I am not a big fan of the label "dysfunctional," I think every relationship is "dysfunctional" in some way.
I like to think of people being "regulated" or "disregulated". When a person is out of control, emotionally or physically, he or she is disregulated. When this person is disregulated, e.g. yelling, screaming, throwing things, etc., others around them will feel disregulated and may act in disregulated ways, e.g. yelling, screaming, crying, running way, etc.
When we think of "dysfunctional" relationships we usually think of people staying in relationships which are destructive in some manner.
I think the word, 'co-dependent', for example, is often misunderstood and misused to describe many relationships. We are all co-dependent (although I prefer the term, 'interdependent') in some way in our relationships.
Unhealthy co-dependency is when we stay in a relationship even when it is destructive in some way.
The woman who stays in a relationship with a man who abuses alcohol to the extent that he begins to loose jobs, threatens the loss of his home, perhaps uses money that should be spent on food and other necessities, is in a destructive co-dependent relationship.
The key issue is the "destructive co-dependent relationship." Clearly the husband is disregulated - his behavior and emotions are out of control. This woman needs to regulate her feelings and thoughts in such a way as to begin a plan to get out of the relationship. Creating a safety plan is the first step in getting out of the relationship.
Disregulation - the trapdoor to broken relationships
(c) 2008 Ronald Friesen