Dependency and Sabatage
And how parents, when they deny children opportunities, simple decisions, complex peer relationships, and alternative voyages out of the nest, undermine that process, generally in the name of protection.
One thing to talk about that with kids. Quite another to see how it plays out in marriage, years later.
Someone like me will see a patient who had been programed as "overly" dependent by parents transition into someone "overly" dependent upon a spouse. This might feel sexy in the beginning (she/he NEEDS me) but it gets boring in time.
The two will come into couples therapy for any number of reasons, but the dependency tends to manifest itself as angry, childish, jealous, unlikeable behavioral traits, traits you see in people with personality disorders.
And our white knight is generally not a white knight, really, but someone who likes the idea of a romantic, traditional marriage, one that values family relationships and "white knight-ness." If he marries her because she's close to her family, he is often very close to his-- or wishes to be close to a family.
That's not bad. I'm not saying that's bad. But it enters into the conflict as soon as the sparks fly. It falls in the unresolved matter of relationships. His/her family of origin fills the need to be needed, admired.
See, it's more than dependency. This is about applause, too.
So at some point dependency can become terrifically dysfunctional and the couple might even separate, often following a violent interaction. They'll go back to their own families of origin. And I'll be working with both of them, building that sense of self, those unique wonderful individuals who really wants to operate independently, deep down inside.
And wouldn't you know? The seemingly more independent partner will inevitably undermine the process, telling the more dependent partner (not in my presence, usually) that he/she is making poor decisions as an independent soul, shouldn't be spending money this way, shouldn't have said this or that to one of their parents, shouldn't have decided to go, all alone, on a vacation.
And that always happens, by the way, as soon as the "more" independent, functional partner skips out of therapy, misses appointments, supposedly glad that the "less" independent, functional partner is getting better, separating from family, growing.
The two of them were never more or less. They were always on the same level, the same page when it came to at least that one very important dynamic.
That's what we mean by an emotional system.
Things are rarely as they seem. You know?