Married to a Perfectionist

Father and Son

When MrZ and I met, we were both very much Type A Control Freaks. The main difference was that he’s also a perfectionist. I may have wanted it done my way, but my way seemed to always allow for me slacking than his way did. I like to say I was a Lazy Control Freak.

This made it so that over the next 10 years, his way won out more often than not. Because, let’s face it, if we’re both right, but he’s also perfect, then chance are his way is going to be the better option. This has lessened my need for control over the years which is better in many ways since MrZ – in general – has better taste than I do. And the things that he doesn’t care about? Don’t have to be perfect. This is good for me because the things he doesn’t care about? Are the things I do. So I can still do them lazily. Most of my domestic chores, cleaning especially, is done to my standards…NOT PERFECT. This suits both of us because he doesn’t really care about perfection in the Clean House area.

The time this balance does not work? Is when it’s a chore I have to do due to the SAHM convenience, but it’s something he cares about. In other words, he would like to be doing it but can’t because he works in an office. Like mowing the lawn. I do that since I’m at home and I know it kills him I don’t do it in the systematic even smooth way he likes. But you know? I’m doing it. It will need to be done again in a week so no one gets stressed out too much. But it does bother him.

Now we’re at a point where it causes us a big problem: MY PAINTING. MrZ does not have the time to paint the new house. The new house needs to be painted and we’d rather do it before we move in. We can’t afford to hire someone to paint the entire house. And it all has to be done in 11 days. This means I have to do it. And this is killing him. Every time I paint a room I leave behind drips and uneven lines and smudged trim. I try not to, but it’s hard not to when that natural propensity to perfection is not part of your psyche. This means MrZ spends the rest of his life seeing those errors and thinking about them. THEY EAT AT HIS SOUL. Trust me. I painted the bathroom in our old house a few weeks ago and he has reminded me no less than 75 million times that if I wouldn’t put so much paint on the roller it wouldn’t leave drips.

I didn’t care too bad, we’re leaving that house.

The new house, however, I’m trying so hard to be perfect. AND IT’S KILLING ME. First, there are drips already on the walls from the previous painters. Second, this is me and I just am not a perfect painter. I’m trying, I’m trying so hard, but I’m just not perfect. Luckily, we decided the compromise would be to hire someone for the common rooms MrZ would be in a lot and let me do the kids rooms. He can live with errors there since those rooms will get destroyed over the years anyway. But it’s making me crazy because everything he steps near the walls I’m painting I’m already screaming, “Don’t point out the mistakes or I’ll rip your eyeballs out!”

This is me cutting him off before he gets a chance to say: Looks good, Kim.

He’s trying to be nice, but we both know that he sees the errors and my point of all of this? I’ll be happy when we’re done. Then the mistakes are there and it’s his job to live with them. Right now I still have so much to do I’m still stressing about being perfect. In the end? I’m not the perfectionist so it’s impossible to be perfect. Somehow he can do it – I’ve seen his work. No drips. No smudges. Same tools as me. But, he knows he’s lucky I’m doing this so he tries not to say anything negative even though we both know he’s thinking it.


Please tell me someone out there is also married to a perfectionist that knows what I’m talking about? And then let me know if they’ll be will to come paint for me for a few days. Thanks.


24 thoughts on “Married to a Perfectionist”

  1. I think I’m married to Mr Z’s brother from another mother. I too suck at painting and cannot do it without making a mess. Detail work is simply not my forte. So, I’ve followed your plan and leave the painting to him unless it’s in a room that we don’t spend much time in or get an agreement not to bitch about it once it’s done. I also cannot park my car in the driveway according to Mr R’s specifications unless the garage door is closed. He simply doesn’t understand that I have to use that one square on the door to line up the wheels and it doesn’t work with the door open.

  2. I love the picture you put with this, heh heh. Steve and I both hate painting, but the difference is, he’s alright at it and I am *lousy* at it. My painting makes him cry. I make up for it by being expert at scrubbing toilets. I do it so well!!! I’m the only one who can do it, I’m that good! argh.

    Mr. Z can just “pretend” he doesn’t like the colors and re-paint one of these weekends, eh? In all you two’s free time? I’m impressed you’re tackling this, I would not have the fortitude.

  3. Yeah, I’m totally in the same situation as you (including painting of a new-to-is house, only we’re on the other side of that and have moved in and are still trying to settle AND husband took vacation time to get the painting done).

    So I’m no help but yeah, I totally am with you. You’re not alone.

  4. I am so married to a perfectionist, and we’re about to start some painting in our house (finally!), and I’m SCARED! Well, not really scared, but nervous that I won’t paint up to his standards. However, this just allows me to be more lazy, because we’re both dealing with the same amount of free time in which to paint and if he gets fed up enough with me, then I just let him do it. Plus I’m pregnant, so I have that excuse to pull out of my back pocket as needed.

  5. I am impressed that you are taking this on, too. I want to paint some of the rooms in our house but I am too chicken to try it. My uncle helped us paint two bedrooms a couple of years ago and he is the perfectionist in our family. He does a perfect job. I’m more of a perfectionist than my husband, who would just slop the paint on and think it looked fine.

  6. In my marriage I am the perfectionist. I also cringe when you write about letting the kids fingerpaint. Because OMG they have PAINT on their HANDS and it is EVERYWHERE!!! But, about a year ago, that was also the time when I thought, “ya know, that might be fun….” so I let the baby fingerpaint. Those pictures are still in my Facebook album of him. And it was fun. Speaking of which, now that school is out and we don’t have anywhere to be today, that might be a fun activity…. Heaven help me.

  7. I am that perfectionist person. I notice all of the imperfections in our house and it eats away at MY soul!

  8. My husband is the perfectionist in the family, but I’m MORE of a perfectionist when it comes to painting.

    I don’t understand why all the painting MUST be done before you move in. It sounds like you’re needlessly putting so much pressure on yourself. I think if it were me, I’d do as much as I could in some kind of priority order, so that if I couldn’t get it all done, the last few rooms would be ones that could wait. After all, you said that this house is lots bigger than the one you’re leaving. So you could have a couple rooms that you don’t use until they’re painted. Or that get painted by Mr. Z some weekend when he has the time. :p

    Good luck with it all. And rather than continuing to believe you’re a bad painter, look at it as an opportunity to practise, to improve. :)

  9. Oh, the standard of perfection is high in my neck of the woods. My uncle took apart his garage door so that when he painted he could get all the cracks and crevices painted evenly…yes, those bits that are only partially exposed when the door is actually rolling up or down had to be painted without drips or smudges.

  10. Kim – Oh my gosh! You could be my sister. We are so much alike in so many ways! And your husband … well, he could be mine. I’m older than you and I’ll tell you, it does get better … and it doesn’t. I’ve learned not to do those things that are super important to him. I handle so much around the house already, I don’t think he minds. I think your compromise with the painting is perfect and sounds just like something we’d do.

    Best wishes to you in your new house. If you find drips, hang one of your lovely photos over it ;)

  11. I have to wonder if my situation is worse because I’m married to a man who doesn’t give a sh*t. And also doesn’t help me when I paint. And I’m horrible at painting. And he’s tall and I’m short and it would be really nice to get some freaking help already!

    Why is it so hard to paint well?

    I’d like to sign up for a two-four week husband swap with a man who knows how to get things done.

  12. My problem? I am a lazy perfectionist. My motto is that if I can’t (or am to lazy to) do it perfectly, I would rather just not do it. (Leads to a lot of un-done projects and un-organized closets.) It is one reason I hate painting. No drips! I want those edges perfect. Smudges on the ceiling or trim will drive me insane for years. I still can picture the small smudge of terra cota on the ceiling in my house in Pittsburgh (that we sold 3 years ago) because it mocked me daily. But I’m too lazy to tape things off like I should. We end up with me doing the rolling and my husband doing the trip while I point out the mistakes and him challenging me to get off my lazy butt to fix them.

  13. At my house he’s a perfectionist about paint and I’m a perfectionist about everything else. He’s a former professional painter and an incredibly gifted builder, so he does all the home renovation stuff. I’ve learned to live with imperfections and not. say. a . word. because I don’t think it’s fair to criticize someone else’s work unless I’m willing and able to do it instead.

    Mr. Z. can touch up paint later if it’s driving him nuts. And btw, my former-professional-painter-guy hates Behr paint. Something about it causing too many drips or something. :-)

  14. Scott is such a perfectionist, I don’t even offer to help. I go in the room to tell him when dinner is ready or to ask if he wants a beer.
    I helped him paint a room ONCE….that was enough for us!

    At least you get to paint :-)

  15. I laughed really hard while reading this because I’m a Type-A perfectionist too and I KNOW how Mr. Z reacts and how difficult it is to relinquish control. The lawn and walls would mock me too if I couldn’t do it. My poor dad put together furniture for me and I nearly drove him nuts because it wasn’t done perfectly straight, etc. I’m trying to ease up.

  16. My husband is about towels and laundry. No matter how hard I try I can not get the edges to line up….he in one sweep of his hand has it all perfect…..
    Making the bed…same thing. If I do it, it does kill him.

    Here’s to us non-perfectionist in the world. I will have a drink to you!

  17. I am married to a man who is a discriminating perfectionist. As in, some things make him crazy and they have to be perfect.

    Such as the bath towels. Each must be folded the same way, stacked evenly in the closet. Prior to marrying him I thought that having the towels IN the closet, folded, was good enough.

    Now I guess I know differently… it’s a little thing that makes him happy so I do it “correctly.”

    I would LOVE to help you paint but I am a similar painter to you, so I’m guessing that I would be of little help!

  18. All your comments about perfectionist spouses reminded me of something else.

    We don’t have a dishwasher; we do dishes by hand. The routine has always been rinse the dishes and stack them to the left of the sink (there’s about 1.5 feet of counter space). Once a day someone does the dishes. When all 3 kids were at home, they’d take turns doing the dishes, each getting 2 days a week. Now there’s only one kid (a college student) left at home (but generally fewer dishes), so he does them on weekdays and the parents get the weekends.

    If there is so much as one speck of food left on a dish that’s been rinsed and left to be hand-washed, my husband declares that the dish “hasn’t been rinsed.” His definition of “rinsed” is “no visible food particles or liquid whatsoever.”

    I always thought “rinsing” was getting the worst off and loosening the rest, so that when you actually wash the dishes, nothing is caked on. If there are visible specks of food, no big deal, because they’ll come off when they’re washed, right?

    He’ll actually take a brush to a dish while “rinsing,” to make sure it’s properly “rinsed.” And I have to listen to him bitch and moan that “someone didn’t rinse this bowl” or “this dish wasn’t rinsed properly.” Over. and. over.

    I think he’s nuts. What he’s doing isn’t rinsing, it’s washing without soap or detergent. (*rolleyes*).

    So now I never even *bother* to rinse; I just call him to come do it for me.

  19. This is an interesting question. I am most definitely a perfectionist. So much so that I don’t even attempt some projects because I know that I won’t be able to live up to my own expectations.

    My husband is not a perfectionist. But he does things so logically, thoughtfully and precisely that you would think that a perfectionist had done it. But if for some reason what he did (or what ever it is I attempted) doesn’t turn out just right, he is okay with that.

  20. This is so funny, because we just painted the living room last week – and I learned when we painted the bedroom last spring and the kitchen last summer, that my husband is, um, not quite as neat as I am, and it makes me a little crazy. So when we painted the living room, I did the cut work, and he rolled. I can edge a ceiling with a brush and it looks like we used tape – when he does it, it looks like we used a two year-old.

    Tonight he painted the kids’ bathroom alone, and yep, a little messy. But I don’t care because the kids will just make a mess of it anyway, guaranteed.

  21. I am sorry I couldn’t come help u paint. will be the same painting standard as u though (or u just set high standards for urself? ^^ maybe u can hypnotise Mr Z to broaden his acceptable standards or just bribe him? ^^

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