When we wed, we expect marriage to make us feel safe and secure. This is a beautiful concept, but we are never really safe from one of us having a change of heart. Just because we have voiced a commitment to each other, it doesn’t mean we are protected from being abandoned or from falling out of love. What keeps marriages or committed relationships strong and connected is not a marriage certificate or the simple fact that we have taken vows.
Think back to those vows. When we promised to love each other “’til death do us part,” did we really mean that, or is it more like, “I will love you as long as you love me back as your romantic partner?” Perhaps a better intention would have been, “I love you, and I promise to give you my best and do the work with you to help each other to grow and to stay connected”
Core responses to dysfunctional behavior:
Denying – ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away, encouraging others to deny the problem by making excuses for them and creating an environment that is focused on not upsetting them, even if it compromises others wellbeing as well as your own.
Enabling – inadvertently enabling by lying or denying the truth about what is really happening with them. Minimizing the damage from their behavior. Acting like your happy to be doing what they tell you to do. making excuses to cover up for the person so they don’t act out, or explaining why they are doing what they do i.e.… they had a hard childhood, they lost their job, their partner left them… their kids are difficult … whatever sounds like a good reason for everyone around them to feel bad for them or at least tolerate their behavior. Tolerating difficult behavior, becoming upset and punishing with others when they confront the behavior or if they react by refusing to go along with the abusive or controlling behavior.
Controlling – taking control of the user’s environment, in an attempt to make them stop acting out. Anticipating things that will upset them and trying to control everything around them. Ignoring the needs of others to always favor the one who is acting out.
Apathy – withdrawing, casting the abuser out of the family events, giving up, giving in, acting as if you don’t understand why others feel so upset, becoming numb to the issues, joining in and doing your best to align your attitude to the abuser, therefor becoming just like them.