Have you ever felt like your spouse is a perfectionist? Maybe a little too critical and “problem-solving” in moments where you’d like to simply be heard, cheered on or comforted?
One of the double-edge gifts that God has given me is an attention to detail, an analytical mind and an ability to find solutions to problems in my life and marriage. My husband shares this same strength which, when I’m on the receiving end of it, doesn’t always feel so warm, fuzzy and positive. 😉
Can you relate?
Since both Gary (my hubby) and I are perfectionists, we’ve found this “problem-solving” mindset to ironically be a point of conflict. Though you would think that this problem could easily be solved by two problem-solving spouses—you would be wrong!
We’re much better now, but our tendency to “solve” issues has been more of a liability than an asset, mostly because we were trying to fix the other person’s problems and faults, since they naturally seemed so much more glaring to us personally.
Maybe you feel like your mate’s the one who’s the perfectionist in your marriage. And try as you might, s/he is never satisfied with your efforts. Maybe you feel like the problem could be solved if your mate simply became more “realistic”—choosing to be content instead.
Though that would be a great strategy for your mate to decide to employ, you won’t get anywhere if you try to convince him/her to take that route.
What I’ve discovered (through the many lessons God has taught me in my marriage) is that the best way to deal with a critical and/or perfectionist spouse is to silence the inner-critic in my own head.
How do I do that? By continually . . .
1. Becoming aware of my negative internal dialogue
It’s so easy to remain on auto-pilot in our thinking, never stopping whenever we feel anxiety to identify the negative thoughts that are intensifying that anxiety. So learning to pay attention to your inner feelings, as well as your thoughts can yield invaluable insight into how you perceive your mate—probably with a negative “filter” in place. Since, sadly, negativity often begets negativity.
2. Taking captive negative thoughts and uncovering any lies
Once you’ve identified the negative thought (i.e. “He wouldn’t act that way if he loved me” etc.), then “take it captive”—meaning replace or challenge—the thought with the truth or some other positive aspect in your relationship. But this is not about ignoring problems! Talking through them honestly and graciously should also be part of your plan moving forward.
3. Challenging the negative with the positive
Although this is part of what I stated above, it’s so monumental that it requires a separate category! We all need to retrain our brains to focus on the good in our mates. If you can’t think of any “good” in your mate, then begin by focusing on the good in your life.
4. Reading God’s word
Sometimes we don’t know the truth. So the best place to begin is with God’s truth. If you’re discouraged in marriage, but not reading the Bible regularly, you will lose hope.
A great place to start is my 1 Samuel Facebook Bible study. You can find out more about that here.
5. Praying and processing my hurts in marriage
I’ve shared before how often I use prayer processing after a conflict or hurt in my life. This is so powerful, my friends! If you’re not doing this in an ongoing effort to bring healing to your heart, then don’t delay another minute! Click here for my guide.
6. Assuming the best about my mate’s intentions, then acknowledging them back to him
This is another habit that must be intentionally developed or it will remain weak in your life and marriage. If you don’t trust your mate, then begin to have respectful and honest conversations with your spouse. I’ll be sharing more in my next post, “Discussing sticky issues with your mate without getting stuck,” as we continue in this new series on the “Lessons Learned in Marriage.”
Which of these do you know you need to start doing in your marriage?
What would you add as a way to deal with a perfectionist mate?
I’m still preparing for my once-a-month series on sexual hang-ups in marriage, hopefully with your help! If you’d like to learn more about how to anonymously share a part of your story, click here for guidelines.
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