T-shirts vs. Sheets: The Control Freak Rises Again

Are you a control freak?

I certainly have those tendencies.

A few weeks ago I posted a review of Karen Ehman’s Let.It.Go book, helping us to let go of that need to control and learn to trust God.

Recently, when doing laundry, I had a vivid reminder of how dysfunctional being a control freak is. You see, it really bugs me to no end how my oldest daughter folds T-shirts. She kind of just balls them up. I know they have to be straight and even so they don’t have wrinkles, and so they fit so nicely on shelves once they’re folded. And they look so pretty that way!

Here are T-shirts that we both folded: hers on the left, mine on the right:


At times I really get on her case about this. “Why can’t you just learn to fold T-shirts right?” She rolls her eyes and sighs and tries again.

But below allow me to show you two sheets, one folded by me, and one folded by her:


Guess which one is hers?

Yep. The perfectly flat one.

See, I don’t really care about how sheets are folded. It’s not my thing. So I don’t even notice that my sheets are all balled up, and her sheets are pristine. But she doesn’t care about T-shirts.

Often when we are control freaks that’s what happens. We freak out about the things that matter to us, and fail to notice that we may be less than perfect in ways that matter to other members of the family. We’re so sure that our priorities are the right ones, and theirs are not.

When I was putting sheets away the other day, after feeling annoyed at Becca for the T-shirts, I glanced her folded ones in the linen closet. And it was definitely one of those “a-ha” moments.

What are you not seeing? Maybe it’s time to give our family a break and agree that everyone’s priorities should be valued, not just our own.

I wrote a column on a similar theme a while ago–Do I See What You See?


  1. Oh my goodness! I NEVER thought about that before! Thank you SO much for this different perspective!! My family thanks you, too!! 😉

  2. Laughing here! We all have our *things,* don’t we?
    Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life recently posted…Mr. and Mrs. Lanza and the Rest of Us: Parenting in the TrenchesMy Profile

  3. I think we all need this reminder, especially around the holidays. Sometimes we get so focused on doing everything “right” that we don’t realize we’re stomping all over the hearts of the people around us.

    I’ve been inspired anew to think about this. Another blogger I know just lost her husband last week in a tragic accident at work. She went on a journey in her marriage to let go of her control freak tendencies and focus on selflessly serving and submitting to her husband, and their marriage absolutely blossomed. They were best friends. She’s heartbroken that he’s gone so suddenly, but she has no regrets. She made the most of every day with him.

    That’s what I want. No regrets. To make the most of every day. When you think about it that way, the little things cease to matter as much. Or they just don’t matter at all. So my husband turned the dishwasher on this morning before my shower and I didn’t have as much hot water. Big deal. He thought of me and ran the dishwasher so it would be done by the time I got downstairs. THAT is what matters!

    This is not me trying to self-promote, but if you would pray for my bloggy friend, she and her four daughters need it. If you want to read her story I linked to her blog in the post attached here.
    Melissa recently posted…Prayers for a friend?My Profile

    • Oh, Melissa, I just followed all the links and that is so sad! It’s wonderful she has no regrets, but it’s still heartbreaking. Maybe if others could click through and leave a comment that might be a bit of a comfort to her.

    • Melissa, I visited her site and commented. I would want to know I was being prayed for in that situation. I’m in tears realizing what she has to go through.

  4. An excellent reminder. Thank you.
    Tricia recently posted…The only thing I’ll say.My Profile

  5. My hubby and I just had a discussion abut this. I too have a “particular” way to fold shirts, jeans and sheets. My husband is left handed and they end up on opposite fold, which irritates me to no end, during THAT time of the month and I HAVE to refold them. However, he has asked me to rotate his underwear as I put them away, so he doesnt wear the same ones out. That is a bit much for me, so I dont. Finally he just asked me to NOT put them away at all, and he will do them himself, so he can do HIS way. This hit me… he has his “particulars” too. I didnt feel so freaky and it gave us both a good laugh.
    Mindy recently posted…Crowned DreamMy Profile

  6. Guilty. For me it’s the towels. The rest of the house could be falling down around me, but there’s something about knowing those towels are organized that gives me peace. Love your take on it!!

  7. This is awesome Sheila!!

  8. It’s funny how we don’t see ourselves as controlling or particular, except maybe here or there but in few ways that infringe on anyone else’s territory.

    I think I’m laid back, though I’m a stickler for proper English and also for higher moral standards than the world seems to want to support in our culture. I tend to offer opinions … out loud, and mainly to the hubster, who can’t stand intense discussion for the stress it brings him.

    My husband, who is not at all laid back when it comes to personal preference, sees me as a roadblock to his comfort level, I think. Mindy’s “rotate the underwear” comment reminds me of my husband. That could be one of his quirks (which I won’t mention to him, or he may adopt it)! He likes life a certain way, and so do I … I just perceive it differently and try to roll with it, rather than demand or command it. Sometimes, apparently, I’m rolling right under his tires. Ka-thunk, ka-thunk!

    We have mellowed as we have spent more time together, but we still clash on occasion. When I try to see things from his perspective, I can at least meet him half way, and sometimes give in completely. He loves it, and actually finds a way to let go of his expectations a little more.

    Isn’t life interesting?
    Amy recently posted…Christmas Tradition ExpandedMy Profile

  9. The solution’s simple. You fold all the t-shirts & she folds all the sheets. Lol. I wonder for her of it’s because sheets are rectangles with 90* angles, while t-shirts are oddly shaped.

  10. I had a similar aha moment at dinner tonight. My husband was doing something that was driving me C-R-A-Z-Y, and I thought, why can’t he just think of me and stop that? And then I thought, it drives my husband crazy when I criticize so why can’t I just think of him and stop letting that bother me. Aha!

  11. SO true! I’m a “sheets in a ball” person, too, and it, drove my poor mother NUTS. Still does, actually. Just now she can’t complain, because I get to call her on snooping, since I’m thirty-old, and it’s my linen closet! 😉

  12. haha, this is so funny cos I do it all the time! My hubby folds his tshirts extremely well (like you daughter).. I fold tshirts like you do. My ‘freak’ area is storage. My hubby likes rummaging through items and clothing and rarely returns things the way they were before. On the other hand, i prefer a ‘neater’ looking wardrobe (even if the clothes themselves aren’t folded so well!) Sometime back, it ocured to me that I can get by with the “look” (or illusion) of neatness while my hubby cares about how the clothes themselves are folded, even if they are falling out of the wardrobe. lol
    Ngina Otiende recently posted…The Danger of Familiarity in MarriageMy Profile

  13. Hmmmmm….let me think. Nope, they still drive me more crazy than I drive them crazy. 😀 tee hee. But in all seriousness, good point.

  14. This is awesome.

  15. The cupboards are different sizes, so the upstairs towels are folded differently than the downstairs towels – this seems reasonalble to me, but burdensome to some other members of the family. :) But I do leave dishes in the sink – so irritating to my husband. Instead of saying “If it bugs you, than you fix it!” ( which is advice that I’ve heard from MANY other couples) we have decided to actually practice submitting to each other by doing little jobs that make each other’s day easier and less stressful. For example, how long does it take to make the bed? Two minutes? If it makes my Honey happy, it’s an excellent return on investment of time. Try it today – it works!

  16. Lori Winslow says:

    Just yesterday I was telling my husband where to put things and where to hang up laundry and so on; telling him my way is the right way. Thank you for the subtle smack in the head this morning! :)

  17. Hahaha I just wrote something about allowing people to do thing in their own way and time – it’s a trust thing I think. It’s like if it’s not done our way or how we know it – then it’s not done properly. I hope my husband doesnt see you article hahahaha.
    Clavia Reid recently posted…“The blood that Jesus shed for me…”My Profile

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.


  1. […] I don’t know if I would call myself a control freak or not, but there is a good lesson for all parents of teens in this article from Shiela Wray Gregoire:  T.Shirts vs Sheets […]

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge