“A CODEPENDENT RELATIONSHIP IS OFTEN WORSE THAN HAVING NO RELATIONSHIP AT ALL”
Many people who are codependent with their spouses have no idea they are part of a mess. Are you in a codependent relationship with your spouse? What even is codependency? It is a form of enabling another person’s bad or negative or self-destructive behavior to the compromise of your own life, values, beliefs, energy, and time. This bad behavior could be gambling, drugs, over-eating, under-achieving, alcoholism, or any kind of sociopathic behavior.
A codependent relationship is not always visible to the naked eye although a lot of times it is. The spouse who is in a codependent relationship with his or her spouse is the overly helpful, overly understanding, overly forgiving spouse who is almost a martyr in the marriage and the relationship, often receiving no reciprocity from the other party for their contributions to the relationship.
It is not codependence to care for a spouse who is genuinely ill and cannot take care of him or herself. Except of course if you do this to the detriment of your own life and health, and frankly if your motivation is wrong. And it depends on what the illness is. Alcoholism, for example, is an illness. You can’t really care for an alcoholic spouse without being at least a little bit codependent. Because that is a disease of choice where the person who is ill needs to just stop drinking and this has to come from within. To the extent you can support this person while they voluntarily get the help they need, there is a fine line between support and codependence. But it is a very fine line.
By contrast, a spouse who has cancer or diabetes or something like that is a more nuanced situation. For example, if the person has lung cancer and continues to smoke and you continue to make excuses for them, while you pick up all the slack for their care being in and out of the hospital every time they have a medical urgency, then it could be that you are codependent. If your diabetic spouse insists on eating badly and you keep enabling this behavior by cooking bad foods, guess what?
Knowing whether you are in a codependent relationship or not is not always so apparent. It IS a fine line between normal support and codependence. It calls for deep self-reflection. You know in your heart where you fit. The question then becomes, if you are in a codependent situation, what should you do about it? Is divorce the only option?