How to Stop Being Codependent
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: Les Hayden, “Ophelia”
OVERCOME CODEPENDENCY AND GET YOUR LIFE BACK
HOW TO STOP BEING CODEPENDENT: As a marriage counselor and couples therapist I’m often working with couples to help them break free from unhealthy codependent relationship patterns. Codependency is a power-struggle that drags both of you down. If you’re in a codependent relationship, it’s time to stop. But how? How do you stop being codependent??
Today’s relationship podcast is going to show you how to spot the signs of codependence, understand why codependent relationship dynamics take hold, and then offer real-world strategies to stop the madness and cultivate healthy interdependence.
How to Overcome Codependency
I know as a Denver marriage counselor and online marriage counselor who’s spent years helping couples get unsnarled from emotional enmeshment, that many couples struggle with codependent relationships. Codependent cycles drag everyone down, and relationships feel miserable when they’re happening.
Codependency recovery is absolutely possible, but it takes a lot of self-awareness to spot it — much less break free from a codependent cycle. This often requires a combination of good couples counseling, as well as a commitment to working on your own personal growth therapy too. It’s hard work, but it’s the only thing that can stop feeling angry and frustrated with your partner, and start feeling good about yourself and your life again.
Below is a quick rundown of what we’re discussing on the “How to Stop Being Codependent” episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast today. (To skip the commentary and just listen to the episode, scroll down to find the podcast player.) Or, here’s the link to listen to How To Stop Being Codependent on Spotify, and here it is on Apple Podcast. Subscribe to the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast while you’re there!
What is Codependency, Anyway?
“Codependence” is a pop-psychology term that was birthed in the Al-Anon movement. Back in the mid-century era, counselors who treated patients with substance use disorders began to notice common elements in their partners. They were often completely anxious, often angry, and absolutely hyper-focused on what their alcoholic partner was (doing or not doing) at the expense of their own wellness. They were over functioning in response to their partner’s under functioning, and were mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted as a result.
They were termed “codependent,” and the Al-anon movement was launched in efforts to help the “partners of people with a problem” get emotionally un-fused from their spouses in order to not just feel better and more in control of their lives, but stop trying to “fix” their partners. (So that their partners could have the space to do the work of recovery, or fail.)
Nowadays, the term “codependence” is tossed around like popcorn at the movies in our popular culture as a short-hand way of describing everything from feeling highly attuned to another, to financially dependent on another, to simply being reactive in relationships.
Codependent Relationships (h2)But when marriage and family therapists like myself talk about “codependence” and what it means, we’re actually referring to something much more specific: Codependence is a problematic level of over-involvement and enmeshment in a couple or family that leads to anger, anxiety, and — usually — a great deal of frustration.
In a codependent relationship one person is usually working really hard to try to control, “help,” manage, monitor, coach, or assist the other into acting they way they want them to. As you can imagine, these efforts are not just unproductive, they lead to a really problematic “parent / adolescent” type of dynamic in a couple. In the language of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, a pursue / withdraw relationship cycle predictably ensues with the “helping” spouse becoming increasingly frustrated with their non-compliant partner, who in turn, views their spouse as unnecessarily controlling and hostile (and becomes defensive and avoidant as a result). Not fun for anyone.
If a codependent relationship dynamic has been happening for a long time, it can take the assistance of a really good marriage counselor to help a couple get unfused and achieve healthy interdependence again. Ideally, you can nip it in the bud!
Our authentic relationship experts know how to help you learn, grow, and move forward into a bright new chapter.
The Problem With Codependent Behavior
Here’s the sneaky thing about codependent relationships that is easy to miss: When you become codependent, you feel like you’re “helping” or “protecting” your partner, or trying to get them to be the person you want and need them to be in order to have a good relationship with them. But over time, often unintentionally, your happiness becomes almost entirely reliant on their actions or behaviors. Maybe you think your partner isn’t doing enough or that your lives will fall apart if you don’t do everything you feel needs to be done. Whatever the case, codependency will drain you of your energy and take away your sense of empowerment for your happiness.
Furthermore (oh, the irony) when codependent relationship dynamics are happening, it makes it less likely that the “under functioning” person is less likely to change and grow. Crazy, but true. (I will explain to you all about why that is in the podcast, promise!)
In this episode, I define what codependency is and paint a picture of how and why it manifests in our relationships. I will be explaining how to shift away from codependency so that you and your partner can flourish together. Through this episode, I hope you can enter a space of healthy interdependence with your partner.
Codependency Recovery Stages
In order to empower YOU to make positive changes in your relationship and learn how to stop being codependent, in this episode I’m covering information that will help you:
- Understand what makes a relationship codependent.
- I’ll ask you some of the same “codependency quiz” questions I ask my clients to help determine if their relationship is codependent
- Learn how to become more self aware around codependent relationship characteristics (so you can stop participating in them!)
- Discover the importance (and methods) of taking back your power, either in codependence therapy, or on your own.
- Learn about the steps you can take toward recovering from codependency as a couple.
- I offer some examples of what codependency recovery stages look like in action, so you have a roadmap for YOUR relationship.
Thanks for joining me in the How to Stop Being Codependent podcast today. I hope it helps you, and that you subscribe to the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast on Spotify (or wherever you listen) to take full advantage of all the resources, tips, and info I create to support your journey of growth each and every week. It’s all there for you!
P.S. Did learning about codependency and listening to the “how to stop being codependent” podcast make you think of someone you know is struggling with this situation, I hope that you share this information with them.P.P.S. If that person you’re thinking of is your spouse or partner, and you’re fearing that you two may be in a codependent dynamic together, a super low-key thing to do to begin creating change is to simply listen to this podcast together and discuss it. If you want to take your DIY, kitchen-table couple’s therapy session to the next level, here’s the link to take our “How Healthy Is Your Relationship” quiz together too. Establishing open communication is always the first step to creating positive change! — LMB
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How to Stop Being Codependent
The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast with Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby
Music Credits: Les Hayden, “Ophelia”
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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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I’ve been exploring your website for the last few days after experiencing a deep hurt seeing my soon to be ex wife again. Been dealing with my wife’s affair for the last two years and separated for the last 6 months now, negotiation divorce since she was not really engaging in the reconciliation process and she is not breaking contact with the affair partner, or she lies about it and I discover it again. I told her she is addicted but I might as well be talking to a wall. We were together for 18 years, married for 14.
I’ve realised, in me trying to block the partner from contacting her and vice versa, that I’ve been codependent. I’ve been trying to get her to be OK so I can feel OK. Letting go has been hard, but the last few days has been easier, especially since I’ve discovered your podcasts. I’ve been going to therapy over the last two years, initially weekly then monthly and now only when I really need it, except that money is tight and thus was looking for an online solution. Your resources has really validated my experiences, that has helped a lot.
In these last few weeks I have been exploring my wants and needs, since I feel everything was focused on what my wife wanted before the affair (her codependency). In retrospect, I should just have followed my own pace of doing things and let her deal with her anxiety, but I twisted myself into a pretzel to keep her happy and in the process, messed up my planned priority of things just to fail in the end. As you can tell, we had poor boundaries.
My current philosophy is to find someone who is happy with where I’m at, and willing to walk a path with me and see where it goes. If not, I’ll just walk the path alone until I do find someone, or rather they find me. I felt she clung to me with lots of demands and expectations, she is 9 years older then me, and in the end drowned me, and the final, most devastating blow was to replace me with someone else, who is half her age, when I was no longer good enough or able to give her what she wants. I did not speak up when it was too much, instead I just tried harder, ignoring my alarm bells, my feelings.
Resources like yours are invaluable in the absence of, or even supplementary to, therapy and I’m very grateful for you taking the time and going through the effort of making this available online. I’m still looking for your Exaholics book locally but in the mean time your podcasts are keeping me very occupied and distracted.
Rudolph, it sounds like you’ve had so much insight and growth through this difficult experience. I want to thank you, truly, for sharing your journey here, where others can read it and see the healing that’s possible with this kind of personal growth work, even in the face of great pain. I know so many can relate. I’m so glad to hear the podcast has been helpful, even happier to hear you are getting the one-on-one, expert support of a therapist when you can. For those who can relate and are also considering therapy but not sure about the cost, many counselors take insurance or offer a sliding scale. I’ve put together an FAQ page in the hopes of providing clarity and guidance. I wish you the best as you continue your healing journey. xoxo, Lisa