Co-Dependency In Marriage

If we are honest, most of us are scared to be ourselves with the people closest to us.

When we act like this, chances are we have an inner caretaker in us that wants others to feel okay. Why? So that we can feel okay. This is commonly called co-dependency, or emotional fusion.

In other words, our okayness is dependent on the other person, thus the term co-dependency.

In my experience, co-dependency is one of the top three relationship issues all of us wrestle with.

Ever heard a parent say “I just want you to be happy. I’m happy if you’re happy.” You might be thinking, “yeah, that’s empathy and it’s healthy.”

Hmmm. to a point yes. But lean to far over to their side, they go away, and you will fall on your face.

The hurtful side of co-dependency is when I get stuck in a loop where I can shut my partner’s emotions down because I don’t want to be upset either.

This one is tricky and sticky for me personally. Since I grew up with a Mom who I perceived made her okayness dependent on mine at times, I try to wiggle out of anyone trying to lean on me for their well-being.

So, if my wife is upset or freaking out, my default is to try and make it better for her. This never helps of course because what she is wanting is validation and space to feel whatever she is going through.

With co-dependency, it is a higher priority for me to put my attention on my wife’s emotional landscape so I don’t have to face my own.  By trying to “fix” her, I get relief in my own emotional world.  If I keep the attention on trying to fix her upset, I get to avoid my discomfort.

However, there is another slice of co-dependency, which i explore on this podcast episode here.



  • Alegria

    Reply Reply September 10, 2012

    Well said. I will add the flip side, where I rely on the other to make me feel ok, to “save” me from my woes. Instead of fulfilling my own needs, I expect the other to take care of me and get angry if they don’t.
    Codependency is a two-way street…

  • Mark

    Reply Reply September 10, 2012

    I was a serial co-dependent for years. It began, as well, with my Mom and the “If you’re happy then I’m happy” qualifier. I was of the mind that leaning on one another was a normal modus operandi. Once I realized the jeopardy of it I was too deeply entrenched in a series of train wrecks I called relationships. I have been through enablers, fixers and numerous other emotional-vampires (including myself).

    I’ve been alone for a number of years now and am now unsure about how to go forward with any type of search for a partner. This is because I now pride myself on independence and anything outside of a sex-only relationship seems superfluous due to the return of the pendulum from the other extreme.

    It’s a good thing to get the pitfalls of co-dependency out there for others to recognize in its early stages. We don’t go into relationships at 50% looking for completion [other 50%] in the other. We complete ourselves first, then look beyond for another to augment our desire to build a third entity…a “We”.

  • Casey James Choate

    Reply Reply June 27, 2013

    My mother was the same way…and still is. She still tries to take care of me. I resent her for it. I resent her for not letting me figure things out on my own. I resent her for smothering me and I resent her for not being there for me.

    That felt good.

    I was an addict for a very long time and always in co-dependent relationships. I am in a relationship now that started out as co-dependent. We are both progressing and growing and releasing those tendencies.

    I am wanting to grow out of these co-dependent ways while remaining in this relatinoships

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