Deciding to quit your marriage, no matter how bad it is, is never easy. Australia may have a no-fault divorce system, which means that you don’t need to prove a ‘reason’ for the divorce, the decision to divorce is never simple. Its fraught with fears, doubts and worries and if you’re a perfectionist then you could be stuck in an unhappy marriage for years.
What is it about being a perfectionist that keeps you stuck?
Perfectionists are those wonderful people you meet or may even be one yourself. These are the people that work extremely hard to make all areas of their life look ‘good’. From the outside looking in, they are always well-prepared, look great and always speak about their successes and results. They are deep thinkers and the idea of being wrong or making a mistake or not trying hard enough is intolerable.
Can you relate? Are you a perfectionist?
Over the years I have met many fellow perfectionists. Although we all come from different backgrounds and have diverse experiences in life, we share common personality and behavioural traits.
Below are the 7 signs that you’re a perfectionist
- You stress about how you will appear to others.
- What others think of you really matters.
- You compare yourself and get upset and frustrated when you don’t live up to another’s standard
- Your fear failure.
- You set high expectations on yourself
- You are unforgiving of yourself and others.
- You never give up and never stop trying to make your marriage ‘work’
Is this you?
When we are unhappy or our marriages are on the verge of breakdown, we push harder and punish ourselves for not making our marriages work.
Meet Peter- he’s a classic Perfectionist.
Peter was an A-grade student. He always won academic and sporting awards. When he left university, he joined one of the top finance companies and worked 12 to 14 hours a day to prove that he was worthy of this job. He met Margaret when he was in his mid-20’s and after a few years of dating the relationship progressed to marriage.
At first Margaret and Peter were happy and to the outside world looking they were the “perfect couple”. Young, attractive, with good careers, their future and marriage looked bright. Within a few years however, Peter started to feel pangs of unhappiness.
Although Margaret was a ‘good mother and person’, he wasn’t
connected to her, and most times felt awkward and uncomfortable around her. Peter tried to discuss how he felt with Margaret but each time Margaret either blamed him or shut him down and told him to get ‘therapy’ for “his problems’.
Peter was torn. He kept his unhappiness a secret and never dared to reveal any of his troubles to family or friends. His parents were happily married, and both his brothers were married. He couldn’t face the thought of telling his family that he had failed. The realisation that he had made a mistake and was wrong in marrying was too much to handle. Instead, he remained stuck inside his head, preoccupied with the daily thoughts of unhappiness and indecision.
Peter lived in this state of ‘should I stay or should I go” for two decades. Finally, Peter broke the perfectionist thinking that had held him hostage when he accepted that no matter how hard he tried or what he did, he still felt miserable.
In time Peter let go of his perfectionist thinking and replaced it with progress, forgiveness, and acceptance.
How to overcome Perfectionistic Thinking?
Below are some ways you can overcome perfectionist thinking.
- Progress is better than perfection
- No one is perfect
- Failure is a state of mind, it’s not the truth
- It takes two people to make a marriage happy and healthy
- People may talk about you for a short time, after that they forget and get back to their lives.
- Divorce is an opportunity to grow and be better in life.
- Forgiveness is the way forward
- Action is better than inaction
- Life is not black and white, good, or bad, right, or wrong.
- Perfectionism sets unrealistic and unattainable goals.
The names have been changed to protect the privacy of clients. This information is provided as information and not legal or psychological advice.
For pre-separation or divorce advice, contact the specialist family lawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org