Maybe you have heard of enabling, but you’re unsure what it really means. Enabling has both positive and negative meanings. It can mean being helpful, as in enabling someone to solve a problem or move ahead. There is a line, however, past which being supportive is no longer productive.

Enabling is when you tolerate or allow your partner to engage in behaviors that are unproductive, unhealthy, or addictive. When you are working hard to make things better and have given many “second chances” but your partner isn’t addressing the problem, there is a good chance you are enabling.

For example, you are enabling if you

  • Look the other way if your partner keeps maxing out the credit cards and you pay them off each month without making it an issue.
  • Make excuses when your partner sleeps late after drinking too much and you tell the kids he or she is sick.
  • Rationalize the behavior. If you tell yourself that you’re partner’s job is important and that’s why he or she isn’t home with the family on weekends.
  • Try to control the situation by giving your partner ultimatums about using porn and ignoring your sexual needs.
  • Compensate for your partner by lending money, doing extra chores and childcare, and trying to solve his or her problems.

If you see yourself in any of these examples, you probably feel exhausted, angry, and depressed. You may realize that you are neglecting your own life because of your partner’s problems.  You may have your own unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the stress.

You also may be good at blaming yourself for the problem. The truth is that you are a good person. Most enablers are good-hearted, kind, generous, and forgiving. They cherish peace and hate conflict. They try to go the extra mile for others.

And because of your creativity, tenacity, and drive to make things better, you stand a very good chance of changing your patterns of behavior and restoring balance to your life.

In the next blog, I’ll give you tips for empowering yourself to make real changes. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. You’re a really good person.

It’s easier and faster to change your life when you have a place to look at your problems objectively. Either alone or with your partner, counseling can help you figure out where you are off track and make an action plan to start changing.

Feel free to contact us for a free consultation, to learn about us and see how we can help.

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Glenn Dale, MD / McLean, VA / Internet