Boundaries and Codependency, Part I
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."1
Phil, a businessman, has gone bankrupt twice. As a result, he and Janet, his wife, have lost two homes. Both times, Janet worked hard to pay off their debts and rescue Phil.
Phil had also been involved in an extramarital affair for several years. When Janet found out about this, she was hurt terribly, but when Phil said how sorry he was, assured Janet how much he loved her, and promised that he would never see the other woman again, Janet forgave him and took him back.
Later, Phil told Janet he had found work in another city and would be away for several weeks. He was gone for more than two months. Phil wrote and told Janet how much he missed her and that she was the only woman in his life, but he didn't send her any support. Again, Janet was left with the responsibility of paying all the bills.
Some time after he returned, Janet discovered that Phil had been away with the other woman!
Kym is married to a transvestite. "I knew John was this way before I married him," Kym told me, "but I believed if I loved him, I could change him. But it isn't working. When he dresses like a woman and wants me to make love to him this way, I feel sick in my stomach. My counselor has advised me to accept him as he is. What should I do?"
Exactly what should Janet and Kym and others in similar or related situations do? What is the Christian thing to do?
First, they need to understand the nature of their problem. True, Phil and John have serious problems, but Janet and Kym also have problems of their own. They are both codependent and have a lack of healthy boundaries.
Codependency applies to the caretakers of any over-dependent person—such as any kind of addict or irresponsible person, and doing for these people what they can and need to do for themselves.
To resolve their problem, codependents need, first of all, to admit their sickness, for only as we face the truth about ourselves, as Jesus put it, will we ever begin to overcome our problems and find freedom and happiness.
To be continued ...
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, in every problem or challenging situation I am in, please confront me with the reality of what I am contributing to the problem and lead me to the help I need to resolve this. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. John 8:32 (NIV).