When two people have a very close relationship, especially in our later years, it’s natural to depend on each other for certain things.
However, if one of you loses your identity, in order to please only the other person, the relationship can become very unhealthy. If one partner does all the work, or makes all the doctor appointments, it’s simply not fair. It's also not healthy...
My guess is that it's normally the woman who becomes the Retirement Housekeeper, Appointment Maker, Peace Keeper, Partner Pleaser... but not necessarily so!
“Codependency” is defined as an unhealthy relationship where partners are overly reliant on one another.
My mother-in-law was overly reliant on her husband since marriage. When he passed away, 39 years before her, she was totally lost. She didn’t know how to shop, how to pay the bills, he did it all — and she was the Princess Homemaker. That was good while it lasted, but later, she was one lost woman.
Answer these questions to examine whether you might be involved in a codependent relationship. Use these questions to guide you in correcting your behaviors and emotional expressions in your loving relationship.
Are you afraid to express your feelings? If you notice you often hold back for fear of how he/she will react, that’s a sign the relationship is not as healthy as it could be. — OR — If you do express feelings honestly, do you then feel guilty? Perhaps you think “I shouldn’t have said anything... it just made matters worse”.
Is much of your day taken up with trying to do everything for your partner? If you’re completing numerous tasks for your loved one that could easily be done by them, you need to stop… for both your own mental and physical health, but also for theirs
Are you afraid of asking for help? If you can’t seek assistance from your partner, it’s very frustrating. In a healthy relationship, partners freely and regularly ask for a hand. — OR — When you do ask for help, does he/she help? Hopefully, they are open and willing to help. If you’re codependent, you might not feel comfortable with asking… thus you just do the work.
Do you find yourself feeling hurt or angry because nobody notices your needs? Although you try to take care of everything, you feel disappointed that they don’t see what’s happening or how frustrated you are?
Do you believe you can’t have a friendship outside of your relationship? Are you too busy doing chores that you don’t find time to maintain a friendship? You need friends, your partner does too! Call someone randomly and simply say “Let’s have lunch… I need to get out of the house today.”
Do you have hobbies and activities to enjoy separate from your partner? To maintain a healthy identity, it’s important to enjoy your own hobbies and interests. You may enjoy doing some things together — but surely there are other interests that could be done outside the relationship?
Do you try to control things to make life better? If you feel like you are walking on eggshells, you don’t want to upset your partner. Therefore, you take steps to control situations however you can… but that’s simply adding stress to your own life. Stress isn’t good.
Are you a perfectionistic? After all, if you get things perfect, then maybe life will be happier, more satisfied, and less angry, disappointed, or annoyed with you. If you feel this way, your relationship is likely codependent. Perfection is not a good way to enjoy life.
Would you describe your partner as needy, emotionally distant, or unreliable? These qualities often draw in partners who are seen as “caretakers.” Thus, the codependency begins… and if you’ve been doing this for years, it’s not easy to break either. Are you the caregiving type?
How is your health as it relates to stress? Often, people involved in codependent relationships experience health issues that might be related to stress like asthma, allergies, out-of-control eating, chest pain, and skin disorders.
The good news is that if you believe you’re in a codependent relationship, you can begin altering your behavior right away to gain back a healthy sense of individuality. Take it one baby step at a time… ask for help, go to lunch together and talk about how you feel, find new friends to balance out life.
If you feel you need help, seek out a professional trained in helping those with codependency. You’ll feel better and your relationship will be stronger when you can relate to each other in more positive ways.
Do you have a story to share with others? Your two cents could help another retiree feel more comfortable with this idea, or might give them the warning signs on how this won't work in their circumstances. Share and help someone else out there...
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