The classic codependent relationship is typically characterised by an emotionally weak person who feels the need to be connected to an emotionally strong person. The so-called strong one is actually weak because of the need to be needed. Both are insecure and become entangled in a web of emotional bondage. The two combine to produce a destructive cycle of manipulation and control, draining joy and happiness out of life. Because this destructive dynamic is often subconscious, both parties can feel innocent of any wrongdoing. Yet, God knows that their self-absorbed motives are consumed with trying to fill an empty emotional bucket that has no bottom. Proverbs 16:2 “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”
The Characteristics of a Codependent Relationship:
Both people in a Codependent Relationship…
- feel a loss of personal identity.
- violate their consciences.
- have difficulty establishing healthy, intimate relationships.
- struggle with low self-worth.
- control and manipulate.
- have difficulty setting boundaries.
- become jealous and possessive.
- fear abandonment.
- experience extreme ups and downs.
- are in denial.
- have a false sense of security.
- usually have one other addiction besides the relationship.
- feel trapped in the relationship.
An unhealthy codependent marriage will have a weak spouse who has a deep-seated need for security and continually looks to the strong spouse to meet all needs. This means that the weak one stays weak. The supposedly strong spouse has a deep-seated need for significance and tries to meet all the needs of the weaker partner in order to make that mate dependent on the relationship. But in a healthy interdependent marriage each emphasises the other’s strengths and encourages the other partner to overcome personal weaknesses. Each encourages the other to be dependent on the Lord, while being responsive to the legitimate needs of the other. Philippians 2:4 “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
A codependent friendship has an imbalance of power and of give-and-take, the one friend is weak and troubled; the other friend is strong and competent. One friend desires freedom to enjoy other significant relationships but is fearful of doing so. The other friend desires exclusivity and becomes easily jealous or threatened. Both may put the other friend in the place of Christ, and neither is bettered by the friendship. But when the friendship is healthy the friends come together as equals with a balance of power and of give-and-take, pursue and enjoy other significant relationships and avoid exclusivity, both friends are better because of each other. Each strengthens the other spiritually. During a difficult time in David’s life, his dearest friend, Jonathan, didn’t try to draw David to himself. Instead, the Bible says, “Jonathan … helped him [David] find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).