How Making The Bed Tarnished My Marriage

How Making the Bed Tarnished My Marriage

How quickly unmet expectations lead to discontent.

For years I held up my parents’ marriage as the closest to perfect I had seen. They rarely argued, and they had a routine I grew up admiring as idyllic. At night they went to bed together, and in the morning they rose together.

As their feet simultaneously hit the floor, they would begin to make the bed together, one on each side, while they quietly talked and greeted the morning. I absorbed this utopia as a girl and walked down the aisle with it embedded in my bride’s heart.

But my husband and I didn’t make the bed together.

From our first day at home with my hubby after the honeymoon, I started a pattern of household dissatisfaction that plagued my marriage for years. I’m a morning person, but Barry is a night owl. Not only does he not care about the bed being made (while I’m absolutely addicted to the perfect feeling of slipping your feet into smooth sheets at night), he is too bleary in the morning to care for either conversation or feet meeting the floor in synchronization. He prefers the snooze button and a cup of coffee before any words or activity.

Only recently did I confess to Barry that for more than fifteen years I clung to my hyped-up mental picture of perfection, scorned his uniqueness, and blamed him for our marriage’s not reaching its full potential. He was shocked because for all those years, I had kept my perfect picture locked in my head, never telling him of my petty unhappiness.

Instead of embracing our new patterns as a unique couple, I resented Barry, flooding our relationship with an underlying current of discontent.

How had I let getting the bed made affect the way I viewed my whole marriage for almost two decades? As I pursued the perfect pictures in my head, my perspective got twisted, but my ideal of perfection wasn’t even real.

I had pinned my dreams of a flawless marriage on a symbol I created. Yes, my parents make the bed together, but their relationship isn’t perfect. They simply have different issues than Barry and I. Holding on to what I thought would be “perfect” actually hurt my marriage.

Maybe making the bed isn’t part of the picture of perfect in your mind. Maybe it’s dustless surfaces or tidied rooms or pre-planned meals. There are hundreds of household tasks where discontent can settle.

It’s easier to blame others than to take a hard look at difficult truths about ourselves.

Often, we perfectionists cause great harm by clinging to carefully constructed images rather than embracing our beautifully flawed realities. Another term for “carefully constructed images” could be “unrealistic expectations.” Any time we assess the angst we’re feeling over a less-than-perfect circumstance as someone else’s fault, we have probably gotten off track.

Relationships shatter when we value perfection over people.

In contrast, Jesus sets the example for right priorities. He talked to a woman who touched His robe for healing while He was on the way somewhere else. For friends, He chose people others cast off– tax collectors, women, and sinners. He fed five thousand people with multiplied scraps of a little boy’s lunch.

Jesus always valued people over perfection.

My husband is modeling this choice to humbly be like Jesus in a way that tickles the recesses of my neat-girl heart. Just yesterday, he returned from a business trip. That night he went to bed with me, and the next morning I heard his feet hit the floor in tandem with my own. Barry stood, winked, and said, “I missed you while I was gone. Let’s make the bed together.”

I grinned from ear to ear as we worked together that morning, but that’s not the best part.

As we went our separate ways moments later, I realized that I no longer expected or required Barry to mold into my ideal image. Our relationship is far from perfect, but it’s finally free from discontent.

I don’t see him as an obstacle in our home. Jesus helped me break up with those expectations years ago. Although it was sweet to have a partner smoothing the sheets with me, it was much sweeter to know the door had been slammed shut right in Perfect’s face.

This post is adapted excerpts from Amy Carroll’s new book Breaking Up with Perfect. There are some fabulous freebies available through July 21 with book orders, and you can check them out by clicking here. You can also read more of Amy’s hard-won lessons about perfection by subscribing for FREE to Five Days to Himperfection: Finding a Better Than Perfect Path.


  1. Nice post. Agree completely that locked ideas of perfection can do a great deal of harm to marriage or any relationship, really. Stopped by via Wake Up Wednesday. — Amy

    • So glad you visited! You’re so right. I started really examining the problems with my perfectionism when I starting wrecking my friendships. Relationships shatter when we pursue perfection over people.

  2. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says

    I think the fact that we were complete opposites in every sense of the word is the exact reason it didn’t work out with my ex husband.

  3. I so needed to read this today! So true!! I have to remember that people come first and other things are just.. things and they can wait!

  4. Your statement, It’s easier to blame others than to take a hard look at difficult truths about ourselves – is so true. It warms my heart to read that you are on the same page now.

    We can harbor the “dream” and let it mess our reality up if we are not careful.

  5. I needed to see this right now. I’m not a perfectionst normally but we are trying to sell our house and it’s like I’ve turned into a monster! I know I’m driving my hubby crazy and this is a great reminder to take a breath.

  6. Every couple goes into marriage with different expectations. Problems rear their ugly heads when we let those expectations take over. Good post!

  7. What an important lesson to learn. I’ve also dealt with disappointment with my spouse over superficial things like not making the bed. Our marriage grew so much better when I let go of what I thought a perfect marriage looked like and focused on how I could best serve as a helpmate to my husband. Thankfully I learned before it caused irreparable problems in my marriage and today I wonder why those little things were such a big deal in the first place.

    • Isn’t that the truth? When I look back, I feel silly for making bed-making such a big deal in my mind. My mom laughed too, because she couldn’t believe that I had admired that part of their marriage so much. She pointed out that even my idea of “perfect” wasn’t based on reality.

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