Your perfect yard, sparkling car and company-ready home may be the envy of the neighborhood, but if your family's sitcom-like appearance is due to the efforts of your perfectionist spouse, you're well aware of the cost. There are days when you feel as though your spouse's quest for perfection is challenging your mental health. To keep from losing your cool, focus on the positive and take steps to insulate yourself from your spouse's more annoying perfectionist habits.
1. Look at the Positive
While being to a perfectionist spouse is often difficult, don't forget to look at the bright side. Chances are, your partner has parlayed his perfectionism into accomplishments that you are proud of, such as his being an in-demand public speaker or keeping the family car clean and polished. In fact, "good" perfectionism can be associated with less depression, higher achievement and greater life satisfaction, says Margarita Tartakovsky, associate editor at PsychCentral.com. When you can focus on the positive aspects of this personality trait, it will be easier to overlook the times he makes the family late to dinner at a friend's because he needs to make certain that his khakis don't have the slightest wrinkle.
2. Give Feedback
Your partner may not be aware that she is behaving in a manner that you find difficult to live with. After she has insisted that the two of you take on credit card debt so you can upgrade the two year old furniture in the living room, talk to her. Let her know that while you appreciate that she is concerned that her family and friends will judge her for not being on trend, it is more important to you that the two of you stay within the budget. Sit down and work out a compromise, such as having the furniture cleaned, that will help to satisfy her perfectionistic urges without making you a victim of them. Keeping your marriage open to the idea that you influence one another to grow together will put your marriage on a path to equality, says psychologist Shauna Springer in a September 2012 "Psychology Today" article. Gradually, you'll move into a place of acceptance, while your spouse begins to feel more secure.
3. Stand Your Ground
If your spouse wants to spend all morning cleaning the grout in the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, support his efforts, but don't give into his insistence that you join him if you'd prefer to spend the time going for a jog or taking some time to relax. While a taskmaster perfectionist will likely be annoyed that you are not equally concerned about the brightness of the grout, this is his problem, not yours. He can only affect you as much as you allow. Stand your ground and use your time to do the things you feel are important.
4. Build Your Esteem
While your perfectionist wife may be uncomfortable going out in public without makeup and perfectly manicured nails, you're just fine with throwing on a T-shirt and jeans and heading to the home improvement store 10 minutes after jumping out of bed. If your spouse nags you or belittles you because of what she perceives as slovenly habits, you'll need to work on building your self-esteem. Surround yourself with friends who affirm your worth, so that the next time she says that you look like a slob, you can smile and continue on your way without feeling the urge to argue or becoming depressed.
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