Codependency and Autonomy in Healthy Relationships with Bret and Chalene Johnson: CarSmart Edition

“I think you two are co-dependent” once said a wise therapist. Bret and I stared back at her in disbelief and denial.

This episode of the Chalene Show includes an unscripted and honest conversation between my husband Bret and I, recapping a recent weekend apart. This is significant only because not too many years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of suggesting we spend the weekend apart. Today, we are in a better place, one we recognize as being much healthier.

Healthy relationships take work! I always feel a weird when I post up something in social media and see that well meaning fans have replied with comments like, #RelationshipGoals or “I wish my relationship was like yours”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to know that people see the relationship that I have with my husband and business partner Bret as inspirational, but I also feel a sense of obligation.

I feel a sense of responsibility to share the true work and progress that has gone into this relationship. While it’s helpful to have relationship role models, it’s unhealthy to use someone else relationship as a measure of the success or potential that your relationship has.

If you’re not getting along, if you struggle to communicate, argue, or just feel disconnected that doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed, it might simply mean you need to seek outside help.

In this episode, Bret and I talk about how early behaviors in our relationship resulted in some pretty serious codependency patterns.

Codependency can take on many forms. When the term was first used to describe our relationship, I was very defensive. I took to the internet to read up on what it meant to be in an unhealthy relationship. It was easy to find definitions that didn’t seem to fit. But there are degrees of codependency and before long I realized that being defensive about the label, wasn’t going to help us.

Growth is something we should all seek. Growth makes us better. When we are better as individuals or better as a couple, we make the world a better place. We experience greater happiness and fulfillment when we work on being better humans. And yes, growth can be uncomfortable, even painful at times, but it always results in improvement.

Embrace growth. Growth is what courageous people do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t possibly be an expert at everything. Allow a trained individual to help you navigate this process. While friends and family are important sources of support, they are not trained to help you navigate the experiences of your past and help you to process these things.

You and your partner need time together and time apart. You need to be your own autonomous person with your own interests, friends and pursuits. While It’s incredibly beneficial to share these things as a couple, it’s equally important to have things that are just for you. Your happiness and or emotional state should never be defined or determined by the mood, actions, affection or behaviors of your partner.

A healthy individual doesn’t need the approval, assistance, support or love of someone else to feel whole. While it’s human nature to desire these things, they should never define you or make you feel differently about who you are or your significance.

Codependence can take on many forms and can reveal itself in varying degrees, the worst of which can lead to dangerous and destructive patterns.

Instead of dismissing the notion, consider speaking to a trained professional and seek the counsel of those trained to help you be a better you!!


Questions Asked in This Episode
1. If we go to therapy, doesn’t that mean we are admitting we have problems? (4:50)
2. Why does it seem so taboo to check in with a professional? (5:38)
3. From your past experiences, how are you going to make a wise decision for your future? (15:15)
4. And much more…

What You’ll Learn in This Episode
1. What would be considered as “unhealthy clinginess” (1:20)
2. The signs of being co-dependent (1:40)
3. People who are in a co-dependent relationship feel this emotion the most… (2:35)
4. How long Bret and I have been married (3:48)
5. Something I can attribute the growth Bret and I have experienced in our marriage to (4:13)
6. Why confidence is so important (4:30)
7. My first instincts when Bret and I were told we had a co-dependent relationship (4:38)
8. My suggestion to you if you are feeling a lot of anxiety over other emotions (5:42)
9. Bret and I talk about the balance we have found in our relationship (9:09)
10. In the beginning of Bret and I’s marriage, I often felt uncomfortable about… (9:27)
11. Bret shares something that therapy has taught him (10:00)
12. Once I was able to understand what the term “co-dependent” meant, I realized (12:12)
13. The first reaction to change (14:16)
14. The things therapists suggest… (14:40)
15. And much more…


This episode is brought to you by The One3One Movement. It’s time to take back the word diet! If you’d like to hear more about my personal health journey, head over to

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