Co-dependency and isolationism

This topic comes from session 3 of the “Man to Man” Christian men’s course, by Careforce Lifekeys.   I presented this version to my church men’s breakfast group.


  1. Did you hear about the codependent who flunked geography?
    He couldn’t distinguish any boundaries.
  2. You know you’re codependent when someone else sneezes and you say, “Excuse me.”
  3. What do you call a codependent person who says “No” to someone and does not feel guilty? –Healthy
  4. You know you’re a codependent when you wake up in the morning and say to your mate, “Good morning, how am I?”
  5. What does a codependent have in common with God?
    They both have a plan for your life.
  6. What is the last thing to happen to a codependent before they die?
    Someone else’s life flashes before their eyes.

Co-dependency and isolationism are two extremes on the spectrum.  Somewhere in-between is a healthy balance of interdependence.

Behaviours of the overly dependent person:

  • Feelings of inferiority or superiority
  • The Active Controller (Manipulator) or Passive Controller
  • Fear of rejection

My story

  • I am the last child of six ==> go with the flow
  • She (my wife) is the first child of three ==> very organised
  • Our marriage had the potential for disaster
    • Role as spiritual head wasn’t happening
    • Child of divorce meant lack of male role model
    • Increasing frustration and isolation
      • Making decisions authoritatively
      • Passive aggressive
    • Resolution
      • Recognize lack
      • Seek out male support
      • On-going process
      • Making decisions collaboratively


A typical male problem:

  • Tendency to focus on “things” rather than “people”
  • Be aggressive
  • Be competitive
  • Finds it more difficult to work on or build relationships during his life
  • Difficult to form new relationships
  • Finds change has a tendency to destroy relationships

My story

  • Has one good friend
  • Has many acquaintances
  • But I choose to fellowship
    • Called to be together in fellowship. Hebrews 10:25
    • As iron sharpens iron. Proverbs 27:17

Characteristics of an unhealthy relationship – top 10 dysfunctional families in the Bible

  1. FIRST FAM: Wifey (Eve) tricked Hubby (Adam) into disobeying God. Then things got really bad when one of their boys (Cain) killed the other one (Abel). Then Cain ran away to avoid prosecution. His was the first picture on a milk carton.
  2. NOAH’S FAM: Noah saved his family from the flood and then got naked and plastered. Evidently, sailing around on a flooded earth in a barge full of animals was a bit stressful. He didn’t appreciate the fact that one of his boys (Ham) mocked him for his naked drunk condition. So Noah cursed his son. There is no record that Ham attended Thanksgiving dinner with the family that year.
  3. ABRAHAM’S FAM: God promised a child to an elderly couple (Abram and Sarah). Abram was not ready to wait on Sarah to get pregnant so he had sex with his maid, Hagar. (With the name “Hagar” she must have been a real cutie.) Hagar got pregnant, had a son (Ishmael) and then made fun of Sarah for not being able to get pregnant. Hagar and Ishmael left because they were no longer welcome in that happy family.
  4. LOT’S FAM: This brainiac tried to give his daughters over to a bunch of homosexual hooligans.
  5. ISAAC’S FAM: Jacob (one of Isaac’s twin boys) swindled Esau (the other twin) out of his birthright by lying to dad with the help of his mother Rebecca. Esau—understandably–then wanted to kill his brother, Jacob. So Jacob ran away to live with his crazy Uncle Laban, who tricked him into marrying his less-than-gorgeous daughter, Leah. Then as a good will gesture, Laban threw in his hot daughter, Rachael, to smooth things over.
  6. JACOB’S FAM: Jacob had 12 boys and decided to buy the youngest one, Joseph, a designer coat. That didn’t sit well with the other brothers. So instead of leaving him out of family football they decided to throw him into a hole and kill him. The older brother, Reuben, was more reasonable and talked them into merely selling him as a slave to a band of Egyptian thugs. They told dad an animal killed him.
  7. KING SAUL: Israel’s first king (Saul) was jealous of the popularity of a shepherd boy (David) and became obsessed with killing him. Saul’s son Jonathon protected his best friend David, choosing his friend over his dad. Dad and son became estranged. That was not a display of family unity.
  8. KING DAVID’S FAM: King David had a fling with his next-door neighbor, got her pregnant and killed her husband to cover it up. The baby died. Then one of his sons (Absalom) betrayed him.
  9. SOLOMON’S FAM: The “smartest” guy in the world had a palace full of wives. (nuff said)
  10. JESUS’ FAM: Jesus’ parents (Mary and Joseph) left their son (Jesus) behind on a road trip to Jerusalem. They somehow missed the fact that the Son of God was no longer with them on the way home. They turned around and went back for him. They found him in the temple and made him get back in the wagon.

Characteristics of a healthy relationship

  • Feel respected
  • Physical and emotional needs nurtured
  • Like and liked
  • Feel appreciated
  • Not afraid to be yourself
  • Can communicate and connect
  • Can affirm and support each other


  • Nothing will be “perfect,” but change and growth are always possible.

In the group

  1. How much do you rely on the reflections of others as the source of your identity and self worth?
  2. How does co-dependency affect your relationships with others, e.g. partner, family, friends, work?
  3. Do you have a tendency to control or be controlled?
  4. Do you struggle with seeing how loved, valued and accepted you are by God?



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