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Beware the "Crazy Ladies!"

Ghosts, goblins and monsters can be scary for sure, but sometimes the scariest thing we face are the crazy ladies lurking just beneath our skin. This spooky time of the year is the perfect time to introduce you to Ramona Zabriskie's five "Crazy Ladies."

In her book "Wife for Life," she has an entire chapter completely devoted to these "Crazy Ladies"- five incarnations of the Crazy Ladies inside of us, and some of their unwanted behaviors. Ironically motivated by fears, these lovelys break down the door of our spouse's heart, provoking or intimidating him with assault tactics, as opposed to patiently and subtly appearing in his heart's back door, where we actually have some real influence and can nurture one of our most valued relationships.

The "Crazy Ladies" are a personification showing the beauty of responding vs. reacting when it comes to our interpersonal relationships, whether it be with our spouses, our children or our friends and loved ones. Motivated by their fears and playing on his, the Crazy Ladies excel at the marriage dance which leads down the road to alienation instead of intimacy. Ramona specifically describes their characteristics as they pertain to marriage.

Allow me to introduce you to each one (perhaps you will recognize them?):

Ashamlee acts on her fear of disappointment, which triggers her husband's fear of not measuring up. What she communicates is: You are disappointing. You are inadequte. You are ridiculous.

- shows she is disappointed with his job or the income he provides. Cries about things the family cannot afford.

- Reminds him that his education is inadquate or that hers is superior.

- Teases him about (or ridicules) his body.

- Communicates contempt for his masculine nature.

- Accuses him of not being loving or attentive or supportive enough.

- Laughs at him about anything.

- Questions his decisions in front of others (including the children).

- Sends him the message that his fathering is inadequate.

- Makes disparaging comments about him (or their marraige) in public.

- Speaks disrespectfully of him to, or in front of, the children.

- Complains about his partnership or leadership in the home.

Stupidia acts on her fear of being exploited, which stirs up her husband's fear of becoming subservient and losing his independence. What she communicates is: You are inept. You are foolish. You are obtuse.

-Treats him as a non-entity in the company of others.

- Interrupts him before he has time to formulate his thoughts or express himself.

- Makes fun of him (teasingly, she says) in front of others, including referring to him as another one of her children.

- Barrages him verbally.

- Corrects, makes demands of, or hands out ultimatums to him as if her were a child.

- Gives unsolicited advice or takes over a problem he is working on.

- Questions, demeans, or otherwise ssecond-guesses his decisions.

- Downplays or belittles his worries or problems.

- Snubs his choice of activity and insists on alternative plans.

- Scolds him for forgetting things she's told him in the past.

- Berates him for not taking care of the children to her exact specifications.

- Frames a request for help as a demand or expectation.

Irreleva acts on her fear of lising her identity or of explitation, which ignites hisfear of uselessness. What she communicates is: You are boring. You are useless. You are repulsive.

- Is apathetic about his interests or accomplishments.

- Often chooses her own pursuits over his.

- Spends more time and energy on others than on him.

- Turns to others fo rhelp with her challenges rather than to him.

- Makes important personal and family decisions without him.

- Carelessly or purposely leaves him out of the children's lives.

- Discounts his attempts to please her and seldom shows gratitude.

- Puts his requests at the bottom of her to-do list.

- Makes little to no attempt to do the things that please him.

- Takes charge of their plans and time together.

- Fails to achknowledge or admire his successes publicly.

- Implies that physical intimacy is unimportant or distasteful.

- Consistently prioritizes her children's needs over his and depends on the children to meet her emotional needs.

- Sends the message that she is so strong and together that neither she nor the children really need him.

Betraya acts on her fear of inadequacy, exposure, intimacy, or of getting hurt, which stirs up his fear of neglect or lonliness. What she communicates is: You are not as good as... or as important as... or as fascinating as...

- Finds other projects more worthy, or pressing, or interesting than her marriage.

- Neglects his needs in order to take care of other people's needs.

- Compares him to other men or speaks glowingly of other men.

- Communicates with, or spends time with, other men recreationally.

- Flirts obviously with other men at social occasions.

- Talks (or blogs, tweets, or Facebooks) to others about her marriage in a sarcastic way or shares intimiate aspects of her married life.

- Doesn't bother to make herself attractive to him, yet obsesses over whether other men find her attractive.

- Spends the family income with little or no thought of partnership, responsibility, or appreciation.

- Is apathetic about his interests, for which she probably showed enthusiasm during courtship.

- Refuses physical intimacy to manipulate or punish him.

Depressa acts on her fear of abandonment, loss, or disappointment, which fans his fear of being overwhelmed by emotional demands. What she communicates is: You don't meet my needs. You don't care enough. You don't matter as much as I do.

- Whines and complains.

- Thinks of his responsibilities outside the relationship as competition.

- Overlooks the importance of his work and downplays his worries.

- Begrudges the space and time he biologically needs to recharge.

- Insists on spending evey moment and doing every activity together.

- Resents that he can't read her mind.

- Rarely states clearly what she really needs or wants, but acts like a martyr when things don't go her way.

- Uses silence, pouting, or tears to manipulate or punish him.

- Initiates conversations about feelings in which she expects him to open up.

- Pries into or needles him about his feelings when he's down or distant.

- Wants to discuss their relationship when she is emotional.

- Acts perpetually upbeat and positive, even when he seems sad or hurt.

- Frequently expects him to take full care of ht echildren and household chores when he is home, in additino to his employment.

- Acts disappointed over his lackluster spiritual or family leadership.

- Conveys in a hundred ways, subtle and not-so-subtle, that he is a failure.

If you recognized any of these villains as your nemesis and daily challenge to your sanity, Romona remindes us:

"...your Crazy Lady comes out of your internal woodwork- like a poltergeist trying to possess your normally loving, composed, rational self, when you are feeling overwhelmed, tired, hungry, insecure, grouchy, or afraid...[moms] are especially vulnerable to the Crazy Ladies when it feels like we cannot give another ounce, trust another inch, or be brave another day. In other words: depleted. In other words: overwhelmed. In other words: feeling stressed. 'Oh, great,' I hear you saying. 'That's me 24/7.'"

It is true. Stress is always with us and life has become so complex. A huge proponent of self-care as a major antidote to this stress, Ramona continues:

"Knitting ourselves back together again is a necessary daily ritual, but we often can't even find th basket of yarn we need in order to do it...And...[the Crazy Lady] is the one hiding the basket...[The Crazy Ladies] discount, disrespect, and thereby alienate the person who is potentially your best source of love and comfort."

Ramona then weaves a parable of building a castle: "...building a man is building a dream is building a castle: each an enterprise that takes patience and imagination." She then explains that your first brick in building this castle is "banish the Crazy Ladies, send them into exile and do your best to keep them there. What that means in no uncertain terms... is taking responsibility for First Respect- as opposed to reserving your respect until you've decided he's earned it... First Respect requires that you treat him as an equal consistently, beginning now. In short, it means that you relate to him not as a mother relates to a child, or a boss to an employee, or a coach to a student, but as an equal.. First Respect is your best hope of staying together, of overcoming his male fears and your female insecurities...Waiting to give him respect until he becomes your dream guy, living up to certain standards or expectations, will never produce results. You can't wait for a tree to grow before you water it."

There is a lot more to understand about the intricacies of the fears that motivate both you and your spouse, all of which lure out the Crazy Ladies, and are addressed in greater detail in her book. But, suffice it to say for now, The Crazy ladies react to fear instead of respond to him in stressful situations. Reacting results in alienation while responding results in connection and intimacy. It's all about the relationship. There is one skill that "may deminish and even eliminate the Crazy Ladies, helping to arrest that downward slide toward alientation." It is the skill of, in essence, watering the tree so it can grow. And it looks like telling him what you want or need (he can't mind-read, sorry), beginning any requests or desires with the word "will" or "would" and expressing said desires in calm, direct, brief statements- stating your objective at the start and not beating around the bush. It looks like bringing up offenses with great compassion and maturity. "Be merciful. Be sparing. Be infrequent. And be direct...Model what you need- patience, sympathy, and good listening- and chances are he will remember your example."

Ramona concludes "I hope it will surprise you how easy it is to simply verbalize what he can do to mitigate your stress, and how happy he is to oblige." She follows with Alisa Bowman's sound advice: "Tell him what you want, but be okay with not always getting what you want. You'll feel more loved if he understands your needs- even if he doesn't necessarily agree with them- than if he doesn't understand you at all but does your bidding because he's too exhausted to stand up for himself."

May the Crazy Ladies be banished into exile forever, and may their memory remind us to respond to him rather than react to our fears in stressful situations. Because no one wants a run-in with the Crazy Ladies!

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