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 underdoer. Just 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.
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.