(Nick Galifianakis/The Washington Post)

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My wife and I live by two different schools of thought. I believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right, and put lots of time, energy and resources into things I plan. My wife believes the perfect is the enemy of the good, and will accomplish tasks in a way I feel is slapdash. For example, when she said she would handle finding a dog-walker, she took down a number from a flyer posted in the neighborhood, read some Yelp reviews of the company, met with the walker once, and decided to hire him. I would have interviewed multiple candidates, asked to speak to their current clients, etc.

Our differences make it hard for me to trust her decision-making, which I know makes her feel infantilized. Suggestions, for either of us?

I Would Trust You More If I Didn’t Find Your Methods So Questionable

Wow, you’re just a picnic in pants, aren’t you.

Has your dog been successfully walked by the dog-walker your wife hired? Have your meticulous efforts produced markedly better results in all areas of your shared life? Even in the cases where they did, were the improvements all worth the extra time you invested, since being meticulous about every bit of your household’s business presumably cuts into your leisure time?

And superseding all: Would you appreciate having your wife question your competence in light of your consumption with minutiae?

I suspect not. It’s hard to feel simultaneously loved and judged.

By not recognizing any value in your wife’s way of doing things, you are infantilizing her, not to mention showing her such disrespect that I question your ability to see her as your equal. And, by declaring your way as the “right” one, you’re exposing the tap root of controlling behavior.

Some things are worth doing thoroughly (note I didn’t presume to say “right”), and some just aren’t. And if I were the personal assistant you two hired, I would go to you for items of intricacy and consequence, and I would go to her for stuff that just needed to Get Done. (I’d also probably quit in frustration after a week.)

You can replicate that process yourselves: You read the fine print when skipping it can compromise your safety or cost you time, money or privacy, and she keeps the more straightforward aspects of your lives working efficiently. A full, cooperative, equal-partner marriage is about appreciating and counting on the other’s contrasting strengths. Get started on this now by deciding to delegate; then, avert your eyes.

If you can’t do that, then, please seek counseling from a moderately vetted provider. I’ll let this reader explain why:

As a person on the receiving end of this constant oversight, I can tell you the drip drip drip of disapproval is eroding your wife’s affection for you. I can appreciate my husband’s careful ways (we got a great mortgage rate!), but he has no appreciation for someone like me who knows when it’s just time to pull the trigger and buy some damn sheets instead of endlessly researching thread count. You’ve been warned, husband. Find a way to appreciate her ability to get things done or someday she will leave you.


Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at http://bit.ly/haxpost.