Relationships 101, Part 3: Interdependence

I had a pastor once who aptly identified common misconceptions about love using the contemporary love songs of the day. The songs said things like, “I can’t live without you!” “I am nothing without you!” “You complete me!” “I found myself when I found you!” He very wisely noted that these are not “love songs;” They are “leach songs!” Our idea of romantic love is very often unhealthy. Many couples figure out eventually that these ideas are not even sustainable. And thank GOD! Love has so much more to offer us! Relationship therapist, David Schnarch, writes about “interdependence” as a goal: Not “independence,“ not “codependence,” and not “dependence,” but rather, “Interdependence.” In an interdependent relationship, we are each whole and complete, responsible for our own satisfaction. Each partner is valued and respected, fully capable of well-being, regardless of how the other partner is doing. This is the kind of freedom that leads to exciting and satisfying coupledom without the undue pressure of “making the other person happy.” You really can’t make anyone happy but yourself. Happiness is a choice. We can make respectful requests of our partners, inviting them into our happiness, but our partners are free at any time to give an authentic “yes,” “no,” “not now” or to offer a “negotiation.” This kind of candor with clear boundaries puts us each in a position to be our best self. Some people fear that they will become selfish if they aren’t putting their partner first. What I‘ve found in couples’ counseling is that most often our authentic desire is to look out for and care for our partner. When we take responsibility for our own care, we have the energy to reach out beyond ourselves to care for others. Ironic but true: Loving ourselves well is essential to loving others well. If you are ready to work on a healthier, more vital and fulfilling relationship, fill out the Send a Message form to the right. Let’s talk! ___________ Tiffany Sankofa, MS LCPC is a therapist in practice in Columbia, MD. If you’d like help growing your relationship, go to and contact Tiffany today. It’s time to take your life back!