Are you in a codependent relationship? Consider these case studies of codependency.
SallySally is a thirty-year-old who has been dating the same man since she was twenty. He does not want to commit to her, and she works tirelessly to win his approval and make him happy. She spends her free time cleaning his house, doing his grocery shopping, and tries to keep her opinions to herself because she feels that her voice is not what matters.
She feels needed in the relationship; therefore, she ignores the toxic behaviors and clings to that feeling of being needed. Sally is starting to feel run down in her relationship because she is constantly working as hard as she can to win and keep her boyfriend’s approval.
Damon and Susan
Damon and Susan have been married for ten years. They both endured significant childhood trauma and when they were young, they both had parents that left them. Unbeknownst to them, they are both people-pleasers who are fearful of speaking their mind. They are constantly seeking the approval of other people to feel seen and validated.
When the other person does not validate them for something they have done, they feel down on themselves. This is causing significant lapses of communication and bouts of loneliness in their marriage because they tend to withdraw. They are unsure how to navigate these feelings and how to grow in their marriage.
Meg is a forty-year-old mom of four who is starting to feel emotionally overloaded because she is constantly worrying about pleasing everyone and keeping the peace. She feels the need to constantly win the approval of her children and spouse and keep the peace. She tries to unite the family and make sure everyone is happy. She has a difficult time saying no, so when a family member asks her to plan a party, she agrees to do it.
When someone is sick, she feels the need to check on them constantly. When one of her children is feeling down, she feels the need to do everything she can to restore their emotional health to 100%. When her husband is feeling worn down, she feels the need to work around the clock to take over anything and everything, so he is less stressed and more at peace and reliant on her.
While we want to be a team in relationships, the people in the case studies above are headed down a road that might lead to severe burnout and they don’t feel that their opinions or voices are important. They are solely focused on trying to take on the other person’s feelings and emotions to make/keep them happy.
Signs of Codependency
- Constantly seeking reassurance.
- Feel responsible for problem-solving.
- You feel like it’s impossible to say no.
- You always try to avoid conflict.
- Feel you will do anything to keep this relationship.
- You only feel loved when you are needed.
- Always overly concerned with others’ needs and feelings.
- Find it difficult to define and voice your own needs and opinions.
Here are some tips for those struggling with codependency:
You can’t fix everything for everyone.
Memorize this. It is vital for those struggling with codependency to realize that they cannot be everything to everyone. Codependents often need the other person to be okay in order for them to be okay. They do everything necessary to help other people and keep their anger and frustrations to a minimum.
They often over-worry, over-function, and over-analyze situations and relationships. Other people’s happiness is not in the palm of your hands. You cannot run yourself ragged trying to fix every frustration that other people have. You cannot spend your entire night tossing and turning, contradicting your beliefs just to keep other people happy.
You can stand firm in your faith without being compliant. You can love someone well without giving up the unique person God created you to be. You can offer grace without always being walked on.
You cannot live in constant emotional overdrive.
Emotional overdrive is when trying to soothe everyone all the time. To work through this behavior, let other people feel their feelings. Sometimes that means we will feel discomfort. You can be present for and support someone, but you cannot always fix them and their problems. Sometimes people just need space to sit and think through their feelings. Free yourself from trying to play God and fix everyone’s problems. God is God, and you are not.
Relationships need boundaries.
Another way to deal with codependency is to start setting healthy boundaries in your relationships. Learn to say “no,” especially when someone is asking you to do something against God’s Word or that might be sucking the life out of you. Start by speaking life and truth into your own heart. Start memorizing Scripture and recite verses that remind you about who God says you are.
You are loved, valued, and chosen. He should be the one at the forefront of your mind and the One you run to when decisions need to be made. If something contradicts Him or His Word, then your decisions will become easier and easier to make.
Affirmations for in a Codependent Relationship
I am not solely responsible for the emotions and happiness of others.
I can say “NO.”
I did my best in that situation.
It is not my job to fix others.
I can and will express my feelings.
It is okay to set boundaries.
Destructive behaviors cannot control your relationship.
Relationships require honest conversations from both parties. They require give and take from both parties. They require listening and leaning in to embrace the messes. They require full reliance on Christ with Him at the center of the relationship.
They require honest prayers about shortcomings and pleas for help. They require acknowledging each other’s weaknesses and learning to build a healthy emotional and spiritual foundation. They require acknowledging past trauma so you can ask God to use those scars for His glory and to write a new story.
Our worth is in Jesus.While it is not a switch that can easily be flipped, it is important for those struggling with codependency to realize that their worth is not based on the happiness of others. It is not based on trying to ease their burdens.
While God wants us to be compassionate people, our sense of purpose can come only from Him, not from the approval of others, likes on social media, comments about how skinny or pretty we are, adoration and praise from our kids, nor from the constant “I can’t do this without you” from our spouse.
If you struggle with constantly seeking assurance from others, feel the need to try to carry someone else’s happiness, or engage in destructive behaviors to please someone else, Christian Counseling might be the best option for you today.
Whether you are trying to work on your relationship or get to the root of your past trauma, it’s a journey that will change your life forever. This is the kind of “yes” that will impact your life and those around you for the better.
Scriptures for those Struggling with Codependency
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10, ESV
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. – Galatians 6:1-5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. – 1 Thessalonians 2:4
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? – Psalm 118:6
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. – Proverbs 29:25
“Forever”, Courtesy of Alvin Mahmudov, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Love”, Courtesy of Mayur Gala, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Black Heart”, Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reaching Out”, Courtesy of Farrinni, Unsplash.com, CC0 License