"Stories" from the Collective (YOU)

Help With Codependent Relationship

by Missy
(Iowa, USA)

I'd like to ask for help from your relationship advice forum, help regarding a co-dependent relationship between my Mom and my sister. My boyfriend could 'help', but doesn't want to (feels it's unwise)...

QUESTION: Am I Expecting Too Much?...

MORE FROM Missy...

My 37 yr old sister & her 2 kids have been supported by my Mom in separate households for years. My boyfriend & I have had many discussions about how wrong my sister is. My mom is only a teacher so she's got to be 'blowing' retirement money.

So. My sister is having plumbing issues at her home. My boyfriend has the time & knowledge to do the repairs. This would save my Mom a lot of money. (She will pay him.)

We've been together 14 years. I feel like he should care enough at this point to want to do it to help my Mom. He says if she's got to pay out a few hundred maybe she'll have to get on my sister.

I feel we're not going to solve the whole enabler/user dynamic going on there. He should just go do it to help my Mom & would if he cared.


Overcome Your Insecurities: Here's How!



"The lesson I was learning involved the idea that I could feel compassion for people without acting on it."
-- Melody Beattie

I have no direct advice to offer you here, Missy, just a few reflections and an inspirational quote (see above) that comes from an author who wrote a book called, "Beyond Co dependency: And Getting Better All the Time."

Firstly, I think your boyfriend does 'care enough' - it's just that his solution to caring is not yours.

Secondly, when exactly do you think you are going to solve this whole 'enabler/user dynamic' (if you can) if not NOW? These types of invidious situations ONLY grow if they are not resisted at some point, and NOW is usually the best time to take any action - do you not think?

Lastly, I know of 2 similar situations where 2 women friends have what I would call an unhealthy response to their mother's 'distress'. In one case my friend's response is slowly killing her, draining her of all energy and life-force.

BUT! But, in truth, both women friends take their actions not to help but to prevent having to feel any feelings of 'guilt' if they do not help. (This is true of all acts, by the way - we always do things for ourselves, first, and others secondly. ALWAYS!)

So, my final reflection is a question to you, Missy: what benefits (or payoffs) are you getting by wanting to help support your mother like this? (Similarly, what 'pay-off' is your Mom getting by wanting to support her daughter?)

When does the truism being cruel to be kind start to make sense, start to influence people's actions?


PS Of course the situation you describe is not an easy one to navigate your way through, and of course people are primarily motivated by love in their actions, as I'm sure you are. But, sometimes, this 'love' hinders more than it helps, as I'm sure you're at least a little aware...


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