Codependency in the marriage can cause a lot of deep resentments that are not even really understood at the time. You know you feel bad about the relationship, but may not be sure of exactly what is causing the problems. All you know is that the relationship is very unfulfilling and you canít seem to get your spouse to pay the right kind of attention.
Codependency in the marriage is when you one partner places the needs of the spouse before their own. It is not just a matter of being nice all the time. When you are codependent, you put your own needs, feelings and desires in the background of your life. You worry incessantly about your spouseís needs on the other hand to the point where there is no room for expression of your own.
There can be a fine line between being overly considerate and codependency. Codependent people donít live their life to make themselves happy but rather live their lives according the needs of their spouses. For example, you always do what your husband wants to do when its time to go out and the two of you never even consider your feelings. Or you go out of your way to appease your wife time and time again by catering to her emotional needs without taking any time to figure out what you need in the way of emotional support.
Eventually codependency can become almost like a form of domestic violence if the person you are catering to is a controlling person. The more you give, the more your spouse will want until you virtually cease to be a separate person. This is an extreme case, but it happens all the time.
In many cases codependency becomes a problem because the suppressed expression of needs and desires can turn to resentment. For example you want to attend an evening class, but keep letting registration deadlines pass because you wouldnít be there to cook dinner for your husband. Eventually your resentment at giving up your dreams begins to take root in your life.
Codependency stifles communication. You donít tell your spouse what you need at particular times. You many want your spouse to be more intimate or to be more generous with appreciation for all you do for the family. You might want to tell your spouse how unhappy you are he or she is working overtime or how the overtime is preventing you from having any free time. Instead, when there is codependency you just bite the bullet and leave everything unsaid.
In some ways codependency is like being a martyr. You give up your life, your needs, your wants and your desires in order to meet those needs in your spouse. Yet what really happens is that resentment and unhappiness can take root and your spouse has no idea what the real problem involves. As far as your spouse is concerned everything is going great!
Well of course it seems great to the spouse on the receiving end of the dedicated attention. It can be a real mystery as to why you seem to be becoming more and more dissatisfied. Itís a mystery because you donít tell him or her verbally what you need.
Changing codependent behavior sometimes requires professional counseling. Thatís because it cab be difficult to teach yourself how to become more assertive after years of being a martyr in a marriage. Yet many people do manage to change the course of their marriage from codependency to mutual respect simply by starting two way communication.
A great way to start the change process is to choose a small matter such as wanting a hug when your spouse comes home from work. You can talk to your husband or wife and explain how the hug is a message you like to receive that says you were missed during the day. After the first time you express your needs, it gets easier each time.
When you begin to change codependent behavior, make sure you choose the right time. If your husband is used to you always cooking dinner, then you canít suddenly disappear leaving a note behind that you are busy. This will only cause confusion and resentment on his part. Instead use your new-found communication skills and let him know ahead of time what is happening that evening.
Codependency can lead to divorce, because sometimes the resentment grows so deep that the marriage becomes unbearable. By changing codependent behavior, you can stop divorce and begin a new relationship with your spouse on a much more even ground.