Last week I wrote a post about being “too good” and much of the information was based on the book “Too Good for Her Own Good” by Claudia Bepko and Jo-Ann Krestan.  As I was reading the book I thought about how my marriage may have been different if I had not followed “the code.” How could it have been different if I had not tried to be so perfect, so competent, or if I would have expressed my needs and got angry once in awhile?  Would Doug still have had an emotional affair?  Would I have been so exhausted and unhappy?  I know that the past is the past and I cannot change it or dwell on it, however I do wonder what implications this had on our marriage.

The authors devote a section to how too much goodness hurts a relationship.   They state that when two people are in a relationship together and rules about goodness are unclear, they tend to adopt two rigid roles: the role of the overdoer and the role of the underdoerJust as doing too much has consequences for the overdoer, doing too little has certain emotional consequences for the underdoer as well.

They provided some equations that describe problems that can evolve in the balance of a relationship if one person is too good or does too much.  “Our relationships usually reflect a wide range of imbalances – no one behaves in extremes in all the areas all the time.”  And no one sets out to deliberately maintain this kind of imbalance.  Men often overdo in some of these areas as well as woman.

See also  How to Learn From an Emotional Affair

Here is condensed list of what happens when one person does more and the other person does less in a relationship:

  • If one person is too adequate or too good, the other person becomes or feels inadequate or bad.
  • If one person always knows what’s best, the other person never gets to decide.
  • If one person always thinks of everything, the other person never stops to think.
  • If one person always “picks up the pieces, “the other person never has to face the consequences of his own behavior and choices.
  • If one person is always focused on the other, really only one person exists and there is no relationship.

One of the most important points they make is by doing too much, you may make the person you care about and love end up feeling controlled, devalued, incompetent, and angry. His/her sense of self suffers just as much as yours.

People who become under responsible because they are too much the focus of attention and overdoing feel guilt, frustration and inadequacy.  They have a sense or being special yet of having no real power or control.  They fear of losing the caretaker or trying anything on their own and lack confidence in their own abilities.

The common theme is that if you focus on someone else to excess (or rely on them for your self worth) you become under responsible for yourself, and if you are too much the focus on someone else’s attention, you also become under responsible for yourself. Neither person in this equation thinks about what he or she feels, or acts on what he or she wants. The relationship becomes a muddled mess and both partners wind up feeling bad.

    5 replies to "Consequences of Being Too Good"

    • michael

      Wow, this describes us all too well.

    • Roller coaster rider

      Really good stuff to think about, thanks Linda! I wish I would have been aware of this before I got married. I think in our marriage a big reason we adopted these patterns was related to birth order. My H is youngest of 5 siblings and I am oldest of the children in my family of origin. I am SO trying to do less now but it isn’t easy!

    • Paula

      Mmm, agreed, I’m the eldest with two younger brothers, and my other half is the youngest with two older sisters! Not a revelation to me, I don’t think I’ve “done it all” for him, but I did assume a more “traditional” role in our relationship after the birth of our first child, five years into the relationship, which I resisted very strongly. He had the better career, with the greater earning power, with my job being very difficult to resume with a young family. I took on the role of his biggest supporter, and worked very long hours alongside him, for no (separate) pay, as I was stupid enough to presume that all was equal, and we would always be honest and should we hit the end, we would sort it all out in a kind and fair way, we even talked about this, on many occasions! I went to law school for a couple of years, but had a change of heart, switched degrees, and didn’t graduate with a law degree, so I’m not a total idiot where the law is concerned, but re-reading this, realise what a complete fool I was, trust, idiot! However, due to the way things had worked out with his/our business and family, we had decided to buy farms, holiday homes, everything, in his family trust. Of course, when I discovered the affair, I panicked when I realised how stupid I had been, he pretty much had ownership and control of all our assets. Luckily, by the time I discovered the affair, it was over, and he had already decided he wanted to stay with me, and he then made the necessary changes, as much as we could easily, without too great an expense incurred, I feel more fairly catered for, in the legal sense. I had finally engaged my own lawyer, and sorted some of the inequality out, he was more than happy to do this, and it showed me that he was serious about patching things up with us, ensuring that I would be financially looked after, and recognised for my input. I still wasn’t sure we would survive together, but at least it made me grow up and take a good, hard look at my “cares too much, does too much” mentality, and take responsibility.

      Linda and Doug, this is such a wonderful site for those of us still struggling, but I do wonder how you cope with dealing with all of the pain here. I sometimes find some of it too much, and it can create it’s own triggers, so try to visit judiciously, to avoid negative feelings building, and to try to use it to help with the healing process. I am often concerned that thinking about all of this so often perpetuates negativity, and can slow things, at times, do you find this at times, and if so, what drives you two to continue, much as it helps so many of us?

      • Doug

        Paula, for a long time it was too much, I felt every trigger, insecurity, replayed Doug’s affair every time I read someone’s heartbreak. I have learned to distance myself from it, and have tried to focus more on the healing and rebuilding. There are times when I experience triggers, especially when I read comments from the cheaters who is still involved in the affair or are not thinking clearly. I have definitely pulled away and I am spending more time mentoring, reading, and researching ways to help others who are going through this terrible mess. Linda

    • hotnmadinAZ

      in our recent counseling session, resentment was brought up. i have to agree that by doing all of the “it” by myself, i have built resentment and a wall. so, i question if the EA allowed him to do things i “don’t”. i am trying to learn to do things differently, which are hard, because i’ve always done them by myself.

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