Is She Insane or in Pain?

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Some husbands watch the drama and emotional craziness in their wives and label their wives insane. But is his wife truly insane, an emotional and unpredictable whirlwind who has become a headache to live with, or could it be that the wife who loves him more than life itself is merely reacting out of pain to circumstances that cause her heart to yearn for the love and marriage that once was?

For instance, he pays no attention to the fact that he’s on the road 280 days a year for his job. Because of this, he has neglected her emotionally. She feels disconnected from his heart, and very isolated and alone. So, when he tells her unexpectedly he must leave on business tomorrow, she goes nuts.

He then claims, “She’s crazy. I don’t know if I can be married to a crazy person.”

But is she insane for not wanting her husband to leave her again? Is she crazy for being upset that their planned date night this week has been scrapped once again? Is she wrong for feeling overwhelmed as a mother of three kids who wishes she had her husband’s help at home more than she does?

No, she isn’t insane. She is in pain.

She feels threatened at the core of her being. The man she loves with all her heart appears in her mind to be distancing himself from her because he no longer really loves her. In a moment of panic she comes uncorked, but only to send him a message. Were he to immediately humble himself and express regret for the surprise business trip, she is more than likely to calm down immediately. She is not out of control but seeks to convey the intensity of her woundedness.

This husband must extend empathy and mercy toward his wife, not wrath and judgment.

He needs to consider what he would think of his daughter who reacted this way to her husband in a similar situation. On the road half the year, his son-in-law unexpectedly announces he has to leave for another week. Wouldn’t he expect his daughter to be upset? Would he be surprised if she lost it emotionally? Would that mean she was insane or just in pain?  

It is unlikely this dad would agree with his son-in-law who claims, “Your daughter is nuts. I can’t be married to a crazy person.”

Therefore, how can he make the same accusation of his wife who is merely reacting to the news of being left alone yet again? She is not insane, as he claims. She is in pain.

-Dr. E

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you agree with the basic implication here—that the dramatically reacting wife is not insane but in pain? Why or why not?

  2. How might a wife in pain like this react to her husband’s accusation of being crazy?

  3. What would be a better response for the husband whose wife just erupted toward him out of pain?

  4. In the above example, how would it have been better if both the husband and the wife had given their spouse the benefit of the doubt and approached the situation assuming they are married to a loving, goodwilled person, not an overly emotional and insane wife or a workaholic husband who has no difficulty leaving his family so much?