Reddit reviews Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
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Shoutout for the book Codependent No More. It's basically a classic by now and for damn good reasons.
Does your husband WANT to change? Does he care about your relationship? My take is you have talked about this, he knows how you feel, he hasn't bothered to change and therefore he doesn't want to change. You cannot make another person change if they don't want to. Marriage counseling is great when two people are committed to the relationship and want to improve things, but from his perspective if things are fine and you're the only one with problems then what would you hope to achieve in marriage counseling?
Personally, it sounds to me as if there are really no consequences for him for not changing (other than your distress which his behavior says he doesn't care about). He sounds addicted to his gaming, at least to some degree. I would read Codependent No more and think about whether you are enabling him by doing everything for him.
Who does his laundry?
Who cooks his meals?
Is there stuff you do for him that you could stop doing?
Could you stop catering to him?
Stop working around around him?
You can't fix him or force him to change, but you can change you. You can stop being controlled by his anger at being woken up on the weekends. You can reduce your workload by catering to him less. You might find that your path forward becomes more within reach and more clear when you stop thinking about his problems and start working on how you react.
I strongly suggest you read Codependent No More. What you're essentially describing to me is a codependent dynamic, and it might actually be doing your ex a lot more harm than good.
You already know this, but there isn't going to be any room in your life for another man while you're still enmeshed in a relationship with your ex. Once you've taken whatever steps you need to pull back from your ex, then give dating a try.
You poor thing.
So everyone is going to tell you to go to therapy - and they're right. But I am sure you are mentally saying "When the fuck am I supposed to do that, if I can't take a relaxing bath how the hell can I schedule therapy??" So, I'm going to recommend a book that is very short, very quick and easy to read, it's not War and Peace you know. I know it will still be a challenge to find the time but I think that in some ways it can help you. Please read Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.
Some of it may not apply, those parts will be obvious and you can skim it. But it will help you learn to set your own boundaries for your own mental health. I am here to tell you some sad truth. There is NOTHING you can do to make your husband change. He might never change, no matter what you do. But, there is EVERYTHING you can do to change the way you handle things, to help yourself, to put up and enforce your boundaries, to validate yourself and to give yourself more space and compassion.
I know that all sounds probably like woo, but Codependent No More is an incredibly helpful book that helped me with a somewhat similar situation (albeit 4 fewer children).
Please read it. You have time to read it. You can't afford not to read it. Like every sentence of your post I thought "she NEEDS to read Codependent No More." Just go buy it for your kindle or to read on your phone or whatever, right now. Then at least you have it, and you might later have a momentary lull and say to yourself "Wait, I have 5 minutes, I could start this incredibly powerful life changing book."
Yes, a lot of it is geared toward people who have alcoholic or addict spouses and I know that is not your situation. But it can also apply for people with depressive or otherwise super unhelpful spouses who are dragging them down, making them feel like they are trying to swim the house and family across a creek but the spouse is like an anchor tied around their neck.
You need something you can do right now this week right away, and I am telling you, if you read that book and even 15% take advice from it, you'll find a way for things to get better.
Other practical ideas:
Obviously therapy, etc. But start something now. Read the book. Do some practical suggestions or if those don't work figure some out that do.
My last relationship was not too unlike what you're describing - we were only dating and didn't have children, but a number of eerily similar patterns developed. This is my story:
When we first started dating, everything was awesome. We got along very well and saw eye-to-eye on many topics. But things started to degrade after we moved in together our second year together.
I, too, walked on eggshells around her. There were a number of times that she expected me to know what she wanted, apparently by reading her mind. She said she valued communication, but anytime I told her something she didn't want to hear, she would turn it around on me and somehow make it my fault. I would avoid confronting her about various behaviors that hurt me because I knew the ensuing argument would go nowhere, until we reached a critical mass and everything came out anyway. Things would be okay for a little while, but it wasn't long until the pattern repeated itself.
The way that I came to realize that she was abusive was by going to a therapist for depression and anxiety. In the process of talking with my therapist and reading some recommended books, I realized that she was abusive. A strange thing happened when I came to that realization - I felt relief. I knew that I couldn't make her happy, and that was through no fault of my own. I saw that there was light at the end of the tunnel, and that light wasn't a train coming to mow me down.
The five stages of grief can apply to anything that involves loss. They don't have to happen in order, and stages can be revisited. Loss can include the loss of the honeymoon phase, where everything seemed so wonderful. After our relationship had ended, I realized that I had spent about two of our three years together in the denial phase, with a smattering of guilty anger, bargaining, and a lot of depression.
One of the big flags to me towards the end of our relationship that something was wrong was that when she wasn't around, I'd feel like I needed to end our relationship, and that nothing good would come from us staying together, but when she was within arms' reach that everything felt like it was going to be okay and we could work things out. This duality shows that something isn't right - there are conflicting feelings at play about the same person depending on their proximity.
Now to address things that you brought up specifically:
An 8/10 matchup on the site you listed is pretty high. One of the major traits in a narcissist is manipulation. They behave in certain ways to get their desired response out of those around them. Silent treatment is manipulation - it hangs blame over your head, and tries to force you to interact with her. Threatening separation is manipulation - it tries to guilt you into staying in the relationship and that things can be worked out, keeping you within the reaches of the manipulator.
See also the asymmetric standard for handling issues - if she brings up an old issue with you, you're expected to be held responsible for it, but if you do the same to her, she dismisses it. This happened to me too. This is not how a healthy relationship should function.
We also had the work issue when we broke up. She had only worked on and off the last two years of our relationship, with nothing long-term lined up. Towards the end of our relationship, we had agreed to get separate apartments because we realized that she had become heavily financially dependent on me. She has, as far as I know, managed to support herself. It may seem cruel, but it is not your responsibility to ensure her well being should you decide to separate. I did more than I intended to by getting roped into helping her move out, and that was plenty.
As for finding out whether you are misdiagnosing the issue, there's not really a way to be sure. I'm not a therapist; I can't say for certain that she does or does not have NPD. The only thing you can do is gather evidence to convince yourself beyond the shadow of a doubt in either direction. You could go my route - go to a therapist that specializes in depression and anxiety and has some knowledge of working with couples and troubled relationships to get a professional opinion. Ultimately though, the decision is up to you.
Here are some resources that I used that you may find useful:
| | CAN'T SAY | CAN'T HEAR |
| NO | The Compliant: Feels guilty and/or controlled by others; can't set boundaries | The Controller: Aggressively or manipulatively violates the boundaries of others |
| YES | The Nonresponsive: Sets boundaries against responsibility to love | The Avoidant: Sets boundaries against receiving care of others |
In my case, our relationship was between a compliant (me) and a controller (her).
These other resources may not be as useful for you, as they're about codependent relationships, which are a whole other can of worms we were dealing with, but I list them here for completeness:
Finally, I'll offer one piece of advice while you mull things over. Write things down somewhere. This should help you organize your thoughts and lay everything out before you to make a decision on how to move forward, whether that's with or without your partner. I have over five pages of notes from the above websites alone, and probably several pages worth of highlights in those books on my kindle. Putting pen to paper also helps you realize the magnitude of various behaviors since we, being human, can only hold so much in our heads at once. This can have the effect of minimizing things or blowing them out of proportion, so it helps to have something concrete in front of you.
I don't mean for this to come off as a "delete Facebook, hit the gym, and lawyer up" response. I'm just trying to give you the tools to make your own decisions, and it's colored by my own experiences. Take it with a grain of salt, and forge your own path, whether or not that winds up being similar to mine. I wish you the best.
FWIW, one of our former members highly recommends the book Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself, by Melody Beatty. Co-dependence is often thought of from a substance abuse perspective, but in the anecdotal experience of others, some SOs of hoarders are co-dependents.
It's partially just a process. It takes time to recover from any relationship ending, but when it's with a pwBPD it's especially challenging because the abuse leaves us with PTSD. We often get caught in a loop of trying to make sense of something that will never make sense. I know that's the case for me.
Therapy definitely has helped me the most - but I understand it's not that simple for everyone. Definitely keep seeking your options. Do you have health insurance through an employer? I didn't realize that my employer actually pays for therapy - I thought I couldn't afford it either until I started actually looking into it.
My therapist emphasizes this the most: Even she was duped by my ex pwBPD (she saw him too). It took her over a year just to diagnose him, and then another whole year to realize that he was lying to and manipulating her. Try not to linger too much on self-flagellation, because sadly they are charming and many people fall for it. Just be glad you're out now and try to focus on the future.
In the meantime the things that helped me most outside of therapy were mindfulness and self-help books. Mindfulness through meditation will change your life, and it takes very little effort. It teaches you to be in the present and at peace, rather than ruminating or catastrophizing. As for self-help books, the ones I list below were instrumental in my healing process. They are a very good substitute for therapy until you can make that work. I recommend the books below in the order I have them listed.
I hope you pursue all of these. Don't let yourself stay stuck; there is a life outside of what you're experiencing now.
Codependent No More is you.
It's not the best book, but it's sort of square one for gaining further insight into the kind of problems that those of us that live with addicts, alcoholics, and the mentally ill face, and changing our behavior patterns in relation to our SOS.
I'd say it's at least worth a gander if unfamiliar.
Sending you strength!
Yes, I was very much like that as well. For me, it took therapy and I highly recommend it. For me, the wounds were just too deep for just books or friends to heal. I needed a professional.
You also may find something helpful in this book. What you are describing is at least in part codependency and many people have recommended this book for htat problem. However, I admit that I haven't read it. I have only had close friends that loved it and found it very helpful.
I would suggest a few things - ACA meetings are fantastic!
But there's a lot of places that don't have one.... so...
Get yourself a therapist.
The following books might be helpful (in order): Silent Sons by Ackerman, Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend, The ACA Workbook - (this one is full of journalling questions, and you can do it by yourself or with a therapist), and Codependent No More by Beattie.
Edit: a word
It sounds like your wife has some baggage from her childhood. Depression or low self image is magnifying the effects. The end result is that she does not respect you as a husband or a mate, and it is steadily destroying your marriage.
The challenge is, you can't approach it from the angle of "you're screwed up, this has to change" if you want to work things out for you and your child. Hopefully you're willing to give it a try, because the statistics for kids who have divorced parents are pretty abysmal. Especially for girls.
Counseling is definitely recommended. But not just any counseling. Your wife needs therapy to start uncovering the "thing behind the thing" issues that are causing your wife to have no ambition or desire to connect as a spouse. Childhood abuse? Divorced parents of her own? High conflict household as a child? One of her parents an addict or alcoholic? If yes to any of these, that's probably the root source of your problem. And the marriage won't get much better unless she's willing to acknowledge this and work on it.
Books I recommend:
Love and Respect
The 5 Love Languages
Why Can't You Read My Mind?
If the childhood baggage is related to a parent with an addiction:
Codependent No More
Adult Children of Alcoholics
>I'm convinced I can love him back to that state if I can just get him over these hangups.
OK, learn this right now: you cannot "love" him out of his weird misogyny and whatever else is going on here. You cannot change ANYONE but yourself, ever. That alone is an uphill battle. He needs intensive therapy and he needs to WANT to change.
Literally the ONLY option you have is to stay or go. I strongly recommend that you go, because this guy has problems.
>all women (his words) are sending nudes, filming themselves having sex, having threesomes and cheating on their boyfriends. I've tried explaining to him that he was sheltered and doesn't know what he's talking about but he just dismisses me.
edit: you need this book:
Beyond Codependency. It's a self-help book.
The book before it was called Codependent No More and its main focus was to help the reader learn to detach from the toxic people in their lives that they are centering their own happiness and well-being around based on the other person's behavior (mainly alcoholics or addicts) and trying to control their addictions and bevaiors for them. It helped me through a really bad time in my life and helped me learn that I am worth happiness and I don't deserve what I've been putting up with but that I also can't control it and keep basing my happiness off of how an addict was doing with their addictions. I really recommend it to anybody who is or was ever in a relationship with an addict or alcoholic (or has addict/alcoholic parents, etc). It really just helps you understand things in a healthy way that's best for you. It helps you let go. I never read a self help book before that, but I couldn't recommend it enough.
Anyway, Beyond Codependency is the next book after that and its focus is to help you focus on self-care. I just started reading it so I don't have much to offer but Amazon's description.
Amazon's description: Beyond Codependency dedicated to those struggling to master the art of self-care. It is a book about what to do once the pain has stopped and you've begun to suspect that you have a life to live. It is about what happens next. In simple, straightforward terms, Beattie takes you into the territory beyond codependency, into the realm of recovery and relapse, family-of-origin work and relationships, surrender and spirituality. With personal stories, hard-won insights, and activities, her book teaches the lessons of dealing with shame, growing in self-esteem, overcoming deprivation, and getting past fatal attractions long enough to find relationships that work.
I feel you. This happened to me so many times, but with each relationship I was able to recover a little bit more of myself and establish more of my own boundaries. The fact that you have realized it is getting you much closer to those relationships that you want to have! Nice work.
This is what I would recommend; TLDR, it is very important to take care of your self and your esteem. After this, all will follow. I wrote a gigantic post because what you've described above is pretty much what I've been battling against most of my life.
Now, as for setting boundaries:
1.) Hang out with the friends that you like (or mostly like). Think about why you like them.
2.) Think about moments where your friends do things that make you feel uncomfortable. Don't dismiss your feelings, explore them. Examples:
3.) Think about why these moments (or others) make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe make a list of past moments. Think about what you would do if you were being assertive -- not aggressive, but accurately and forwardly communicating your feelings.
4.) Consider ending friendships with people whom you really like (for their personality, for instance) but who obviously do not value your time or do not respect you as a person.
Making NEW friends:
1.) My personal strategy is, follow the energy. If I am getting positive vibes from people; if I am enjoying their company without feeling compromised; if there is a give and take in the relationship from BOTH sides; I continue it. If there is not, I drop it quietly before I'm in the friendship/relationship too much.
2.) If you are noticing old patterns show up in new friends:
3.) Accept good will. Wherever someone wants to support you, or help you, and you're getting the good energy vibes: be not afraid, explore this a bit. Learn to extend your trust to someone who wants to help. People get quite a bit from helping others out. Let someone help you for a change.
4.) Act in a friendship how you want to act, not how you think others will like. You'll meet people who like what you are, that you never expected! Accept that not everyone will like who you are or will like your choices.
5.) Sometimes you're still gonna get burned.
Since I've made the above changes, I've been happier and have seen a definite increase in the quality of my relationships and the quality of the people I meet and hang out with. I have a better sense of my own boundaries and sense of self. That isn't to say I've totally battled away anxiety or depression, or falling for narcissistic relationships: just have to keep my focus and keep working on my self-care. The more I practice this stuff, the more it becomes instinctual; this will be true for you too.
Hope this helps!
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
I strongly advise you to read the book Codependent No More.
I advise you to get her to seek help from her primary care physician and a mental health professional. As her boyfriend, it is not your place to take on either of these roles.
Two books that could help you figure out why you are doing this and to help stop it are:
Codependent No More.
No More Mr Nice Guy.
Part of the problem is that "nice guys" and codependents don't have good boundaries. Saying "no" is the right thing to do in many situations. The inability to say "no" gets one treated like a doormat. It is hard to stop and even years later, I still find myself being too nice or too sacrificial. So don't expect to be able to stop it with "one trick" like so many advertisements try to promote.
This sounds fairly familiar and I'm likely biased however it seems you would benefit from working on having healthier relationships with more boundaries and communication. See if work had an Employee Assistance Program or your medical insurance had a referral program for therapy.
You can also do some reading on co-dependency and Al-Anon which is targeted at people who grew up with or have current relationships with substance abusers/alcoholics but is applicable to many more people. Both have helped me to help myself and improve my relationships and satisfaction with my life in general.
> It wouldn't matter much except I already feel like I'm not good enough for him because he's just easily the hottest man I've ever met
low self esteem and needy. OR, know you're hot shit, but fishing for compliments from strangers. Latter is annoying and a form of Munchausen syndrome or covert narcissism. In case of the former, please get therapy!
>and hearing him deadpan about how I have old lady boobs or chipmunk teeth or a loose vagina feels weird.
I mean if he's joking, then this is clearly to wind you up, a bit of harmless fun. If not, it's a little fishy.
> I know it's something I'll get used to (we've only been really together for about a week)
a week 0_0
> but it's uncomfortable for now. He lets me get stuck in these stupid arguments and ends them cracking up at how seriously I take him when he's joking.
This is called 'push/pull' in PUA or negging, it ranges from teasing through to serious attacks on self esteem. If you don't find it funny or are secure about the little digs, then it's not cool, tell him to stop. Stand up for yourself!
> Or he jokes that he's going to break up with me or that he doesn't like me but doesn't really ever emphasize that he's joking (but I know he is because 20 minutes later we're in a toy store and he's dropping $100 on toys to play with my baby brother).
These ones are a bit more dodgy and point closer to emotional abuse, especially these threats to break up…but then it could be his (dry, DARK) sense of humour. The fact he's paying so much when you've been together like a week, is a bit of a red flag. Are you financially independent?
> It sucks because in a lot of ways it feels like I've found the man I'm going to end up marrying. We're both a little weird but we understand each other. We have the same values. He makes up for what I lack and I think I'm a good influence on him, too.
You know you share the same values…after a week together? What values are those?
What do you feel you bring to the reship?
> We were talking about our sexual histories recently and I initially didn't care about his number but now I'm feeling a little insecure every time we do something sexual. There's just no statistical likelihood that I am the best anything he's ever had. I have some very nice features but I don't feel like I'll ever be his favorite anything :(
Fishing for compliments again :p
> I just can't shake the feeling that I'm not good enough for this guy and he's settling for me because he's getting antsy to settle down.
Wild Nice Girl?
(Funny that this definition treats you like a victim rather than misogynist…hmm.)
> He's done nothing short of treating me like a queen
this is great, but please make sure that he respects you, and doesn't just try and dazzle you and buy his way into your pants
> and I'm worried he's just faking it. I feel so stupid but it's a real worry of mine. I have no reason to believe he isn't invested in me or isn't attracted to me other than knowing what he looks like (amazing) and how he lives (has a shit ton of fun and friends) vs what I look like (cute but definitely not hot enough for him) and how I live (depressed, boring, no friends, nothing really going for me right now).
Dude it's like I've stumbled across Bella Swan incarnate.
You're doing this 'compare+despair' thing which if you were a guy would be repulsive. I now realise that you're recovering from depression; did you have CBT? Were you taught any techniques to deal with Negative Automatic Thoughts and toxic core beliefs?
> I haven't known him long enough to feel comfortable bringing it up... It usually takes a few months of dating someone for me to feel comfortable advocating for myself like this.
OK, so you have had boyfriends before. May I ask, why did you guys break up?
> So I have to suck it up and just either work up the courage to say "hey, I feel weird about this and I'd feel better if we did something to make me more comfortable," or I need to accept that my inaction means I also forfeit my right to be upset about it.
Yeah OP this is a bit of a red flag. You've got [
Auntiesderp typos, that should read you've got ONEITIS on this guy.] (http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2011/09/oneitis/all/1/) Except you're dating him as opposed to friendzoned.
Carry on with this attitude however, and you are likely to either
a) Be one of the rare women to get friendzoned
b) End up in an abusive relationship which will make you miserable.
I am NOT saying that your partner is abusive. We simply do not have enough info to determine that about a total stranger. What I AM saying, is that you need to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally (not just physically, you gym bunny you) to ensure no one takes advantage of you.
If you feel any of these above links relate to you, please consider reading the book Co-Dependent No More, and tell me if it helps. :)
tl;dr Gurl you need to get some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Good luck!
Isnt that always the question? Find a hobby, connect with others who are into the same thing. If you're religious, be active in your church. You probably already have interests and groups of people you know that are interested in those same things. Thats the foundation for a friendship nurture it and grow it. Take some chances. Identify some things you've always wanted to do in your life and then plan and do them, you will put yourself in the path of others who are doing the same things, that is a point of connection on which to build. No, its not easy, it can be really really hard, but its also the easiest part of a romantic relationship.
If a person cant do that first step, how can they expect to be able to be an emotionally supportive and heathy part of a loving relationship? Its true that we are often willing to do for those we love, that which we wont do for ourselves, but thats a losing game. doing that helps take care of someone else but it doesnt take care of you. And no matter how much you do that you can only help someone else take care of themselves, you cant do it for them. The same goes for them to you. you have to be able to take care of yourself otherwise eventually you you will be unable to provide what the other person wants because you've not taken care of your own needs. Its not selfish, its actually loving, making sure you have what you need so that you can in turn give to others. i mean, it took me a year to find this out, and it killed my relationship with my girlfriend. If i had learned to do this thing above, i would be married right now. As it stands, i'm learning to take care of my self and dealing with the fallout of a failed relationship, what to do with an engagement ring, and what to do with my life now that i've restructured it around someone who isnt there because i didnt take care of myself and they couldnt do it for me.
I really suggest you take a look at some information on codependancy, its had a profound effect on my life. a good starting place is ["Codependent no more"] (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BS027FC/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1535523722&amp;pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&amp;pf_rd_t=201&amp;pf_rd_i=0894864025&amp;pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&amp;pf_rd_r=1BTYF5ECCR2KT9G8SZMW) by Melanie Beattie. The concepts come from whats been learned about the spouses of alchoholics and how both those that continually end up in abusive/alcoholic relationships and the alcoholics themselves are actually suffering from a very similar issue. Its not tied to the framework of alcoholism though and i strongly suggest taking a peek. Hope this helps.
Maybe start with a book "Codependent no more" by Melody Beattie.
And yeah, a therapist is a good choice.
Greetings /u/BearFeeled and thanks for posting.
I can relate.
I have found solace in the open discussions here and through some of the reading I have been doing. Currently [Co-Dependency No More] (http://www.amazon.com/Codependent-No-More-Controlling-Yourself-ebook/dp/B00BS027FC/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&amp;sr=&amp;qid=) is helping me to understand how I was able to get into this situation and hopefully help me to develop some skills to correct myself.
One major thing for me has been to REALLY understanding that you can not control another adult. And if someone is following a compulsive behavior then it is pointless (actually harmful) for me to "fix" them.
Additionally, I have found that therapy has allowed a "safe" place to discuss some of these issues and has greatly improved our communications (there is still a ways to go yet). I would highly recommend this as a starting place if possible with your spouse.
I am learning slowly how to set boundaries and how to enforce them, but it is difficult for me. I can hear that you desire to do the same, I would warn that doing this to abruptly/quickly without knowing what you really need/desire and how to present it in a focused way can really add gasoline to the fire. From what I have experienced and what I have learned, there is NO WAY your confronting/decluttering/etc is going to make any positive impact on her compulsive behavior (sorry for the bad news, but it just doesn't work like that).
Finally, I would be happy to talk about anything (no matter how small) with you on here or via PM at any time.
Check out the book “Codependency No More” by Melody Beattle
You can’t change her. Only yourself.
Therapy when you're ready would be essential for you. In a healthy mindset, you'd know it's better to be alone that with a rapist, but please remember it's okay not to be okay. I hope you find your worth, learn to enjoy your own company, and only start dating when you love yourself. You cannot give what you don't have, and you must trust yourself above everyone else.
You deserve and are worthy of love and respect. Be well.
I respectfully suggest the following
The anatomy of trust talk by Brené Brown
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BS027FC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_0ji3CbWVANK5E
A better life awaits you, and you are worth the effort. Things can definitely be better.