Relationship therapists often use the word codependent. Let’s look at an example to show what this term means.
Keisha and Dwayne have been married three years. She is a manager at a bill collection agency to help put him through business school. Keisha put on hold her own dream of becoming a nurse. Lately he’s been drinking a lot to relax. In fact, they missed Thanksgiving with his folks because of it; Keisha called and gave the excuse that he was sick.
Keisha feels bad that she has started to lie for Dwayne, but she believes he needs her to protect him. She’s continuing to lower her personal standards in order to keep the relationship. Perhaps you may also wonder sometimes about your own relationship boundaries. Ask yourself the following questions.
Do you merge yourself with your partner?
Do you give up your interests, career choices, and your dreams so that you can please him or her?
Do you take on your partner’s food choices, recreational choices, or even his or her fears—while your own choices get put aside?
Do you place a low priority on what you want? Are you more preoccupied with the needs of your partner?
If you have answered yes to these questions, you may be codependent. People who are codependent often take on the role of martyr; they constantly put someone else’s needs before their own. In doing so, they forget to take care of themselves. Being a martyr creates for them a sense that they are “needed.” Codependent people are constantly in search of acceptance. When two people are tightly bound to each other, there can be intense emotions that can be hurtful.
The following poem reminds us that although bonding as a couple is good, that a hurtful relationship should be ended.
There is you, there is me, there is us.
And there is we
We’re as one, and yet alone.
We’re each other’s, but still our own.
Should that which is us
Hurt that which is you or that which is me
then that which is
must be that which was
This poem explains that although two people are close in a relationship, they are also still unique individuals. The poem says that if the relationship damages the people, then the bond must be broken.
The poem says that what “is” must be moved into the past.
Individual integrity should never be compromised in a relationship. If you drop your personal integrity, submerging yourself in the needs of your partner (even for the sake of the relationship), you will end up with neither your integrity nor a good relationship. You must retain your sense of self and your self-worth. The partnership must enhance who you are, not detract from it.
If the relationship ends up hurting the partners, then the relationship cannot be sustained. Perhaps this sounds like your existence. If so, be honest about it. Life throws you plenty of curve balls as it is—you do not need your relationship to be a minefield.