Every box in the pantry is perfectly lined up. Bottles in the refrigerator are alphabetized. Nothing is left out of place in the entire house to avoid a meltdown. Fail to keep the kids in line and there’s something wrong with you…or so your perfectionist husband says.
Living with a perfectionist is exhausting, physically, mentally, and emotionally. No matter how hard you try, somehow it’s never good enough. After a while, it’s easy to start believing the rhetoric. Maybe there is something wrong with you.
Friend, you do need to change. But, despite what your husband might say, you don’t need to change who you are. You need to change your thinking. You can’t silence your external persecutor (your husband) but you can silence that internal one (you).
Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). What words are you telling yourself? Are they true? If not, replace your damaging self-talk with the truth of God:
- I am strong. Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
- I am God’s handiwork. Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- I am a child of God. John 1:12 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made. – Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
- God is with me. Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
- God loves me as I am. Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
There are so many more verses you can find about your worth and identity. When your husband calls you lazy or demeans you in any way, simply tell him the truth: “That’s not true.” He can argue but you don’t have to engage in the argument. Know the truth. It will set you free.
God is the final authority on who you are and who you were meant to be, not your husband, not your mother, not your father, not even you. Therefore it’s important to care for what God calls good … you.
Healing starts with you, not with your spouse. Value yourself because God does.
As for his perfectionism, that is his problem. Refuse to walk on eggshells. If he wants things organized perfectly, then he can organize them perfectly. But, you must have a plan in place to deal with his anger. That means boundaries.
Remember, you can’t put a boundary on him. A boundary is for yourself. So, it might look like, “When you yell, I’m leaving the room.” Or, maybe you leave the house. You do not have to subject yourself to verbal abuse! If he gets violent in any way, decide now that you will call the police.
Friend, things will change when you change. And, in case you think this new behavior is not being a “good” wife, it’s quite the opposite. Enabling his sin is not good for anyone in the family, including your husband. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Exposing his sin gives him the opportunity to deal with it, even if that causes him some pain.
Ultimately, it is up to your husband to do his work. You have no control over whether he chooses to change. But you do have control over you. The best thing you can do for your marriage is to do your own work. Decide today that you will think biblically about your worth and value and that you will, in grace and truth, no longer cater to the perfectionist lifestyle in order to keep your husband’s anger at bay.