Codependency is a behavior that can wreak havoc on a marriage, especially if you don’t know the warning signs.


Many couples view marriage as a partnership or union between themself and their spouse. However, codependency can quickly rob spouses of joy and connection. Every person depends on others to an extent, but there must be a balance.

Codependency is a dysfunctional pattern of behavior where one person becomes overly reliant on the emotional support of their partner. The results can be devastating.

When you understand the signs of codependency and how to recover from its effects, you can safeguard your marriage for years to come.

Understanding What Codependency is in Marriage

You and your spouse are different people. You have different preferences for food, hobbies, movies, and more. Your strength as a couple lies in your differences. The two of you can complement each other well.

When codependency occurs in a marriage, one of you loses a sense of your own identity, including your goals, needs, and feelings. Instead, you intertwine your identity with that of your spouse. You feel your worth comes from how you show up as a husband or wife.

Codependency can show up in various ways in a marriage.

For example, consider Mark and Sarah. In their marriage, Sarah consistently puts Mark’s needs above her own.

From canceling her plans with friends to giving up her hobbies, Sarah is stuck in an unhealthy cycle of codependency. Not only does this cause Sarah to lose her sense of self, but it can also lead to bitterness and resentment toward her husband.

Or take a look at Jon and Emily’s marriage. Over the years, Jon has taken on an unhealthy level of responsibility for his wife’s emotions. He feels solely responsible for keeping Emily happy, often neglecting his own goals and desires.

This codependency creates an unhealthy dynamic between the two of them. They are not continuing to grow as separate individuals, which is necessary for a vibrant marriage.

Signs and Effects of Codependency

Codependency can manifest in a marriage in various ways.

In your marriage, codependency might look like withdrawing from your spouse emotionally, hoping they can see and feel the pain they’re causing you. You might seek validation from your spouse or want to feel needed by them.

Additional signs of codependency include a lack of trust, difficulty making decisions, adopting a victim mentality, and so on. A codependent spouse might be controlling. They may struggle with low self-esteem or a lack of personal boundaries.

This dysfunction can lead to resentment, frustration, and emotional distance between the two of you. Gradually, this weakens the foundation of your marriage. You lose the closeness and connection (in other words, intimacy) in your 6 Pillars of Intimacy®.

As a result, you may experience increased miscommunication or conflict because one of you struggles to express your genuine needs.

There can also be emotional disconnection. When one of you is excessively focused on the other’s emotional needs, you don’t practice the care needed to be the best version of yourself. As a result, it’s difficult for the two of you to connect on an emotional level.

Codependency can cause resentment and frustration for you both. The codependent one wishes that their love would recognize their needs without them having to ask. And the other person can feel smothered or suffocated by the behavior of the codependent spouse.

Perhaps worst of all, codependency can impede each of you from pursuing hobbies, education, or activities that will help you grow and develop. Change is a healthy part of life. When one of you is too intertwined with the other, there is little room to grow as a separate individual.

How to Combat Codependency in Marriage

You can take several steps to recognize and address codependency in your marriage.

First, develop self-awareness. In what ways do you intertwine your identity, needs, or goals with that of your spouse? Try journaling or talking with a trusted counselor or marriage coach to identify your own needs and pursue meeting those in healthy ways.

Second, engage in honest communication with your spouse. Emotional intimacy is the workhorse of The 6 Pillars of Intimacy®, and it is vital to continue strengthening this pillar as you emerge from codependency.

Go on a walk-and-talk to discuss your actual wants and needs with each other. You will have different answers, and that’s okay.

Next, discuss how you can encourage a balance between connection and independence. Set clear boundaries to minimize the likelihood of falling back into codependent habits.

It’s also important for the codependent spouse to regain their sense of self. Try new hobbies, join a book club, spend time in nature, and set aside time for self-care. You should also develop a strong network of friends and family members who can provide encouragement and support.

Overcoming Codependency in Marriage Masterclass

Mark and Kimmie Gagarin have helped hundreds of individuals repair their relationships, even if one spouse isn’t on board. In the on-demand Overcoming Codependency in Your Marriage Masterclass, they’ll train you to gain the clarity and awareness required to assess ​how codependency affects your marriage. You’ll learn what action you can take to repair your relationship.

Don’t leave the outcome of your marriage to chance. The Road to Restoration is the journey you’ll embark upon during this Masterclass to experience self-discovery, healing, and empowerment to strengthen your marriage. Access the Overcoming Codependency in Marriage Masterclass today.

Watch the video below to rekindle the spark and restore the connection in your marriage today!

In the 6 Pillars of Intimacy®, you will discover secrets that have transformed countless marriages. Its ideas are simple, practical, and powerful. You’ll be inspired to look at your marriage through a new lens and be encouraged by its commonsense approach.

Alisa and Tony DiLorenzo's proven approach to building intimacy in marriage will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your spouse – starting today. Click HERE to get your copy today!

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