From Feeling Secure to Making Choices

article top

“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Perfectionist – Why is My Spouse so Demanding?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

My husband and I run a business together and we also have a son. So we spend a lot of time together. When I disagree with him he gets so defensive and he is also a perfectionist, which puts a strain on us. Why won’t he mellow out?


A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Mellow:

When reading a question such as yours, I always keep in mind that in our society many boys are raised to believe that when they grow up they are to be the boss. However, as we know, significant changes have been made over time regarding the attitude of women as the weaker sex, and considerable changes in attitude have allowed the two sexes to be able to constructively compromise with their opinions and ideas.

Nor do I think that defensiveness can automatically be attributed to perfectionism because even perfectionists who feel safe and confident with their knowledge are likely to be willing to compromise an idea for the better of both individuals.

I believe that an inability to compromise is invariably linked to some insecurity because, as I stated above, even perfectionists or geniuses, for that matter, who feel secure tend to be willing to compromise their ideas to preserve respect for the other person. When personal security is in tact, satisfactory compromise is surely within reach.

”Rules – Must I Follow Them?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am 16 and my mother says I always have a choice about whether to follow the rules in the house. I feel like I have to follow the rules, and there is no choice. What’s the difference between doing something because you ”’have to,”’ and doing something because you choose to?

Have To

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Have To:

It would be foolish to think that we can get our way all the time. Life is not as simple as doing what we want to do when we want to do it, and how we want to do it. For the most part in a civilized society, and that could mean a family unit, there must be rules established for everyone to follow. Otherwise there is likely to be chaos.

Choice is a right that we all have and believe it or not, no one can deprive us of this right. However, we must understand that there is always a consequence for our choices, and no matter what we choose, our choice will offer us a consequence. It will either be by penalty or by gratification depending on the choice we make.

Dear Readers:

Answers to questions in today’s column can be supplemented with excerpts from “Yesterday’s Children” (Q#1: p. 5-6; Q2: p. 8) written by psychologists Marti Barham, R.N., Ph.D. and Tom Greene, Ph.D. For more information visit my Web site at

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

”’Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’