When you love someone deeply, it can be easy to slip into a codependent relationship, especially in times of difficulty. However, while a healthy relationship may require vulnerability and support, codependency can feel suffocating. In a codependent relationship, the scales are tipped, as one partner consistently neglects his/her own needs for the sake of the other partner's wants. Ultimately, this behavior will prevent personal development, while instilling a sense of frustration, resentment, and discontent.
On the other hand, in an interdependent relationship, there is a balance between both parties. Each individual has the freedom to nourish his/her identity while providing one another with mutual support. This can be achieved through a few fundamental steps:
- Make self-care a priority.
By taking charge of your own well-being, you will not need to seek affirmation from outside sources. If your self-image is suffering, seek to remedy it through eating well, exercising regularly, speaking kindly to yourself, and seeking the assistance of a professional if needed. Take time to be refreshed regularly, be it by reading a book in a coffee shop, signing up for a spinning class, or scheduling regular appointments with a massage therapist. A healthy dose of self-esteem will prevent you from leaning too heavily on your partner-or anyone else- to supply personal validation.
- Establish and honor boundaries together.
Be it limits on time, conversation, or physicality, by agreeing on healthy parameters for the relationship, you can prevent accidental codependency. Perhaps you have gotten into the habit of stepping into the role of counselor for your loved one. By establishing just what level of support you can provide while offering to assist your spouse in seeking professional assistance, the relational balance may be restored.
- Connect openly and regularly.
When you are not responsible for your partner’s emotional and mental wholeness, it is far easier to speak with honesty and respect. If you find yourself avoiding topics that cause anger and arguments time and again, it may be important to address the root of the issue.
- Be an active listener.
Make eye contact, engage in what is being said, and try to summarize what you hear for clarity’s sake. If your partner is honestly communicating concerns within the relationship, try to find common ground and reach an understanding without growing angry or offended. By listening well, you promote continued healthy communication and connection.
- Encourage your partner’s friendships and hobbies.
You can’t be one another’s whole world. While sharing in new adventures can be great for relationship building, it is just as important to pursue interests outside of one another. When you take time out to hang with other friends and invest in personal hobbies, it will also give you more to talk about the next time you connect!
An interdependent relationship is positioned to thrive for the long haul. It cultivates individual development, prevents disappointment, and encourages a happy balance. What steps do you need to take today to move your co-dependent relationship toward one of interdependence?