Dr. Irene: I have been married for 12 years and wish to
stay married. I struggle with dependency needs towards my husband, who has
always been caring toward me. He recently told me that he has only been
going through the motions and that my neediness has driven away feelings
he has toward me. He says he loves me and is going through
counseling to get in touch with feelings he says he never knew he had,
only that he feels empty. He's gotten an
internal wake-up call...
My problem is that I know that I need to give him space, but I also have
these overwhelming and almost desperate feelings to check daily if he
still loves me, to ask for reassurance, to try and see where this will go.
I know that I must only work on myself, but the fear and the anxiety takes
a daily toll and prevents me from feeling content and at peace with my
work and two small children. The work you have
to do is not check on his feelings, not ask for reassurance.
Your task is simply to deal with your fear and your anxiety. You have to
learn to cope with it; and you can, even if you don't think you
can. If you need some help - and it will help - talk to your doctor about
antidepressant medication. Just doing "nothing" is exactly what
you have to do to work on yourself. The medication will mitigate your
depression and anxiety so that you are better able to sit with your feelings.
How do you give your spouse the room to work
through feelings, and yet at the same time meet your own needs, even if
they are co-dependent? Given your dependency, I
don't think you have the ability to recognize your needs at this time. Tolerating
the feelings associated with not checking in for reassurance will help you
begin to identify just what your needs are. You will also become more
attractive to your husband as you learn to take care of yourself.
It is the uncertainty of the final results of this that
is driving me crazy. First of all, you have no
choice. The reality is that your husband needs space for whatever reason.
Whatever will happen will happen. Your task is to face that uncertainty
and tolerate the uncomfortable feelings. You can do this, even if you need
some chemical help. Doing this will be good for you. I read all the
time, all the books on codependency and relationships and cognitively get
all of it, and it helps for a little while, then the worry and fear, then
anger, and upset starts, and I can ruin a nice evening with seeking
reassurance, and then being mad if it isn't what I feel I need. Then keep reading. And re-reading. Burney's Codependence: Dance of the Wounded Souls and
his website and Journal
are particularly relevant to loss of self. Any help would be so
appreciated. You think that your dependency stuff
constitutes your "needs." Your dependency needs are your malaise,
not your healthy, human "needs." View your drive towards getting
reassurance as symptoms of your codependency, your loss of self.
Prevent yourself from giving in to your symptoms and tolerate the
discomfort - so you can get in touch with who you are - and really meet
your needs. Katie. Good luck to you
Katie, Dr. Irene
I want to read the posts.