What Are You Really Afraid Of? Women’s Top 4 Fears

I have often lain in my husband’s arms and made him promise to never leave me. Though I know they are only words, I still want to be assured again and again. Lady Mary Pierrepont understood this. In a letter to her future husband, Edward Montagu, on the eve of their marriage in 1712, she wrote: “Are you sure you shall love me forever? Shall we never repent? I fear and I hope.”

“I fear and hope.” Does that sum up the woman’s heart or what?

Like a fraying rope in the perpetual tug-of-war between dreams and anxiety, we wear ourselves out angsting over everything, but especially relationships. It comes with the territory. As a mentor to hundreds of women I have learned that even the most confident among us are torn between the beautiful possibilities and the unwanted realities of life, or rather the fear of them. But ubiquity doesn’t have to equal victory. We can learn to manage the worries hardening beneath our soft skin, and we want to. Otherwise, we run the risk of those fears undermining not only our dreams, but also our relationships. When insecurity is winning the tug-of-war it is far more difficult to love and to be loved.

One way of giving Hope-and-Dreams the advantage then, is by coaxing the Fear Mongers into the light. Nothing is more liberating than identifying your fears, because nothing is more maddening or crippling than feeling afraid and not knowing what the heck you’re afraid of. So here is my attempt—albeit a mere sliver of the feminine heart—to identify four of the most common fears I see over and over in my work with women.

  1. Losing him. A woman may become uncomfortable, disconcerted, even distressed, when her man is emotionally unavailable to her, and a woman in love can hardly bear the thought of finishing life without her husband if he died. She is even more terrified of his indifference or rejection. Worse still is the prospect of abandonment. Once a man and woman are blended, the separation of souls is one of the most painful of human experiences.
  2. Disappointment. We set very high expectations for ourselves and our families, sometimes basing too much of our self-worth on the actions and accomplishments of our husband and children. The romantic in us also naturally builds up fantasies. When things or people don’t turn out the way we hoped (or tried to orchestrate), it’s a bitter experience for a wife or mother.
  3. Interdependence. We’ve been taught to value our strength and independence, and rightfully so, but some of us, in a mistaken understanding of feminism, shun interdependence. We feel so protective of the way we choose to handle our emotions, household, work, and parenting that we frame necessary cooperation as the unnecessary surrendering of sovereignty.
  4. Exposure. Our worry that our husband will somehow discover who we really are, what we really think, where we’ve really been—and that he won’t like it, strangely, has a flip side. A woman can worry even more that she will be exposed to his imperfections and vulnerabilities—and that she won’t be able to handle it.

Scary, isn’t it? Whether we are terrified of revealing ourselves, or dread knowing too much about our husband, whether we’re tormented by disappointment, or scared to death our man will leave us—undetected fears can set us up to lose any which way. A woman’s instincts, which include retreating, withdrawing, denying, neglecting, judging, blaming, or hurting, stand in stark opposition to friendship and intimacy.

But they don’t have to. Team Fear doesn’t have to win. With Hope-and-Dreams standing strong on their end, scare tactics can’t tug you over the edge IF - when you are ready to lash out at the world, you pull up short and ask, “Whoa. Where did that come from? What am I really afraid of?”

10/8/2018 4:00:00 AM
Ramona Zabriskie
Written by
Ramona Zabriskie, a wife of 38 years, is the multi-award winning author of Wife for Life: The Power to Succeed in Marriage and founder of the highly acclaimed Wife for Life University, a one-of-a-kind virtual school for wives that transforms marriages through a step-by-step, principle based approach via live mentoring, c...
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I could have related to this decades ago but made it all the way through w/o needing to be married. I feel I dodged a bullet as my choices in men were not the best & I also refused to marry for less than love. I have no extended family so that's sad-no one left. One brother who died young, left a 2yr old now grown who doesn't live near, but altho I try it's a one-sided "relationship". However, I'm not unhappy-I was mostly unhappy in those bad relationships I had. I have good friends, good activities, travel w/friends-some who leave husbands home b/c they don't like travel. Anyway, my biggest concern is finding the rt beneficiary now & their are many good options for that. I watched friends marry knowing they were not in love but felt it was getting late. I could never picture myself marrying someone w/o feeling I wanted to spend my life w/him so I didn't.
Posted by Judy
How sad to choose to live in fear and co-dependency. When we love and appreciate ourselves everyone benefits. So many women don't value themselves. I believe I am enough and I choose to appreciate each moment and value the people in my life. Why choose to live in fear?
Posted by maureen
Wonderful and insightful article.
I would like to read more of her wisdom.
Posted by Jeff
This article makes the assumption that every human being - especially a female - needs to have a male or significant other to validate you they are. I'm 62 years old and single and love being single and not attached to anyone nor needing anyone to validate my existance or to tell me who I am and determine who I am. This world is set up for couples and families with children, and it ignores the large portion of us who are neither and happy about it.
Posted by maggie
thanks ramona for this awesome post... women shouldn't be worried for what others say and get depressed , she should face problems and defeat it .
Posted by Mary Klipyard
Agreed. Women should not afraid of these as this is part of life and keeps going on. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Posted by Davis @magsstore.com
Fear hurts relationships especially when you are not able to communicate and/understand those fears. Ramona Zabriskie has understanding these fears down to a science as well as mens' fears and how to not only deal with them but to truly understand each other. Check out her website!!
Posted by Ramona
I can definitely identify with many of these fears. Identifying these fears can help me recognize how I can improve and overcome my weaknesses. I can see how recognizing these fears could turn a potentially devastating event into a positive experience, or even a step towards improving your relationships. Great insights Ramona!
Posted by Kacey
Wow, these are right on!!! I never would have been able to identify them on my own, but I've definitely felt each of these fears!!
Posted by Cami Sullivan
As a wife of 41 years, I can say I have had one or more of those fears at any given time and not wanting to be mistaken for weak or needy, rarely voiced or exhibited them outwardly. I would suspect most women don't. But certainly a fear at my age is knowing the certainty that either I will have to live without my husband at some point or he will have to live without me. This is something we've discussed and it scares and saddens us both. We don't dwell on it, but the older you get the more real it becomes.
Posted by Lynne Almstrom
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