One of the hardest marital truths to learn is: No matter how hard you try, you can't change your partner. In a codependent relationship, one partner tries desperately to cure the other's problem (drinking, drugs, etc.) -- often deflecting attention from her own inadequacies or problems. As long as the codependent is more concerned about her partner's problems than the partner himself, the partner will not change. As she pushes, he resists -- a perfect diversion for him. He can shift focus from his drinking problem to his nagging wife and then feel justified in blaming her for his difficulties. The challenge for the codependent spouse is to let go of responsibility for her partner. As she shifts responsibility back to him, he may understand that his drinking problem belongs to him.
In this drama, Lia (32) is desperately trying to change her husband, Robert, a firefighter. They have two kids.
Robert has been a drinker since the beginning of the marriage, but since they've had kids, he's been drinking more and more.
Tonight they're supposed to meet a new friend of Lia's for dinner. And Lia doesn't want to be embarrassed. So she confronts her husband.
But Lia's words only make her husband angry. The truth is: Lia is powerless to change him. Instead, she needs to take care of herself -- and stop taking responsibility for his drinking problem.
She needs to face her own issues: perhaps she is afraid of taking responsibility for herself because she is afraid of leaving him, afraid of being alone or feeling abandoned.
Lia's focus needs to move inward, away from her husband's drinking.