Many people laugh about being part of a slightly dysfunctional family. It makes for funny stories, and many books and movies are based on the antics of a dysfunctional family. Serious relationship problems, however, are nothing to laugh at. Many of us know of relationships that are so destructive and the people so unhappy, yet we are amazed to see that they continue to stay together. Sometimes the problems go deeper than personality clashes. One such problem is codependency.
Codependent couples are often the ones everyone around them sees as bad for each other, yet they stay together. Codependency often stems from one member suffering from an addiction or mental health disorder. The other person then might start to take care of their partner to an unhealthy extent, becoming addicted to their role as caretaker. For example, an alcoholic husband may be violent and abusive, unable to carry out his responsibilities well, and become withdrawn. His wife, if she has developed codependency, may make excuses for his behavior, neglect her own welfare in order to take care of him, and thrive on the drama that is a part of their relationship. A codependent person will go beyond being the caretaker of the family. They will feel an exaggerated sense of responsibility, they will devote an unhealthy amount of effort and attention to their partner, and they will be terrified at the thought of getting out of the relationship. Codependents are addicted to the dysfunctional relationship.
Problems with Codependency
Obviously, codependence brings problems with it. A person in an unhealthy, codependent relationship will become emotionally starved. They lose their sense of being a person with desires and needs. They no longer live for themselves, instead they live to take care of and be with their partner.
Codependency often goes hand in hand with addiction. A person with a drug addiction, alcoholism, or other addictive behavior may develop a relationship with someone who will care for them and be codependent with them.
An Addiction to be Treated
Codependency is a lot like an addiction, and can be treated as addictions are treated. Admitting a problem is the first step. Codependents often do not see the problem, and while the relationship disturbs those watching from the outside, partners in this kind of relationship can’t function without their other half.
It is important for someone with an addiction to get help, and to also seek treatment or a codependent partner. Family therapy can be very beneficial for both the addict and for the codependent family member. Working with a trained professional through control issues that exist, as well as creating a positive relationship, can get these family members back on the right track.