Do you know if you have codependency? It’s a problem that can be hard to spot by yourself. A codependent person is someone who depends too much on another person although they may function highly by themselves. As the relationship becomes more imbalanced over time, problems can develop. But there is hope for recovery from codependency when the power is balanced between two people.
Since codependency is subtle and difficult to detect, a caring counselor can give you a helpful, third-party viewpoint. The counselor’s objective look at your relationship can help you pin down the problems so you can work toward solutions from a biblical framework.
Codependency Power Struggles
In every codependent relationship, you’ll find a power struggle. It’s difficult to break out of these cycles on your own. However, a counselor can assist you in seeing signs of power struggles that you need to address to get past the codependency issues in your relationships.
- One person does the majority of the taking while the other does most or all of the giving. Over time the giver becomes resentful of this imbalance.
- The codependent’s purpose in life is defined by their contributions to the relationship.
- The codependent has a hard time saying no even when a no is appropriate.
- The codependent excuses and rationalizes the other person’s negative behavior and sometimes even takes responsibility for the other person’s behaviors.
- The other person may feel trapped in the relationship and the codependent may feel constantly disappointed.
- The codependent may neglect his or her own needs to become overly concerned about the other person.
- The codependent has an exaggerated view of the other person and cares a great deal about what the other person thinks of them.
If you have one or more of these signs in your relationship you may be struggling with codependency. Since these problems often have deep roots, they can be addressed with the wisdom and guidance of a Christian counselor. You can learn new ways of relating to others and treating yourself right, and you can overcome your codependent tendencies with the counselor’s help.
Am I Codependent?
You may not realize that you are codependent, especially if you are a kind, caring, good-hearted person. If you take pleasure in offering love to others, helping them out, and meeting their needs, you may be naturally predisposed to codependent behaviors.
Even though these are very good traits, people who are irresponsible often look for those who are giving and selfless to take over their responsibilities. The other person in your life may have taken advantage of your good qualities, and this is a big part of the problem.
The Bible is clear that we Christians are to be loving, selfless, generous, and kind. However, Jesus never says that we should be codependent. Instead, he teaches us to place a high value on the gift of free will that he gave us and to be wise in our interactions with others. You can look at Matthew 5:37 to learn how Jesus tells us to let our “no be no, and our yes be yes,” which is a simple yet important personal boundary.
We can look at an interesting passage in Galatians to discern responsibility. Galatians 6:2 encourages us to share each other’s burdens out of obedience to God. Then, three verses later in Galatians 6:5, we learn that each person should carry their own load.
With God’s help, we can strike a healthy balance between carrying our own loads and sharing others’ burdens. We need God’s wisdom to do one or the other in our relationships. Once you put these principles into practice, you can have a better handle on overcoming codependency.
An Example of Codependency
You can learn the difference between healthy boundaries and codependency by looking at this example. Codependent parents allow their 25-year-old daughter to continue living at home without paying rent. Though she is able-bodied, she refuses to find work. When the parents confront their daughter, she is manipulative, using accusations and guilt to silence her parents. Due to a fear of conflict, the couple backs down.
In the same example, a couple with healthy boundaries may allow their 25-year-old daughter to move back home for a certain period after her divorce. They define the timeline with her so she can financially recover before finding her own place. She agrees to pay for her groceries and fuel while continuing to work. The couple is helping to lift their daughter’s burdens while keeping healthy boundaries intact.
A codependent relationship creates power imbalances and unnecessary burdens. It costs you self-respect and free will. But a healthy relationship sets you free from these problems. You can learn how to introduce healthy interior relationships with the wisdom and guidance a Christian counselor can provide.
Often, people who are naturally sweet, kind, and good and who are also afraid of conflict can set themselves up to hack codependent relationships. Parents who do not offer consistent, loving care to their children can set up codependency as a temptation for their children as adults. This occurs because the parents never enacted a healthy transfer of power between childhood and adulthood.
If your parents did not show trustworthy and consistent care, you may tend toward codependency in your relationships now. You might not have learned to make healthy bonds with others. When you are stressed, you might exhibit clinging or neediness since you are trying to fill the voids of love your parents never filled for you.
As a child, you might have found it easier to deny your own God-given needs, attempting to fulfill your dysfunctional parent’s needs instead. These long-standing patterns set in your childhood may cause you to over-function in today’s relationships. The unhealed places inside may cause you to gravitate toward other adults who are irresponsible about their own needs and would like you to take over.
You might feel frustrated with your codependent relationship but yet not know how to make things right. The first step to take once you recognize signs of codependency is to reach out for help in establishing new relationship patterns. A Christian counselor can teach you new ways of relating to others as you strengthen your value system and identity in Christ.
Codependent people often handle a great deal of pressure from both internal and external forces. Though you may
have gotten used to this level of pressure over time, it can cause you to avoid all types of conflict and accept too many responsibilities that aren’t yours to manage.
Day after day, these pressures can take a big toll on your physical and mental well-being. You may experience physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, short-term memory loss, lack of focus, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems, immune system disorders, and many other physical problems that can reduce your quality of life.
On an emotional level, you might experience feelings of shame, guilt, anxiety, anger, or depression, which all stem from your codependent relationship. When these feelings become overwhelming, you might cope with unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating, workaholism, overspending, substance abuse, and other negative behaviors. A cycle of codependency can take a toll on your self-esteem.
Only one codependent relationship can affect the other relationships in your life. For example, a codependent mother may become so obsessed with her adult son’s needs that the quality of her work declines and her relationships with coworkers become difficult.
When you learn how to address problems in one codependent relationship, all your other relationships will flourish. Your counselor will affirm your worth and value in God’s eyes. With the counselor’s help, you will also learn to identify your priorities, establish new boundaries, honor your own needs, and seek to get your own needs met in healthy ways. Your quality of life will improve as you seek freedom from codependency.
Help for Codependent Relationships
Though codependency may be a complex problem, it is solvable. A caring Christian counselor can provide you with the tools for addressing it. You will learn to become more assertive, change your mindset, sort out past issues, and role-play healthy responses. Your counselor has helped many other people recover from codependency and can also help you break free from destructive patterns. Give us a call today to start learning new ways of relating to others.
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