The “Dance” of Relationship Breakdown
It is our experience that most dysfunctional relationships feature a dance of Narcissism and Codependence between the two partners. Stereotypes portray men as more generally narcissistic and women codependent but this is not always the case.
As rapport in a relationship deteriorates, these two sets of immature behaviour play into each other as each partner blames the other instead of facing their own need to grow up.
In many cases—after separating—each partner will end up in another abusive relationship and the terrain may become even more difficult and dangerous for their children and themselves to navigate.
A couple may also swap roles. Alcohol, for instance, will trigger narcissistic behaviour in some people.
As Narcissists rarely seek help and instead blame others for their problems, the codependent carries an important role in relationship recovery.
Codependents, you see, will tend to know something is wrong. They will even blame themselves (more than they should) and often spend a lot of time working on ‘fixing’ themselves. Because the codependent partner tends to be much more highly motivated, our advice focuses primarily on helping them lead the way in recovery. Not by working to please their partner or asking them to change, but instead by teaching them to deal with their own emotions better, especially when setting boundaries with their partner. The codependent working on their emotional maturity is a very beneficial place to start.
Becoming a Role Model for Change
It is our experience that these changes can in fact help both partners. It should be stressed however that this does not mean that the codependent is responsible for their partner’s bad behaviour (or abuse) or that a person with narcissistic tendencies cannot work on improving the way they relate to others. We certainly have material available to help with this too.
Because a couple separating will usually leave the underlying problem unresolved, we feel very strongly that teaching codependent partners emotional regulation and boundary setting is the best first option in helping couples resolve their fighting.
That does not mean this approach is easy or should be taken on lightly, and we suggest the codependent partner should build a support network in the community while they learn the new skills that we teach.
We cannot promise this approach will save your marriage, but it will most likely put you in a much more secure place in your life to make decisions from.
For guidance through this process and discounts on our very affordable books and audio products please start by signing up for our Introductory Tutorial.