“I’d love to come to the party, but my husband doesn’t like those kinds of things.”“I feel bad flaunting my raise in her face because she really hates her job.”
“Kids, let’s be nice and quiet when dad comes home after his long day at work because he is already really stressed.”
I have heard women and men say these and varieties of these statements hundreds of times.
At first glance you might think, “oh how thoughtful that partner is.”
But, if you examine these phrases a little closer there is something hiding in plain sight: codependency.
When I first decided to write about codependency I knew I had to reach out to one of the leaders in this area. Terri Cole, the author of Boundary Boss: The Essential Guide to Talk True, Be Seen and (Finally) Live Free (pub date April 20th, 2021), is a New York-based licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert specializing in boundaries and codependency.
Terri explained that “codependency is a dysfunctional behavioral pattern in which one is overly invested in and focused on the feeling states, decisions and outcomes of the other person at the expense of properly taking care of one’s own needs.”
Let’s go back to those phrases above. Where do we see an overfocus on the experiences of others? I have highlighted the hints of codependency below:
“I’d love to come to the party, but my husband doesn’t like those kinds of things.”
“I feel bad flaunting my raise in her face because she really hates her job.”
“Kids, let’s be nice and quiet when dad comes home after his long day at work because he is already really stressed and we should make it peaceful for him.”
According to Terri, focusing on trying to control how another person feels “falls into the category of unhealthy helping and inevitably creates feelings of under appreciation, exhaustion, and resentment.”
I can completely relate to this as someone who constantly tried to make my depressed and alcohol-dependent partner less unhappy and to stop drinking. I engaged in behaviors as small as letting him order the food he wanted to throwing out all the alcohol in our house. I was completely focused on controlling his feelings without allowing him the dignity to find it himself. I was not gracious about it at all. As Terri suggests I was resentful and wiped out (just ask any of my friends whom I constantly complained to). SOURCE