What is so wrong with co-dependency?

The title is pretty much self explanatory.

My wife and I have both identified that we are co-dependent on each other and I know there have been a lot of books and such out there saying that co-dependancy is a bad thing.

So what is the straight dope?

Nothing is wrong with it as long as you both like the role you play and are both growing (or stagnating) at a rate that is desirable to you. It gets sticky when one or both of you are doing something for the other one when you’d rather be doing something for yourself, and feeling resentful or guilty in the process.

I don’t think that it is self-explanatory. Do you mean psychologically, which means that your self-esteem is based on what the other thinks of you, or just that to get through life, you are dependent on each other for functional things, like cooking, paying bills, etc?

The problem with psychological dependence is that you can’t give each other any kind of negative feedback without dire consequences. You will end up looking to other people for approval if you find it lacking. Being with someone for the rest of your life - you are bound to find things that need constructive criticism - a very painful thing for co-dependent people.

The problem with functional co-dependency is that if one of you is incapacited or otherwise exits the picture, it will be very painful to function solo. I think of older women whose husbands die and now they can’t manage the checkbook or such. Better to learn now, when there is a caring person to teach you instead of sinking or swimming when you are thrown into the solo situation.

Codependent might be one of my least favorite words. I really tend to only use it to describe relationships people have with abusers (either physical/verbal abusers or substance abusers).

The real likelihood is that you and your wife are interdependent and your relationship has a balance of give and take. True codependency is when one of you is the giver and the other the taker and when the giver reduces him/herself in order to please his/her partner.

I suggest you look over a thorough list of codependency characteristics (such as this), and you’re likely to see that you’ve misunderstood the term or someone has explained it inadequately.

Yeah, it’s a badly chosen word that in plain common-sense etymology would seem to mean “reciprocally dependent” or “interdependent”, which is a good thing, but that’s not what it means as used in clinical social psych.

“Codependency” in that sense is participation in a pathological matrix of behaviors where each individual’s participation perpetuates the matrix by eliciting the behaviors of the other participant(s).

Example: Woman feels unloved by her husband who doesn’t pay much sexual attention to her / rather than acknowledge her emotional state directly she experiences it as heightened awareness of whatever physical misery she feels, and tension causes her back to go into spasms / she complains of horrible backaches and mysterious disabling pains / he is attentive and sympathetic / she feels more reassured about the love but hates the pain and can’t do things / as a consequence of thinking of her as an invalid in pain he is less inclined to think of her sexually or act on it if he does / he is concerned about her but annoyed about her being an invalid and about them hardly ever having sex any more / he feels bad about being dissatisfied with the relationship because she’s got those horrid back problems so he doesn’t talk about his frustrations and just distances himself instead.

Each person’s pathological self-hurting participation is a response to the other person’s pathological self-hurting participation so this matrix of behavior depends on both of them playing into it. No one benefits from it, but they remain trapped in its cycle, unaware of what’s really going on.

You can get considerably more than just two people wrapped up in one of these, especially in families!

Unfortunetly, that kind of hits the nail on the head.

I don’t want to go into too much detail because a lot of the stuff is really personal.
Thank you all for the insights.

Since the list(s) that moi’s link led to are so long, I have a question. What if one or two things in one (or more) of the lists hits home or sort of hits home? Is that a signal that there is trouble or just a sign that you are still living? :confused:

According to This website, normal people display 5-10% of co-dependent behavior. If you have more than 20% of the symptoms, you should consider yourself co-dependent. It also says that the bottom line for co-dependents is that they have little self-worth and look outside themselves for happiness.

It’s the difference between a foundation and a crutch.

Thanks, Thinks2Much I was below the 10% level. :smiley: [sup]And methinks too much sometimes, also.[/sup].

Ethilrist could you elaborate a bit on that statement. My thinker isn’t making contact. :o

Both are supportive. Both are artificial. A foundation makes the building stronger, while the crutch makes up for a weakness.

If a relationship has a foundation, then the two people support each other and the relationship is stronger because of it. If one of them is a crutch for the other, it’s more because there’s a flaw that they’re making up for, without actually fixing the flaw. Being co-dependent means that person needs a crutch, not that that person has a foundation.