Co-dependent marriages are the most abusive form of marriages. They are based on need, but are not healthy. Each partner in the marriage tries to take advantage of his or her hold on the other partner. This can often deteriorate into the sort of marriage where the two partners can neither live together nor live apart.
This marriage is most unlike the-we-need-each-other marriage, which is healthy. There, the partnership is based on equality, and not on one partner’s extreme needs. For instance, a woman looking after a drug addict may delude herself into believing that the addict cannot live without her support. The addict too psyches himself into believing that he cannot live without his partner. He therefore starts inflicting miseries on his partner, which she happily suffers – in the belief that this is the only way to keep the addict happy.
Such a marriage often results from an unexpected or traumatic experience that jars the normal growth of an individual. Such an event or happening may be the death of a parent, breakup of a family or severe illness. Young girls and boys, who go through this experience, often build extreme marriages.
They need not be blamed. We are born dependent and needy. The child is dependent on the mother for nurturing and being looked after. Later, the child becomes dependent on the parents for needs such as education and entertainment. Simultaneously, the child becomes confident, and gets ready to take independent decisions. Often this independence leads to interdependence. As per needs and convenience, the child who has become an adult switches between independence and interdependence.
However, sometimes independence creeps into co-dependence. This is where adults need to be aware, and stop the marriage from sliding into co-dependency. The individual needs the confidence to become independent, to stand on his own feet. There is no harm in encouraging inter-dependence, but co-dependence in a marriage must be avoided at all costs.
by Anthony Bradley