Recognizing Codependency in Your Marriage

 Posted on July 04, 2018 in Family Law

Recognizing Codependency in Your MarriageCodependent behavior can be a symptom of an unhealthy marriage and a reason that a spouse does not pursue divorce. Codependency is defined as a relationship in which one person is willingly subservient to the other at the expense of his or her own needs. Such marriages are dysfunctional because:

  • One spouse may be emotionally manipulating the other;
  • The subservience is often enabling a spouse’s unhealthy behavior;
  • It ignores the balance of power in the marriage; and
  • Both spouses may believe that the behavior is normal.

Admitting when they need to change or even get a divorce is a big step for the recovery of people in codependent marriages. However, a history of codependency can cause a high-conflict divorce.

How Codependency Occurs

A codependent marriage requires a willingness by both spouses to accept this relationship dynamic. The dominant spouse may encourage his or her spouse’s subservience in the marriage, but the passive spouse may be responsible for introducing the behavior. Codependent spouses believe that their behavior is a healthy and appropriate way to care for someone. Women are more likely to display codependent behavior because many of them were taught at a young age that:

  • The husband’s needs come before the wife’s needs;
  • A wife should not question her husband’s behavior or decisions;
  • A wife does not have personal boundaries in a marriage; and
  • A wife should accept abusive behavior.

Dominant spouses can perpetuate codependent marriages by demanding that their spouses behave subserviently or by not correcting the codependent behavior. However, it is the codependent spouse who has the greatest power to stop the behavior by recognizing the codependency and leaving the marriage, if necessary.

Codependency During Divorce

A spouse is showing that he or she is ready to move on from codependency when he or she initiates or agrees to a divorce. However, the past codependent relationship can linger during the divorce. The dominant spouse may continue treating the codependent spouse as subservient by:

  • Making unfair demands during negotiations;
  • Being condescending towards his or her spouse; and
  • Trying to emotionally manipulate his or her spouse.

The codependent spouse must resist the habit of feeling sympathetic towards his or her spouse and capitulating to the spouse’s needs. As consequence, the dominant spouse may become combative because he or she is unfamiliar with having a more balanced relationship.

Staying Strong

Some compassion for your spouse can help you reach an amicable divorce agreement, but you must be able to advocate for your own needs. A Kane County divorce attorney at Geneva Family Lawyers can help you negotiate a strong divorce agreement. To schedule a free consultation, call 331-588-6611.


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