Why It’s Time To Let Go of Perfectionism in Your Marriage

Are you a perfectionist? Is your spouse? Although perfectionists tend to pride themselves on their meticulousness and attention to detail, those of us who experience perfectionism often find that the people around us don’t necessarily uphold our ideals. And in a marriage, perfectionistic tendencies can create major strain.

Today, we’re breaking down a few reasons why it’s time to let go of perfectionism in your marriage. Let’s dive right in.

1. Perfectionism triggers unnecessary stress.

Expecting perfection in one or more areas of life and marriage sets us up for unnecessary stress. Stress, in turn, can negatively impact our health. It also strains our closest relationships–especially our marriages.

Modern life is stressful enough as it is, especially during uncertain times. What couples need right now is to focus on de-stressing, not piling more on. If you find yourself agonizing over things, down to the tiniest details, it’s time to reevaluate what you’re worried about.

A great exercise is to ask yourself whether this issue is going to matter in a week, a month, or a year. Then, adjust your perspective accordingly.

2. Perfectionism turns us into control freaks.

Perfectionism makes us controlling–whether or not we want to admit that. When we want things just-so, that naturally extends to the people around us. Suddenly, we are concerned with whether those people are doing things our way, too.

When we’re worried about others executing on tasks and responsibilities in a specific way, we become controlling of their methods and their behaviors. And when we act like control freaks, that makes the people we love resent us. That’s not a dynamic you want in your marriage. You and your spouse will be dealing with long-term problems if you’re hung up on perfectionism now.

Remember, perfectionism is relative. Your idea of perfect might not be someone else’s. In fact, your perfect might not be perfect at all–it may just be a reflection of your personal preferences.

3. Perfectionism creates unrealistic expectations.

If we’re perfectionists, and we’re stressed and over-controlling, we also tend to form unrealistic expectations for the people around us. Then, if they don’t meet those expectations, we resent them. Eventually, our relationships break down under the strain.

Try this: evaluate the expectations you have for your spouse. Are these expectations realistic? Are there some that can be adjusted, relaxed, or let go of altogether? Letting go of certain expectations can lift a tremendous amount of strain and pressure from your relationship.

Wrapping up

If you and your spouse need help navigating perfectionist habits, check out our book, The Control Freak. It’s a great resource to help you get started addressing your perfectionism.

Have you and your spouse dealt with perfectionism in your marriage? How did you weed it out? What safeguards did you put in place to prevent any issues that may arise from it? Let us know in the comments!


  • Gary Jones says:

    I think the consideration of this issue applies to a relatively few number of people and I would like to see a study on the sample size of that cross section. As a marriage counselor, I’ve never had anyone say “Yes, he communicates but he doesn’t do it quite right.” Or, “Yes, we have sex but it’s not quite the right way.” Or, “Yes, we have a budget but I don’t like the way we have formulated our life goals.” I have found that the observance and application of interpersonal needs in a relationship is more often totally overlooked or misunderstood than over scrutinized or analyzed.

    • Nicole says:

      I am definitely a perfectionist in a lot of ways, but I never would’ve realized it in my marriage, because it doesn’t show up the way you said about “it’s not quite right”.
      It shows up more in “the kitchen is a mess AGAIN – pull your weight!” When in reality it’s just a wrapper or two on the counter and a spatula on the stove. Or I am very frustrated if goals are almost attained but not quite, even if the reason things weren’t done perfectly was totally reasonable (example: a long work day keeps a home project from being finished.).
      I think it just shows it’s head differently for different people.

  • Jeremy Tusant says:

    I’m a neat freak, my work desk not so much, but my bedroom, my kitchen and the floors in my house I find I’m picking up quite a bit. I do have 2 young special needs kiddo’s that are experts at making messes, but I have 4 other older kids that can assist. My lovely wife is ok with the messes, I on the other hand find that I’m too stressed over these things. It stresses out my wife when I go into tidy mode. I also find that I want my kids to develop the same focus I have in keeping things tidy. I don’t want to come across as only concerned with tidiness, but I do want them to develop that habit of picking up after themselves and keeping things uncluttered. I sometimes think I’m wanting perfection in this area, so I have to control my responses and just maintain being the ‘example’.

  • Ditto says:

    Probably most people are not control freaks in all areas of their lives. As Gary commented, we often neglect big issues. And as Jeremy said, he gives himself slack on his own work space. I think most people, though, have one or some areas where they (we) want things done MY perfect way. Imposing MY perfect way on others leads to conflict, criticism, anger, anxiety…all kinds of negativity. Let’s aim for bringing the character of Jesus to our families.

  • Julia Adams says:

    I have read all the comments thus far and as a recovering perfectionist, I can say that for me it’s more a matter of when I feel the need to control my environment it is directly related to the fact that there are areas in my life that I can’t control so I begin needing to do something productive giving me a sense of accomplishment; finishing a project (also a distraction) organizing something ie; bills, closet, drawer etc…
    My need to control others is something else I work on. Most of my need in this area is to be of help (as in a mothering way)….eating healthier, being proactive, streamline the household or work place. I’m praying that I can let go and let God and just pray for others and lessen my expectations of myself.

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