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Is Your Marriage Suffering from “The Curse of Good?”

Information Update
from Dr. Andrew D. Atwood, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

This material is presented for educational and informational purposes only. No other claims are made. Always consult your health care professional for specific recommendations.

The following article appeared in The Healing Garden Journal, July and August, 2004. You can find HGJ at www.HolisticVillage.org. Dr. Atwood

Is Your Marriage Suffering from “The Curse of Good?”

By Dr. Andrew D. Atwood, LMFT, CSW

You know couples like this. They are the ones who are “nice” people who have a very “nice” relationship. Everything seems to be good, or at least nothing seems to draw attention to them or their relationship. They are within your circle of friends, pleasant to be around, and very, very steady. They are good people, and they have a good marriage.

But there is nothing hot or moist about them! They don’t seem to have a lot of passion, excitement, energy, or pizzazz! Nobody yells (at least not in public) and nobody hugs and squeezes with obvious erotic intent. Pleasant, but passive. But there is no fire! Tepid, never temperamental (again, at least not in public), these nice people have a good marriage. White bread only; nothing like 7 grains to add flavor.

Some couples suffer from “The Curse of Good” for years and years. And frankly, that might just be right for them. Each has been called by the Divine within them to stay steady and stable, to just simmer through life. And it can be just fine to be “just fine.”
Others, however, are stuck in a marriage that is too good to leave, and too bad to stay. Slogged down by their own ambivalence, these good people have decided to capitulate, to give in to the anxiety that they would experience if they shifted the weight of their commitment off dead center. The have opted for the known stability rather than the adventure that could be theirs.

“Adventure? Who needs it?” Well, I do. And I’ll bet a lot of you do as well. But with adventure, with getting out of the box and experiencing the extra-ordinary, there is a price to pay – anxiety! You know the feeling. “Do I dare?” If you are suffering from “The Curse of Good,” you dare not. You don’t say, “Ya know honey, I am bored with the routine of our life. I am tired of the same meals, the same house, the same schedule, the same sex, the same conversations, the same old – same old. I want something more exotic in my life and I am willing to shake things up a little to get it. Why, you ask? Because my soul will die if I don’t.”

Oh boy, can that be threatening! Take the status quo and turn it upside down! Take a risk? Wear some different clothing, order something spicy from the menu (or from Victoria’s Secret), take a break from going to the same grocery stor or the same church, redecorate your home, go to school again and be the only guy in the water color painting class, or the only woman in the plumbing class. Get out of the lousy box!
“Oh no, what would everyone think?” That is one of the most common points of resistance I hear, and it is very understandable. As adults we have learned how to be “good” people who follow the rules that accompany our roles in life. A good husband behaves like such-and-so, and a good wife behaves life thus-and-so. Our tribe has prescribed those roles and rules for us, and we have bought in. We are good people in good relationships.

But the next normal part of the developmental process is to step beyond those roles and rules and to begin to author your own life. Yes, it is normal, and necessary, for a person to form their own opinions, to own their own passions, to embrace their own vision, to struggle for a voice, to create and dream beyond the horizon of the ordinary. Sam Keen calls these people “Outlaws.” They are the ones (and I count myself among their number) who have dared to try something radical in order to save their own lives from mediocrity. The Outlaws are the ones who stretch beyond the laws of the “good” world in which they live, so that they can thrive. They love with a measure of recklessness.

There are a lot of people who pick up the Healing Garden Journal and read it in secret. They read it in the waiting room in my office, but never take a copy with them, even though we have placed a “FREE COPY” sticker right on the front cover. These are folks who are intrigued, who wonder about things holistic, about alternative ways of living and being in the world, but who are often suffering from “The Curse of Good.”
If you are one of those people, reading this article right now in the waiting room of the Fountain Hill Center. . . yes, YOU!… peel the label off, and take the Journal with you. Pretend you stole it. Yes, be adventuresome and take it without permission.
And when you get home with your partner, tell him or her that you want to break some rules in your relationship. You want to shamelessly and authentically love each other, and you are willing to confront the anxiety that always companions breaking free from “The Curse of Good.”

Go ahead. Step beyond the threat of shame. Embrace wonder. Be an Outlaw. Trust the Good that you are to guide you. Break free from the curse.

Try Dr. Atwood’s FREE “28-day Jump Start Your Marriage” eCourse which can be found at www.HolisticVillage.com. It’s a steal! Dr. Atwood is one of 11 clinicians who work at the Fountain Hill Center for Counseling and Consultation in Grand Rapids. 616-456-1178 or www.FountainHillCenter.com.

Best wishes,
Dr. Atwood

Hopeful Solutions for Your Sexless Marriage is the BIG, 173 page eBook written by Dr. Atwood. The companion volume is You Can Save Your Marriage. You can find both at www.HopefulSolutions.net. Dr. Andrew D. Atwood, LMFT. 534 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 - Voice 616.456.1178 - Email DrAtwood@HopefulSolutions.net. ©2002-2004 Save Your Marriage, PLC. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The material presented on these pages if for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care provider in person. Please consult your health care provider in person if you have any questions or concerns. Always use common sense and research your own personal situation thoroughly.

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