The Codependent: On Love and Marriage
As a child were you expected to keep one or both of your parents happy, despite them being needy and demanding and at times quite a handful for even an adult to manage? Were either of your parents irresponsible, childish, an alcoholic, gambler, unfaithful, abusive or have other problems that no one discussed?
You may have been made to feel special for taking care of one or both of your parents (and were perhaps treated more like an adult than a child), but was this at the expense of your own emotional development and needs?
This role may have won you special favour, but it probably felt very uncomfortable. A child’s needs and personality have little room for expression or growth in this kind of parent / child relationship.
A child growing up in this environment will end up with some unhealthy ideas about what level of emotional care-taking is normal & healthy for an adult to expect.
In your marriage now for instance, do you expect your partner to take care of your emotions by ‘cheering you up’ every time you are sad? Or know how to ‘keep you happy’ when you are in a bad mood? If so this will be likely to cause resistance and resentment and not love.
Signs of Codependency in Your Marriage
Long term research done over 30 years at Stanford University in California has clearly demonstrated the importance of learning to regulate our own emotions (and calm ourselves down after we have become emotional) if we want to lead a successful life that attracts love and respect.
But this kind of emotional maturity is difficult if we had emotionally immature role models growing up!
A codependent may have also learned some unhealthy ideas about happiness and personal goals.
How a Codependent Becomes an Emotional Manipulator
Believing a person needs other people to manage their negative emotions is the biggest fallacy a codependent learns growing up. This will lead to believing that people are bad if they do not respond to your negative emotions in a particular way. It may also lead to using emotions and psychosomatic illness as a means of trying to attract love and care.
I used to be guilty of this kind of emotional manipulation and it took me a long time to see that my codependency was destroying my marriage, making me unattractive and ruining my life.
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