pastors and the codependent wife

Years ago Lisa and I read an excellent little book called Codependency No More by Melody Beattie. At the time we read the book we were suffering the fallout for extricating ourselves from a toxic and codependent relationship with the church and some of its leaders. It had an impact on me because it got me thinking about my codependent relationship to the church. I deal with codependency all the time. I've come to the conclusion that one of the most prevalent codependencies is between a pastor and his or her church. I am prone to it just like everyone else. It is an ongoing struggle because, no matter how resolute I might be in maintaining a healthy relationship with my church, there is another partner involved… the church itself. The gravitational pull of all organizations is toward codependency, and it takes the diligence of both parties to strive for health between them. I personally believe that the helpers (pastors, employees, civil servants, clients, etc.) usually become the victims, and for a lone victim to stand up to an entire institution for the sake of his or her own health is often quite costly. This list, as I looked over it before posting it, can apply to any relationship. It could apply to an employee's relationship to his employer and company. Any relationship! Check it out and see how you do. In this list, I presume, for simplicity's sake, that we are the codependent wife and our church, institution, company or whatever partner, is the husband:
  1. I believe I can change him.
  2. I depend on his money to live.
  3. I would rather be loved poorly than to not be loved at all.
  4. I believe there is a decent person deep inside of him.
  5. I can't picture life without him.
  6. I help him. He needs me.
  7. I keep things calm by repressing my true feelings and personality.
  8. I accept that I am called to suffer for this, even though I am often sad or even depressed.
  9. I feel incredible guilt even when I just think about leaving.
  10. I can't listen to the advice of others to get out. They don't understand.
Can you say any or all of these things in reference to the relationship in question? Then it may be codependent and unhealthy and something may need to be done. And it is up to you! Tomorrow I might post on what we can do if we discover we are in a codependent relationship. Or, if it isn't codependent but heading that way, what we can do to bring health into this relationship, if possible.

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