Do You Need More Good or Less Bad?

June 9, 2014

in Change

We can improve in two ways – by doing less “bad” or by doing more “good”. Improving your marriage is this way: more good and less bad both result in an overall improvement.


Bad, hurtful, negative things do a great deal of harm. A single good event doesn’t make up for a single bad event. John Gottman says his research indicates there must be at least five positive interactions for each negative interaction for a relationship to succeed.

Good & Bad © jscreationzs |

Imagine if you got things wrong in your job as often as you got them right – how long would you have the job? Getting it right 90% might be enough to keep your job, but would you expect a raise or a promotion? Why should we expect our marriages to be any different?

Various studies* have found:

  • Bad life events affect how people feel longer than good life events.
  • Losing money causes more distress than gaining the same amount of money results in joy.
  • While good sexual events are among the strongest positive events for most people, a single negative sexual event can wipe out all good events.
  • Negative attitudes and distress early in marriage correlate with higher levels of divorce later, but good events do not correlate to less divorce.
  • Sexual dysfunction has a greater effect on the marriage than good sex.

In short, the bad we do to our spouse has a huge effect, and it stays with them a long time. The good we do has a smaller effect and is quickly forgotten. If you want a solid marriage you must do two things:

  1. Work on reducing the bad. Apologies are good, but they do little to change things.
  2. Do good often. Daily small things are better than occasional big things.

Trying to make up for bad things with good things is a losing strategy. A lot of good can help offset a bit of bad, but the good will be forgotten long before the bad. The amount of good necessary to fully offset bad is unsustainable. 

* These are mentioned in Bad Is Stronger Than Good 

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Wow. This is a powerful and wise understanding. But what is the ‘bad,' we do that requires so much 'good,' to make up for?

This morning I was a little short-tempered with my Precious One. When I came back into the bedroom, I apologized to her because my conscience bothered me (It was telling me I had done, ‘bad’). She forgave me and cuddled with me before we had to get up.

I still felt my conscience pricked about it when we got up, and so, over breakfast, I apologized again. She just smiled and said, "I forgive you," and "It’s okay." I finally felt reassured and my conscience was assuaged.

Then I read this post.

I had done, ‘bad.’ But, it was not the kind of bad that could damage our relationship. I then did, ‘good.’ by apologizing, twice, till my conscience felt her forgiveness. Now, it is because my Precious One and I practice goodness with each other, continuously, that there were no repercussions to our relationship for this, ‘bad,’ thing I did, apart from my pricked conscience. Additionally, her quick forgiveness, for knowing my heart and the goodness that is in it (thanks to my spirit's re-siring by Jehovah), restored my conscience to its good, quiescent state.

I started thinking, then, about what bad things I could do that would damage our relationship.

Lying was the first thing that came to mind. If I conducted myself in such a way that I felt a need to lie to cover up what I had done, that would damage her trust in me and our relationship. Of course most any thing I did that would lead to an attempt at lying would also damage trust.

The next thing was sexual infidelity. If I desired sexual experience apart from what I have in her, that would also damage her trust in me, even if I never had an opportunity to pursue that desire, because I don’t believe a husband can hide his sexuality from his wife, So it’s better to cultivate a sexuality that puts her in the, ‘starring role.’

Another thing was a rebellious attitude. That thought in one’s heart is usually expressed with the words, “No woman is going to tell me what to do!” This leads to arguing, unreasonableness, yelling and many other trust-damaging actions.

 A fourth thing is the failure to empathize with her heart and to express that empathy. If I rarely, ‘put myself in her shoes,’ then I would not be able to understand her heart and its thoughts and I would become cold hearted in my own thoughts toward her, which would damage her trust in me.

A last thing would be the failure to express thankfulness for her. Not just thankfulness for all that she does, but gratefulness for who she is as a person. If I failed to do this, her trust in me would be damaged to the point of no return.

So, anything we as humans do from the thoughts in our heart that damage trust, are those, ‘bad,’ things that require a lot of, ‘good,’ to make up. However, keeping one’s conscience clear and thus sensitive to encroaching, sinful actions, like the ones I mentioned above, will keep trust strong and healthy, which will keep a relationship strong and healthy and vital. Thus, the little things that her and I occasionally do and say, from frustration and other conditional and temporary emotions, are only ever temporary, and of little consequence.

However, if I did bad things that disrespected or damaged trust, I would risk destroying her love because marriage is a highly conditional joining— Unconditional love cannot be expressed in a marriage relationship.

Therefore, I cultivate trust and our love grows because I know that trust in a good woman’s and a good man’s heart endears each to the one that each knows he or she can trust.

So, for my knowing these things, I choose to be good, just as I was created to be, and thus I keep my Precious One's trust in me rewarded and her heart responding with gratitude for having me as her husband.

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