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How to Deal With Enmeshment in Marriage?

The relationship between spouses is one of the most amazing relationships that can exist between two people. It must be nurtured and cared for.

How to Deal With Enmeshment in Marriage? - About Islam

Though it is expected that a husband and a wife will become attached to one another both physically and emotionally, sometimes that attachment becomes so excessive that it actually causes emotional or psychological harm.

Enmeshment describes a dysfunctional relationship between people in which emotional boundaries are so unclear that people have difficulty functioning or developing independently.

This article will examine how couples who find themselves in an enmeshed relationship can begin to restore balance to their marriages and ultimately allow for more growth and development in their relationship with each other and use it as a means to get closer to Allah.


One of the hardest parts about restoring balance to an enmeshed relationship is simply recognizing that enmeshment exists—in fact, spouses in such a relationship are often the last ones to realize it.

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This is because they have often become so accustomed to their extreme attachment to one another that they think this is the way a marriage should be, the way that should bring them happiness.

Furthermore, couples in enmeshed relationships are sometimes so afraid of being alone that they would do anything to convince themselves that their extreme attachment to their spouse is normal and healthy.

In many cases, one spouse is more excessively attached to the marriage than the other.

For example, a wife might recognize she is in an enmeshed relationship, while her husband sees this type of relationship as the definition of love.

Consequently, any effort on the part of the wife to find some space and become less enmeshed is seen by her husband as not loving him.

This is extremely problematic.

The wife might constantly be made to feel guilty for trying to do her own thing or trying to have relationships with other family members and friends.

She might often be told by her husband “you’re the only one I can trust or talk to, the only one I can count on,” and this becomes a very heavy load to bear.


Recognizing that one is in an enmeshed relationship therefore, often requires one to step outside the relationship and examine it critically and objectively, inspecting its dynamics and assessing whether they are healthy or not.

By doing so, one can begin to recognize some of the following signs of enmeshment:

1- Not being able to tell the difference between one’s own emotions and the emotions of the other spouse.

2- Feeling that one is required to rescue the other spouse from his or her own emotions.

3- Feeling a need to be rescued from one’s own emotions by his or her spouse.

4- Not having any personal emotional time and space from one’s spouse.

5- Not having any substantial relationships with anyone other than one’s own spouse.

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About Marwa Abdalla
Marwa Abdalla received her B.A. in political science from Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas, and is currently working toward a degree in Islamic Studies with the American Open University. She is interested in writing about Islam, marriage and family. Her writing has been published in a book entitled Toward the Well Being of Humanity as well as on numerous websites. She lives with her husband and three daughters in San Diego, CA.