Empowering yourself to be assertive might be a good way to give you a healthier relationship with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. It’s normal to have a balance of power, and it’s healthy for both people to feel as though they have control over some part of the relationship. Without empowerment, some people fall into dangerous patterns of codependency.
Whether it’s choosing what to watch on Netflix or what to eat for dinner, the power to choose is a potent thing. “When we feel empowered, we can manage our emotions, we believe that we matter and that we can affect outcomes” (Lancer par. 2).
Having the ability to make our own decisions gives us confidence and helps us survive tough times. It keeps us from destructive patterns and allows us to gather our worth from God and from within.
Someone who is codependent relies so much on the influence of their significant other that they often deny their own needs. Healthy couples divide responsibilities and control, but codependent relationships have an unequal power balance that can lead to depression and even physical illness (Lancer par. 5).
The knowledge that a person can survive without assistance helps them to have more successful romantic relationships. Instead of being defensive and determined to feel safe only in terms of the relationship, they can confidently solve problems and share their feelings (Lancer par. 13).
Paul talks about codependent relationships even though he doesn’t exactly use that vocabulary: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
He knew that people have a tendency to look to other humans for approval. It’s natural to want others to think you’re cool and smart, but beware of getting swept away in the feeling. If your only focus is to do what someone else tells you to do, it may prevent God from doing greater works in your life.
Ephesians 5 describes the way that romantic relationships are supposed to work. Submission might sound a lot like codependency to modern ears, but the characteristics Paul describes below involve more support and teamwork than anything else:
1. Imitate God in everything you do
Living a life of love will make you a healthier, happier person, and it will help you become dependent on the Lord for all the approval you need in your life.
2. Foster equal parts love and submission.
Rest confident in the identity God has given you while doing what you can to show love to your spouse.
3. Remain independent but work as a unit.
Lean on God’s calling on your individual lives, but remember to make decisions together. It’s difficult to work on your personal spiritual gifts when you’re too reliant on someone else.
It’s not wrong to depend on one another for things, but God should be the No. 1 provider of approval in your life as a couple. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need in any kind of relationship.
God wants us to cast our cares on him – he is, after all, the only one truly capable of carrying them for us (1 Peter 5:7). He cares for us and wants us to be healthy and confident as followers of Christ.