Are You Living With a CrazyMaker?
Dr. David Hawkins
The Relationship Doctor
CBN.com We all have them—people who make us feel crazy. Sometimes they’re fellow Christians; sometimes they’ve never been inside a church. Sometimes they’re people we hardly know, and sometimes they’re our mothers, brothers, or spouse.
Crazymaking occurs in many different forms. Sometimes it’s a person overwhelming us with their blunt, insensitive aggression. They’re sheer force can make us freeze. Like the bully in the schoolyard, they kick dirt in our face and don’t feel bad about it.
Sometimes crazymaking takes the form of a person who acts like Eyeore in every aspect of life, leaving us feeling annoyed and frustrated because we can’t cheer them up or help them change their desperate situation. No matter what we do, it isn’t enough.
Crazymaking also takes the form of someone being rude, sarcastic and manipulative. They take our words and twist them, making us feel confused and angry. Their caustic behavior keeps us forever reeling, wondering what’s happening to us.
Perhaps the craziest thing about crazymaking behavior is that it often takes us off guard. We don’t expect someone to behave so senselessly toward us and don’t feel like we’ve done anything to deserve it. In our vain attempts to defend ourselves, crazymakers make us feel powerless and out of control. Moreover, as Christians, we often feel that we have to tolerate their offensive behavior.
Take a close look at this email to our Message Board. As you read it, pay close attention to the particular “crazymaking” behaviors.
Dr. David, I’m 56 and he's 76 years old, and we’ve been married 25 years. I'm in constant turmoil. I'm sad at our situation and that my husband is unwilling to work it out. He thinks every thing is okay, so why bother. He makes me feel crazy every day. He retired from HVAC work and we are both doing real estate together. I feel so alone without a solution in sight. He complains constantly and nothing is ever right. He hangs onto old hurts and never forgives and brings them up every chance he gets. He sulks a lot, makes lots of not nice remarks, is never agreeable and always on the defense. He never lets me finish a sentence, but interrupts with his own and takes over and doesn’t even notice that I never got to speak. He won't talk about his feelings and blurts out everything everyone tells him. In April I said we need to talk, but he wouldn’t. So I said I won't try again until you’re ready. I've worked on our marriage for 20+ yrs. He hasn’t been willing and says it’s not his problem. He won’t talk and is okay with it this way. Help.
This woman’s email is sadly familiar to lots of people. Many people live with crazymakers who blame their problems on others and refuse to take responsibility for their crazymaking behaviors. Let’s isolate some of the crazymaking behaviors in this woman’s story.
- Her husband is unwilling to work on their marriage.
- He denies any problems.
- He complains constantly.
- He hangs onto old hurts and refuses to forgive, reminding her of them.
- He sulks and makes rude remarks.
- He is defensive.
- He interrupts her and controls the conversation.
- He won’t share his feelings.
- She has tolerated this behavior for over twenty years and now says she’s done trying, but not done settling for things staying the same.
As we review the above list, we can probably see ourselves in some of these behaviors. All of us have pouted at times, hung onto old hurts and perhaps refused to share our feelings. But, the pattern of doing many of them creates a very dysfunctional, crazymaking relationship.
This woman feels alone without a solution. While this is a legitimate feeling, is this reality? Are there no solutions?
Fortunately, there are solutions, but they require change—something most of us avoid. While we all want relief, many of us don’t really want to have to work at changing.
You’ll recall that Jesus asks the blind man at the pool of Bethesda a strange question: “Do you really want to be healed?” (John 5: 2-9) Why would he ask such a question? Because the man had been passively waiting for something to happen for thirty-eight years! He was blind in more ways than one, and wasn’t living up to his potential. He had limited himself in so many ways. Healing was available to him, but he had to take action
To this woman, and the rest of us, I ask, “Are you passively living with a crazymaker?” If so, what can be done to change the situation? We are expected to be wise, and to honor our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are never encouraged to tolerate abuse -- this is degrading and demoralizing. We are expected to have healthy boundaries, doing our part to insist that others to treat us with respect, just as we treat them with respect. (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2: 3)
Perhaps you’ve become frozen, much like the above woman. Maybe you’ve enabled destructive behavior for so long that you’ve forgotten how to stand up for yourself. You’ve forgotten how to say ‘no,’ or ‘I won’t listen to those rude comments.’ You’ve become paralyzed, like the man beside the pool. It’s time to stand up and speak clearly and firmly, seek support and ready yourself for change.
Fortunately, we can begin making small changes in our lives. We can begin by setting boundaries in small ways, and then move to larger areas. To the woman, I’d encourage taking small stands, asking to be listened to, and respectfully disagreeing. I’d be very careful about getting pulled into futile arguing or defending yourself. Insist on being treated with respect.
Are you living with a crazymaker? Are you acting like a crazymaker? Let me know what you think Christians are to do when someone we care about mistreats us. Send your comments to the Message Board.
For more information on this topic, see my book Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life.
About the author: He is known as The Relationship
Doctor. With more than 30 years of counseling experience, David Hawkins,
Ph.D., has a special interest in helping individuals and couples strengthen
their relationships. Dr. Hawkins’ books, including When Pleasing
Others Is Hurting You and When Trying to Change Him Is Hurting
You, have more than 300,000 copies in print.
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.