One thing I have been struggling with lately is letting go and detaching from the decisions my husband makes and the responsibilities that are his alone. The issue of co-dependancy has been on my mind a lot. I was reading a blog post, Third Person Perspective, from another woman who is going through a similar situation. She wasn’t really talking about co-dependency. Her post was about how her triggers are still gut-wrenching and how her husband’s upcoming business trip is causing anxiety. Some of the comments talked about what her husband could do to help alleviate those fears since she wasn’t able to take off work and go along. She also delved into some of her own insecurities surrounding his behavior and her worry that he might not be able to “stick to his ideals.”
I have some of the same worries. Even when I think my husband has no intention of doing wrong, I get nervous and anxious in situations that seem similar to what we went through. I know that is partly due to “triggers.” For those not familiar, a trigger is an event or situation that is similar to something you have experienced before that immediately brings back the same emotions from the past. I have talked to my husband about the different things that trigger me – like seeing that his phone ringer is completely off or catching him in a lie, no matter how “small.”
But I also realized today that a lot of my anxiety is about the fear that I can’t control how things turn out for us. A lot of this is really on him. And that scares the shit out of me. He is the only one who can stop himself from lying, cheating, destructive behavior, and his negative patterns. Sure, being there for him and supporting him is something that I can do. But I can’t be there all the time. He is on his own the majority of every day when he’s at school or work. A lot of his past behavior was at work, but if I dwell on that fact it would drive me crazy. So I’m working on finding a way to let go of the things that I have no control over.
It’s really not easy. Because if he can’t control himself (like he couldn’t in the past), I know now what that will do to me. And I know I can’t handle it. It’s hard to hand your future sanity over to someone who has hurt you so deeply, even if you are rebuilding the trust. But somehow I have to do it because there is no way to control his every action. I have also come to realize that I don’t want that responsibility. Maybe that means I’ve made progress. Who knows…
What I do know is that he has to make the right choices whether I’m in the picture or not. I can’t be his conscience or therapist. He needs to develop his own boundaries, figure out his own way of staying right, and go back to his individual counselor who has a plan and can teach him the correct tools for healing. I’m not going to be his guide through this anymore – he needs to take some action on his own.
So, back to the whole idea of co-dependency. What is it really? At what point does it become unhealthy? Are there different “rules” if you have been cheated on? Is it something I should be concerned about at this point? What can I do about it? Depending on who you ask it is either a terrible thing or a necessity for a marriage (to a certain degree). Every article I read also seems to have a different definition of what codependency is. Under some definitions our relationship could be characterized that way, but under others we don’t fit the bill. Some things I read sound like I could be an “enabler,” but other things are so far off base that I would be termed something more like a “disabler.” It can get quite confusing.
For now I have reached the conclusion that the important thing is finding a healthy balance of personal independence and dependence on your spouse. After all, if I wanted to be completely unconnected and independent of another human being why would I be married? In his book Emotional Infidelity: How to Affair-Proof Your Marriage and 10 Other Secrets to a Great Relationship, M. Gary Neuman encourages couples to establish a “healthy co-dependence” in their marriage. I haven’t read the book, but I think I will have to order it because I want to know how to do that. I certainly don’t want to feel chained like the picture below, but I also don’t want a relationship where we merely co-exist in our separate lives without worrying about the other person’s needs, feelings or desires.
- Signs of a Codependent Relationship (webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/signs-of-a-codependent-relationship)
- How to be Happily Married (bangordailynews.com)
- When to stop enabling and start disabling (spreadinformation.wordpress.com)
- Third Person Perspective (notoverit.wordpress.com)