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By Karla Downing
Christian codependency is related to the beliefs we have as Christians that affect how we act in our relationships. One of the things we need to do is to understand triangulation in dysfunctional relationships. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken” (NLT).New Jersey. This verse illustrates how triangulation can make dysfunctional patterns more entrenched and how difficult it is to make changes when three people are interacting together.
One of the characteristics of dysfunctional families is triangulation. Triangulation is when a third person is involved in a conflict or issue that is really between two people. Triangulation is full of anxiety and driven by intensity in the relationships. When the third person steps in, it can decrease or increase the intensity between the two. It will decrease it, if it prevents the two from having to deal directly with each other; however, it will increase it if the addition of the third person escalates the conflict and increases the drama of the conflict. Some of the emotional intensity will shift onto the third person who enters the conflict.
The person that intervenes brings the baggage in his/her own relationship with each of the people. The triangular relationship is now more complicated than the relationship between the two people, because it includes the feelings and unresolved issues each of the three people have toward each other.
People fill three roles in triangular relationships: persecutor, victim, and rescuer. The third person is often the rescuer who is entering the interaction to protect the one they believe is being mistreated. This prevents resolution of the conflict between the two people who the conflict involves. Stepping in is only necessary when the person is truly a helpless victim unable to take care of themselves. Otherwise when we make someone a victim, we prevent him/her from taking care of himself or herself.
God doesn’t triangulate. He speaks directly to the person he is dealing with. He even invites the person he has an issue with to come directly to him to reason things out (Isaiah 1:18). If we believe that God holds us responsible for making our loved ones change, we will be compelled to intervene. But truthfully, God only holds us responsible for intervening if someone truly is a victim (Proverbs 24:10-12). Most of the victims we respond to in dysfunctional relationships are people who really should be responsible for themselves. Our intervening only makes the problems worse. Christian codependency patterns of triangulation need to be changed if you want to have healthier relationships.