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Imago Relationship Therapy

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Dr. Janet Greenwoods
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ACA Marriage
Anger and Rage
Argue Less
Avoiding Ruts
Beyond the Honeymoon
Constructive Arguing
Differing Sexual Appetites
Increasing Communication
Intentional Joy
Intimacy Checkup
Lies in Marriage
Nurturing a Marriage
Overachieving Husband
Parent-Child Communication
Parenting Differences
Power Struggle
Quality Time with Children
Religious Differences
Sharing Feelings
Superwoman Stress
Teen Parent Relationships
Time Expectations
Understanding vs Agreement
Working Wife


Overachieving Husband

 Q: My husband seems driven. No matter how much success he achieves in his job it is never enough.  I am curious if his need to drive himself so hard has anything to do with trying to make up for never being able to achieve enough to satisfy his father when he was a youngster.  He was beaten every week for not getting good enough grades.

A: People have a variety of reactions to being abused as children.  Some adults who were abused as children feel an internal pressure to achieve and to outperform everybody else.

      You describe your husband as driven to work so hard because he never felt “good enough” as a youngster.  One of the traits that some adults abused as children have is the obsession with trying to outperform others in an attempt to feel OK in the inside.  This is both painful and fruitless.  Even when these adults have obviously succeeded they often do not feel they have been good enough, done enough, or believe someone else could have done better.

      Other adults abused as children have the opposite reaction.  They do not have the confidence that they can accomplish anything, so they do not try.  Because success increases one’s visibility and being visible may make some feel unsafe, i.e., associated with being hurt, success may represent danger to be avoided at all costs.

      Unfortunately, abuse is common in every socio-economic group. The good news is that we are talking about it openly, and many psychotherapists and organizations are available to help adults who were abused as children.