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