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Codependency in the Marriage: A BS’s common mistake
This hits a huge nerve with me. A good one though. Our whole marriage everyone told me how lucky I was to have such a great guy. It's all I have heard for 20 years. No one ever told him he was lucky. I was the one who got the amazing gift of a husband apparently. I gave up so much of who I am to please him. He insisted on no conflict what so ever. He presented himself as flawless. The whole time he behaved very narcissistically. I was a good wife, but he treated me like a ball and chain. He claimed that I never let him go do anything, while I openly encouraged it. He just didn't have any friends because he is a taker. He didn't have anyone to go out with, and I did. But, he blamed me. He broke my independent spirit. He isolated me from friends and family, all while acting amazingly loving. Then, the affairs happened. All I got from everyone is, "Oh, everyone makes mistakes." No one cared about my well being because he has everyone so shammed about what a great husband he is. It seems like everyone thinks it's my fault somehow. It doesn't matter that I have supported him and been positive through everything. I stroked his ego, was physically affectionate, and kind. I gave him sex whenever he wanted it.
When the affair happened, we had lots of sex, because somehow I felt it would keep him away from other women. I chased him. He was emotionally unavailable to me, and I chased while he retreated.
I went to the doctor and he gave me a stern lecture about how I should behave. He gave me some great meds. I turned around emotionally. I realized what a sham this whole thing has been. Once I withdrew, he started chasing me. He can't do enough for me, say he is sorry enough. He started IC. He is reading like crazy. Now, I'm not sure I want to be with him.
Shrugging the monster of codependence changes everything. I am feeling my feelings. I am no longer desperate to hang on or fix things. It's refreshing.
Last night was rough though. The football game would not come up on our TV. He wanted to walk down the street to a bar to watch it. I was all for it and wanted alone time. He yelled at me and accused me of holding him prisoner, even though I wanted him to go. He went. He apologized for his behavior, but I can't forgive him.
[This message edited by franklymydear at 6:36 PM, October 28th (Tuesday)]
I wish I was aware of this before
Bumping. This is a good topic!
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
While not all of the defining characteristics of codependency fit me, the above certainly does. As a survivor of a dysfunctional FOO and SA and religion abuse, I have some issues surrounding inability to take care of myself and setting healthy boundaries.
It is only in retrospect that I can see some issues in my marriage that I was allowing and which, ultimately, lead to stbxwh's A and abandonment of our family.
Of course, had I been healthy, I wouldn't have chosen him, I suppose, although he was certainly good at hiding the wolf under his sheep's clothing.
This was very informative & helpful for a newbie like me. Thanks for spelling out the truth!
very well done, OP
THIS IS ME! Thank you for this post.
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.
I can see that I have been trying to control the marital outcome since d-day. WH lost his job two months post-dday and we have been together 24/7 since which has only increased my codependency and attempts to keep him here. As for attempting to fix him, well that has been going on for most of our relationship. Logically I know that I cannot fix him or control the marital outcome yet emotionally I cannot let go. I need to work on this for sure.
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.
I have made the relationship more important than myself for years. Just prior to his A I had finally let go of the codependency and was focusing on myself, working on making myself a better, stronger person...and it was during this time that he began his A and so on d-day all the old codependent behaviours came back with a vengeance. I am finding myself still stuck in my codependency and I know it has been at a great cost to myself and my mental health yet I cannot seem to find my way back to where I was before d-day. I am trying hard to find my way back but it has been so freakin' hard.
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.
Trouble controlling impulses - that would be a massive yes for both WH and myself as we are both addicts (alcohol/gambling)
Controlling outcomes - again a massive yes on both of our parts.
Assuming a parental role - again another massive yes, moreso on my part. Not so much in the beginning of our relationship but most definitely after he lost his sight. It certainly didn't help that his mother had asked me to "take care of him" on her deathbed, since that definitely fed the codependency.
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.
Wow, YES! I definitely took control and allowed WH to unplug from the marriage. I made sure the bills/mortgage were paid, did the groceries, cooked all the meals, made his coffee in the morning and his lunches, drove him to and from work, cleaned up the financial messes he made when he would go on his benders. I was looked at as the responsible one and I thrived on that. I had been so irresponsible for years that when people would tell me how responsible I was it just fed my codependency. All the while I didn't even notice that WH felt less than and that his self-esteem, which was incredibly poor to begin with, took a huge nosedive. How the hell could he possibly feel worthy when I stripped him the ability to take care of his own shit? It kills me to know what I have done to him and that I continue on in my codependent ways.
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.
WH and I have both taken on the roles of "giver" and "taker" throughout our relationship. When I was full on in my gambling addiction he was definitely the "giver", he would work his ass off and I as the "taker" would spend his paycheques on my habit, with no regard for him or anyone else. Then when I got clean and his alcoholism spun out of control I became the "giver" and he became the "taker". What a mess, right? It makes me incredibly sad that we have both destroyed our own selves in the process of trying to give to the other. There is so much work we need to do on this.
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.
Most days it feels like I am the only one putting energy into the marriage and I know that as a result I have allowed myself to be emotionally abused, especially with the TT. The days where I see WH putting in effort give me hope, but those days haven't happened too often. It is so tiring to keep fighting for a marriage that I am not even sure WH wants. I am trying to find my strength again right now and release myself from this codependency. Baby steps right now is all I can manage, but at least I feel like I am trying to find myself again.
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.
I can see where we both have, at times, tried to take advantage of our hold on each other. It certainly feels right now that we are in a marriage were we cannot live together or apart. It really is a toxic situation to be in and incredibly draining emotionally. I know that I need to become independent again so I can see things more clearly. I know I need to focus on myself. It is easier to know what to do than to actually do it, but I know I have to start.
Wow. This was the 1.5 years before I found out. You think you are just taking up the slack. I learned also with my WS that it put me in the parent position. A position that she resents deeply. I would even ask why am I being treated like the enemy I'm on your side. I have a valid problem with such and such why is this such an issue to discuss it? Absolutely amazing. You know a relationship is sometimes sharing the load but I realized I let this happen. I ruined my health and happiness for somebody who would have just kept taking. No more!