Can A Marriage Survive Codependency

Codependency In Marriage: Can The Love Survive?

No marriage is without its difficulties. However, when two individuals with codependent tendencies come together, more serious problems can arise, leading to a host of challenges and complexities that perpetuate the cycle of unhealthy behaviors and dynamics. Codependency often means staying in dysfunctional relationships, even when our emotional and physical well-being is at stake.

With two codependents in a marriage, fear of abandonment and the desire for control often permeate the relationship. Many people will hold onto the hope of changing their partner, attempting to avoid the failure of their marriage and being alone. This is a common fear among most people, but it can be particularly intense for codependent individuals, not only in marriage but also in relationships with family members and friends.

Naturally, amidst multiple codependent marriage problems, one may wonder: Can love survive? The struggle to maintain a healthy connection while grappling with codependency is a delicate balancing act. However, recognizing the detrimental impact of codependency can be the crucial first step in breaking free from these patterns and fostering healthier connections.

How Does Codependency Affect A Marriage?

Codependency can significantly impact a marriage, causing various strains on the relationship. Each of these issues can be present to a certain extent in most marriages. However, if they’re all present at the same time and particularly intense, they can have a significantly detrimental effect on a marriage. And, if there are children involved, it can seriously affect them too.

Emotional Enmeshment

Codependency often leads to a phenomenon called emotional enmeshment, where individual identities become blurred and merged. In a codependent marriage, partners frequently struggle to differentiate their own needs, wants, and emotions from their spouses’, resulting in a loss of personal boundaries. And, often, one parent may even emesh with their own child.  

Imbalance Of Power 

Codependent marriages often exhibit an imbalance of power, with one partner assuming a caretaker or controlling role while the other becomes dependent. This type of relationship dynamic can lead to resentment, frustration, and a lack of equality in decision-making processes.

Neglected Personal Needs

Prioritizing a partner’s needs and happiness above one’s own and neglecting personal desires, goals, and self-care are all clear signs of codependency. In the long run, self-neglect can lead to feelings of resentment, emptiness, and a diminished sense of self-worth over time.

Communication Issues 

Codependency can hinder open and honest communication in a marriage. Fears of conflict, rejection, or abandonment often prevent codependents from expressing their true thoughts, feelings, and needs, leading to suppressed emotions and unresolved conflicts.

The Cycle Of Dysfunction

Codependency can perpetuate unhealthy patterns of enabling, controlling, or rescuing behaviors, making it difficult to address and resolve the underlying core issues  and preventing both partners from working to overcome them and experience personal growth.

How Does Codependency Affect A Marriage

What Are Codependent Behaviors In Marriage? 

Codependent behaviors in marriage can manifest in various ways, often driven by an unhealthy reliance on one another. Some common codependent behaviors within a marital context can include:

Excessive Caretaking 

Codependent spouses typically take on a caretaking role, assuming responsibility for their partner’s emotions, decisions, and well-being to an extreme degree. They usually feel a sense of validation and purpose by consistently meeting their partner’s needs, even at the expense of their own.

Lack Of Boundaries

Codependent individuals may struggle with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries within their marriage. They might have difficulty identifying and asserting their own needs, desires, and opinions, resulting in a blurring of personal boundaries and a diminished sense of individuality.

Enabling Destructive Behavior

Codependent partners often enable their spouse’s destructive or high-risk behaviors instead of addressing or challenging them. They might make excuses, cover up their partner’s actions, or take on the responsibility for the consequences of their partner’s actions, attempting to maintain the relationship and avoid conflict.


Prioritizing the need of others is the textbook definition of codependency, so as expected, codependents will prioritize pleasing their spouses over their personal well-being. They often suppress their own desires and opinions, constantly seeking approval and validation from their partner. This behavior can lead to a loss of authenticity and an erosion of self-worth.

Fear Of Abandonment

Significantly more intensely than most people, codependent spouses often feel a strong fear of abandonment, driving them to cling onto the relationship and go to great lengths to avoid conflict or separation. They may sacrifice their own happiness and needs to prevent their partner from leaving, even if it means compromising their own emotional and mental health.

Can A Marriage Survive Codependency?

While codependency can pose significant challenges to a marriage, it’s possible for a marriage to survive and even thrive with committed effort and a willingness to address and overcome codependent patterns. Key factors that can contribute to the survival and transformation of a marriage affected by codependency include:

  • Recognition and awareness. The first step is acknowledging the presence of codependency within the marriage. Both partners need to recognize and take responsibility for their codependent behaviors and their impact on the relationship.
  • Expert help. Seeking professional help can provide valuable guidance and support. A skilled expert can assist in exploring underlying issues, improving communication, and developing healthier coping strategies.
  • Boundaries and independence. Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries is crucial for any marriage to thrive. Each partner needs to cultivate their own sense of identity, interests, and goals, fostering independence while nurturing the connection within the relationship.
  • Effective Communication. Open and honest communication is vital in overcoming codependency. Both partners need to work on expressing their needs, concerns, and emotions in a respectful and constructive manner. Learning active listening skills and practicing empathy can foster a deeper understanding and connection.
  • Self-Care and personal growth. This includes developing a strong sense of self-worth, engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, and addressing any underlying emotional wounds or insecurities.
  • Cultivating interdependence. Moving from codependency to interdependence is a goal for a healthy marriage. This means recognizing the value of autonomy while fostering a supportive and mutually beneficial partnership where both partners contribute, communicate, and rely on each other in healthy and balanced ways.

While the journey to overcoming codependency in a marriage can be challenging, it’s possible for the relationship to evolve into a healthier, more fulfilling partnership. Each partner’s willingness to grow individually and together, as well as their dedication to cultivating healthier relationship dynamics, can lead to the survival and transformation of the marriage.

is codependency a reason to divorce

Is Codependency A Reason To Divorce?

Codependency may not be the sole reason for divorce. However, the effects of codependency on a marriage can be significant and contribute to marital distress. Whether codependency will become a reason for divorce depends on several factors, including the severity of the codependent behaviors, the willingness of both partners to address and change those behaviors, and the overall health and well-being of each partner.

In the most severe cases, codependency can lead to toxic relationship dynamics, emotional and psychological harm, and a complete lack of mutual respect and personal fulfillment. If efforts to address codependency and improve the marriage prove unsuccessful, or if there are other significant issues present in the relationship, divorce might have to be considered as a means of preserving individual well-being and seeking healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Ultimately, the decision to divorce is highly personal and complex. It’s important that both individuals in codependent marriages seek expert guidance to assess the overall health of the relationship and explore all available options before making such a life-altering decision.

You can approach divorce as a last resort after all efforts to repair and improve the marriage have been exhausted. Every situation is unique, and it’s crucial for individuals to prioritize their personal well-being and make decisions that align with their values and long-term happiness.

Address Codependent Marriage Problems With Guidance From PIVOT Relationship Advocates

If you’re looking for someone to help you delve into the dynamics of your codependent marriage and explore the impact it has on love and intimacy in your marriage, our individual sessions are perfectly designed to help you discuss and learn strategies to navigate these challenges. If you’re wondering “How does codependency affect a marriage?”, you have a chance to identify all the issues and address them with our expert coaches. You can also join us in the tranquil environment of Glass House workshops as we embark on this journey of self-discovery to uncover ways to foster healthier and more fulfilling connections and achieve personal and relationship growth in the midst of codependency.

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