If your entire life seems to revolve around your relationship, at first it may seem like nothing’s wrong. After all, it’s natural to want to spend as much time as you can with someone you love and care about! Sharing the ups and downs of life with someone special is one of the best parts of being alive, and when you’re in love, you want your relationship to last forever! However, ironically enough, one of the biggest threats to the longevity of your relationship can actually be the degree to which your lives become interwoven. Codependency is a hidden danger to the health of your relationship, and not one that many people think about, precisely because it feels so natural and benign in the beginning. But left unchecked, it can begin to sap the energy and vitality out of your romance, and lead to a plethora of other issues down the line. Recognizing the signs of codependency, and making the effort to not let it be a part of your relationship, are some of the best things you can do to ensure that you and your partner stay just as in love as you were when you first got together. But what if it’s already present, and you’re not sure how to reset things? You’re in the right place, because for today’s article, I want to focus on codependence recovery.
I’ve been a love and relationship expert here at Happily Committed for a long time, and I can honestly say that codependency in relationships is one of the most widespread issues that I see my clients suffering from. There are so many problems with codependency as the root, and once people take steps towards addressing it, those problems disappear. However, the reason it’s such a struggle for so many of us is because it’s very hard to know how to address it without hurting your partner! Ultimately, overcoming codependency is all about improving your relationship, but unless you get your wording and your actions just right, you risk making your partner feel like you’re pulling away. Those hazards make a lot of people avoid bringing it up or fixing it altogether, which is what makes this such a common problem. The good news is that there are ways to do this right, and with some care and attention, you can overcome codependency in your relationship. Once you do, you’ll find that the romantic spark between you and your partner is even stronger than it was before.
You may be thinking, is codependency that bad? Do I really need to overcome it at all? Well, think of it like this: when two individuals choose to be together, they both bring their own lives and personalities to the table, which gives their partners something to fall in love with. Passion and excitement in your relationship comes from the way you experience your partner’s identity, and vice versa. So essentially, each person’s individuality fuels the energy and vitality in the relationship. But, for this balance to work, both sides need to maintain that identity by nurturing their individuality!
Getting that balance right isn’t easy, because obviously the more you enjoy your relationship, the more likely it is that you’ll deprioritize other parts of your life so that you can experience more of it. However, neglecting those things means neglecting your identity, which begins to cut off the fuel source to the fire at the center of your romance. Once that happens, relationships stagnate, people get bored, and you may even cease to remember what even drew you to each other in the first place. That’s why, if you’re determined to keep your relationship happy and healthy for a long time, you need to resist the urge to fall into codependency! But, what if you’re already in the middle of this process, and you’re not sure how to undo things without unravelling the relationship?
How to Fix a Codependent Relationship
Your very first step has to be talking with your partner about the fact that you have a codependency problem. However, while being able to communicate openly and honestly is an essential part of any relationship, when it comes to overcoming codependency you’re going to need to be extra sure that your communication skills are up to the task. That’s because there are a lot of pitfalls and dangers when it comes to talking about this. If you’re not careful, what you’re saying can easily come across as “we’re spending too much time together,” or even “I want to do things without you,” which can be hurtful and make them think that you’re losing interest in the relationship. The irony, of course, is that you’re having this conversation precisely because you care about your partner and want your relationship to last!
There are a couple of ways to get around this problem, but the most important one is to frame this as an invitation to work on a problem together. After all, that’s precisely what you’re going to be doing! Encouraging each other to reengage with your individual passions, friends, and goals is the ultimate fix for codependency. This means that, when you approach your partner with your concerns, you don’t have to focus on the harm codependency can or has done to your relationship. Instead, focus on the positives of what truly is an enjoyable and uplifting process, and invite your partner to dive into this challenge alongside you! Remember, the most important reason to stop being codependent is to enrich your relationship and love each other even more passionately. The desire to change things comes from your love and respect for your partner, and if you put that at the forefront of your mind during the conversation, you won’t run the risk of sounding like you don’t want them around.
Target The Signs of Codependency
If you want to know how to break codependency, the first thing you need to do is find out where to target your efforts. Here’s a trick that will help: it’s not the things you do together – it’s the things you don’t do anymore. At first, it may seem like you and your partner are so intertwined that you need to simply disengage. However, that doesn’t enrich your life, it just cuts down your exposure to each other, which isn’t a real fix. Instead, think about what you were up to before you two got together. What hobbies and activities took a back seat once you started spending all this time with your partner? Did your relationship slowly and accidentally isolate you from your friends and family? Did you have any goals that you slowly “postponed”? All of those things are the roots of your individuality, and healing codependency begins with making an effort to reconnect and rebuild the ones that have been neglected.
Fight Codependent Behavior
One of the big hurdles facing a lot of my clients who are trying to stop being codependent is this: the urge to stay home. You’ll realize codependency is harming your relationship, you successfully navigate that tricky conversation with your partner, you identify precisely where to target your efforts, and in the last moment you simply… don’t. It just sounds so much better to cancel your plans! Well, first of all, this may seem illogical but in reality it’s very normal. As human beings, often we resist change, and resent discomfort. Breaking our routines, and making changes to our lifestyle, is much harder than it seems! However, the truth is that codependency is what you get when you follow the path of least resistance, so you’re going to need to take action if you want to fix this. Fight that urge, don’t stay home, and embrace being uncomfortable! Remember where this feeling is coming from, and put it in its place when it shows up in your life.
Heal Codependency with Your Partner
One of the things that many people get wrong about overcoming codependency is thinking that it simply means spending less time with your partner. It makes sense that someone would think this, since the problem is that your lives are absolutely full of passive time spent together! However, I’d argue that part of the process, alongside building up your identity and individualism on your own, is turning passive time with your partner into active time.
Weekly date nights, plans to try new things together, or even small trips are all great ways to break out of your routines and provide some new stimulus to your lives. More importantly, if you both have been nurturing your own selves separately, you’ll find that you’ve missed each other during that time apart! You’ll feel reinvigorated and curious about each other, which is already a great step towards revitalizing your relationship. On top of that, if you’re both pursuing things that make you feel fulfilled, there’s going to be a lot to talk about and share with each other! It’s precisely those kinds of engaging, interesting conversations that fuel the flame in your relationship.
Like I said before, problems stemming from codependent relationships are some of the most common issues we help people address here at Happily Committed. Time and time again, people come to us with a wide range of problems, only for us to dig in and find that an ingrown relationship is to blame. That’s why we decided to make a course on how to overcome codependency, which you can check out by clicking here. Our collected experience with this topic can really help people get through these issues!
The reason I bring that up is that you should be proud of yourself for getting this far. Instead of focusing on the problems caused by codependency, you’re going straight for the source, which means you’re not going to waste a lot of time grappling with something that’s not getting you anywhere. By focusing on this, you’re doing the right thing for you and your partner. So, to recap, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can break out of codependency.
1. Target the signs of codependency, and remember: It’s not what you do now, it’s what you don’t do anymore.
2. Fight codependent behavior. There will always be an urge to stay home, settle down, and put this problem off to another day. Once you start ignoring that feeling, you’ll see your relationship really take off.
3. Heal codependency with your partner. This is a two-person effort! You should both work on pursuing your own passions, and be able to tell each other about how it’s going. Encouraging each other, and spending active time enjoying your relationship, are the most important parts of solving this problem.
With all that being said, I want to reiterate that you’re miles ahead of most people if this is what you’re working on in your relationship. At the same time, I know every relationship is different, so if you need some advice with the particulars, feel free to reach out to me or any of the other love and relationship experts here at Happily Committed by clicking here. Like I said before, this is one of the most common struggles that we help people overcome, and I’m confident that we can give you some personalized tips and tricks that can make this process even more successful.
I’m rooting for you!
Your coach when you need codependence recovery,