How to Keep Perfectionism From Harming Your Marriage

Updated 04/12/19
Narisa Ladak / Getty Images

Co-Author: Sharon Martin, LCSW

If you’re a perfectionist, you already know that perfectionism puts excessive demands on both you and your spouse. Criticism and arguments are obvious. But the problems go beyond your ranting and raving about the messy bathroom or his frustration that you insist on cleaning the entire kitchen before sitting down to watch T.V. together. Perfectionism makes it hard to share who you really are – especially your vulnerabilities and inadequacies. When you are unable to share your whole self, it makes it difficult to connect deeply with your spouse and have a stable relationship.

4 Aspects of Perfectionism That You Can Focus On

8 Strategies That Can Be Helpful for Perfectionists

  • Look for What Your Partner Does Right

It’s so easy to spot mistakes and problems. It’s not so easy to recognize all the things your spouse does right. Set an intention to specifically identify at least three pleasing things your partner does daily and communicate them to him/her. This helps train your mind to see the positives and it builds good feelings between the two of you.

  • Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Step back and put things in perspective. Consider your values and what really matters to you. Put your time and effort into the things that are most important to you. loading the dishwasher the “wrong” way may not be worth starting an argument over.

  • Your Way Isn’t the Only Right Way to Do Things

Allow your spouse to do things his/her way sometimes, even if you are sure it is wrong. It feels disrespectful and condescending to insist that your way is the only right way. Unless it’s a safety issue, you are probably sweating the small stuff.

  • Accept That the Division of Labor Isn’t Fair

If you need a super clean bathroom and your partner does not, don’t expect that he or she will clean it to your standards. You must decide what is worth the battle and what isn’t. Furthermore, at times you must accept that it’s your particular need and not your spouses.

  • Practice Self-Compassion and Self-Care

Emotionally healthy people treat themselves with grace and kindness. Take good care of your body and mind by lowering the pressure you put on yourself. Begin to replace negative thoughts with compassionate, forgiving messages. Negativity isn’t motivating. It tends to make us feel worse, which in turn leads to more negative thoughts and behaviors.

  • Relax and Have Fun

Perfectionists often choose work over fun. Making time for relaxation, novelty, and fun alone and with your partner are also important ways to build connection and strengthen your marriage.

  • Over Communicate

Explain to your husband or wife why certain things are so important to you. We all fall into the trap of assuming our partners what we are thinking and feeling. Get curious. keep talking until you really understand each other’s point of view.

  • Share a Little Bit More of Yourself

Deep connections are formed when we share our struggles, fears, and vulnerabilities. Gently push yourself to share just a little bit more with your spouse every week. Maybe even something about your family of origin that has influenced your view of yourself and your perfectionism.

Trying some of these suggestions will probably feel uncomfortable at first. Change is a process, not a destination. Simply reading this article and bringing your awareness to these struggles is an excellent first step. Sharing it with your partner, along with your intention to begin changing, is a wonderful next step.  It won’t be long before you can kiss your perfectionism goodbye!

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