He's a perfectionist, I'm impatient: opposite personalities and DIY paralysis

Two years after my husband and I bought our fixer-upper home, at least 90% of the projects we’d envisioned knocking out in the first few months still sit undone.

And I’m not talking all big jobs, either. There are pictures leaning against walls, waiting to be hung. The trim we removed on day 2 so we could fix up the floors? The floors are now beautiful, but the trim is still missing. The kitchen has been stuck at 97% complete since Christmas, waiting only on a few shelves.

And so on and so on. Everywhere you look there’s evidence of a project that was started but not quite finished, and many dozens more that never got off the ground at all.

My husband and I have very different work styles. Jon is a thinker and a planner. He’ll reflect on the best way to tackle a project for months or even years, then suddenly, things click into place for him and he builds a closet in an afternoon while I’m out of town on business. (True story; happened last week.)

Jon’s slow, methodical way of approaching things can drive me nuts, because I don’t see the thought simmering below the surface: it just looks like he’s not doing anything. But when he finally gets moving, he crosses his t’s and dots his i’s and also takes care of all the t’s and i’s that I missed. Jon can’t be rushed into things, but once he decides he’s ready he’ll tackle whatever it is with amazing determination and attention to detail.

I, on the other hand, am more of a “Why wait?” get-‘er-done type. I want to tackle every room in the house, like, today, even if it means starting before I’ve assembled all the necessary tools or know-how. As you can probably imagine, this approach leads to mixed results.

In most day-to-day tasks, our opposite approaches complement one another. I’m the one who jumps in and (rather haphazardly) gets the dishes done most days, but on the days he does them, he’ll clean the kitchen spotlessly, too. I’ll plan meals and get something on the table 80% of the time, but when he cooks, it’s a feast.

But for some reason, when it comes to home renovations the combination of Jon’s caution and care and my impulsiveness and impatience seem to have led to project paralysis. The problem, I’ve realized, is that I’ve been falling down on my part of the bargain. Whereas I’m usually the one trudging in fearlessly to get the job off the ground and move things along, I’m just plain intimidated by my house and afraid to jump in. A burned meal or a broken dish is one thing, after all; a sloppily painted wall is another.

Or is it? Maybe I’m putting too much importance on getting home renovations just right. Sure, Jon’s the one who more skillfully wields painter’s tape and a level, but that doesn’t mean I can’t learn…or that it’ll be the end of the world if I screw something up along the way. He might be quietly irritated by my lack of attention to detail, but he may also feel relieved at having a few things taken off his plate…even if they aren’t done quite “right.”

I’ve been wanting to paint my office for months, but have been waiting for a good time for him to help me plan the job. But what if I stopped waiting – and just got started?

I think I’ll give it a shot. After all, I’d rather take action than wait around for the time to be perfect.

And if he doesn’t like the way I apply the paint, maybe it’ll inspire him to speed up his process a little.

Thanks for reading my post! You might also want to follow me on Twitter, check out my Facebook page, or head over to my blog, The Happiest Mom!

Article Posted 4 years Ago
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