Sick of Your Partner’s Bad Habit?
“The hardest habit to break is breaking the habits of others.”
(Rabbi Edwin Friedman)
Most of us have heard of “codependency” in alcoholic relationships. The wife covers for her husband’s hangover, excuses his offensive behavior, etc.
Unless we’ve been there, few of us can see ourselves doing the same thing. But it’s almost impossible to avoid in long-term romantic relationships. At some point, all of us take too much responsibility for someone else’s problem. Whether it’s her chronic lateness, or his porn addiction, or her doing too much for the kids, or his stubborn refusal to apologize, partners all too often, in the name of helping, actually make the problem worse.
Actively encouraging or provoking:
—nagging them to stop or threatening to leave
—passive-aggressively laying information around
—triangulating someone else in, like his mother, or one of the kids, or her best friend
—talking about the problem in front of others
Passively allowing or accepting:
—not saying anything, even when it affects you
—making excuses in your head, or to others in order to protect your partner
—telling yourself the only other option is to leave the relationship
—never talking to a professional about it
When you find yourself focusing more attention on a behavior pattern of your partner’s, and engaging any of the behaviors above in order to address it, you’re probably making it worse.
Peace begins with pause,