Recognizing that you’re actually codependent

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?

— or view this topic as a 3 minute VIDEO HERE

Digging up the root of your dysfunctional patterns

We often feel stuck in unhealthy patterns of behavior or unhealthy beliefs about ourselves, don’t we?  Here’s a thought.  Instead of staying stuck there, how about if we dig down to discover the root of the dysfunction so that we can dig it up and be free?!  After all, God intends us to be free.  John 8:36 says. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

I’ve found this simple exercise to be very helpful in finding freedom from unhealthy old thinking and old ways.  Think of the main negative emotion you’re experiencing lately.  It could be worry, fear, anger, sadness, insecurity, jealousy, loneliness, resentment, shame, etc.  Now ask God to help you remember the very, very first time you ever remember experiencing the same emotion.  Many women can trace that emotion back to their toddler years or grade school years!  Now take a moment to consider the event that prompted that emotion.  Did someone say something to you?  Did a situation cause that feeling?

Once you’ve identified the event that prompted this feeling, ask God to reveal whether you began believing a lie about yourself or other people as a result of that event.  Remember, Satan is described by Jesus in John 8:44 as “the father of lies“, and he likely whispered a lie in your ear about that event.

For me personally, I have wrestled all my life with the dysfunctional tendency to avoid conflict and ignore serious problems in relationships. So, I tried this exercise.  I realized my main negative emotion is fear.  As I pondered this with God, I realized I first started feeling that emotion as a toddler in a home where there was tons of yelling and verbal abuse.  God helped me see that the lie I believed back then was that somehow I needed to find a way to make the yelling stop, and that keeping everyone “happy” was my responsibility so that things didn’t spiral way out of control. But that thinking was a lie! It wasn’t my responsibility then and it isn’t my responsibility now!

Have you been believing a lie all these years?  Has it affected your decisions?  Has it resulted in dysfunction in your life?  Ask God to reveal the truth about who you are.  Ask God to give you right beliefs to overcome the lies of the enemy!

One way your husband could help you

I tend to constantly pick at a dysfunctional relationship in my life.  It drives me a little crazy that I am estranged from some relatives.  I keep on feeling like I need to “fix it”.  This has been going on for years!  And I think Satan has my number on this.  Just when I think I’ve sorted through my responsibility in the situation and come to the conclusion that I’ve done everything I should, Satan whispers into my ear once again “this is your fault”…”you aren’t handling this correctly as a Christian”…blah, blah, blah.  And the cycle repeats itself every few months…for years!

I was feeling this way again last night, and I rehashed that fractured relationship once again with my husband.  Bless his heart!  I’m so thankful that he can actually be patient with me as I talk through that situation over and over again every few months.  Anyway, he quickly reminded me that I have done everything I can.  He helped me to see the situation objectively.  Where I was consumed with emotions and doubt, he could see more clearly.  As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

Sometimes, you and I really do need our husbands counsel.  Often, they are less emotional than we are.  Many times, they can see the situation much more objectively and correctly assess how it should be handled.  Plus, our husbands love it when we come to them for advice, because it signifies that we actually respect their opinion.  Is it time to seek your husband’s counsel on a situation in your life?  Two are often better than one!

Don’t fall for these big, fat, stinky lies!

I am on the war path…against the devil!  I will not stand idly by while he tries to destroy the marriages of beautiful Christian wives who fall for his diabolical schemes.  I should know all about his schemes because I fell into them in my first marriage.  So heed my warning.  I know from first-hand experience that Satan wants to lure your thinking down the wrong path.

You’ve probably heard the verse in John 10:10 where Jesus reveals Satan’s mission to “steal, kill and destroy”.  Well, a primary tool of Satan is big, fat, rotten lies!  Jesus reveals this in John 8:44 where, referring to the devil, he says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Be on high alert for the devil to whisper lies that might sound something like this:  “Your husband is a total jerk”, “Your marriage is hopeless”, “You deserve a different husband”, “You should file for divorce”, “Your kids would be better off if you divorce”, “You don’t need to listen to advice from your church friends who think you should work on your marriage.”, etc.  These are big, fat, rotten lies from the pit of hell.  Don’t be impulsive.  Don’t rush into a divorce.  Give God time to work on your husband…and on you!