Recognizing codependency

Can a Christian woman be too helpful?  Can she be too nice?  I believe the answer is yes.  When we are so “nice” that we enable our husband or adult children to act irresponsibly or to stay immature, we are being too nice.  And many of us fit this description.  We are too helpful.  We are codependent.  We train our loved ones to be dependent on us, instead of God.  We train them to rely on us to do things for them that they should really do themselves as responsible adults.  Often, we also train them to expect us to bail them out of the natural consequences of their foolish or sinful decisions. 

Why are many women codependent?  We become codependent when we subconsciously depend on others to meet a deep emotional need of our own, such as feeling loved, secure, or important.  Instead of looking to the Lord for love, security and significance, we exhaust ourselves trying to get people to meet those needs. Then, because we pin all our hopes on these people, we MUST cater to them in order to keep them in the relationship with us.  We fear that our “source” of love and security will leave us or withdraw their love if we don’t cater to them.  We start walking on eggshells.  We bend over backwards to keep them happy because we fear losing them.  However, the Bible says in Proverbs 29:25  “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be loving and kind.  Of course, we should.  However, we go too far when our “kindness” enables immature and irresponsible and even sinful behavior in others.  We go too far when we try to spare our loved ones from consequences and when we carry their responsibilities. We go too far when we become neurotic people-pleasers in the relationship just so the other person is more likely to make us feel better about ourselves!    

Here are 2 questions you can ask yourself today:

1) Are my actions preventing my husband or children from becoming mature and responsible?

2) Am I expecting my husband or child to meet my deepest emotional needs or am I seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord to meet those needs?

Resist the urge to rescue him

True confession:  Often in the past, I found myself wanting to jump in and “fix things” for my husband.  Sometimes, I did this because I feared his mood would grow ugly if I didn’t take steps to improve his circumstances.  Sometimes, I did this because I feared that his ministry could stumble if he didn’t do things the “correct” way.  Sometimes, I did this because I thought his relationship with our kids would suffer if I didn’t intervene.  Sometimes, I did this because I feared…..

Hmmm.  When it comes right down to it, fear is the common feeling behind all of the times I jumped in to act as my husband’s savior.  Unfortunately, fear usually causes us to act unwisely.  Proverbs 29:25 says “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Here’s something to ponder.  Every time you jump in to “fix” things for your husband, you actually prevent your man from turning to God for help.  Every time you try to prevent your husband from feeling any discomfort or pain, you might be preventing him from changing unhealthy behavior and finally turning to God!   Resist the urge to be your husband’s savior.  There is only one perfect savior anyway.  His name is Jesus Christ.

Are you affected by this curse?

When you think of the curses placed on Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden apple, you probably think of Adam having to toil to bring food to the table and you likely think of Eve having to endure pain in childbirth.  However, there is another curse placed on Eve that may have escaped your notice.  It’s found in Genesis 3:16 where God says “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you“.  Oh my.  This explains a lot!

Almost all women struggle with almost an insane desire to secure a man.  In fact, I was observing my 3 year old granddaughter a few months ago.  Even at that tender age, she gravitates to men and boys.  She likes her female cousins, but oh boy, she practically worships her brother and adores her young boy cousin.  When my husband and I walked in the room together months ago, she glanced at me but she ran to Raul.  Hmmm.

My point is this.  If we recognize this curse, we will be more able to deal with it.  The curse may explain why it’s so difficult for most women to establish and enforce boundaries with their husbands when their men are sinning against them by using pornography, drinking excessively, gambling large sums of money, spending time with other women, etc.   If we do indeed have a deep instinctive desire (curse) to desperately hang onto our guy, we believe we can’t do anything to threaten our grip!   This explains a lot, doesn’t it?  Knowledge is the beginning of understanding.  Ask Jesus to give you clarity about how your thoughts and actions are being affected by the curse.  Then ask Him to give you courage and strength to make wise decisions.  Tip:  When you stop making a man the most important thing in your life and make Jesus your main relationship, then you will have the courage and confidence to set wise boundaries in your marriage (or dating relationships)!