Codependency Or Teamwork?: How Couples Counseling Can Help You Discern Healthy Relationships From Unhealthy Ones

11 March 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Codependency issues are not a healthy thing in any relationship, and they are often confused for the healthy give-and-take efforts couples make to make their relationships work. Codependent behavior is often a sign that there is something else amiss in a relationship, or that there are other issues that need to be addressed. If you are currently in a relationship and want to attend couples counseling to eliminate the possibility of unhealthy relationship behaviors (e.g., codependency), then the counseling you receive can help in the following ways.

Defining Codependent Behavior

Codependent behavior is unhealthy because it is dysfunctional. In codependent relationships, there is almost always one partner that has an addiction, emotional immaturity problem, mental health problem or some other non-adult behavior that is, and continues to be, supported by the other partner. The enabler or enabling partner gets something out of the relationship too; usually there is the emotional satisfaction or feeling that the enabler gets from "being helpful" or the sense of empowerment or entitlement from being in control of his or her partner. Healthy relationships do not feed addictions, make excuses for irresponsible or abusive behavior or act in ways that psychologically healthy adults would probably be embarrassed by.

Defining a Healthy Team Partnership

Healthy relationships that function as teams have partners that each take half of the responsibilities in the home and work. If one partner stays home while the other works to bring in the money, it is generally expected that the housework be done by the person that stays at home. Yardwork, which is typically a weekend chore, is often split equally between partners, as are the childcare responsibilities. Taking responsibility for one's own actions and showing emotional maturity are also part of a healthy relationship. In a crisis, both partners work together to find the best solution and compromise is often a sign that the two people in the relationship are working together towards a common goal.

Recognizing Which Type of Relationship You Have and Fixing It

If you have a codependent relationship, it is possible to change it, but only if both partners are willing to do what needs to be done (e.g., drug rehab, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, etc.). There may always be that element of codependency lingering in the background, and you may find that you and your current partner fall back into old habits. Until you both have addressed your codependency issues, it may be best for both of you to take some time off from each other.

On the other hand, if your counselor has helped you identify that you have a reasonably healthy relationship with just a few minor bad habits, you may be able to rectify these habits with ongoing counseling sessions. When you are actively aware of these bad habits, you can stop engaging in them and apply the correct behaviors or tools that your counselor has given you. As you both continue to weed out the habits that are destructive, you will probably find that your relationship is even better than before.