Do you have a Boarding House or Martyr Relationship?

The Boarding House Relationship Picture two people linked together by their elbows, with their backs to each other. This is the Boarding House Relationship. They are "linked together" by the home and/or children they share. Many of our couples say they feel like they are just "roommates" with their spouse. They typically have little to no communication with each other, only the day to day scheduling of tasks of keeping up their home or family. They usually retire in their own spaces, separately, watching TV or getting on their computers with little interaction or connection with each other.

There is no expression of love towards each other, it is a loveless relationship.

Just like in the other relationships, when one of the partners changes or grows, the other person feels "linked" to the relationship (our clients often use the word "trapped"). They feel they can't leave because of the house, finances, or kids. So rather than trying to change the relationship, they will often stay roommates and be unhappy.

This relationship is a breeding ground for affairs and addictions, as each partner tries to find other ways to "fill the void" they are missing.

Martyr Relationship

Picture one person on all fours, and the other partner with one foot on top of their partner (like they are using them for a step stool). The martyr is the person who completely sacrifices himself/herself, trying to serve the other people in the family. This person is usually doing things for others in the family and rarely takes time to take care of theirselves.

The martyr can be a very controlling position in the relationship, believe it or not. The martyr gains control by guilt (I always do everything around here!). Usually the other partner doesn't express their needs or feelings because of their guilt. When the person that is the martyr moves or changes, the other persons stability is thrown off balance. So the martyr is in control. They are usually very angry about how much they do and how little help they get.

Both of these types of relationships are damaging. It is important that your relationship is nurtured and you aren't just living together, like the Boarding Relationship. And it's important that each partner is sharing the responsibilities and emotions in a relationship so it is not set up as a Martyr Relationship.

I bet you can hardly wait to find out what a Healthy Love-Relationship looks like! Well, tomorrow Joleen will tell us what that looks like! Thank you for reading!

Written by Natalie Chandler

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville