eyes.

HigherGround posted 5/13/2011 10:06 AM

I've learned that I need to stop just wordlessly taking on those responsibilities my spouse drops and call them on their withdrawl or lack of responsibility at the onset.

I've always been a fairly self reliant "just get it done" kind of person instead of a bitch, harp and moan kind of person. I learned to be that way in my FOO. (Alcoholic Father and then single mother). Self reliance key for survival.

And putting my marriage, my kids before myself is pretty common too. Rather than spend money on myself - I'll put it into savings for that "rainy day" I'll forgo/put off haircuts and new clothes in an instant if it seems the budget is too stretched for those things yet I didn't complain loudly and directly enough about HIS spending habits.

I also gave him too much space, too much free time while I pulled the weight. I knew he was having a hard time coping with DD1 and I thought space was what he needed. I allowed myself to excuse his behaviour because of the pain I knew he was experiencing and then sucked up my own and carried on because in my view somebody had to take responsibility.

Turns out what he needed was a swift kick in the ass. It would have been better had I called him out on his running away from problems and pain instead of facing it.

But where does one draw the line? Some sacrifice for marriage and family is necessary - no partner is ever perfect. You can't have it all...but I do recognise I was giving way too much.

lordhasaplan? posted 5/13/2011 11:41 AM

Thanks for the response I think you’re really understanding this the same way, There are a few quotes of your I would like to comment on. And attempt an answer to your question from my point of view.

But where does one draw the line?
Some sacrifice for marriage and family is necessary - no partner is ever perfect. You can't have it all...but I do recognize I was giving way too much.

I think I understand your point here and will address it with the next quote that I love. But the thing in this quote that worries me is the term sacrifice… I Really felt this way there, in the affair time… Now, I know I am becoming codependent when I start using that term to describe it. I think if it is shared, communicated, acknowledged and its balanced with some giving on their part and taking on my part, then its not a sacrifice. Rather it’s a gift given to the marriage or family because they are giving to me. A gift of a piece of me I choose to give to the marriage or family and thus is not a sacrifice. I do feel like when I was codependent it was a sacrifice, it wasn’t a gift I was giving, but rather a dysfunctional amount of giving without reciprocation or balance. This makes this question you asked so important….

And putting my marriage, my kids before myself is pretty common too. Rather than spend money on myself

Yes!, I too gave way too much and there is a balance here. The point is it should be a shared sacrifice, no? We my WW and I should both be putting in the same. Communicating about what were giving to each other the kids and not competing about it but recognizing that we are BOTH contributing sacrificing for one another. The balance is important and communicating about it consistently is equally important. My WW and I were talking last night about the fact that there are times when she feels like I don’t provide her the space to contribute equally, WOW!!! I about fell off the couch, I love it! She felt like she wanted to contribute more? In the past I would have assumed I needed to give and she didn’t. We would not have discussed it and I would have just done it, kept feeling as if I was the giver and she would have felt she had no space to give so she didn’t need to be involved in the process, furthering her low self-esteem issues. The point being communicating the balance on an ongoing basis leads to a health place.

Turns out what he needed was a swift kick in the ass. It would have been better had I called him out on his running away from problems and pain instead of facing it.

I love it! I too wish I had given a swift kick in the ass….. Hope we can help other do just that!
Thanks Higher, I really appreciate your help and insight.

[This message edited by lordhasaplan? at 11:42 AM, May 13th (Friday)]

lordhasaplan? posted 5/28/2011 20:15 PM

Bump for many like higer ground and myself who gave too much, and pulled the weight.

Feb 8, 2011 posted 5/28/2011 20:48 PM

Bumped for me

horseluvr posted 5/28/2011 22:25 PM

Im reading this and in my head pops the story of our M. I will use an example that has actually happened.

Kids play sports, H coaches. When we first start out, we ride together, happy family but a little tense cuz we have to stop and get ice for the ice chest.
Next game: Don't want the tension so I say, you guys go ahead and I will bring the ice chest and everything so you won't be late.

Next game: They leave earlier, I am now bringing ice chest, chairs, wagon, and so on.

Next game: Don't have time to do my hair, makeup-forget it, I am lugging all the shit, look like hell, resenting the f out of my H, who when I walk up is carefee and chatting it up with the field whores(single mamas who use their kids to get men)
Next game: People talk about what a nice guy my H is but damn his wife always looks pissed and kind of sloppy.

Next game: Keep seeing OW around, she's laughing and joking around with my H, I say something to him and he says...just because your insecure, you accuse me of an A.

In a nutshell, yes i'm co-denpendant and have been for years. Slowly crawling my way out and learning to say NO Im sorry, that's not gonna work for me.

[This message edited by horseluvr at 11:41 PM, May 28th (Saturday)]

lucidlunacy posted 5/28/2011 23:10 PM

Lordhasaplan?, thank you for this great post and sharing. I didn't even need to get through the second paragraph to start identifying. This just reinforces focusing and working on me:)

And horseluvr, reading you're example was like deja vu except I know it's happened to me, repeatedly (this is like extra, extra deja vu:). This take on the dynamic is mind blowing and sure beats resentment which only leaves me pissed and sloppy:)

howcoulditbe posted 5/28/2011 23:35 PM

so very true. Thanks!

horseluvr posted 5/28/2011 23:45 PM

Lucid..yep, same story 100x just different circumstances. I got so tired of people telling me how lucky I was because my H was so patient with the kids and funny as hell. One day I snapped and said oh yea..he called me a c*** an hour ago because I washed the wrong pair of pants that he was going to wear today. Everyone thought I was some uptight pissed of bitch and he was the fun loving poor guy that married a hag. If they could have spent 1 day in my house they would have had a whole diff opinion of mr wonderful.

MRSery posted 5/29/2011 13:32 PM

WOW, eyeopener!!

I didn't realize these circumstances where the co-dependancy. It's seems so much clearer to see the situations as they are and how it unfolds.

I've had this happen myself so many times not seeing that I was swallowing the responsibility everytime thinking I was being nice and helpful & then one day seeing how I resented doing those things anymore.

I remember when we had our first child and went to visit a friend 4 hours away. My H made it all about golf and drinking. I saw it as bonding with a life long friend he doesn't get to see as often anymore. Then we went to the beach one day and everyone piled their things into the stoller with our 8 month old son. Got to the beach everyone ran down into the water while I stood there at the sidewalk waiting because I couldn't get the HEAVY stroller through the sand. I was pissed and let it out saying how f**king rude could you be to just leave us here type thing. His friends must have thought I was a real b**ch because of it. I later said how unacceptable it was for ALL of them to have done that.

Wow! I learned something new today.

tabitha95 posted 5/29/2011 13:48 PM

I've always said that it's like I have 3 kids instead of 2...and that FWH is the defiant teenager. Very early on in our M I felt like it wasn't a partnership.

My question.... I know the role that I play in this, but he refuses to step up to the plate. His life is about him. His family always comes second to his work and alone time.

I feel like our M is doomed. Is it?

horseluvr posted 5/29/2011 15:40 PM

I will say Dr Phil is right on when he says, you teach ppl how to treat you. I was always the one saying, oh that's ok I don't care, shit on me that's fine, then later saying damn why does everyone shit on me.

I could write a book on all of the stories like the one I posted. Our life revolves around what his latest obsession is. Vacations, where he wants to go.

After my 3rd baby, I knew I had to start exercising quick because i had her in my 30's. I would get up at 4am and go to the gym. H would leave for work at 6am. All he had to do was be in the home til I got there. Baby woke up 2 weeks into my new workout plan. H had to give her a bottle. Oh boy, I had to hear him gripe and bitch because he didn't have time for that. Needless to say I quit going. Tried walking in the evenings after dinner, kids bathed, just a 45 min walk. He wouldn't tell me not to but I would get the looks that it was inconveniencing him. Once again I stopped. Ironically when he told me he wanted a D during A, the first thing that came out of his mouth was my weight.
Reading what I am posting is really pissing me off!! So mad at myself for letting someone get to me like that. I feel my inner lioness starting to roar.

[This message edited by horseluvr at 3:40 PM, May 29th (Sunday)]

trumanshow posted 5/29/2011 19:24 PM

"You cannot make the marriage work with someone else who’s not."

I've finally realized that this is what it boils down to

HigherGround posted 5/29/2011 21:38 PM

Of course when I became pregnant with DD2 and he was flying off the handle trying to make me see that we couldn't go through with the pregnancy

I told him that "this is happening with or without you." After D day he used the excuse that this made him feel "trapped" and like he didn't have a say. Then days later he cried from guilt of it all and said "even if I had agreed he wouldn't let me go through with "it" (meaning abortion) I would have never allowed him to pressure me into it in the first place.

I gave him a chance to get out back then (2 months pregnant) he had a choice to go honourably but he chose to stay and have an affair.

Not sure where the co-dependency is in that but there are times when I think I just should have left him then instead of reasoning with him and assuming that he was speaking out of a place of fear, pain and loss over DD1 and the circumstances surrounding her birth. It probably would have been better if I had made IC a condition of us staying together at that time but I never thought in a million years he'd betray me like this - I thought we'd have time for him to work through his shit and he'd come to his senses. I thought he was a stronger man than what it turns out he actually is.

lordhasaplan? posted 5/29/2011 21:59 PM

Hello everyone,
Great thoughts? Several have asked/wondered if your giving too much was codependency? Codependency describes behaviors, thoughts and feelings that go beyond normal kinds of self-sacrifice or caretaking. For example a marriage requires a certain amount of self-sacrifice, but if the caretaking or sacrifice reaches an unhealthy or personally destructive levels than your giving at the cost of yourself. Often this is because we want to cover for our partners flaws! Cover or create barriers so they dont accept consequences of their behaviors. Alcoholic families are famousfor this! Everyone accepts more so that person can unplug and suffer minimal consequences. For us BS's, sometimes they are depressed, or too selfcentered so we excuse their business work and the like. Or maybe we are so low ourselves we see it as a way to valide our existence in the marriage. The Codependency describes our behaviors, thoughts and feelings that go beyond normal kinds of reciprocal/equal self-sacrifice or caretaking.

southsidecali posted 5/30/2011 01:54 AM

For me it wasn't so much codependency, although it was masked in a way.

I would give him an earful of his disconnect and my needs, etc etc..however, I settled and disconnected weeks probably into our relationship- I just felt trapped and did it due to my own FOO- abandonment issues.

I didn't want to have my kids grow up without a dad and settled for less.

But I do realize that in a way I did become codependant on just having someone- I realize now that it was never him.

crazynot posted 5/30/2011 02:01 AM

LHAP, your post rang so many bells it isn't true. I think my co-dependency was at its height in the six-month period where we were in 'R'. I was just so desperately grateful to have him back, yet terrified all the time that he'd go back to her. Afraid of my own shadow yet constantly desperate to please. Not one scrap or atom of love, appreciation or friendship did I get during that time. Not one apology that wasn't forced. In the end when I found him out again there was very little of me left. After therapy, anti-ds and finally meeting someone who does appreciate me, I now wonder who the flattened, desperate person was who was grateful to lie in bed at night next to an uncommunicative, cheating man. Reconciliation is only worth the name when the BS is leading the charge, and for me I wonder whether it EVER works when the affair was a real relationship with declarations of love etc. xx

lordhasaplan? posted 5/30/2011 10:00 AM

A key element of codependency is that the process of "Rescuing" someone, i.e. 'solving people's problems for them...looks like a much friendlier act than it is. The problem is what ever their issues, we can't solve or even support at the cost of ourself. We need to distinguish a healthy ballanced and genuine process of helping from enabling behaviors, which are a destructive form of helping.
This is where the 180 and finding self is so important.

[This message edited by lordhasaplan? at 10:25 AM, May 30th (Monday)]

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