Are you happy in your relationship? Are you truly happy? Some of you may think that you are, but perhaps your happiness is dependent upon your partner’s happiness? What do I mean by this?
Sometimes couples think they are happy. But when we take a closer look, much of their happiness is conditional and lopsided. One partner does most of the giving and the other does most of the receiving.
Here’s an example. Sally tells Bill she wants to go watch a movie. But Bill doesn’t want to go. He complains to Sally that she’s selfish and doesn’t care how he feels. Hence, Sally feels guilty and reluctantly tells Bill that they don’t have to go see a movie. Bill smiles and says thank you. Sally feels relieved that she made Bill feel better and he is no longer mad at her.
Here you can see that Sally is doing the giving and Bill, the receiving. When Sally asserts her needs, Bill shoots it down in a passive-aggressive way by calling her selfish, so he can get his way. When Sally gives in, both people are “happy” again.
If this pattern sounds familiar, you may be in a codependent relationship. This means that each partner’s happiness is dependent on the other partner’s, in an unhealthy way. One partner may be manipulating the other to get their needs met, to feel happy in the relationship. The other partner is driven by guilt or fear and concedes to their partner’s demands, to keep the “happiness” in the relationship.
How do codependent relationships form? Consider how you learned to please and appease others as a kid, in order to make them happy and for you to feel relieved from guilt (i.e., the root causes of your codependency). Alternatively, consider how you learned to manipulate and guilt others in order to get your way?
Most of these behaviours are formed during childhood, more specifically, in our relationships with our primary caregivers.
I encourage you to look deeply into the similarities between your childhood attachment patterns and your current intimate relationship. Be brave and start by making small shifts in your behaviour. This will ultimately change the negative patterns and transform your relationship to a truly happy one!