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help with perfectionist husband


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I'm hoping someone has some words of wisdom, or at least cheer. I've been very depressed lately about my husband. He is a very tough to deal with perfectionist. I'm very type B, he's very type A. He never hits the snooze button, has an amazing work ethic, etc. If you did ten things wrong, he wouldn't miss the chance to criticize or complain about a single one, and would probably throw in an eleventh criticism just for good measure. You could do ten things well, and he wouldn't say a word about any of them.


I made invites today for a party we had talked about having. We just moved into a new neighborhood, and have some really great neighbors, and lots of kids for our kids to play with, etc. I was really looking forward to having music and a house full of people, because being around friends makes me happy, and even moreso lately because being around him just makes me anxious and sad.


He nixed the idea of inviting any neighbors to this party because the house isn't good enough. Since moving in two months ago, we have gorgeous red oak floors throughout, new ss appliances, new granite counters, the whole place has been painted in great colors, new home theater, we've decorated for Christmas and so on. He said he wanted to "have some area rugs first, and the bookshelves don't look right" where they're currently set up, so no neighbors could come. The kids were disappointed, and when he said it I just literally felt my heart sink and had to walk away to cry.


We argue about housework. He'd like to walk into Martha Stewart central everyday. I'm not a slob, the dishes aren't always put away, and with 3 kids there's always laundry hanging around, but I also don't put a house that looks like a showpiece at all times on the top of my priority list. In the past, when I've knocked myself out to clean, he hasn't said a word. I think that makes me avoid doing things even more, because it seems like there's no point. When he's stressed, he cleans more, works harder, looks for things to fix, when I'm stressed I tend to shut down. He thinks he's not doing anything wrong because his form of escaping is at least productive, but to me, it's still an escape, so just as unhealthy.


When he said no to the party, I felt like my heart broke. I think because I looked at that day as my last chance to have fun and be happy before CHristmas. Any advice?

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Yikes. He sounds less like a perfectionist than a hyper-critical, neurotic ball of nerves.


I'm a neat freak, too, but frankly, he's going over the top wrt to what other people think of him. He's probably stressed about all the changes in his life, and rather than talk it out of release tension in healthy ways, he's trying to tighten up control on his environment. He's losing sight of his priorities.


First of all, you guys need to sit down and have a serious talk about what each of you values, and work out a plan for managing both his stress (by having a more orderly environment) and your stress (by having more relaxing family and friend time). This is a completely solvable problem--you guys absolutely must set aside two hours and talk this out in a calm and non-hostile way, without criticizing, anger, or tears.


You don't want to totally buy into his 'perfect or nothing' attitude, but at the same time, I can point out that there are some things you can do to keep his 'at home' stress level lower. A dirty or messy house can send me over the edge when I'm stressed at work. These may seem crazy to you, but I really can't completely relax until things are orderly. I don't love this about myself, but it's just true. Even small things help a lot. Can you do a better job at keeping the laundry out of sight (even if it's just all in one place it's better), and suggest that you guys hire a cleaning service to do a deep clean once a month? Just knowing that things are, if only briefly, all clean at the same time can be calming. (I sound like such a freak.) Also, maybe get a chalkboard or whiteboard for the kitchen/utility room with a list of chores for certain days, and check boxes next to them ~ When he has a list in front of him that he can look at, it may matter less that the garbage is getting full NOW because he knows that it will be taken out tomorrow.


I'm not really taking his side, though. My suggestions are pragmatic only. His criticizing you and everyone all the time is a huge problem that he needs to get under control! This is poisonous to a relationship.


Would he be up for couples counseling (you don't have to frame it as 'fixing', but rather as 'optimizing')?

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He sounds like more of a control freak to me. He controlled the party by saying that the house "wasn't clean enough." Sounds like it probably could never be clean enough.


He disappointed the kids, and that right there is a big problem.


You need to somehow get it accross to him, that his behavior is very damaging.


How to do that? Would he listen, if you tried to explain? I wonder, since he didn't notice your disappointment.


You shouldn't have just walked away --- you should have stood up to him, for your kids' sakes, and said,

"The house looks fine, we've already told the kids. We're having the party."

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Wait a minute, have you been spying on me? You and your husband sound just like me & mine. I put my foot down a few years ago and told him that I wasn't Martha Stewart and he knew that BEFORE he married me so if he didn't like how I kept the house, he'd better get off his behind and clean it himself. It's not like our house is nasty-dirty, it's clean but cluttered.


I say have the party. What's the worst he can do? If he's that concerned about what the neighbors think, I highly doubt he'd make a scene or anything. If he's that unhappy with how the house looks, tell him he's not invited ;D Trust me, when people see the floors, appliances and countertops, they won't even notice the bookshelves or area rugs. Seriously, though, I think he's my husband's long lost twin brother because they sound EXACTLY the same....

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Yikes...this would drive me nuts. You are on the right track....you have three kids and your house is your home, not a showpiece. You said that the two of you had already talked about the party. Is he ready to go ahead with that, just not with the neighbours? You need to let him know that the kids are disappointed. They are in a new neighborhood and need to get to know the kids there. Why does he get the final say on this? Maybe you could call a family meeting, so that he has to hear everyone's opinion. He really does sound like a control freak to me....you need to strengthen your backbone or you're setting yourself and your kids up for years of this behaviour. If he refuses counselling, go on your own.

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I think that, one other thing to remember is that you cannot fix this tendency in him. So, after accepting that fact, you must decide how you're going to cope with it.


Are you going to let him run the house with his no's, or are you going to detach yourself from his perfectionism and know that it is all about him and not about you?


And also, you know that you can never please him, so accept that and liberate yourself from trying so hard. Just do what is reasonable, which should not be a problem, since you are already doing so. If you're going to stay in the marriage, your kids will need to see that their dad is being unreasonable, and you'll have to show them that by your actions and example.

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You are letting a tyrant rule the roost!


First, it is YOUR house as well as his... since when does he get to decide that you won't have a party?? You have to fix the power balance in this relationship so that you stop allowing him to act as a PARENT rather than a husband (and a critical parent at that).


You have to sit him down and talk to him about the fact that it is BOTH your house, and he is draining the joy from your life. And plan a party anyway, whether that is a daytime party for your kids and their friends and your friends, or whether you feel strong enough to assert your own rights and have a party in the evening for the neighbors and too bad if he doesn't like it.


he would have a point if you were partying all the time, but you are just wanting to do a NORMAL thing and he is draining the fun out of it and forbidding it like a parent.


i would really suggest marriage counseling in this case because you have such different styles, and need to learn how to get your needs met. and he needs to learn how to relax! he will NEVER think you are ready to have a party because there is always something one can do to decorate a house 'more' or 'better', or else he is just bullying you because he doesn't want one. people have parties in empty houses, or tiny apts., whatever, it is about having fun and the PEOPLE at the party, not the house itself!

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I'm sorry but I have to agree wholeheartedly with the sexy phreckled one. I would not only take a close look at him, but take a close look at yourself and your self esteem. What would happen if you threw the party anyway? Why can't you guys compromise? If you aren't getting the love and support that you need within this relationship why are you still here? For the children? Hmmmmm..... remember your children see, hear and feel more than you think. If you can't be happy for yourself do what it takes to be happy for them. You don't want sons to grow up to be controlling like their father or daughters to grow up to be controlled. This is about more than just you. It's about the children as well. I believe that's it better to live in a broken home with peace, love, happiness and respect than to live in a house together with none of them.


Just my $0.02.



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  • 10 years later...

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT KIND OF HUSBAND I HAVE. I am looking for what I can call his illness. I don't know if it's mental illness or what. I've been married to him for 10 years and I am still trying to understand him and I am still not get used to it. I always tell myself it's okay. When he is mad I always tell myself it's nothing personal, (but how come not I am his wife and our relationship is very PERSONAL) or I will tell myself he just had a bad day at work, but then when he treats me so bad and the phone rings his tone ( nice and laughing) will change when he talks to other people or co worker or he will like treat me like garbage in front of other people.


In the past, when I've knocked myself out to clean, he hasn't said a word. I think that makes me avoid doing things even more, because it seems like there's no point. When he's stressed, he cleans more, works harder, looks for things to fix, when I'm stressed I tend to shut down. He thinks he's not doing anything wrong because his form of escaping is at least productive, but to me, it's still an escape, so just as unhealthy.


I freaking do this too and I feel the same too. Everybody says hes so lucky to have me but then he don't appreciate me. If he ask for help i will help him but when i ask for little favor he is annoyed. My bestfriend told me he have napoleon syndrome and perfectionist. I told him to go Psychiatrist too and he don't want too. Some people said because of his appearance it made him insecure, the "being perfectionist" is like his coping mechanism or his way to deal with things.


He never calls me pretty or compliment me. people do, strangers do some men even do, even in front of him they never hold back. It hurts when other people gives you gazillion compliments and not your own husband. Funny when I'm with him I'm so unimportant but when I spend my time and give time to other people he gets jealous and he wants me by himself. He could get mad and pick on anything and everything.


The only thing that actually helps me is any kind of diversion. Find something that you will like and want that will actually make you more tolerable of him when you get home. e.g. new things, new hobbies or maybe new man?


Goodluck to you girl.

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