The other day as I was shopping at the mall something unusual caught my eye. I almost took a picture with my Smartphone, but decided that it would be an invasion of privacy. What did I see? It was an older couple in their tennis shoes out for an early morning walk around the perimeter of the mall. I know that doesn’t sound so unusual, but it was the image of them together that made me stop and take a second look.
The older man had severe kyphosis (excessive curling of the spine which leads to a hunch back appearance), while his wife had an extreme backward tilt of her torso. As their feet and legs walked in lock step his head and shoulders traversed ahead, while her head and shoulders brought up the rear.
The image of the two walking together has not left my mind. It was as if she was trying to balance out her husband’s forward tilt by leaning way back. I wondered if she had an orthopedic problem or if over the years she had subconsciously reacted to her husband’s worsening kyphosis by bending her torso further and further back. If it was the latter she was not doing her or her husband any good, because her exaggerated posture was not only harmful to her, but it might eventually prevent her from being able to physically help him.
As I have thought about this older couple, I couldn’t help but think about how women often over compensate and try to balance out someone else’s problem. When in fact we are not helping at all, but making things worse.
The image of this couple flashed through my mind as I listened to a New York mayoral candidate once again try to explain away is sexual peccadilloes. This time his wife not only stood beside him, but she also talked about how much he had changed and that she believed in him. I don’t know what her motive was to stand there and defend him; it was evident that what he had done was grievous to her. But I did wonder if she was truly helping him as she stated that he would be an excellent mayor for New York. Was she in fact like the older woman at the mall, doing an exaggerated backward bend trying to compensate for her husband’s moral failures? Was she really helping him and their family’s future by telling everyone that this was a personal issue and that the voters should ignore it and vote for him? Something tells me that her stand-by-her-man appearance won’t help at all, but instead endangers the healing of their marriage and family.
We women are relational beings and it is easy for us to over compensate to help someone we love. The problem is instead of helping we may be causing harm to all involved.
I hope that I have painted a vivid visual depiction of the older couple walking at the mall. Because the next time you think about helping, I want their image to pop into your mind and for you to ask yourself if you are truly being helpful or just over compensating?
I am celebrating a two year anniversary of Living As A Woman… My fingers are tired so I will be taking the rest of August off. You will hear from me in September.
What is a Think Through? it is an idiom that conveys the meaning of carefully considering possibilities and outcomes of a situation.
Today’s Think Through: Why do you think it is a tendency for women to be guilty of over compensating?