Setting Boundaries with Your Crazymaker

Dr. David B. Hawkins


April 29, 2008

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There is a game at the carnival where the object is to hit the pop-up gophers with a mallet. They pop up from every possible angle at any possible moment, and you have to hit so many pop-ups within a time limit to win a prize. The game can be fun, challenging, and actually beneficial in developing hand to eye coordination.

This game reminds me, sadly however, how it feels when dealing with a CrazyMaker. You can never pin them down or get the truth from them. As soon as you think you’ve got the straight information, you discover they have been lying. As soon as you believe you have accurate information, you find that the CrazyMaker has twisted information to suit their purposes. Filled with excuses, rationalizations, truth-twisting and denial, they can be extremely challenging. Needless to say, the end result is no fun. This is no game, there is no prize.

Consider this recent letter illustrating this issue.

Your article on fear really spoke to me. My husband and I have been married for fifteen years and I've walked on eggshells our entire marriage. Last year he had a relationship (he says platonic) but I know it was emotional.  When I ask questions about it, he becomes defensive. I have caught him lying about it. I feel I can no longer trust him.

My husband has a way of turning things around on me. Before I know it, I’m the one feeling like I’ve done something wrong, when it is he that was wrong. I’m not sure how he does it, but I feel crazy when trying to talk to him about serious matters.

My husband has also been physically abusive. Last year, he hit me twice and still he never completed counseling.  I’ve tried to submit completely, where I didn’t make any decisions, but now realize that what I am submitting to is not fitting by the Lord.  I really feel that the Lord is telling me to get me and my boys out of an unrighteous house.  I am staying true to my vows, even though my husband took his wedding ring off.  I’m praying for reconciliation, but I know that only the Lord can do that.  Do you have any advice? Please pray for me and my boys.  I just want to do the Lord’s will.  Thank you for this article.  It helps to know I am not alone. 

Unfortunately, your husband is very much like a CrazyMaker—meaning someone who doesn’t take responsibility for their actions and blames others for their problems. When we try to hold a CrazyMaker responsible, they become angry and turn things back on us, making us feel crazy.

In my book, Dealing With the CrazyMaker in Your Life I talk about how the CrazyMaker is skilled at getting us “out of position.” By that I mean they use aggression, manipulation and other tactics to keep the focus off them and onto us. Therefore, we need to be smarter than the average CrazyMaker and find ways of getting back into position. Here are a few suggestions.

One, don’t argue with him. Instead, remind yourself of what is true and hold fast to it. You know the truth and you must hang onto it. Don’t try to convince him of the truth because it won’t work.

Second, don’t defend yourself. When he tries to turn things back on you, don’t allow it to happen. Again, you know the truth and this is what you must constantly rely upon. Don’t slip into playing the game of trying to convince him of what is happening. You’ll feel like you’re back at the carnival hitting those pop-up dolls.

Third, do allow yourself to firmly and clearly disagree with him. While I don’t want you to debate or argue with him, it is healthy to disagree when appropriate. You can make clear statements about what is true for you, what you prefer, and what you want to have happen.

Fourth, set firm boundaries. Never tolerate violence in your marriage. God hates violence and this destroys the sanctity of any marriage. Make it clear to your husband that if he is violent, you will take immediate action by calling the authorities.

Also, you need to set boundaries on any kind of unfaithfulness. Emotional affairs are still affairs and violations to the sacred agreement of marriage.

Finally, insist on marriage counseling. You and your husband are in serious trouble. With the support of friends and family, inform your husband that it is time for significant change. You must not enable this destructive process to continue, and your marriage needs your strength and courage.

Do you have a CrazyMaker in your life? What do you think about this woman’s situation? What counsel would you give her? I’d like to hear from you


David Hawkins, Ph.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage   Saying It So He'll Listen, and  When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled  The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and  The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt.  Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.