Are You Overfunctioning? If yes, stop. As a young woman I learned to overfunction in all my relationships which is another sign of codependency. When a person in a relationship overfunctions the other tends to underfunction. Meaning one partner does all the work and the other looks like they aren’t doing their part. When my husband and I had our child he was new to parenthood. I’d been in a previous marriage and was parenting my then 12 year old. Because I was accustomed to doing “everything” I took care of our newborn 24/7. I’d do the every 2 hour bottle feeding, bath time, laundry, etc. I was exhausted and could barely get in a quick shower. All the while I was upset because my husband was doing very little except for putting in a long day at work. I asked my husband if he wasn’t helping me because he didn’t want to or because I wasn’t making room for him to do anything? He said the latter. I realized my overfunctioning was managing the anxiety of being a new mother again. My anxiety prohibited my husband from performing tasks of being a new parent himself and providing me the help I needed.
Overfunctioning, as much as the word is self explanatory for some begs the question…”what is overfunctioning?” More importantly, what does it look like. As a Marriage Counselor, explaining what behaviors look like is very helpful and become teachable moments. When a wife asks her husband to help around the house, what does that look like? To the wife it could be cleaning every nook and cranny with disinfectant. To the husband it could be picking up his shoes and some water glasses he left throughout the house. When you ask someone to do something tell them what you expect…behaviorally. In this case, the wife wanted her husband to make sure all items left on the floor were picked up and placed where they belong. And take the trash out on trash day.
Overfunctioning is seen in many scenarios:
- Doing all the party planner thinking others can’t do a better job.
- Making all the decisions for vacation planning.
- Doing all the housework yourself believing only you can clean it the way you want.
- Parenting with little regard or insight to your spouse because you think you can do it better.
- Over talking someone during a conversation.
- Keeping a conversation going not allowing others to chime in.
For others overfunctioning is a means to managing anxiety or tension, but can prevent both you and the other person from becoming a more responsible person. Overfunctioning can create anger and resentment toward the person underfunctioning which tends to lead to disharmony in relationships. It can also feel like you are drowning in a sea of your own creation.
In working with my couples I give them directives to help them move forward from a stagnate status quo. I believe, and stress this in counseling, the “we” in relationships is only as strong as the “me.” So when one person is neglecting their “me” I tell them to stop overfunctioning and concentrate on oneself. Self-care and understanding what is creating their anxiety and appropriately managing it is a good start.
For more information please contact me at my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or call me at (858) 735-1139.