Scarcely a week goes by without some man consummating his “love” by killing his paramour and often himself as well. Murder/suicides are an all too common happening in the Orlando area. In well over 90% of these crimes the perpetrator is a man. And to add to the horror, sometimes they kill their children as well. Statistically, about 1500 murder/suicides occur in the U.S. yearly and more often than not the means is a firearm. However, many men don’t kill themself, but just off their partner, wife, lover, girlfriend, etc.
As I’ve pointed out in my books on spiritual warfare, murder is the ultimate exercise of control over another human being, and I maintain that the tendency to want to control others is the very definition of evil. It does not allow one to practice the freedom that is our God-given birthright. God gave us free will as the pathway to demonstrate our love toward Him, and in a sense humans become God-like in choosing to love another. But the power/control freak takes away another’s right to choose. We usually become aware of this all-too-human evil via a sad note on the 6:00 news. It’s the old, “If I can’t have her, no one else will.”
But short of murder, there are a million acts of power and control perpetrated every hour. Sadly, much of this occurs within the marital relationship. The ethos of whole societies and religions (Islam, for instance) are based on power and control in relationships. But our own society hasn’t been enlightened all that long either when one considers the fact the women were given the right to vote less than 100 years ago and that up until 150 years ago in much of the United States one human being could legally own another.
The murderer of a spouse or partner is very often a narcissistic personality disorder. These are individuals selfish to the nth degree. They have little or no conscience. The only thing that matters to these people is satisfying their own selfish needs. Narcissists and co-dependents go together like the two poles of an alternating current. They need each other. Thus, co-dependency is a phenomena closely related to the power/control paradigm. In essence, codependency is an addiction to a person. When the controller (narcissist) senses that the controllee (codependent) is breaking their covert agreement then the controller usually resorts to extreme methods to keep the person they view as their possession. If threats and manipulation don’t work then there’s always murder.
Most weeks I attend a Celebrate Recovery (CR) meeting. CR is a Christ-centered program of 8-principles not unlike the 12-steps. CR’s eight principles are based on the Beatitudes found at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. After the worship and the big meeting, CR breaks down into small groups based on one’s issues. Because most of my addictive issues were resolved as I grew into a more mature Christian, I attend the men’s codependency/anger group. Even though I haven’t been in a relationship in years I know that I’m basically a co-dependent. Co-dependents tend to have low self-esteem, place others needs ahead of their own and assume responsibility for their partner’s feelings and behaviors. Their feelings are easily hurt, easily feel rejected and see rejection as catastrophic. They also tend to enable the addictive and dysfunctional behaviors of those they are addicted to.
In my late-20s and early-30s I drank compulsively. In fact, over a period that lasted 6 or 7 years I had only one day of total abstinence. I had somewhere around 5 to 8 drinks every day, and by the age of 34 was beginning to be seriously worried about my alcohol consumption. I wanted to quit but really was too frightened to face life without a drink in my hand. Then I met my wife. She was a bartender and though we met in a bar she didn’t like me drinking, and so a few months into our relationship, I quit. I transferred my dependency from booze to her.
Our marriage only lasted nine years, but I thank God for giving me a wife tougher than grog. She could be so thoroughly unpleasant when wanting to make a point that quitting drinking was a relatively easy choice. However, becoming non-codependent has been much more difficult. I think this is because God wrote in our hearts that it was not good for a man to be alone. Not only did He say that in Genesis but He also placed it in the very core of our soul. Being in relationship, or perhaps being a relationship (Father, Son, Spirit), is perhaps the most important way we are made in His image.
But that’s just the Christian view on relationship; there is also the addictive aspect. Early on in a relationship, in the infatuation phase, all the right juices are coursing in our brains–dopamine, endorphins, hormones, etc. We just feel so darn good and we will do almost anything to make that feeling last. Infatuation is our brain on drugs. And so we become addicted to a person just as readily as we do to nicotine, alcohol or heroin.
We cede tremendous power to the person we see as being the right partner for us. After all, they have the magic to be the balm for our every wound, hurt and emptiness. And oh, by the way, the devil puts in a good word for them too. We shouldn’t forget the little voice in our thoughts that reminds us that our life is not complete without that person, that life isn’t worth living without THE ONE–and of course Christians talk themselves into believing that that special person was selected by God just for them. Been there, done that!
Co-dependency (addiction to a person) is a greatly underestimated problem. In its own way it likely accounts for as much misery as the more obvious addictions of alcohol, cocaine and the opioids (heroin, morphine, prescription pain killers). Every day hundreds of people end up dead in acts of domestic violence. In some very skewed reasoning many of these crimes are seen by the perpetrators as acts of “love.” But of course what they really are is purely evil acts of ultimate control.
The popular media feeds the myth of romantic love and what constitutes romantic love is usually infatuation, and infatuation as I previously noted is the brain on drugs. I think codependency helps account for our high divorce rate. Why do marijuana when cocaine can give you a better high? And so people switch partners to keep getting a higher high–like going to a more potent drug when the glow starts to wear off the old drug. The divorce rate is around 50% and sadly Christians switch partners as readily as the rest of society.
The solution, of course, is to in a sense become addicted to the Jesus in us faster than the addictive wiles of the world, the flesh and the devil. Those latter distractions and temptations will always be there waiting for us. We can’t escape them, and that battleground is part of our birthright as much as free will. That dynamic is what God gives us to help us grow from His children into His true sons and daughters. All Christians born-again in the Spirit have Jesus living in them to varying degrees and the secret to overcoming codependency as well as any other addiction is to turn the problem over to the Jesus living inside of us. Our self-worth comes from Him, and thus we cannot value others any more or less than we value ourselves. Our codependency belongs to Jesus and our codependency on others is inversely proportional to the extent that we see the Lord living in our lives. When the fruits of the Spirit, the evidence of Jesus in you, become readily apparent to both you and those around you then you have made significant progress on overcoming codependency.