From Codependent to Interdependent – Keys To a Thriving Relationship

The term codependent is often used incorrectly in relationships. Yes, codependency, or needing external sources, things, or even people to give one a feeling of self-worth, is not the healthiest way to navigate a relationship, but often, with just a few tweaks, we can move a codependent relationship into an interdependent relationship. Tony refers to the article, “How To Build a Relationship Based on Interdependence” by Jodi Clarke, LPC (https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-build-a-relationship-based-on-interdependence-4161249) where she shares: Interdependence involves a balance of self and others within the relationship, recognizing that both partners are working to be present and meet each other’s physical and emotional needs in appropriate and meaningful ways.Please subscribe to The Virtual Couch YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/TheVirtualCouchPodcast/ and follow The Virtual Couch on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/virtualcouch/

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One of the most frustrating things for me as a therapist is misinformation, and some of it comes from a cute, fun place. It’s good. It’s well-meaning. Take one of my favorite pop psychology myths, for example. It’s one I like to challenge whenever I go speak out on the road. It’s the old how many days does it take to create a new habit? And this is not a habit change podcast, but bear with me for a second. So what pops into your mind if you’re like most people, you think twenty one days. But the truth, according to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, takes anywhere from 18 to two hundred and fifty four days for a person to form a new habit, depending on the habit, depending on the person. The study also concluded that on average, it takes sixty six days for a new behavior to become automatic. But again, this is not a podcast about habit change. So let me get back on track. In my work as a couples therapist in particular, I run into the word codependency on a regular basis. Now let me just break down the definition of codependent codependency, the definition excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one to require support on account of an illness or addiction, quote, the tie that binds most of us together in this trap called codependency. So I’ve spoken often about codependency. And when codependency goes south, when it turns bad, we’re talking about self-worth coming from external sources.

[00:01:22] Codependent people need external sources or things or other people to give them feelings of self-worth, often following destructive parental relationships, abusive past or self-destructive partners, codependents, learn to react to others, worry about others, and depend on others to help them feel useful or alive. Simply put, they put other people’s needs, wants and experiences above their own. And in fact, codependence is a relationship with one’s self. They can be so painful that a person no longer trust his or her own experiences. And it perpetuates a continual cycle of shame and blame and sometimes self-abuse. Codependent people might feel brutally abused by the mildest criticism, or even I ran into people that are suicidal when a relationship ends. And his 1999 book, Codependents The Dance of the Wounded Souls, author Robert Burney says the battle cry of the codependent is I’ll show you, I’ll get me. But where things get interesting or when I read on social media posts or I have people quote to me in sessions or people that come up and just ask for advice about relationships where they say that you can’t expect your partner to be there for you, that if you do that, you’re somehow setting yourself up to be disappointed or let down or you’re going to be codependent, to which I have people say just so many times, then why even get married? So Sue Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Therapy and the author of Hold Me Tight, had a follow up book called Love Sense, where she quoted another psychologist and saying the message touted by popular media and therapists has been that we’re supposed to be in total control of our emotions before we turn to others, love yourself first and then another will love you.

[00:02:58] But our new knowledge stands that message on its head for humans, says psychologist Ed Tronic of the University of Massachusetts. The maintenance of emotional balance is a dyadic collaborative process. In other words, we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another person, not by ourselves. So today we’re going to learn hopefully a new word interdependence and how interdependence differs from codependency, what that looks like and why learning this difference, the difference between codependency and interdependency has the ability to change your relationships faster than you knew was possible. So we’re going to cover that and so much more coming up on today’s episode of The Virtual Couch. Hey, everybody, welcome to Episode two hundred and forty eight of the virtual couch. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified my coach writer goes by the for ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back and Online Pornography Recovery Program that is helping people reclaim their lives from turning to pornography as a coping mechanism and doing so in a strength based hold the shame, become the person you always want it to be.

[00:04:07] We head over to Pathbackrecovery.com. There are weekly group calls that are just phenomenal and you can find out more there at pathbackrecovery.com. And you can also download a short e-book that describes five myths that people make when trying to put pornography behind them once and for all. It can only be done. And it’s a strength based again, hold the shame and all those good things pathbackrecovery.com. And I’m not going to I’m not going to keep going on and on about my magnetic marriage course that has started now with Preston Buckmeier. But it’s everything I wanted to be. I’ve never been more excited about something. We’re in week three of the The Maiden Voyage, the initial group that are in there, and weekly group calls and modules and then all kinds of stuff. I mean, I didn’t press in. We put this program together and it’s just amazing. We had another call last night and I just I can’t say enough, but I will suggest that you go to Tony over Match.com, slash magnetic and go and get yourself on the wait list and then we will let you know when the window opens up, the next cohort begins and all those good things, because it’s again, it is everything, everything that I wanted it to be. If you listen to episodes based on the four pillars of a magnetic marriage and that just all the things that I talk about as a couples therapist, I wasn’t going to talk about this.

[00:05:19] So go to Tony Overbay, dot com magnetic and get yourself on the wait list and sign up to find out more about all kinds of fun, exciting things. And follow me on Instagram, a virtual Kotzer on Facebook, Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist. Let’s get to today’s topic. This is one that I have wanted to tackle for a very long time. I’ve done presentations on codependency versus interdependency, and I really do have a good excuse on why I have not covered this before. But I’m going to be referring to an incredibly good article and I will link to this found on very well Mindcrime. It’s by Jody Clark, who is a licensed professional counselor. And I just I think there’s so much gold here and just as I mentioned in the intro. So I’m not going to I’m not going to go over that again or over and over. But I run into this concept of codependency often. And I have to tell you, one of the very first one of the very first books I remember buying in grad school was a book called Codependent No More by an author named Melody Beattie. And it’s a great book. I can literally look and see it on my bookshelf right now. And that was a long time ago. And it’s the codependent Bible, so to speak. But I also believe, and this is going to be my opinion, that the phrase codependent gets tossed around a little bit too liberally.

[00:06:32] And I find that there are often times where I have people give me all kinds of experiences where people are literally, literally crying for their partner to be there, for them to be somebody that that is there for them that they can count on, has their back, loves them. All of these foundational principles of emotionally focused therapy. And the person says, man, I can’t because that would be codependent. You have to figure this one out on your own. And that’s why I I read that quote at the beginning that talked about we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. And I’ve been going so big on all of my attachment and abandonment, that speech on probably five or six of the last seven or eight podcasts that I’ve done, that we come forth from from the factory, from the womb as a baby that is expressing our needs. And we are crying because we cry to get our needs met, to be held, to be picked up, to be loved, to be clean, to be fed. And that that is something that is innate within us, that we are designed to to need another person to take care of us early on. So we are wired to feel like abandonment is death. And now I’m not saying that that leads to everybody lives happily ever after.

[00:07:40] And I’ll do the speech again very, very quickly here. That in that preoperative or that stage one of life kind of situations. So zero to two years old that we are programed to express ourselves and we get our needs met. We get picked up, we get fed, we get love, we get cuddled. But I had had somebody tell me the other day, they said, but as cute as babies are, they’re pretty annoying because if you don’t if you don’t go address their needs, they just keep going on and on. And so, again, we are just programed to get our needs met by expression. But we hit that next phase of life two to seven, where I say welcome to the world of abandonment, where all of the sudden anything that we want as a kid that I want to wear mismatched clothes, I want to not shower for a week. I want to just eat candy all the time. And when we’re told no, we think, what the heck? I’m expressing myself from the first two years of life. When I express myself, you meet my needs. So what is going on here? And that leads this. I say there’s two different tracks that happen at that point. There’s an abandonment track that leads to the when someone isn’t meeting our needs, we go throughout our life than thinking, well, wait a minute, people met my needs from the factory.

[00:08:44] That’s my factory setting. That’s the wiring in my brain. So when people aren’t meeting my needs into adolescence or into adulthood or in my marriage, when my spouse isn’t responding the way I want them to respond, that it must be me because remember this two to seven and on that little kids are these little little bless their heart, narcissists. They have they have no empathy. They have no sense of of compassion for the plight of others. They don’t really care what’s going on with their caregiver. And this isn’t meant in a bad way. It’s just the way that things are. They also don’t know how to self advocate or they so they are coming forward as little egocentric people that are center of the universe. So everything revolves around them. So then that moving forward into adulthood, then if people are not meeting their needs, something must be wrong with them. They must be broken. They must be unlovable. And so that leads to this whole abandonment path where people then try to figure out how do I get my needs met? And from that, what’s wrong with me? People chase after all kinds of things. If I get the six pack abs, if I get the nice house, if I get the nice car, if I have the six figure job, then people will respond to my needs. But that’s not what it’s about. And on the other side of the coin, we have what I call the attachment track.

[00:09:55] And that attachment track is then people have grown up trying to present themselves in a way to get people to like them, to get their needs met. Do they present themselves as the athlete or is the scholar as the peacemaker, as the rebel, as whatever that is, that that comes from a place of if I do not get my needs met, I will die. Something is wrong with me. So we then enter into relationships, teenage relationships, adult relationships, marriages. And now we’ve got this baggage we bring into the relationship where we worry that if that person doesn’t respond the way I would like them to respond, that it’s not because this is an imperfect world and they’re imperfect people and everybody has their problems or challenges. Our minds tell us that it’s me, something’s up with me, or people would be responding to me differently. So then we go down. Then here comes this attachment track as an adult. And now we figure out how do I maneuver in this situation? How do I present myself so that my needs will get met. And so often it is done subconsciously. So it’s not something that people necessarily calculatedly do, but it’s something that we are doing is trying to figure out how to present myself to my spouse or to my boss or to my kids or to my church leader or to the my buddies at the gym so that I will be cool, that I will be loved.

[00:11:09] I will be like that will be included part of the tribe, part of the pack, because then I won’t be abandoned because I still have this wiring in me. This is that abandonment equals death. This is what can lead a lot of times to this feeling of codependence. And so most of us value this connection with others. Now, I’m going to jump into this very well mind article again. This is going to be something I’m going to be reading a lot of and then commenting on by Jody Clark, who’s a licensed professional counselor. But she says most of us value connection with others, especially in our romantic relationships. And as I just went over, we’re wired for connection and connection allows us to create bonds and intimacy with our partner. And the successes of long term relationships depend heavily on the quality of our emotional connection with each other, are not our emotional codependency, but our emotional connection with that we to each other. So when we think of our ideal relationships, we often think of of a wonderful, close, lifelong relationship with our most important person. Our person is what you hear often today, that cozy, safe, long term bond with somebody who we know has our back for the long haul. Again, in the world of emotionally focused therapy, somebody that we can count on, somebody that has our back, somebody that loves us, somebody that that cares about us, that we can turn to.

[00:12:23] So that is a relationship that gives us this freedom to be ourselves, that supports our growth and allows us to have flexibility with each other. Now, I want you to start getting picked up on a vibe here when we’re going to be talking about interdependence. We’re talking about being in a relationship that gives us freedom to be ourselves. It isn’t saying that you have to go figure yourself out first before you enter the relationship. No, it’s a relationship that gives you the freedom to be yourself, that supports growth and allows flexibility. So one of the key elements that Jody talks about is understanding the difference between interdependence and codependence. So what is interdependence? That might be the your new favorite word for today? Interdependence suggests that partners recognize and value the importance of the emotional bond they share while maintaining a solid sense of self within the relationship dynamic. That’s huge. So it’s that you recognize that each other has value and importance as an individual mean. So you’re maintaining this solid sense of self within the relationship and interdependent person is. Jody Clark says an interdependent person recognizes the value of vulnerability, of being able to turn to their partner in meaningful ways to create emotional intimacy. They also value a sense of self that allows them and their partner to be themselves without any need to compromise who they are.

[00:13:45] Or their value system. Now, this concept of interdependence, this is why I almost feel guilty that I haven’t talked about this up until now, is if you listen to the work that I do with my four pillars of a connected conversation, if you have heard the episodes that anything to do with emotionally focused therapy or F.T. or when I’m talking about my favorite individual type of therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, that acceptance and commitment therapy says, again, you are not broken. You can’t just replace a thought. You can’t just say your brain is not a mechanistic model where you just change a thought and it just naturally leads to a different emotion and different behavior. This is my challenge or my struggle with the concept of of cognitive behavioral therapy, which I was a trained cognitive behavioral therapist, and I’m not pooh poohing it. There are situations where it works well. But when I go back to some of the things that I feel can be a real challenge as a therapist, I can literally tell you that I get dozens and dozens, if not 100 emails or more, and people that sit on my couch and say, what is wrong with me? I read posts from people on social media or people that therapists, coaches, motivational speakers, that they just choose to be happy, just wake up and be happy and make it happen. And man, I hear you. And for people that can do that, that is fantastic.

[00:15:00] But for most I have run into that. That’s that mechanistic view of the brain that I can just replace a thought and then it mechanistically that you replace this part in the machine and the rest of the machine just rolls on in this methodical, mechanistic way. So the thought and cognitive therapy could change this thought. Your thoughts are automatic, negative thoughts and or you’re thinking thinking you just change that thought and it’s going to lead to a different emotion and a different behavior. But I have sat with people for years, literally for years, and continued to hammer home these concepts of just make the choice, just choose to be happy. You wake up in the morning and be happy and make it happen. And it can they can get some some momentum with that. But then when life happens, when things go the way that they don’t necessarily plan or they don’t want them to go, then they think, OK, now I’m not happy. What’s wrong with why I tried the thing? What’s wrong with me now and again? Nothing. Nothing’s wrong with you. You’re a human being. And this is why I love acceptance and commitment therapy. You are made up of all the things that make you you all of your private experiences, your nature and nurture and birth order and DNA and abandonment and rejection and hopes and dreams and fears and all the things that make you you.

[00:16:09] That’s why you feel or think the way that you do. So it isn’t as simple as just changing a thought and then going the rest of your day, the rest of your life and feeling completely different. It’s actually a little bit of the opposite of being able to recognize thoughts, normalize thoughts, being able to then point yourself toward your own personal values and start to work more toward those values. And then there’s all kinds of things within acceptance and commitment therapy that occur. You you learn to you can’t push away the thought. If you say I shouldn’t be thinking this, your brain says, oh, I’ll think whatever I want. That’s the old think of the white polar bear concept. But you can learn to recognize the thought. No, I see you thought I know you mean well. And I’m going to expand. I’m going to make room for that thought. I’m going to write that thought to come along with me while I start working more toward my own value-based goals. So why I digress on this tangent, other than the fact that I absolutely love this concept, is that you are an individual that is coming into a relationship and you are an individual who has spent your life trying to navigate relationships so that you won’t be abandoned, so that you will be part of the tribe, so you’ll be liked. And that’s normal. That’s part of growing up. That’s part of the maturation process.

[00:17:17] When I work with people that struggle with things like personality disorders, there’s this belief, this concept where, again, go back to we are all these little, self-centered, egotistical, the life revolves around us people when we are in our adolescence. And so the difference, the challenge, the goal is to go from self-centered to self-confident. But oftentimes when people don’t have that modeled as a kid, then they never make that jump from self-centered to self-confident. So they stay in this self centered mode. So that’s why, especially with things excuse me, such as narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, any of those types of behaviors or disorders where someone can it can feel like you’re arguing with a little 10 year old child. There’s even a concept. I’m not sure if I’ve covered this one on very many podcasts. Excuse me, but the thought is that gaslighting, for example, is a childhood defense mechanism. If you are coming forward from this place of abandonment equals death. If you’re coming forward from zero to two years old, where you express yourself, you get your needs met now two to seven, and you express yourself and your needs are not being met. Now, think of when you make a mistake because you’re human, you’re a kid and you’re big, gigantic parent comes up to you and says, hey, buddy, did you did you break the base? And to you at that moment, it’s oh, my gosh, I can’t I don’t know what’s going to happen here.

[00:18:35] If I admit that I broke that base, I’m probably booted out of the family. I’m going to be left to live in the woods and raised by wild animals. So that’s where gaslighting as a child. The defense mechanism comes in the kids like I didn’t break the base or you see those adorable videos and I don’t know, tick tock, YouTube, where you got a little kid has chocolate all over their mouth and they’re like they. Did you eat the brownie, buddy? I don’t need it. And they literally have the brownie in their mouth. It’s so cute. But that just shows that our survival mechanism of gaslighting as a defense mechanism. So when it’s a little kid in the brownie is cute, when it’s an adult and they’re caught in something, it’s your husband. And then they say, I didn’t do that. You must be crazy. You can see how then all of a sudden that becomes pretty destructive. So Boyd aggressed on that one. But so we are our own individual people. But then we come into relationships and so done correctly done in an interdependent way, not in a codependent way. Your partner is now the safe place for you to actually learn to really take accountability and ownership and be able to explore why I react the way I do, why I have these challenges or struggles I love.

[00:19:40] Given the example of meeting with a couple one time where the guy and the well-meaning guy said, I don’t know what to do with her anxiety when she gets really, really anxious and starts to talk a million miles an hour ago in circles, I’ve told her, hey, I need you to go figure that out. When you do, then you come to me. And that’s the kind of thing that I understand and bless his heart. But that is where we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. So here’s somebody, this woman in this particular case, who had this anxiety because of the fear of abandonment, because of relationship issues as a child, because of parenting situations, because of previous unhealthy relationships. So being able to plug her experience into my four pillars of a magnetic marriage, of being able to if she is starting to get feel anxious and starting to walk in peson circles and starting to talk really fast. If her husband says, hey, I feel like you’re noticing that you might be a bit anxious. And my four pillars pillar one’s to assume good intentions. So if I’m working with her, it’s OK. He’s saying this not to hurt me. I have to assume good intentions. He didn’t wake up this morning and think I will wait till she is having a really anxious experience and then I will point it out to hurt her feelings. No. So I’m going assume good intentions.

[00:20:55] No. Two Pillar No. Two of my four pillars is she then can’t say, no, I’m not. You’re wrong. So pillar three is to ask questions and before making comments. So it’s for her to say, OK, I may not be recognizing that helped me see my blind spots. What are you noticing. And the pillar for us did not go into victim mode to not say, okay, fine, I’m the world’s worst wife and I guess I’m just an anxious ball of a mess and I will never get any better. No. So if you adhere to those four pillars where the husband at that points the speaker, she’s the listener. And then once he feels heard now she can express herself. And at that point, the same pillars apply if she expresses I don’t know why I do that. I was even aware that I did that then. Now he has to assume the same good intentions that she’s not doing that to hurt him. And then he can’t say, I don’t believe you to the fact that she doesn’t notice that maybe she’s starting to get anxious or she’s starting to say some maybe negative things are starting to pace around or starting to really get get amped up. And then the third pillar is then he can ask questions. Hey, what’s that like then? If that’s something that you’re not aware of, do you are there triggers other emotional cues? Do you feel that coming on? And then the fourth pillars, he can’t then say, OK, I’m fine, I’ll never say a word, I won’t say anything.

[00:22:05] He can’t go into victim mode and expect her to jump in and rescue. So in that scenario, and I think you can plug in a lot of those, you can see how in a healthy, secure, attached, interdependent relationship we are designed to deal with emotion in concert with another human being. When somebody looks at that example I just gave and they say, I can’t I can’t jump in their rescue, that’s I would be codependent. We’re missing the entire point. The point is, that is why we married. That’s why we couple. So there are ways to do that better than others. I’ll admit that. So if I go back to this interdependence, I want to read this again. And I want you to think in terms of that example that I just gave. So interdependence suggests that partners recognize and value the importance of the emotional bond they share while maintaining a solid sense of self within the relationship. Dynamic and interdependent person recognizes the value of vulnerability. There we go of being able to turn to their partner in meaningful ways to create emotional intimacy. But they also value a sense of self that allows them and their partner to be themselves without any need to compromise who they are or their value system. So if I go back to this example of the anxious wife, then the husband can clearly say, I don’t I’m not familiar with what to do.

[00:23:14] I’m not sure because that’s him being vulnerable and the wife is being vulnerable by saying, I didn’t even know I’m doing that or yes, sometimes I’m not even aware and I don’t know what to do with that. So being dependent on another person and this is again, back to the article by Jody Clark, being dependent on another person can sound scary or even unhealthy. But growing up, we’re often taught an overinflated value of independence that to be somewhat self-contained with a high value placed on not needing others for emotional support. And I love how Clark says as value. Was having a sense of independence is, but when taken to an extreme, this can actually get in the way of us being able to connect emotionally with others in a meaningful way. Emotional intimacy with a partner can be difficult to achieve. Even scary are not seen as a particularly valuable in a relationship for those who have an extraordinary sense of independence, Clark says interdependence is not codependents. Interdependence is not the same thing as being codependent. A codependent person tends to rely heavily on others for their sense of self and well-being. There is no ability for that person to distinguish where they end and their partner begins. There’s an enormous sense of responsibility to another person to meet their needs and or for their partner to meet all of their needs to feel OK about who they are.

[00:24:30] So I love she listed traits of a codependent relationship include things like poor or no boundaries, people pleasing behaviors, reactivity, unhealthy and ineffective communication, manipulation, difficulty with emotional intimacy, controlling behaviors, blaming each other, low self-esteem from one or both of the partners, and no personal interests or goals outside of the relationship. So codependent relationships aren’t healthy. They don’t allow partners a room to be themselves and to grow and be autonomous. And you can see why it can be scary to then give up that control to, quote, let someone find themselves to let someone figure out what is important to them. Because when we are coming from this abandonment equals death mentality from our childhood, the fear is that if I try to let go of my control on my partner, if I try to if I tell them that, hey, you can be whoever you you want to be, that can be threatening to ourselves if we really dig deeper, if we really own up to that or take accountability. But so these unhealthy relationships involve one partner, both relying heavily on the other and the relationship for their sense of self, their feelings of worthiness and overall emotional well-being. And there are often feelings of guilt and shame for one or both partners when the relationship isn’t going well. Darlene Lanser, who is in MFT, also an attorney, she says she’s a codependency specialist.

[00:25:50] She explains that codependency involves someone who has lost their core sense of self so that his or her thinking and behavior revolves around someone or something external, including a person or a substance or an activity such as sex or gambling, or I’ll add in my neck of the woods somebody turning to pornography as a coping mechanism. And that’s why I so go big on turning to pornography as a coping mechanism when someone doesn’t feel a deep sense of self, when they don’t feel like they are connected to their partner in marriage, when they don’t feel that they are a good parent, when they don’t feel connected in their spiritual life, when they don’t feel connected with their health or in their relationships or their jobs. That’s what I call those voids, and that is when people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. And that’s why, in a strength based way, what my entire Path Back program is about, quite frankly, is helping people figure out who they are, who they want to be. And strength based says we’re not just going to keep hammering home these, but when you’re triggered, you do this. When you do these things, here’s this list, because that’s that mechanistic view. That’s that just change this thought. Just do this thing and then everything will work out better. No, this is about finding oneself. This is about becoming interdependent and figuring out who you are as a person so that you don’t feel that need to turn to these unhealthy coping mechanisms.

[00:27:05] So why interdependence is healthy for a relationship. Interdependence involves a balance of self and others within the relationship. Clark says that you are recognizing that both partners are working to be present and meet each other’s physical and emotional needs in appropriate and meaningful ways. Partners are not demanding of one another, and they do not look to their partner for feelings of worthiness. This gives each partner space to maintain a sense of self room to move toward each other in times of need and the freedom to make these decisions without fear of what will happen in the relationship. And my whole magnetic marriage course I often talk about our goal is to have you be able to go to your partner and say, check out my train of thought, look where I’m coming from. And your spouse doesn’t look at that and say, oh, that threatens me. When you say that you thought these things. No, it’s for them to say, man, tell me more about that. And then once you feel heard, they can share. That must be hard. I don’t have those same feelings or here’s my experience. But it’s that you can be two different people that that have been this this this bond that helps since then. And I know this one sounds a little bit cliched, but it’s the one plus one is three.

[00:28:08] It really is that you edify and help each other become a different person. So a healthy and interdependent relationship has several features. Clark goes on to say, here are a few things to look for in a healthy relationship that is not codependent, healthy boundaries, some active listening, but time for personal interests, clear communication, that clear communication is very difficult. And that’s where I feel like the four pillars come in, or Stu Johnson’s emotionally focused therapy, because it is difficult to express oneself when they are being criticized. It’s incredibly difficult to express oneself when they are worried about how the other person will take what they share. This goes back to that attachment, those attachment wounds as a kid. Of trying to figure out how do I present myself so that I won’t make the other person mad, we have to be able to get to this place of I call it calm, confident energy where I can express myself. And if the other person says, I can’t believe he said that, I I didn’t know you felt that way. Instead of saying, well, you aren’t always perfect either or to say, well, I don’t know, maybe I really don’t think that it’s to be able to say, oh, no, I do. That is the way I think. And I’m grateful that I can express that to you. So clear communication, taking personal responsibility for behaviors, creating safety for each other to be vulnerable, engaging and responding to each other, healthy self-esteem, being open and approachable with each other.

[00:29:21] So when partners feel cherished and valued, Clark goes on to say the relationship becomes a safe haven. It’s a place where the couple can be interdependent. They understand that they are not alone in the relationship. They can turn toward each other for safety in times of need and feel secure that their partner will be present. It doesn’t mean that they have to always agree. It doesn’t mean that the goal of a healthy relationship is to be heard, not to resolve on our group call for the magnetic marriage. Last night, that point was just being we were making that so beautifully and the people were responding so well that that was a game changer to be heard and not to resolve, because we don’t like to leave things unresolved, because we worry that if I don’t leave something, if I don’t button something up, then all of a sudden my partner is going to be upset with me and they may abandon me. And again, abandonment equals death. So how to build an interdependent relationship? Clark said the key to building an interdependent relationship is to be mindful of who you are from the beginning. Many times people are looking or entering relationships simply to avoid feeling alone without any personal reflection of who they are. And that goes back to those, in my opinion, the abandonment and attachment wounds, because that is how do I show up? Because if I am not accepted, then something’s wrong with me.

[00:30:30] And those two things are completely the opposite. It’s here’s how I am showing up. And if someone doesn’t appreciate that, then bless their heart, I’m just grateful that I can express myself in a calm, confident manner. So taking time for this kind of a personal reflection allows you to enter a new relationship with an awareness of self that is critical for the establishment of an independent of interdependent relationship. You can work this into your current relationship. Licensed therapist Sharon Martin suggests it’s important to maintain a sense of self in your intimate relationships. She gives these these suggestions on how to do so, knowing what you like and what matters to you, not being afraid to ask for what you would like. Spending time with friends and family, continuing pursuing your personal goals, being mindful of your values, make time for hobbies and interests. Don’t be afraid to say no and don’t keep yourself small or hidden just to please others. So allowing your partner room an opportunity to do the same things, the same things will be the key to establishing a healthy, interdependent relationship. And yes, it can feel scary. It can you can you will feel like this innate feeling within you that says, wait a minute, if they have a completely different opinion or thought they’re going to leave me. No, that’s your childhood defense mechanisms and childhood protections that are trying to come forth into adulthood.

[00:31:46] We can thank them for their help in helping us grow up. But now you’re the adult. And now we want to explore these relationships with a sense of curiosity, a sense of tell me more, what’s that like for you so that we can then have this shared experience or connection. And we don’t have to feel like we have to have the same experience or something’s wrong with us. Interdependent relationships do not leave people feeling guilty or scared of their partner or their relationship, but as Clark says, rather leaves them feeling safe with their partner. So I just want to challenge you to take a look at your own relationship. Is it codependent or is it interdependent? Are there times where you want to be there for your partner? But you feel like if I do so, I guess I’m I’m being codependent. No, take a look. There’s a way you can. It’s a quick reframe to find interdependence rather than codependents. Let me let me wrap this up and talk specifically about marriage. And this is some precedent. And I one day or sitting around and and I just sort of John down some notes as we were talking. And and here’s our takeaway. It’s that if you want a connected marriage, being defensive or trying to control your partner just doesn’t work. What do you want? If you want to have the six pack abs of a marriage, you have to do the work.

[00:32:57] And this type of a relationship, this interdependency isn’t always easy. And press and I were talking and we said it’s simple, but it’s not easy, simple meaning that once you get the concepts down that your partner, your spouse has their own experiences and you have yours, then it does become simple. Just by way of now. My job is to try to understand. Tell me more about my spouse. Not I can’t believe you said that. Why would you say that? Do you know how that affects me? You don’t really believe that none of those things lead to an interdependent relationship. So if you want to learn how to be interdependent or how to have that type of marriage, it takes work. And blaming your partner doesn’t work. And it’s it doesn’t you can’t automats. Quickly get to cloud nine next week, and there are steps that need to be taken to achieve interdependence again over some of those there today, I feel like those four pillars of a magnetic marriage that are part of my magnetic marriage course and this is not an ad, are assuming good intentions from your partner. No one wakes up and thinks I’m going to try to hurt the other person. And and even if it feels like that is something that just makes no sense, the way that your spouse is presenting, if they’re angry, if they’re withdrawn, if they are saying hurtful things, still with that assumption of good intentions, even if you look at that as man, that’s the way that they feel like they can.

[00:34:20] The only way they can be heard then that breaks my heart and that does lead me to have more empathy. And so, again, blaming them doesn’t work. We’re so used to walking on the path of least resistance that our brain develops these deep neural pathways, patterns of behavior, patterns of defensiveness, patterns of front loading, conversations of I know you’re not going to like to hear this, even though we meanwell in saying something like that. No one likes to be told what to do, no one likes to be should on. And so when you’re telling somebody what they are feeling or I know you’re feeling this way or you always do this or you never do that, then you’re you’re already making the conversation or the conversation is already headed out into the weeds. It just is. So now we’re going to feel like in this journey to interdependence, it’s going to feel like you are walking out in the weeds. And when you walk out, the weeds are snakes and stickers, maybe some mud. Your brain wants to go back to this path of least resistance, of telling them they’re wrong or defending ourselves. And you can go back to that, but is sometimes doing difficult things is what creates those new neural pathways, those new pathways in the field.

[00:35:29] And you are going to get stickers and you are going to step in some mud, that sort of thing. And this often this goal of interdependence is going to require a lot of work. And the hard part is sometimes it will. No, not sometimes it requires more of you. You listening. This isn’t something to be heard, as is my buddy Preston likes to say with your elbows. If you’re hearing this and you think, yeah, my spouse really needs to hear this or do this, you can only control the things that you are experiencing. If they’re telling you that they you’re wrong, that you don’t really think the things that you’re thinking, then this is a bless their heart moment. I don’t need to defend myself anymore if I am just expressing something that I feel passionate about or something, that’s my truth and that’s OK. And they can have their own opinion as well. And so it often does require more of you. It’s like learning a new language or a new instrument, and it doesn’t happen overnight. You’re going to play the wrong notes. You’re going to use the wrong grammar when learning the new language. I remember learning German. I never got the articles correct and I would put words in the wrong order. But sometimes when you lean in, it’s uncomfortable. But that healthy tension is the way to create connection or create these new neural pathways.

[00:36:38] And again, it can be uncomfortable. Viktor Frankl and Man Search for meaning talked about separating the stimulus from the response that it’s very important to learn, to not react, to sometimes be able to take a breath, put distance between space and action. And I am now officially rambling. So I will wrap this podcast up and just say, hey, I appreciate you taking the time to be here. Please share this episode or take a screenshot of it and post it on social media tag at Virtual Couche. If there was something here that you enjoyed, because I really feel like this goal of becoming interdependent instead of this fear of codependency really is the way to go. It’s scary, but it is the way to form a truly magnetic marriage. It’s a way to have a secure attachment with your partner because we are designed to process emotion in concert with another human being. Hey, thanks for taking the time to join me on today’s episode. The Virtual Catch Them have a special bonus episode coming up this week. I’m all lined up to be on a couple of shows and interviewed some new guests coming up here over the next two or three weeks as well. And can’t I can’t wait to get some of the content out that I have had ready to record for quite some time. So I hope you’re well. I hope you’re safe. And if you have questions, feel free to send them to Contact@tonyoverbay.com. And taking us out, as always, is the wonderful, the talented Aurora Florence. It’s wonderful. And I’ll see you next time.

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