Posted by: Kris Lindsey | May 28, 2011

Editing Life

“Kris, my mother loved me after all.” My friend’s face beamed. She went on to explain that her mother had criticized her all her life. At the writer’s conference we were attending, she realized her mother was an editor, not pointing out faults out of disdain, but trying to make corrections for her benefit. Good news for my friend, but it made me think about my own perfectionism, and its influence on my daughters.

Later, a publishing editor commented on his wife’s misfortune in being married to an editor, because he always focuses on problems. Now this really hit home. How did my perfectionism affect my marriage?

When my husband tells me about his work projects, I frequently give suggestions on alternate ways to do things. I think I’m helping, and ocassionally I am. But sometimes he responds in anger. At first I thought he just wanted to do things his way, but now I see he takes my comments as criticism. He feels I’m questioning his personal competence.

I love editing. My skill in catching typos and missed punctuation marks is greatly appreciated in my writer’s critique group. But when I try to micromanage my husband’s work, sparks fly. We both get upset, and both get our feelings hurt. Few things in life get my emotions down like a fight with my beloved. This pain goes deep to my core.

But I can prevent this emotional turmoil. I can change my ways and stop trying to perfect every detail my husband shares with me. I’m making an effort to let go and let him do his thing. He sees the big picture, and the little changes I would make don’t make a significant difference, anyway. I’m letting him handle his problems, and practicing being content with things his way.

More than that, I’m choosing to adjust my tongue. Instead of suggestions, I’m doling out compliments. Instead of telling him what I think he should do, I’m telling him how much I appreciate what he does. This is easy. He’s a very hard worker. I could never accomplish all he does. I’m extremely thankful to have such a talented, diligent husband, and I need to tell him so more often.

Editing is essential to good writing, but not so much in life. I’m learning that perfectionism, when focused on others, is sometimes received as criticism or rejection. The resulting angst hurts everyone. I want to prevent this emotional drama in my life by lightening up on details and focusing on the good, like God does with me.


  1. Hey Kris, It was fun to work on this with you.

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