Being Okay With Being Imperfect

The more I look at woman’s lives, the more aware I become of the burden of perfection most women carry. Of course, men struggle with this too, but it seems women have it far, far worse. Women are more self-critical about things, including exceptionally minor stuff and things they have no power to change.

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Are men putting this on women? For the most part, I would say no. I see a lot of women who are far harder on themselves than their husband has ever been. I also talk to a lot of men who wish their wife was not so hard on herself. 

If this behaviour is not, for the most part, put on women by men, then where do they get it? They get it from their mothers, sisters, and the other women in their lives. They learn it growing up, and they learn it so well they don’t even think about it; it’s just how life is.

Can a woman escape this? God help the woman who tries! She will be attacked by other women and beaten back into submission. This is how women are to be, and anyone who refuses to play must be punished until she gets back in line. Uptight, self-hating, self-abusing women don’t want to be confronted by those who are free of these things. If they can’t shame “free women” back into self-imposed emotional slavery they will spread lies and innuendo to discredit her.

If you think I’m stating this too strongly, tell me. But it’s what I see from the outside looking in, and plenty of other men would say the same.

So how do you change it? Thoughts? I hate what this does to the women around me, including my wife, my daughter, and my daughter-in-law. I hate what it’s going to do to my granddaughter as she grows up. I want to see it change for all these ladies and all the rest of you.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I think Satan hates women more than he hates men.

Check this Out3 Ways Men Communicate Differently than Women | Dave Willis 

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40 Comments on “Being Okay With Being Imperfect

  1. I guess the textbook answer to your question on how to change this is to know who you are in Christ and to have reasonable boundaries, margins, and expectations. I marvel that my husband can watch marathon TV guilt free, but I can’t justify a much needed nap without loads of guilt that I ought not to be lazy and get more work done. I am in awe that hubby has no qualms about dropping $100 in one shot on his hobby but I feel guilty if I spend $5 over the grocery budget because our kids asked for grapes and strawberries. After all, I should be able to make do, do more homemade, pinch somewhere else to make up the difference. It boggles my mind that my husband can eat what he wants, wear what he wants, and parade around the bedroom naked in all his dad-bod glory with no body image issues while I carefully count calories, deny myself goodies, exercise nearly every day, and still feel like I am losing the body battle. He can watch whatever he wants on TV. If I watch it, I feel guilty that I watched something ought not to as a Christian or I get vicious nightmares. We have a fight and he sleeps like a baby while I lay awake crying, praying, and trying to figure it all out.

    A friend of mine invited me over to help with chores. She is behind on her chores, and offered some tea and time to chit chat, but made a comment how it is sad that we ladies can never justify just leaving the mess to the men and going out to have some girl time fun, but the men have no problem leaving us to the kids and the chores while they go out and spend scads of money doing unnecessary things for themselves. And she has a career and her own paycheck to do what she wants with. I am a stay at home mom with no income and no allowance or discretionary personal fund. I have to sell my personal possessions to get a little mad money, but usually end up buying something needful for the kids. Let’s see, underwear for Johnny or a lunch with my gal pal. Sorry, girlfriend. Johnny needs paw patrol undies.

    The mom expectations and mom guilt is heavy. I honestly feel like if I indulge or care for myself or have fun or do something for me that God will punish me for it. I will be seen as careless and foolish with His talents and we will fall farther into debt. This is often “proven” by the times I have indulged and something suddenly goes wrong. After months of guilt struggle I finally buy that chocolate bar….and the car breaks down. After years of trimming my own lifeless tangled hair I go to the salon for a $20 shampoo and cut, and the furnace stops working. Every. Single. Time I finally muster up the courage to care for myself, something big breaks. Something bad happens. But, hubby? He can go on a week long fishing trip with the guys and it is no big deal. I run to the grocery store by myself and it is like WW 3 when I get home.

    • @libl – I’m so sorry for the battle you find yourself in. Change is difficult and multifaceted. Even when a man sees the problem he usually feels unable to do anything about it because it seems his wife has locked herself into it even though she hates it.
      Men who decide to change what they do, especially doing more for their wife, eventually see a change, but often they have to stay with it a long time and sometimes they have to deal with backlash from their wife as she may fear what horrible things will happen if he does more.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

      • Your statement “locked herself into it” really resonates with me. Yes, it would be wonderful if hubby turns off the TV and goes up to bat for me, but ultimately, change needs to start with me unlocking the door to this chaos.

        • It sounds to me like your husband is a bit too controlling. There should be a balance between the needs of the household and the needs of each individual and it sounds like he is putting his needs (read as wants) above the rest of the house. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your own possessions for a haircut while he fishes all weekend with friends.

          • @TB – It does sound as you say, but it may not be that simple. He could honestly not see it. He might see it to some degree but have no idea what to do about it. Or, he might have tried to do something about it in the past and gotten a bad reaction, so he just gave up.
            I don’t know that any of these is in play for libl, but I’ve seen all of them in marriages. Whatever the issues, it starts as libl said, with her. Yes, he has a part to play, but if she’s not ready for that it’s not going to work. She is the one who can change the status quo.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

            • I think it is two fold. He partly doesn’t see and he partly doesn’t get it. For example, when the kids were really little he refused to watch all of them at once. I was desperate for some alone time and told him he gets to leave the house whenever he wants, but I don’t. He countered with, “I have been trying to get you to go out and do something forever!” I retorted, “How?! Are YOU going to watch the kids?” I went on to tell him how he can leave whenever, often without warning or even telling me. He can go for weekends, all day, into the evening with no worries because he has a built in babysitter, me. I don’t have that because he wouldn’t watch the kids.

              In his world because he had the freedom he didn’t get that I didn’t.

              He thinks just because I have access to the bank account, I have discretionary income. I do not. Everything he makes is accounted for. He has the freedom to work overtime or freelance to earn extra for a fishing trip. I don’t have that freedom. I don’t have someone regularly watching the kids and doing housework so I can earn $$ for myself.

              Part of it is the season of life I am in and our extenuating circumstances of medical debt. Part of it is he is selfish. I got nothing for mother’s day, but he dropped nearly $200 on his hobby. If I want a pedicure but he wants me to have a bathrobe, I get a bathrobe.

              When the kids are old enough, I am considering getting a job and going on a (non sinful) bender to make up for lost time.

              • libl,

                I recall those days when the kids were small and hubby was unwilling (for whatever reasons, maybe fear) to watch them all alone. It was not easy, for sure. I also felt as you do about finances: that even though I have access to the checkbook, I didn’t feel free to spend it on myself, even if hubby encouraged me to. All purchases for me were made jointly, even clothing.

                Going back to your first post regarding guilt, I wonder if somewhere in there your decisions may be based on fear? Fear that next week the car will blow a tire, the washing machine will fail, or someone will get sick, making you regret spending money on something that feels “leisurely.” Please do evaluate the reasons for your decisions. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

                On the subject of “leisurely” or “me-centered” activities or spending, the world can tell us over and over again that we should spend time re-charging, but there is something built into women that keeps our focus on others. On the one hand, this makes us excellent caregivers for our needy young children or elderly family – a real gift from God! On the other hand, it makes it very difficult indeed to feel okay about an occasional splurge.

                On body image, I see the world changing the bandwagon slowly. Celebrities are refusing to allow their likenesses to be photo-shopped, for example. Celebrating this trend publicly is a great way to help women of all ages to free ourselves from negative body image thinking.

                Other things we can do for each other: refuse to buy or browse magazines and shops which promote false ideals to which a majority of women could never attain. Compliment your friends, always say that nice thing that you’re thinking – and say it out loud to them and in front of others. “I love your blouse! Where do you shop?” “You are so gentle with your family, and it inspires me.” Men, please do say these things to your wives. Tell them how beautiful they are to you, even if it is hard for them to believe it. (Please avoid anything that appears to be comparison, as we do more than enough of that to ourselves.)

                I hope this is helpful. I am still working on all these things myself. :)

  2. Well, this certainly resonates with me. One nice thing is that my husband notices and tells me that I am quick to criticize myself and find fault with whatever I’ve done. Before we married, I suspected it would be a struggle for me to be around his relaxed, ‘grasshopper’ style while I worked away, ant-like. That has been true. My mantra remains, “A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.” Why is it never done? Because my work, in my viewpoint, isn’t done until the house is spotless, pantry stocked, clothes washed, folded and put away, etc. etc. I really have to work with this so I don’t become resentful, and it helps that I told my husband quite frankly, before we married, that I knew from my past history that if I am washing floors and he is sitting on the couch reading, I would be resentful and we would need to figure out how to deal with it. Between his sweet, gentle nature and my not wanting to be ‘that wife’, it’s worked so far, nearly two years later. Because, who does want to be ‘THAT wife’?

    I do want to point out that it is precisely my perfectionism and self-critique that makes me work to not be ‘that wife’!

    • @Lynn – Of course men’s work is never done either, but if we don’t live where we work it’s easier to set it down for a time. And I think our brains are wired to do this more easily anyway.
      What if you set a quitting time, and nothing short of a full on emergency would get you to “work” past that time? If you could get hubby to back that, it would be huge.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

      • I keep holy the Lord’s day, and believe me, it’s a struggle not to throw in a load of wash or clean up that kitchen floor!

      • Quitting time is such a good idea! I started doing this when I had babies, and it really helps. I try to work diligently throughout the day, and once they go to bed (early, like 7pm most nights), I’m done. After their bedtime, I do things that I enjoy doing, like reading or doing something with my husband. Of course, if I feel like I want to do something “work,” I’m allowed to do that too. :) Sometimes time spent baking in the kitchen or watering plants is relaxing!

        • @E – Work is an interesting thing. What one person considers drudgery another finds relaxing or healing. If it builds you up, go for it after work hours even if it contributes to your work!
          Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

  3. The burden I carried was not so much that everything must be perfect, but that everything is my responsibility. After 35 years of marriage, I’m learning otherwise. Constantly working and constantly criticizing ourselves can become a form of idolatry. My vision of God’s creation (male and female he created them) is one of true partnership, and that partnership includes rest and refreshment. We honor God when we treat ourselves well.

    Another gift that comes with this stage of life is the courage to be honest with myself (and others) about my needs and desires as opposed to doing what I think others expect and being concerned about what others think. What they think is none of my business.

    • @IntimacySeeker – Allowing others to put things on us never ends well. Much of what we think we put on ourselves has actually been put on us by our family of origin or society.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

  4. Paul, I think you are stating this close to perfectly. Not too strong, and not wrong. I agree Satan hates women. He hates humans and women bear children. I heard that in a Sunday school class once. Not sure if it’s accurate, but it sounds like it makes sense.

    And yes, most of this comes from moms, SISTERS, grandmothers, other girls. My older sister did not like me and reminded me every single day how fat I was (I was actually very normal and quite athletic), how ugly I was, and how stupid I was (skipped a grade, got straight A’s), how no boy would ever like me. It was awful. Not teasing once in a while like siblings do, but over and over, each day, like a mantra. I tried so hard to please her. (This killed my self esteem and at the same time made me work pretty hard.) But I was never good enough. The put downs continued and my parents never did anything about it. My mom and I just started talking about this recently when I got upset and had enough, and she admitted it was wrong but she never knew what to do. No one has ever protected me until my husband – and sadly but thankfully – he has spent years trying to rebuild my self esteem. He loves me so much and cannot understand why I struggle to believe him. It’s getting better but it’s still a lot of work, and God’s love is the only thing that has begun to help.

    And yet, I still HATE my body, my face, and everything physical. I hate mirrors and pictures, although someone convinced me to be in a group photo the other day. That was a HUGE step for me, that I was in the photo and even allowed others to see it.

    For a point of reference, my build is a LOT like Kate Upton. But trust me, that’s not a good thing, so I’m not bragging. Same height, same measurements, same large breasts, same flat butt, and no hips. Similar hair. Of course she is younger and her face is much prettier. I am blessed that most people initially think I’m about 30 when I just passed 40. That’s always cool, but beyond looking young, it goes downhill fast. I have read how ugly most people think Kate Upton is, they say her body is masculine and her butt is the worst kind of butt you can have. They call her hips square and manly and claim she doesn’t even look like a real woman. They call her fat. The comments I have read about poor Kate sound just like what I heard day in and day out. No matter how much I run or do squats, my stupid butt will not grow. I even tried eating junk before, and I started to gain a little weight in my face and waist, but my butt stayed the exact same size! My husband claims he loves me just the way I am. Maybe. But I have read so much to the contrary. He used to love my long, slender legs, but I recently read that men actually prefer short legs and thicker thighs. So I guess I need to cover up this summer! My husband won’t be thrilled, but I’m sure he’d rather not be embarrassed by me. Being a woman and trying to be good enough, quite frankly, sucks.

    I sometimes read a Christian fashion blog, where the author was telling women how to dress their body type. We’ve all heard of apple, and pear, and the author described my body type and called it banana – which I thought was cute, and I proceeded to read her tips. It didn’t take long for a commenter to chime in “I’ve never heard of banana, it’s actually called “boy body type”. Gee thanks lady! Maybe your body type should be called…. Never mind. Turn the other cheek, right?

    Anyhow, yes, women are incredibly tough on one another. Even Christian women.. I am one of the few homeschooling moms I know who doesn’t work outside of the home. So to them, I don’t really work that hard because I stay home with my children. I’m not a gourmet chef, my house doesn’t look like it can win design awards, I’m not a fashionista, I don’t run 15 ministries, and so on and so on and so on. Being a woman, never measuring up, never coming close to measuring up, it stinks.

    Ok I’ll stop! You probably didn’t think the comments would be this long, but you know how wordy we women can be. And hey, you asked! :)

  5. I honestly feel I’ve broken away from a lot of the perfection game, due to certain choices in my life. And it’s the personal stuff I’m better at accepting, i.e looks, place in life, time of life,
    house stuff, stages of children, homeschool, hubby and I’s relationship. I work really hard at each of these, and am always looking to make things ‘good’ better, not the uptight crazy everyone else does. However, you’re right Paul, women are cruel. I can’t tell you how many times I have been conversationally snubbed, or treated as a non-club member. I only have to walk past another woman to feel judgement rolling off, or feel the befuddlement in their eyes as they try to figure out why I’m so dang happy. Is it strange, they can almost smell me coming, or they sniff me out before I even open my mouth? And since they all run as a pack, and since I refuse to go join their unhappy ways, I’ve been blacklisted. I can count the number of my good female friends on one hand. They’re all family, or older ladies who are refreshingly free of this game. I’m always making sure to encouraging them, because it’s okay to not be perfect. And then I smile to myself and revel in my imperfectness. When you accept your imperfection, it’s a profoundly beautiful, freeing thing.

  6. I have struggled with perfectionism and martyrdom regarding my needs and household chores. I have had some success in letting go of these tendencies, but still let myself fall into that trap of the enemy more than I’d like.

    The Word and some great sermons showed me that my perfectionism and self martyrdom are the result of my strongholds of pride, self-reliance and self-righteousness. Admitting to myself that I have these strongholds is really hard, because I’d like to believe I’m not really that bad. But I am and that’s why Jesus had to die for me. I have in the past fallen into the other side of that enemy trap by believing I’m so much worse than others. That’s my pride again. So I’m trying to embrace Paul’s words of 2 Corinthians 12:9.

    When I do manage to be humble it’s a whole lot easier to overlook the insult or to ask for help. I have learned to accept that I have no ground to stand on when my feelings are hurt because I didn’t express my needs. When I have and they still aren’t met, I’m trying to take it to the cross and trust God will deal with it.

    In addition to all the scriptures regarding pride and hypocrisy, I read a book called “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. It’s worth the read to anyone that struggles with perfectionism.

    BTW Remember my comment from your 3/7/16 post? I’ve been praying about that and my dh is making some changes!!! :)

    • @Hiswifeagain – I’ve not read “The Gifts of Imperfection”, but I’m a fan of Brene. Often the battle is in our own minds. People don’t usually work hard to do things for us we don’t think we deserve.
      Glad to hear your hubby is making better use of his time!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

  7. I’m so glad you posted this, because I was just thinking about this very idea. I’m slowly learning to let go of others’ expectations. My main tool is asking myself… “Is X biblically mandated, or is it a cultural thing?” If it’s biblical, then obviously I’m supposed to do that. :) If it’s cultural, it may be wise to do it, but not required. For example, there’s no rule in the Bible about having your dishes done at all times. :) Does having a clean kitchen make life easier? Sure. Is it necessary? Nope. So when we have a bunch of people over, it sometimes takes me a couple days to fully clean up the kitchen afterwards because I’m not willing to stress about it. My mom really gets on my case about that, but since she doesn’t live here, I do what I want. :)

    • @E – Excellent process. As for mom, that kind of thing is something we all have to break free from. It’s not easy, but it sure makes life better for us and those we live with.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

    • You could always tell mom, “you don’t like it, I am happy to have come over and remedy it for me.” ;-)

      • @libl If only it were always that easy! I’ve struggled with these types of things from my mother for years. I’m finally learning how to set boundaries with her. But, that has taken a loooong time and extenuating circumstances to make it happen. A comment like that in response to her giving me a hard time for something she didn’t like, even though the thing had nothing to do with her, would result in nasty comments and an argument that only left me feeling terrible. She wouldn’t have a second thought about it and never realized or cared how it was impacting me. My mother feels like she should be able to say and do anything she wants because she is the mother. If we respond in a way she doesn’t like, we are being “disrespectful” and are not “honoring our mother” as commanded. I fell for this controlling behavior for years. She finally crossed way over the line several years ago, and I had to draw boundaries for my health and sanity. It wasn’t easy to do, but it has been worth it! While things are waaaay better, she still has her moments. Now, I make decisions about when to push back and when to just let it go. There are appropriate times for both.

      • Haha, yeah, that is kinda how it ends up. Usually she just dives right in and does things for me if they bother her (she is very helpful by nature, and she loves to do things for people in general). But I can fall into the pit on the other side of this road… putting off jobs and hoping she will rescue me. Terrible of me either way. :)

  8. I sympathize with a lot of this — I (as my mother before me) really struggle with being good to myself, with feeling like I need to be a perfect cook and perfect housekeeper and perfect hostess and also work full time and also take care of my stepson every weekend. And on and on.

    But I also seriously need to hug my mom for never ever making me feel bad about myself and for telling me to go get a Dr Pepper and hit the mall if life gets too crazy. And for telling me I’m an overachiever and I’m making other people feel bad. (Which isn’t true, but she says it because she thinks I’m awesome.)

    My mom is the best.

  9. I think there is the false perception that we don’t have it together like the other women. Making us feel unworthy (at least me). Never stepping back to see beyond what is just being said/observed at that moment, but looking at the bigger picture.
    I have spent far to much of my life worried about not having it together. I could justify it with so much from the my past. But the reality is at some point, you just have to step back and realize not a single woman out there has it together. Despite what she says or you see. And that’s the truth.
    I am still learning, but now I am only working on what fits for my marriage, my husband, our kids, our budget, our household management, schooling, part time job, and no longer worry about what hasn’t gotten done. I’ve learned most things will still be there tomorrow. !? I don’t spend money on myself. I get frustrated that hubs spends a great deal on him and his hobbies, but the reality is if I were given the same amount to spend, I wouldn’t. And when I do have extra money, I usually buy something for the kids, the man, or other people. Its just how I am, and I not longer feel like there is something wrong with me.
    And for everyone else, I just realize that each family unit is different and whats working for them, would be awful for us. And what works for us, would not work for them. And that’s ok. It doesn’t make us right or wrong. Just different.
    But until one stops believe the lie – it will continue to destroy.

    • @Henri – We see the public face of families – the picture they paint for us.
      Half a dozen times in my life I have gotten close enough to a family to go behind the curtain and see how they really live. It’s never the same as the public face, and sometimes it’s unbelievably different.
      The truth is no one has it together!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

  10. Nearly dying and getting diagnosed with a horrible disease. That’s the answer.

    I’m being serious. Entirely.

    Seeing him hang his head in defeat and have tears run down his face as though he was heartbroken and crushed as I apologized for failing to be a better wife and mother put my entire life in perspective. As you struggle to breath as your nerves in your chest aren’t working right as your head feels like it’s about to explode – and you lose your vision again in one of your eyes and all sensation in your right leg. As you feel your body shutting down, you finally realize Jesus didn’t die so that I wouldn’t be ashamed in front of other women. Jesus died so that I wouldn’t be ashamed of Him and would boldly do His work.

    God did for me what he did for Job – removed fear. There is a “I am dying.” feeling. You can’t describe it unless you’ve had it, but it’s like a fire to your soul. You can’t be the same again. I lost all my fear of death – and with it my fear of other people. I truly felt like I had shackles fall off my arms and scales from my eyes. I see and live entirely differently now. I am liberated. I don’t cower in my house afraid. I carry tracts and openly share the gospel with boldness in parks and everywhere I go. I study how to share the gospel with cults’ or other faiths’ followers. I openly shock other believers who try to preach “friendship evangelism” at me. I smile and say, “I nearly died. I don’t believe in ‘wait and build’. I do plant and sow and reap. Have some tracts to hand out. The fields are white. Let’s get reaping.”

    I horrify groups of women who are not following the “Let your Yes be Yes, etc.” by confronting lying and not allowing it to have a pass – in the most loving way that I can.

    Paul can tell me I’m wrong, but my counsel to fellow women is two-fold. 1. If your husband burdens you with expectations, make him aware of it. If he gives you all the work while he plays, fritters away money and indulges himself, you do him NO FAVORS by letting him get away with it. He is abusing his position as a leader and needs a loving knock upside the head. He will stand before Jesus to account for his headship of the family. Letting him abuse his position without trying to help him see how wrong he is will simply make him lose eternal rewards and cause him shame. “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Saying the hard things is a big part of this. And if he gets angry, if he threatens to leave, if he bullies you, OH WELL!! That’s his decision. Don’t make him despise you by backing down and being a wimp. Lovingly stand your ground and humbly take the counter criticism which you are sure to hear. 2. Speak up with other women. If you lose all your friends and anger your family, fine. Speak with love and charity and goodness and kindness. Obey all that the Lord has said, but speak up and walk in the His Ways. Is it gossip in a large group? I say, “Ladies, I regret that we can no longer have this conversation. It is sinful gossip. Let’s talk about something else.” or “Having another tea is fine, but how about we do evangelism training and go witness to other moms instead?”

    I now have almost no friends, but the friends I do have are so steadfast and firm. The reason I don’t have friends is because I am actually feared by most other women BECAUSE I don’t fear them. But, in times of trouble, they come to me first – while trying to make sure no one else in their circle knows. I have more ministry now than I ever did. All while being more open about my own failures and struggles than I ever have been.

    You will be surprised at the reactions you get. I emailed someone I thought firmly in the “other” camp. She replied, “Your candor is refreshing. Would that all our sisters in Christ had such transparency! I feel a trust in your word that I have in few others. I wish we could fill our churches with honesty instead of all hiding behind facades.”

    In other words, my sisters, we all routinely LIE to each other by misrepresenting who and what we are. That is what a strive for perfection is.

    Be yourself. Be who God called you to be. Be the woman God made you to be.

    Every time, I try to be super woman, my marriage degrades. When I am frank and honest and open and often times failing, my husband’s love seems to skyrocket.

    I believe it’s because Super Woman is her own hero. She is saving the family. And it’s so hard and crushing to her spirit because she has usurped authority and taken a role that God never called her to have. Our husbands want to be the hero. We rob them of their chance for greatness by relegating them to stupid endeavors and unimportant hobbies or pursuits. By reaching out our hands for help, our men get a chance to save us and know that they are important, vital to our lives.

    • @Madeline12 – I have no argument or disagreement with any of what you said. I think a wife has not only the right but the responsibility to challenge her husband when she thinks he’s wrong. Of course, this must be done in love and humility, and only after dealing with the log in her own eye. (And for the record the same applies to husbands.)

      The problem I was hitting in this post, and you seem to get it, is women who are living a lie. Their husband should challenge that lie, but he can’t bring about change unless his wife changes her beliefs. Sadly many men just give up rather than continuing to fight for their wife’s freedom. It’s the path of least resistance, and for many men, it’s the only path that leads to some level of peace in their home. Continuously challenging her self-perception is hard work and it brings a good deal of turmoil.

      I especially liked this part of what you said:

      In other words, my sisters, we all routinely LIE to each other by misrepresenting who and what we are. That is what a strive for perfection is.
      Be yourself. Be who God called you to be. Be the woman God made you to be.

      The last few years I’ve been working hard to “become myself” – to be the man God intended me to be. I’ve talked a good deal about this over on The Generous Husband. Ultimately I have to decide who I will be. Others can help or hinder me, but it’s my choice and I have to do the work.

      I’m sorry for what it took to get you where you are, but I rejoice for what God is doing with you now that you are there.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…There’s A Coupon for That!My Profile

    • Wow, wow, wow. Very good exhortation in your points 1 and 2. I am going to chew on your words for a while. I would only add one point: before speaking to a husband on his leadership, please *pray* for kind, encouraging words and spirit, and that it is according to the Holy Spirit and His partnership. Your case is significantly different from the average woman: you have had a near-death experience and lived to tell of it. As you said, this changed the two of you forever. May we all learn from you!

  11. I have never seen anyone as mean and nasty to each other as girls in junior high and high school.
    They are extremely creative in criticizing, demeaning, and backstabbing other girls in order to “put them in their place”. They can be relentless when in groups.
    I’ve been witness to many young girl’s self esteems being crushed by others of their own kind.
    Many never bounce back and end up carrying their assigned flaws with them their entire lives.

    It saddens me to see the cruelty females are capable of.

    • @Jolie – Yeah, it always seemed to me being a teenage girl was a worse gig than being a teenage boy. A guy beats you up and then leaves you alone, Girls make destroying your life their new hobby.
      BTW, my mother, who was a school teacher, made the same observation about school in the 50’s – so this is nothing new.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Missed It By || That MuchMy Profile

  12. My perfectionism was definitely passed down from my mother. She taught me the “right way” to clean, do laundry, iron, load the dishwasher, cook, make myself presentable, be a good wife, etc. Even in adulthood, she has always expected me to do things the way she does them. If I don’t, I hear about it. Her motives in teaching me these things were always pure, and I’m grateful for all the things she taught me. But, I’ve figured out the “right way” to do things isn’t always the best thing to do or necessarily the way I want to do it. If my husband wants to help me load the dishwasher, it’s not in my best interest or his to tell him the “right way” to do it. Just being grateful he wants to help me blesses us both much more than making sure it was done the way I would do it. Thankfully, I’ve also figured out these are her issues and don’t have to be mine. It’s okay if I chose to do things differently and not as “perfect” as she did or wants me to do them.

    I’m learning to have a “what can I live with?” philosophy because I’ve realized perfection is soul crushing and will always be elusive. I can’t stand to have dirty dishes in the sink, but I don’t mind having a little dust on the furniture. So, the dishes are always a priority, but dusting is not until it gets to a point that I can’t relax unless it’s done.

    I’m also learning to have a healthy balance of caring and not caring what other people think. I no longer tie my self-worth to what others think of me, but I do care about how I treat people and whether or not I do a good job, etc. At the end of the day, I just have to be able to live with myself and know God would approve of my efforts.

  13. I find this discussion fascinating, because many women I know who struggle with perfectionism…got that feeling from men in their lives. Yes, that pressure comes from women, but I’ve also seen it come from dads who don’t express love and reassurance, husbands who don’t help out and expect everything to be done by their wife, boys from the past who gave out subtle messages about what they wanted, and more. There’s also subtle critique when you share a struggle — and your guy responds with problem-solving, as if you’re not doing it right but he could. I know that’s not what’s going through men’s minds, but it often gets taken that way by women who then feel more pressure to perform.

    I’m not arguing with what you said, just presenting another perspective. I personally don’t know if it’s women or men who influence wives to struggle with perfectionism more, or maybe it’s just naysayers of both genders and we need to find positive, godly people. Not to mention finding our value in Christ.
    J. Parker recently posted…Are Women Aroused by Visuals Too?My Profile

    • @J. Parker – No question men are part of it, but I suspect it would continue almost unchanged if men all got their acts together.
      This goes beyond gender, it’s a social dynamic. Those who are oppressed often fear what will happen if one of their group does not follow the rules. The group can become vicious in trying to make everyone conform.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Her Multiple Orgasm PathsMy Profile

  14. I remember a time in middle school when I scored less than an A on a test. I was in tears for a good length of time. I also remember one year receiving all A’s until the last marking period when I received a B+ in physical education. I was very frustrated. I don’t believe these issues were about what other girls thought or imposed on me. I believe they were about my relationship with my father who was emotionally distant except when my sisters and I excelled at school work or in sports. They he smiled and was happy for a few minutes.

    As a married adult, I felt I could never measure up in physical appearance with all the women my husband found beautiful and made sure to comment on. Again, it was the man in my life who I felt I could not make happy.

    I don’t know any women like the ones you describe, Paul. If I did, I would seek out some mature, supportive friends.

    • @IntimacySeeker – Years ago a friend observed that he wife spent a huge amount of time on her appearance when she was going to an event attended only by women. He said he could not recall her ever spending as much time getting ready for any mixed gender event.
      I’ve been to a few events where men were less than 1% of the total crowd, and all the women knew going it that was the case. And yet most dressed to the nines and most played all the games I see when they are in a mixed-gender crowd.
      I’m glad you don’t have such “friends” in your life. Lori does not have such friends either – by her choice.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…On Flying SoloMy Profile

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