Husband pushed me down. Now what?
January 4, 2015 11:06 PM   Subscribe

On Christmas morning, my husband and I got into a verbal fight about a movie. He then charged at me and pushed me down. Details inside.

Just after midnight Christmas morning, my husband and I got into a fight about a dumb movie, which we watch together every Christmas. He watched about a half of it without me (I woke up at the halfway point); when I asked why, he said it was because my "power nap" turned into a three hour nap and because "all [I] do is sleep." (I've been working 14-16 hour physically demanding days at a multi-million dollar retail box store, while flipping between first, second, and third shift, depending on the Super Important Project of the Week or The Thing The Other Managers Totally Cannot Handle, and while also filling in for the store manager during a personal crisis in his/her life.)

We said some words to each other, to the tune of "Merry fucking Christmas" (him), "you're like an impatient five year old" (me), and "fuck off/go fuck yourself" (mutual dialogue, pretty typical during our fights). After the last volley of fuck-offs were fired (and it really was just a "fuck off," "no, you fuck off!" dialogue; no name calling), he charged at me, while screaming at me to "get out of the fucking house get out now," and then shoved me down to the floor. It came absolutely out of nowhere, and I'm still trying to make sense of it. After he pushed me down, I got back up, threw a bowl full of nuts at a wall that was not near him, and then smashed a couple of holes into the bedroom door. (I'm really not proud of this, but in the interest of full disclosure, there it is.) He was worried about replacing the door and the possibility of the bowl breaking a window, which I mention because he still hasn't asked if I'm okay. After the pushing and the throwing, I holed up in the bedroom, and he stayed in the living room.

On Christmas Day, I slept from 5am to 5pm and went to work from 8pm-10am for Christmas changeover. He worked this same shift, as we work at the same employer, doing almost the same job, only at different locations. After I got home, I walked the dog, and, when I got back, he was already in bed, as he works 100% third shift. We haven't talked much at all since Christmas morning. We're on near completely opposite work rotations and only have one day off together a week; that day is when he's sleeping all day. As such, we haven't seen much of each other at all. In the couple of hours a day we see each other, we've talked a little bit about work, but that's mostly it. We have barely touched each other (no hugs, kisses, or sleeping in the same bed). Neither of us have talked about Christmas morning. He hasn't apologized or asked if I'm okay. I haven't asked what the hell happened. It's been more than a week, and I'm still bouncing between being emotionally numb, being committed to leaving, and being a weepy mess and not at all committed to leaving. I'm also bouncing between planning how I'm getting out and looking up marriage counselors. I just have no idea.

We've been together for six years, living together for five and a half years, and married for two years. No kids, and we have almost no shared finances. He's male, 6'1", ~190#. I'm female, 5'10", ~170#. Alcohol and drugs are definitely not in play. He's never hit or shoved me before. When we fight, I almost always retreat and stop engaging, because after a certain point, I become extremely emotional and hit doors. I haven't done that since I was a teenager (I'm nearly 30 now). The worst he's ever done is physically hold me down onto the bed during a fight (nothing sexual), which I estimate was 1.5 to 2 years ago. Also, three weeks after we got married, he left me at the grocery store, after we got into a verbal argument; I went to shop by myself, while he decided to leave the store and drive home without me. I walked home two miles, and he never apologized. I almost divorced him then (I actually printed off the Court papers from the County's Website), but couldn't bring myself to do it after just three weeks of marriage. After all, our wedding/reception and our trips together remain some of the best times and memories of my life.

I don't know what to do. I grew up in an emotionally and physically abusive household (near constant screaming, every single day; lots of shoving and pushing; and a few horrible things that I'll probably never post about on the Internet), so my emotional response to personal situations has never been something I really trust. Every domestic abuse article I can find says to leave, but following that advice from some generic article feels more like "well, A happened, so I have to do B," rather than a bona fide decision on my end. Like I said, I grew up with this; verbal and physical abuse was my normal until I was 20, even though it's something I never, ever wanted to follow me to my married life.

From what I've described, and without getting into the nitty-gritty details of the marriage, is marriage counseling a viable option? Or is this a "WTF are you waiting for? You're horrible for each other! Get out now!" situation? I guess I'm just looking for some calibration here, because I never thought I'd be posting a question about how my husband physically abused me or how I went nuclear and nearly punched down a door. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (74 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Get out of this - you can do better and you deserve better.
posted by treadstone11 at 11:11 PM on January 4, 2015 [9 favorites]



Counseling, first. If he won't go to counseling, DTMFA. Counseling. I hope it helps.
posted by jbenben at 11:17 PM on January 4, 2015 [9 favorites]

I guess I'm just looking for some calibration here, because I never thought I'd be posting a question about how my husband physically abused me or how I went nuclear and nearly punched down a door. Thanks.


...he charged at me, while screaming at me to "get out of the fucking house get out now," and then shoved me down to the floor. It came absolutely out of nowhere...

FWIW, I immediately dumped a serious boyfriend whom I was living with (and called the police to come and make him leave the house while I packed) for almost the exact same thing. However, we hadn't been together quite as long, and we weren't married, so YMMV.

Some people believe you should immediately leave when a partner becomes violent no matter what whereas other people think that marriage requires an extra level of effort before breaking that commitment. Both views have some validity. Personally, I think that this situation warrants (at a minimum!) a physical separation (one of you moves out for a while -- probably easiest for you to go than to make him go) and marriage counseling during the separation as well as both of you getting separate individual counseling on anger and stress management.

Also, he should get a full medical checkup to make sure there isn't anything weird going on with his blood sugar, hormones, or brain, since there are various illnesses that can cause people to fly into violent rages contrary to their usual character and disposition. (Although, given the other incidents you listed from the previous several years, I'm not completely convinced that this was against his usual character and disposition.)

Good luck with all this. You're in a really hard situation and I'm wishing you the best.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:30 PM on January 4, 2015 [17 favorites]

I would not be OK married to someone who charged at me and pushed me down or held me down during fights or abandoned me at a grocery store. It's not impossible to resolve domestic violence and abusive situations like this with very major, long-term, and intensive counseling, but if he's not even apologized and begged forgiveness, I'm not hopeful about that option.

I'm wholeheartedly in the DTMFA camp on this one. And, I think counseling would be great for you given this situation and your family history. Good luck.
posted by quince at 11:34 PM on January 4, 2015 [44 favorites]

This man has shown you who he really is over and over. It's time to believe him. He will never change. You must get out. I am so sorry.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:36 PM on January 4, 2015 [22 favorites]

Oh wow. I feel for you, and for your confusion.

I think you are going to get a lot of replies saying you should dump him, but I'm not so sure. It sounds to me like you are both frayed and exhausted, and there is tons of literature on how working weird shifts and not getting enough sleep leads to people behaving terribly. (Stanley Coren of UBC wrote about this: as an experiment he gradually cut back his sleep for several weeks, and found himself behaving abominably including lots of road rage: he cut short the experiment when his departmental secretary told him she was growing afraid of him.)

Christmas muddies the waters too, because nothing IRL can live up to the fantasy, and so people get lonely and alienated.

I don't know your relationship. But it sounds like there are mitigating circumstances here. It also sounds like neither of you fight well, and that for both of you, your communication style could use some work.

So I'd say yeah, therapy. This is exactly the kind of thing counselling can help you with, if you're both willing to try, and if there's a core relationship that's worth saving. If it were me, I'd give it a serious shot and see what happens. I'd also see if it's possible for both of you to adjust your work hours so you can have some real time together. If you're both always exhausted and stressy, that's a big deficit to overcome.

Good luck :)
posted by Susan PG at 11:36 PM on January 4, 2015 [40 favorites]

"fuck off/go fuck yourself" (mutual dialogue, pretty typical during our fights).

The optimist in me says marriage counseling is probably your best chance at fixing this, and if nothing else it couldn’t hurt as long as you both agree on what went wrong here and needs to be fixed; the realist in me says marriage counseling is kind of a long shot because communication between the two of you is totally fucked.

Make no mistake, he was in the wrong to escalate the fight physically, and that should be something you talk about with a counselor if you decide to go. What happened here sounds less like physical abuse as part of the classic abuse cycle (though it was still unambiguously wrong of him), and more like two people screaming FUCK YOU at each other until one of them snapped. If "FUCK YOU / NO, FUCK YOU" is how the two of you usually argue...I don’t know. Your arguing style (yours and his) seems more or less designed to enrage the other person as much as possible. This is something a counselor could possibly help you with; I'm not saying they definitely can, but I don’t think anyone else will be able to.

If I were you, I would tell him you're not okay with what happened, that this was the last straw, that no fights like that can ever happen again and that you're either going to go to couples counseling or file for divorce. How he reacts to that will give you some idea of how to proceed.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:40 PM on January 4, 2015 [102 favorites]

I'm sorry this happened to you.

A lot of the information on DV pertains to "intimate terrorism", which is a little different from what it sounds like is happening. You two are pushing each others' buttons in a dangerous way. One or both of you is probably constantly worked up, and very close to the threshold of anger most of the time. Add to that the stress of your work schedules, fatigue from crazy hours and lack of sleep - your defences against strong emotions are probably pretty weak. It sounds like communication is pretty terrible, too.

Even if he never does this again, do you want to live this way, dealing with conflict all the time? I think it would take a lot of work to improve communication, manage your emotions more effectively, and the rest. More work than it's worth, in my opinion. You've got a whole history of this stuff built up, and it would take a lot to forget it.

I'm on board with DTMFA. And I think it might be a good idea to stay single for a while, until you understand yourself and your past a little better.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:41 PM on January 4, 2015 [17 favorites]

After he pushed me down, I got back up, threw a bowl full of nuts at a wall that was not near him, and then smashed a couple of holes into the bedroom door.

Fucked up. What I'm wondering about is the possibility of escalating violence. Have you guys even talked about what went down? Therapist? Depends...what is your goal here: do you want to stay with him and *try* to fix it, or do you want out?

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:57 PM on January 4, 2015

You know, it wasn't about the movie, IMO. He's got some resentments toward you that are simmering all the time. He failed to control himself that one time, but he's probably often feeling angry but able to maintain civility.

So this is bad. He needs to learn how to talk to you and get these things resolved, or decide that he wants out and say so. I'm not a big counseling cheerleader usually, but this is a clear case for it. It will teach him to use his words in an environment that's less likely to get out of control.
posted by ctmf at 12:06 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

Pushing you over is fucked up.

If you decide to work through this in whatever way, I think re-arranging your work schedules so you actually have free time together is imperative. Never having time off/free time with your partner is no way to have a relationship (having one day a week where you're home but he's sleeping all day doesn't count).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:12 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Gads -- I can't believe anyone is trying to rationalize this before screaming GET OUT NOW. First things first: you're in an abusive relationship, and things are escalating. You need to separate yourself from him immediately. Do not rationalize any of this, do not pass go, just get out!

Once you have some separation, the reevaluate the relationship. If it is something worth salvaging, make a plan and take action (therapy for both of you, individually and together, at minimum), then, and only then, consider moving back in together.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 12:59 AM on January 5, 2015 [15 favorites]

It came absolutely out of nowhere, and I'm still trying to make sense of it.

OP, with respect to your terrible-sounding background and wack relationships growing up, are you kidding me?! You were screaming at each other to get fucked in the harshest terms possible, and then you threw something to smash against the wall and then broke a tonne of other shit, and you haven't spoken for days?

Dude, this is super toxic stuff. I mean, any of that would have me running for the door, and the physicality would just be the nail in the coffin. Healthy relationships do not look like this. I would be terrified if I was you - and if I was him, as well! - I think a spell of solo counselling should be on the table, not just couples, to investigate why you accept this in relationships, and how you can empower yourself to break a very, very unhealthy relationship model.

Best of luck,
posted by smoke at 1:00 AM on January 5, 2015 [48 favorites]

Not one bit of this is healthy. Not one bit of this is good.

Look, you can be miserable by yourself. You don't need help to do it. At least if you're own your own, you won't be physically assaulted and in shouting matches with him over nothing.

And it doesn't even matter whose fault the initial argument was. The bottom line is that it escalated into a place where these unacceptable things were your (plural) reactions. Get out. Be safe.
posted by inturnaround at 1:05 AM on January 5, 2015 [17 favorites]

In your shoes, I would separate immediately and spend as much time as it takes in therapy to work on your understanding of how to blow off anger and how to argue. They're separate things and if you argue to blow off anger, you will find yourself in this situation again, with him or with another partner. In my world, there is no relationship worth keeping that regularly includes screaming fights.

You wouldn't be where you are today if you had no positive shared experiences, however, bear in mind that everyone can be nice on vacation and what matters most is how you treat each other every day.

This is a difficult place to find yourself. In so sorry. But I think the eventual outcome will be well worth the trouble.
posted by janey47 at 1:10 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

I grew up in a household like yours partly thanks to the extra awesomeness of my dad's alcoholism, but the way my parents fought was similar even when he was sober.

The physical violence is obviously unacceptable and a huge concern. I think it would be ideal for you to get out of that situation completely for a while--stay with family, etc., just saying you guys need a few days to think things over. Once you're away, you may well find you have no interest in going back. Things can look pretty different when you're away from a mess you've been accommodating out of fear of failure or lingering nostalgia or whatnot.

Given your background and your present circumstances, maybe it would help you to know what a good marriage can look like. The way my wife and I interact probably isn't perfect--we've never been to counseling and figuring things out on our own was sometimes hard--but over the course of >20 years, here are some things we've arrived at that make disagreements pretty tolerable:

- No one makes characterizations about what's in the other person's mind. Their intentions, insensitivity, lack of thoughtfulness, etc. are all off the table. If you're married to a sociopath, they might take advantage of that. But in our situation, it's a recognition that what the other person has in mind is usually surprising and that each of us in our own heads tends to see our own thoughts in rich detail and also in the best possible light. Mischaracterizing that stuff is the fastest possible way to have an ambiguous/irrelevant argument.
- No yelling is an even firmer point. If someone's agitated enough to start increasing their volume, it's time to cool off somehow, perhaps by expressing diffuse sympathy with the fact of their frustrations, though again that's not something you could do with someone who'd take advantage of it. If you're not able to express that sympathy, then it's time to table the discussion, maybe with an acknowledgement and an agreement to think about it and revisit the issue later in the day.
- We try not to say what someone does "all the time." It's unfair because neither party is actually tracking that stuff. Personally, how I handle those things is take a specific instance of frustration, sit on it until I recognize that my own irritation is probably transient, recognize that if my wife understood how it makes me feel then she'd either do something different or have a good explanation for why she can't, and basically shelve the topic in my own mind to talk about a bit later by asking questions about it. And I mean genuine questions, not passive-aggressive ones, though certainly just asking is a pretty obvious hint that you've got an issue to discuss.

How hard is any of that, really? It's basically the same level of diplomacy you'd expect in a decent workplace. If you're not being afforded that much respect, someone's probably taking advantage of their intimacy with you to share their inner childishness.

What you do that's special for your partner isn't accommodate any bullshit you wouldn't take from a co-worker but rather try to meet their ordinary, acceptable emotional needs on a daily basis. My suggestion there is to draw up a list of what reasonable emotional needs look like--not strangely specific whims your partner has, but things you could see people appreciating in any relationship. For example, I think most people would appreciate the following things from a partner (in various ratios--obviously, we're all different too): supportive praise and sympathy, thoughtful affection, considerate conversations, diplomatic honesty, fair apportionment of household labor, efforts at financial stability, a sense of what's fun and recreational that overlaps to some extent, at least a mild interest in taking care of their appearance, and an interest in meeting your sexual needs. Everyone probably has a couple more things they care about, but that covers an awful lot of things you need mutual agreement on so that a lot of disagreements just don't arise.

Again, don't treat an abusive relationship as if it were a trustworthy relationship. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of in any of this. The trust that good, ordinary relationships are founded on has to extend to all sorts of things that an immature, selfish, or sociopathic person can exploit. When you have your list of things you want from a marriage, look it over occasionally and consider how good you feel about each point. If you're fulfilling all your partner's needs and either don't want to do that anymore or don't feel good about your own being met, you can believe that something's wrong there.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:38 AM on January 5, 2015 [47 favorites]

The pair of you appear to have no conflict resolution skills and terrible communication skills. While every relationship has different boundaries and real life is not a Hallmark movie, this is a terrible marriage before we even get to the pushing. Whether you decide to stay together or to part, you both need help learning to communicate better in a relationship.

Your partner has a history of at least two incidents of getting physical with you. I personally would not feel safe. I would make plans to bail on this marriage because it sounds dreadful.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:37 AM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]

He did something totally unacceptable. And yet...

The fact that you guys were sitting down to watch a movie you watch every year, and you slept through it, and he blew up like a child and said you're always asleep... that sounds like somebody who is desperately missing their partner. There's something about that yearly ritual going wrong that pushed him over the edge. I am NOT excusing what he did, but when I try to look at where it came from it sounds like he really really wanted to be closer to you with this yearly ritual and it didn't work and he lost his shit.

I think you guys need to sit down and have a serious talk. This marriage may be beyond saving, but the only way to know is have that talk and figure out what you both think of what happened and what you both want moving forward. I would strongly suggest counseling. At the very least, he has to convince you that something like that will never happen again, and he has to work on his anger.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:39 AM on January 5, 2015 [21 favorites]

I don't think his pushing you down came completely out of nowhere; I think that was escalation, and the anger and violence in your home has more than a reasonable chance of escalating further. Coming from a crappy, boundary-pushing, and angry background myself, I know how easy it is to normalise that sort of ugly fuck you/no, fuck you quarrelling and violent behaviour, but it's not ok. Whether or not you two stay together and seek couples counselling, you would almost certainly be helped by seeking it for yourself, if only to gain the tools you need to learn to express your own anger less destructively, and to recognise that you do not need to live in such volatile, angry, emotionally and physically violent conditions. Your situation as it currently stands sounds very toxic and do you really want to let it carry on and possibly get worse? I mean, this happened on Christmas Day, and here it is, the 5th of January, and you two still haven't really talked about it, or even tried to clear the air and make up? He pushed you down, and he's worried about the window and replacing the door? (Not that you throwing the nuts and hitting the door is OK, but they're inanimate objects, not the flesh and bone of a loved one.) He abandoned you to find your way home, and he never apologised?

You glossed over the holding down incident, but that, taken with this latest act of violence, suggests that on some level, he is ok with putting less-than-loving hands on you when he is angry. That's a big boundary to cross, and he's crossed it twice already. I don't think I'd wait for a third time, and I'm not sure I'd bother with couples counselling, as from what you've told us, he doesn't talk about these incidents and fights after they happen, so I'm not sure why he'd be likely to discuss them with a counsellor.

Best of luck to you, whatever you decide, but please understand, this isn't how a normal, healthy relationship works.
posted by skybluepink at 2:41 AM on January 5, 2015 [20 favorites]

I just read skybluepink's post, and it kind of made me realize just how bad this really is. I now feel like you guys absolutely need to see a counselor if you want to have any hope of salvaging this marriage, and in the meantime you should probably be living apart. I hope he's willing to admit his faults and make some huge changes.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:58 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi from across the pond (I suspect :). This whole DTMFA seems a real Americanism to me that makes me flinch every time I see it - as if this position (from someone else) could cancel out the complexity and love someone feels in a relationship.

Ofcourse abuse is not ok. Clearly you know that hence the post.

DV is very complex as are the dynamics. In terms of whether perpetrators can 'heal' - assuming they aren't psychopaths/cluster B personality disordered around 20 percent can change behaviour to some extent in a perpetrators programme if they are able to own what they've done and commit to this legitimately very hard piece of work. In which case the partner also needs support.

There are abusers - like these ones with some potential who strike out once eg at a time of high stress etc (again, not saying this is ok) just that abusers are not a homogenous group. However you do mention more than one incident (physically) as well as the emotionally abusive behaviour, much of which tends to get downplayed in dangerous relationships as people do what they can to survive in them. Looking up the power and control wheel will be interesting for you I think. It is a little dated but still of value.

You might want to look up about the 'cycle of change' too (too much to go into but interesting about the psychology of change) - meaning for you not him. Right now you are ambivalent, that is very normal after a horrific shock and betrayal. Be where you are as you think more about it all. Leaving a relationship that is dangerous before you are ready may well enhance the risk to you and if and when people do this they often return only to find it gets progressively harder to leave. This is your decision alone, not that of internet strangers. Good intentions and legitimate concerns for you aside being 'told' what to do is a controlling action - not what you need to feel more in control of your own life. My personal biggest concerns about your situation is that this has happened more than once and bigger than that.. his apparent utter lack of remorse. Though remember also a callous abuser can feign remorse.

I am sorry you grew up with this :( familiarity is incredible powerful.
posted by tanktop at 3:31 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

This is very very scary, and I think you should at minimum live somewhere else at least for the immediate future.

I wonder, what was the resolution of the grocery store incident? You printed off divorce paperwork and he never apologized, but then . . . ? Did you ever talk about it? Do you ever talk about these sorts of fights?

I would do the marriage counseling simply to have a safe, non-pushing-or-throwing-stuff place to hear from him what is going on.
posted by chainsofreedom at 3:33 AM on January 5, 2015

It sounds like he was trying to pick a fight, show you he didn't care about you by complaining about you...needing to nap after a long, exhausting day. That he's capable of pushing you down, capable of putting you in a mode where you feel you need to get aggressive yourself to protect yourself from him, is not the life you want to lead.

That he's not even tried to apologize or acknowledge shows that he doesn't respect you or the relation. In his head, he may be trying to justify it, that you exhibited what he thinks is an equal reaction, that you are equally responsible. But, I think you shouldn't try to do all this "Whose fault/what's my part in it?" Stuff. Doesn't matter now. You can't trust him to ever be physically respectful of you again.

He could snap and hurt you far worse when he ends up in an animal rage. You probably never thought he'd physically disrespect you, and there's sadness and grief that will come with that, wanting to forget. But it'll just happen again.

He's not your friend anymore. I think it's time to leave this toxic dynamic he's contributed so greatly to.
posted by discopolo at 3:46 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also, my gut says he's been angry and resentful of you and has wanted to hit/punch/hurt you physically for awhile, and decided to take this opportunity to charge at you/let his rage out. It's awful. Please leave him and be careful.
posted by discopolo at 3:53 AM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]

You are a grown up. He is a grown up. You get to decide whether to stay or leave. But for the love of Pete, don't bring kids into the relationship. You don't mention whether that's something either of you want at some point in your life, so it might not be an issue. But it might be a way to give an outside perspective on this decision for yourself: what do you want your life to look like in five years? Ten? Can you see a realistic way to get there from where you are now? If so, talk to him and make concrete steps this week to start.
posted by instamatic at 4:41 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Other people have addressed the go-or-don't-go question. I just wanted to add: you said the idea of leaving feels like following a rule, instead of something you can really feel with your heart. But, in my experience, if you're deciding to do something unfamiliar, it can make you feel a little surreal and disconnected at the beginning.

You're used to putting up with crappy behavior and abuse, so letting that continue might feel more real, and more you somehow, and more comforting than breaking the pattern and establishing boundaries and starting a new, healthier way of living. The unknown is always a little scary and intimidating. But if your current way of living is making you stressed and unhappy, you're going to have to stretch and be uncomfortable for a while if you want to change it. And I think sometimes that involves making decisions that you know are right, even if you can't get all of your emotions organized into a resounding "Yes!"
posted by colfax at 5:08 AM on January 5, 2015 [11 favorites]

Your wedding reception and other memories: that was then. What you're having right now is - apparently - some kind of vicious circle of fuckyou-ness where none is being even remotely polite to the other. Also, he is stronger than you. Just get out already. This is a terrible manner of wasting time.
posted by Namlit at 5:24 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lots of people are suggesting couples therapy. DO NOT DO THIS. It is absolutely the wrong answer in abusive relationships.

Please separate and get your own counseling. His behavior is dangerous to you. You talk about pinning you to the bed as though it's not that bad. It's that bad. You yourself turn to violence when frustrated, and you need to learn new coping skills.

Your best option to remain safe is to leave.

You may have good memories of this relationship, but a few good times aren't worth endangering your mental health at best and your life at worst.

For the folks suggesting couples therapy. Guys, it's not right in abusive relationships. It makes the survivor of domestic violence less likely to leave a dangerous situation, and to take on more of the responsibility for trying to accommodate the abuser.

Please leave. Set an example for survivors of domestic abuse and be strong for yourself.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:09 AM on January 5, 2015 [46 favorites]

I'm in the "get out now" camp.

I was in a relationship a lot like yours. My ex and I screamed at each other during fights. He would also throw things, or threaten suicide, or block me from leaving, or hold me down on the bed. It didn't get better. Despite attempts at therapy, despite my ex realizing that he was acting in fucked up ways, when his temper became inflamed, he would continue to act abusive, and destroy any sense of trust that had temporarily been rebuilt. These patterns of behavior are very hard to change and unlikely to change while you are actively in a relationship. I think you should break up and work on yourself.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 6:17 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

The entire situation just sounds awful, from the "fuck you/no fuck you" arguments to the incredibly draining and stressful work schedules to being in a relationship but never seeing each other. The physical violence (both the pushing down and the punching holes in doors) is just the icing on the cake that confirms how awful things are overall, and an indicator that if nothing changes you are going to end up with more physical violence in the future.

So there's your choice -- do you think it is possible to change the communication styles and patterns of behavior that seem to have structured your relationship since the beginning, or is it better to just leave and start over with a clean slate? None of us know you and know your situation; both are possible in theory but in your specific situation I would bet that your gut will tell you which is the correct option. Good luck in either case, and please don't just stay without a mutual commitment to change things very fundamentally, because as has been said the current situation is toxic and is headed into some very bad places.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:33 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Like I said, I grew up with this; verbal and physical abuse was my normal until I was 20, even though it's something I never, ever wanted to follow me to my married life.

Yeah, your sensors as to what's right are a bit warped. No problem, that can be adjusted, with some therapy and/or self work.

But this marriage? That can't be fixed. It wasn't healthy for you three weeks in and it's only gotten worse. Get out and find help for yourself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Leave, your relationship is irrevocably broken. You both need to learn better communication skills but that's not going to happen in this relationship.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 6:36 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

nthing the people telling you that a separation period might be helpful here. You don't have to get a divorce right now, but you're not going about this relationship in any sort of healthy way.

Op, if you're not already in individual therapy, I suggest you look into it. You've got a pretty nasty history and some anger management.
posted by royalsong at 6:36 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

I can only offer one certain piece of advice: couples counseling is not appropriate in a partnership where there is violence.

I would like to note that even without this physical incident, your marriage sounds unhappy. That level of fighting likely feels normal to you, which is understandable, but it is really not something you have to live with. It's also completely not okay for him to knock you over, leave you stranded at the store, or curse at you.

I got out of my marriage largely because I was turning into the type of person who gets into these crazy fights, and I really don't want to be that person. It wasn't a blame thing, my ex and I both contributed to the level of conflict. But I'm the only person I can change--and that meant extricating myself from a relationship that led me to act like a jerk. I'm not a jerk, I don't want to be one, so I got out of the situation. Something to consider.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:42 AM on January 5, 2015 [16 favorites]

I hit post before adding: A temporary separation (even just a few weeks) sounds like a great idea. Being away from a situation, rather than in the middle of it, can be the easiest way to get a new perspective and see it clearly for what it is, without needing to make any long term decisions immediately.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:50 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

The fact that your husband has not apologized or even asked if you are ok (!) makes me think this was not some sort of heat-of-the-moment-could-never-happen-again sort of thing. It's hard for me to imagine my partner doing this, but if it did happen I am 100% sure that the incident would snap him out of the argument and cause him to do some immediate and serious apologizing/doing whatever it took to make it right.

However, even aside from the violent behavior, it does not sound like this marriage makes you very happy. You guys don't see each other, don't connect, and have really mean fights. And there doesn't seem to be any effort to improve any of these things. Violence aside, is that really what you want for yourself? For me, I would MUCH rather be single than be in such a toxic relationship. And, down the road, it also gives you the opportunity to build a healthy relationship with someone else, if that is what you want.

At a minimum, I think it's a good idea to physically remove yourself from the situation. Believe me, if you tell any friend or relative (no matter how distant they seem) that your husband pushed you to the ground, they will lend you a guest room or couch for a while, most likely for free. I would do this for literally ANYONE I know. Give yourself a little distance on the situation to decide what you want to do. Maybe that's asking your husband to enroll in an anger management class as well as couples counselling. Maybe that's a divorce. But while you decide, please make sure you are physically safe.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:52 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

Sometimes people react in a way they regret and they vow to never do it again. They realize that it's wrong and make real changes to take it seriously. But it doesn't sound like this is even remotely the situation here. Your husband has overreacted more than once and shown zero remorse or concern when treating you badly. The shoving is definitely not good, but him leaving you at a store and having you walk home for two miles sounds horrible to me. Being mad at someone doesn't mean you get to ignore their safety and well being.

The instances you describe sound very sporadic and you don't say much about your relationship in between. Regarding these incidents, the concerning part to me is how he never acknowledged it was wrong, apologized, etc. Did you attempt to address these at all? I know the shoving that just happened, you haven't, but what about when he left you at the store at you walked? Nothing at all? And outside these specific incidents, do you feel like he is controlling selfish in the relationship? Does he blame you a lot for stuff or take things out on you?

I don't see what marriage counseling can do when you haven't even so much as talked about these things that are bothering you and it's unclear whether he even sees any problem with them at all. You haven't brought it up and he hasn't asked or shown he cares either. To me, it sounds like you're skipping the basic steps of trying to deal with this and going straight to counseling. I think this may just not be a good situation for you, but you sound hesitant to just leave now. I might tell him these incidents bother you, they are wrong, you shouldn't be treated this way, etc. You don't want to be in a marriage where you have to worry the next time there's a fight, he might hurt you, etc. If he reacts the way I suspect he will, then you won't have to feel any doubt about leaving.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:59 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

This sounds really toxic from both ends and I think your best option is to leave immediately. FYI This is not how arguments happen in a healthy relationship.

Leave before you get accidentally pregnant.

Leave before he shoves you again, or worse. That's the only way to communicate that this was not ok. Anything else condones it.

Get therapy for yourself, so you don't pick or sustain relationships like this in the future. You deserve better than to repeat your shitty childhood. And it really can be so much better than this. Have courage. Good luck.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:03 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

I have a few different thoughts- first this is abusive and unhealthy and you've gotten lot's ofgood advice about that (including you will probably need to leave and this will probably not get better). However I have also taken a friend who was working night shifts and going nuts to the emergency room for a mental health break down and they said this was very common for people working night shifts and intense schedules that interfere with healthy night time sleep on a regular schedule.

I also think sometimes people miss signs that they needed to talk about things, or break up, very early on in the relationship and then that reality festers because they ignored the things that weren't working for them until they explode. Sometimes breaking up is the healthy thing to do ESPECIALLY before there are kids involved.

Screaming and angry fights are a sign that you and/or your partners relationship skills are broke, or you are not a good match for each others needs. Screaming at someone will not make them be or do what you need, and there is evidence that screaming is as psychologically damaging to kids as corporal punishment and perhaps we need to save this tool for dealing with conflict where someone has actually done something worth injuring them over. (Like kicking puppies? Shaking babies?) But in those cases while it might make sense to scream, it would also make sense to report to the authorities and also never talk to the person again because WTF.

You should not be screaming at your partner to deal with disappointments or conflicts of interests. If your partner doesn't understand or care about you, is hurting your feelings, neglecting you or is mistreating you, it's time to leave not scream. You can't make someone care about you or treat you how you like, especially not by insulting or raging at them. The most you can do is find out what your own needs are and ask if they are mutually interested in or even able to do the things you wish they would, as well as whether you are interested in or able to do the things they are wanting out of a relationship.

Just so that you know many people have relationships without berating, screaming at, or insulting each other when difficulties come up.
posted by xarnop at 7:09 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm not going to address the violence, since everyone else has done it before me (and better).

You need to know that there is so much more to life than this. Bad relationships and bad relationship habits don't preclude WONDERFUL relationships in the future. Far from it! In fact, my husband and I could never appreciate what we have if we hadn't gone through a bunch of crap beforehand.

It's never too late to try something new and healthy. Every day is a chance to make things better than they were before. If today sucks, tomorrow can be better, even in small ways.

You need to give yourself this chance. You deserve wonderful things, and you can have them. I promise.
posted by Madamina at 7:13 AM on January 5, 2015 [14 favorites]

You see that his violence towards you has only gotten worse and I guarantee you they will get worse. They always do. Just read any account from any domestic violence relationship ever told. Three years from now you may very well not be able to get up from the ground at all and 8 years from now he'll be plotting your death.

Save yourself these years of not finding someone who will treat you well. You are lucky there are no kids involved yet because it means you can leave this guy for good. Once kids come in the picture keeping them and you away from him will be very difficult.

You don't seem to understand what a healthy marriage is about because of your childhood. Make sure to fix that while you're looking for your next guy.

I'm saying get out of this now, but whatever you decide PLEASE don't get innocent children involved in this toxic relationship. If you stay with this guy make sure you're the only one that gets to put up with his emotional and physical abuse. No kids.
posted by manderin at 7:33 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you don't understand why holding down was bad. You know that you get physically violent and take steps to avoid it. He prevented you from leaving! Leaving an argument when it is upsetting for either person is the healthy and respectful thing to do. You two have fought like cats and dogs and his disrespect for your body autonomy will add a lot of danger to this situation. You should lave and continue working on how to improve on the maladaptive skills you learned in your childhood home.
posted by Gor-ella at 7:40 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is classic crazy making behavior. He blamed you for sleeping and then started picking on you. When you stood up to him, he couldn't control you so he resorted to physical violence. You reacted to the abuse.

Same with the holding down and leaving you at the store. It's all to make you fall into line.

Don't allow your reaction to his crazy making behavior guilt you into feeling that you have to stay and live like this. You did nothing wrong by taking a nap, it was just an excuse to take his temper out on you.

Consider this: if you were to put another woman in your place, he would treat her exactly the same way as he is treating you now. You are not a human to him, you are an object to be controlled. When you don't allow him to control you, he erupts.

The trouble is, nothing you do is ever going to be good enough, and you will always be at risk for this type of behavior erupting at any given moment. Do you want to gamble on that because you feel guilty for your reaction to being verbally and physically attacked? If a perfect stranger were to shove you like that, what would you do? Would you stick around and stay near them? Or would you call the cops or run away? Because if I were walking down the street and someone shoved me, I would run away (make myself safe) and then call the cops and report it.

Right now you are going through the calm period. So you are doubting yourself and wondering if you were to blame for his behavior because you were shouting. As a matter of fact, no. And people who are implying that you too set each other off are wrong. You were sleeping and he started verbally abusing you when you woke up. Again, that is typical abuser behavior.

My point is: if you would not put up with this behavior from a stranger, why put up with it from your intimate partner, whom you share a home and life with? It's very typical to have a nice wedding, and then right away, once you were married, he did something controlling by leaving you at the store. Testing to see how much you would put up with. And now he knows you will put up with more and more abuse, verbal and now physical. So there's nothing to stop him from doing it again, whenever he gets ticked off, and as you can see, even the act of sleeping is enough to tick this guy off. He won't change. And you're left walking on eggshells, wondering what the hell is going on.

Call the domestic violence hotline and get your own counselor. Do not go to couples therapy with him, it will be a miserable experience. If you have a place to crash for a few weeks or a month while you work this out in your head, all the better. If you do leave, I would not tell him in advance, I would make a plan and gather up my most important personal belongings and leave when he was at work. Best of luck to you.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:51 AM on January 5, 2015 [23 favorites]

Every single person in this thread, male or female, has taken things too far with a partner during an argument. It may have been physical, a slap or a grab or a shove, it may have been something broken, it may have been social, with retaliatory rumors, it may have been sexual, with an affair. Every single person here is guilty of seriously hurting someone in some way.

Some have broken up. Some are trapped in a cycle of abuse. But some have learned from their mistakes and emerged stronger as a couple. Except in the most egregious of situations - a threat to one's life or primary well-being, where escape is the only viable solution - there is no "if A then B" plan. In some cases, the injurious actions are a harbinger of worse things to come. In other cases, there is a single mistake, there is forgiveness, and discussions and understanding save the day.

You seem concerned that he has not revisited the events of Christmas with you, but it doesn't sound like you've brought it up either. Unless you feel reasonably confident he will become violent again if you bring up the situation - in which case you should certainly leave him, but that doesn't sound to me like the case from your description - it is worthwhile to bring up the issue, in a forgiving fashion, but with an ultimatum - "If you ever touch me again, I'll have to leave, and I'll have to call the police. I can't live in an environment where the kinds of things that happened on Christmas happen again. There will be consequences if anything like this happens again."

He may apologize. He may not. But you will almost certainly get a far clearer understanding of where he's at. A lot of people here are recommending therapy, but, you know, it's a lot cheaper to just discuss things first, even when it's hard to bring it up or hard to talk.

As for the verbal fight, I think Ursula Hitler has this: he's mad because he doesn't get enough time with you. He's almost certainly aware that this is due to your work schedules, and he's almost certainly aware that you're sleeping due to your work schedule, but since he feels like that's out of his control, he doesn't bring it up. While he was mad at you for sleeping - since that was the situation at hand - his reaction just seems like a very inarticulate way to say "I really hate we can't even do our yearly Christmas ritual because of our work schedules. They get in the way of everything." And honestly, accusing someone of being like a five year old for not being able to fully or intelligently articulate what can be an intensely frustrating situation in any marriage (conflicting work schedules keeping a couple apart) is something that would make just about anyone angry at some level.

I'm going to disagree with virtually everyone in this thread. It sounds like it's your work schedules that have the relationship in duress. It sounds like this was a moment when he cracked and very likely did something he regretted, even if he didn't bring it up or apologize, and may not happen again so long as you make sure a boundary is set. I think you guys need to sit down and talk, you letting him know that violence just isn't OK, and both of you discussing the work situation and whether or not there are changes that can be made (in schedules, or communicating schedules, or changing jobs, or better using time when you're together) that will put less stress on your marriage.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 8:09 AM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]

I'm not really comfortable giving you advice, OP, but I wanted to say that I disagree with this:

Every single person in this thread, male or female, has taken things too far with a partner during an argument. It may have been physical, a slap or a grab or a shove, it may have been something broken, it may have been social, with retaliatory rumors, it may have been sexual, with an affair. Every single person here is guilty of seriously hurting someone in some way.

I have never done any of those things during an argument, nor have I had them done to me. FWIW, I don't think that the way that either you or your husband are engaging in conflict is healthy or normal--not the physical part or the verbal part. I think you could both use some professional help with these issues, but I am not comfortable giving you advice about whether it would be best to do that together or separately.
posted by geegollygosh at 8:20 AM on January 5, 2015 [49 favorites]

I completely disagree that this is is true: Every single person in this thread, male or female, has taken things too far with a partner during an argument. It may have been physical, a slap or a grab or a shove, it may have been something broken, it may have been social, with retaliatory rumors, it may have been sexual, with an affair.

I have never done any of these things, and my partner has never done any of these things. We don't even shout at each other when we disagree. It is completely possible to have a relationship where this shit does not happen. I feel like this poster is making it seem like some sort of terrible outcome (violence, cheating, breaking things, being extremely hurtful) is almost inevitable when it comes to romantic relationships. It is not. You can have more, and you deserve more.
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:24 AM on January 5, 2015 [31 favorites]

This isn't really something that can be solved by AskMetafilter. You need to seek immediate help from any sort of organization that provides support to battered women, or perhaps even a lawyer. Perhaps reconciliation is possible, but at the moment a pattern of behaviour has been set; this sort of abuse will likely continue.

I'm really sorry to hear about this, but as I said there is nothing anyone on AskMetafilter can do to help you in your situation. Seek help immediately.
posted by Nevin at 8:25 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, in the mean time, if he's in a bad mood or ragey, just get out of the house. Keep your purse and keys near the door, and put an extra jacket, scarf, a couple of outfits, underwear,toothbrush, etc stuff you need to spend a few nights away in a weekend bag , pre-packed, in the trunk of your car, so you don't have to go back home until you're very sure you'll be safe.
posted by discopolo at 8:37 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

You sound shocked and conflicted.

I don't blame you for not being able to throw away years of a relationship without reservations.

But it does sound like you need to clear your head.

Why don't you take some time off? Is there a friend's house you can crash at, or a really cheap motel you can afford for a week?

I think once you are out of the immediate pressure of dealing with his presence you would be able to calm your thoughts down and maybe make some decisions about how to go forward.
posted by bq at 8:37 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hope you don't take to heart all the comments basically blaming you or condemning you to stay with your abuser because you swore or because you threw and punched property as a reaction to being physically abused.

Work on your anger/communication skills once you are apart from him.
posted by kapers at 8:51 AM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]

Every single person in this thread, male or female, has taken things too far with a partner during an argument. It may have been physical, a slap or a grab or a shove, it may have been something broken, it may have been social, with retaliatory rumors, it may have been sexual, with an affair. Every single person here is guilty of seriously hurting someone in some way.

No, I never have. Husbunny never has. None of my friends have. We may have inadvertently hurt someone through miscommunication, but most of us wouldn't purposely hurt anyone, not enemies, not friends and certainly not people we love or have loved.

It's down right dangerous for anyone here to advocate that you stay and work on this relationship. People doing so do NOT have insight into abusive relationships and may in fact be abusers or tolerate abuse in their own relationships.

If you do nothing else today, call a Domestic Violence hotline to get some perspective. And please ignore anyone here who is telling you to try and work it out. You're not healthy enough to work it out and your husband is not healthy enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:27 AM on January 5, 2015 [18 favorites]

" Every single person in this thread, male or female, has taken things too far with a partner during an argument. It may have been physical, a slap or a grab or a shove, it may have been something broken, it may have been social, with retaliatory rumors, it may have been sexual, with an affair. Every single person here is guilty of seriously hurting someone in some way."

OH MY DEAR LORD. Please, please do not listen to this comment by Tapas. This is simply not true. I'm 35 and In all the relationships I've been in in my life there has NEVER been so much as a shove between any one of us. And an affair (which hasn't happened to me either, but no matter there's still time for that I guess) is NOT in the same league as physically hitting a spouse. Not at ALL. I have a fairly good example of a decent relationship. My parents have been married for over 40 years and have never once been violent towards each other. Even when they fought (which wasn't often) they would never even use curse words. They would yell, but they wouldn't use the F- word or C- word or any of those words. When my father witnessed one of my uncles on my mother's side use a curse word in a fight with his wife his eyes got as big as saucers. It was so alien to him. That someone would use words like that with their spouse no matter how angry they got. Keep in mind that my dad was NOT an emotionally cool person. He was extremely emotional and would lose his temper at times and would sometimes yell loud enough to shake the walls, but never-EVER lifted a finger towards his wife or cursed her out. His parents also stayed married through life. You don't fling a bunch of deragatory names towards your spouse! You especially don't ever lift a hand to your spouse! This goes for both men and women, but obviously for men especially since they have 3x the strength. But neither should ever, ever do this.

Some people in this thread- like you- Don't know what a healthy relationship is. Please be wary of that. Please listen to the people who know that this is an abusive relationship. He will only get worse. Do not tell him your plans to divorce him. Just pack your bags and leave one day while he's at work. He wants to control you so he's going to lose his lid if you try to be the one that takes control and divorce him. Take him by surprise with it. Don't let him know. The only exception to leaving the house now might be if both your names are on the lease of the house. During a divorce if you leave the house it may be held against you and the house could be given to him instead. So I would say speak to a lawyer asap in that case, but either way you should have an emergency bag packed that he can't see, stashed somewhere so that you can get up and leave when he's not expecting it for your own safety.
posted by manderin at 9:29 AM on January 5, 2015 [12 favorites]

What would marriage counseling do? He doesn't think he's doing anything wrong, or he would have apologized. If he doesn't take concrete steps to fix this, there's no reason it won't happen again, and it could be worse. He doesn't have to be a terrible guy 100% of the time for you to be "justified" in leaving. Or even 90% or 80% or 50%.

I know how hard it is to give up and leave. It's gutwrenchingly awful to admit that he was not the person that you thought you were married to, and you will no longer have the life you'd dreamed of together. But it is possible, and it (your life) does get better. Much, much better once you're free of that stress.

You know you should have left 3 weeks into the marriage, and you know what you should do now. All that's left is the logistics. Please call a domestic violence hotline, they can work through that with you. Please reach out to your family and friends, even if you are embarrassed or ashamed. You will be shocked at how many people you know have gone through something similar.
posted by desjardins at 9:44 AM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]

My answer above was written before reading the other comments, but now I have a few things to add.

Sleep deprivation and brain chemistry can absolutely fuck with someone's moods and make them more prone to anger and violent behavior. It does not matter. It never, ever justifies abuse. He is still responsible for it, and if he cannot control his behavior, he needs to remove himself from the situation and fix it. Get more sleep, get medication, get counseling, whatever. He should be doing absolutely everything he can to avoid abusing his wife.

Even if he were completely justified in his anger and resentment (and we all know this isn't just about a movie, come on), it does not excuse abuse and violent behavior. Even if you were angry and violent (which you were, punching doors is violence), it does not excuse abuse and violent behavior.

But, in my experience, if you're deciding to do something unfamiliar, it can make you feel a little surreal and disconnected at the beginning.

This is absolutely the case, it feels like you are walking through a dreamworld or living in a movie. You cannot believe this is really happening, that you are really doing this. That doesn't mean it's the wrong decision. You're paralyzed by indecision, and the easiest thing to do when you're paralyzed is to go back to doing what you've always done. Do the hard thing, do the right thing. It will feel weird, it will feel like you're trying to put on clothes that don't fit. But it will be okay, I promise. Your life will be so much better once you are free of this stress. Feel free to memail me.
posted by desjardins at 10:01 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

While he was mad at you for sleeping - since that was the situation at hand - his reaction just seems like a very inarticulate way to say "I really hate we can't even do our yearly Christmas ritual because of our work schedules. They get in the way of everything." And honestly, accusing someone of being like a five year old for not being able to fully or intelligently articulate what can be an intensely frustrating situation in any marriage (conflicting work schedules keeping a couple apart) is something that would make just about anyone angry at some level.

He charged at her.

He's not just "frustrated". He resents you, OP. And you know in your gut, like you did three weeks after your wedding, that leaving is the right thing to do.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:15 AM on January 5, 2015 [13 favorites]

Every single person in this thread, male or female, has taken things too far with a partner during an argument. It may have been physical, a slap or a grab or a shove, it may have been something broken, it may have been social, with retaliatory rumors, it may have been sexual, with an affair. Every single person here is guilty of seriously hurting someone in some way.

Sure, but I've never charged at my wife and pushed her or held her down. I've gotten cranky and snippy, when angry or frustrated, but never gotten violent or verbally abusive or anything close to it.

So yeah, people get hurt in relationships, but in a healthy one it's because maybe they've gotten too vulnerable very quickly, while the other person wasn't and communication occurs. But then they talk, things are learned and people adjust and it rarely, if ever, happens again.

Seriously, my wife has been hurt because I planned to go the movies with friends and didn't invite her, figuring she wasn't into sci-fi, 'cause she never has been. Then she voices her hurt and I'm like "oh sorry, I thought you didn't like the genre" and she says something like "Not really, but that one looks interesting" or "Not really, but I at least want to be invited, so I know you're thinking of me" and I say "Oh ok!" and then we hug and kiss or something and that mild hurt goes away.

Not every hurt in the relationship, or even most of them, have to be violent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:27 AM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]

Every single person in this thread, male or female, has taken things too far with a partner during an argument. It may have been physical, a slap or a grab or a shove, it may have been something broken, it may have been social, with retaliatory rumors, it may have been sexual, with an affair. Every single person here is guilty of seriously hurting someone in some way.

Just joining the chorus to say this isn't true at all. Well, it might be true for Tapas and those favouriting it, but it's sure as hell not true for me, and it doesn't have to be true for you. I'm not even saying this coming from a place of functional relationships and having it together, I've got neither!

Man, I've gotten so angry I've been briefly paralysed with rage, and I've still never told a partner to "fuck off". The only people I've said that to since adolescence is creepers on public transit. I've never physically attacked a partner (or anyone at all, after early adolescence. Now, if you want to make the above statement about siblings, I'd be more likely to agree.), I've never done anything socially to retaliate.

I do realize, looking back, that most of the people I've dated have lashed out in anger at me at some point, ranging from physical attacks to contemptuous sneers, so I agree this behaviours is very common. But it's not mandatory. I've also dated people who I can't imagine committing any of the acts mentioned by Tapas. These people exist, believe they are out there. The only issue is, if you wanted to have a successful relationship with someone who doesn't lash out at their partner, you need to BE someone who doesn't lash out at their partner.

I think the best thing for you to do would be to separate and spend a few years being single and working on yourself.
posted by Dynex at 10:49 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just to clarify my statement about being someone who doesn't lash out in anger, I'm not saying I could be in a relationship with your husband and have a merry ol' time because by some happen-stance I'm not a person who tries to injure my partner during arguments. He would treat me exactly how he treats you and our marriage would be awful. Anyone in a relationship with a man who screams obscenities and gets physically violent as a reaction to anger and stress is going to have an awful marriage.

I can tell you from having dated guys like that, not reacting the same back at them does not prevent them from behaving that way and repeating the abuse. At best you get this kind of record scratch moment because you've gone completely off the script that they (and those that believe like Tapas that this behaviour is common and normal) are following, but they will always react the same way later on because that's how they react.

The only way to prevent someone from treating you like that is to get up and walk out the door the first time it happens. You can't change them. There's not a magical jingle or tone of voice that can change them. The only person who can change them is themselves, and it's going to be so freaking hard and take so much effort. You'll find this out as you work on why you bash in doors and try to relearn coping mechanisms. Change is HARD.

This is part of why everyone telling you to take your husband to couples counselling are being so ingenuous. This really assumes a lot, that your husband thinks he has a problem, that he wants to change, that he's willing to put in the effort at changing, that he will succeed at that change.

You can't sit back and hope all the pieces fall into the right places when your physical safety is at risk. Learning better communication is one thing, finding ways to solve problems that don't involve petty insults and attacks is another, but once physical violence is in play you just pack your bags and get out the door.
posted by Dynex at 11:15 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Your safety is a primary issue right now. He may not be a total asshole, but right now you two need to be apart. If you can stay with friends or relatives, then it may be easier for you to move than to get him to move. Maybe you can get him to move by suggesting a temporary separation, pending serious counseling. Anyway get separate residences, at least for now. You do not need his permission or approval to do this. This is a safety strategy, not a cooling off strategy.

After you've cooled down, then try to agree on counseling, perhaps separately at first, then later on, together. If he doesn't agree, then don't let that keep you from seeking professional help for yourself. The purpose of the counseling will be for the you to each come to some sort of understanding about what happened, and why. It may be that a divorce is in order, but you won't know that until after you figure out what's going on. Right now you should make decisions that affect you. Later on is when you can make decisions that include him.
posted by mule98J at 11:21 AM on January 5, 2015

Over four years ago, I asked this question. For me, it was a sign of things to come/how scary and bad stuff had gotten, and I was out of there four months later. This might not be the case for you, but I think taking this seriously and looking at the larger picture of the relationship is important. Even if he had never physically hurt me before, we were hurting each other in a lot of ways, and being out of that relationship was a huge relief to me. I'm thinking of you, and wishing you the very best.
posted by superlibby at 11:35 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]

"Merry fucking Christmas" (him), "you're like an impatient five year old" (me), and "fuck off/go fuck yourself"

Just my 2 cents here, but the way you speak to each other is filled with contempt. Even if this is "normal" behavior for you two, I just want you to know that this behavior reeks of contempt to me, and unfortunately, according to Gottman, that doesn't bode well for you as a couple.

Both of you are guilty of acting inappropriately towards the other, and I don't really have advice for you other than to say, I think your relationship is over and you should both move on. How you do that is another thing altogether.
posted by JenThePro at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]

Get out as soon as possible.

Counseling may help. Separation may help. It certainly sounds like he needs help, at least. Doctor, therapist, whatever.

But none of that is going to mean anything if you're unsafe in the meanwhile. You're hurting each other in a lot of ways, but this means that you're both unsafe (you much more so than him). Get out as soon as possible. If he goes through serious effort to straighten himself out, you can reassess then...but that's a "what if" and not an immediate issue you can control.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:54 AM on January 5, 2015

Either this man is emerging as abusive or your relationship has gotten so poisonous and full of contempt that the two of you are running out of words and all that is left is rage. Both of those options suck.

I can understand a person saying that there is no excuse for him to put his hands on you and that should not be tolerated. I can understand a person saying that you've had some explosive rage of your own, with the wall punching and whatnot, and that while that isn't as awful as directing your rage at your partner physically, it isn't good either. And maybe, some would say, this means it's a relationship problem and not a matter of domestic battery.

These two possibilities are so complicated that many people you ask are going to get tripped up in this question: "Is he or isn't he an abuser?" So might you. If you still love this man, as afraid as you may be, there may be the impulse to say, "Hey, this guy is not some batterer," and to try to work through things.

Here's the thing, though: it doesn't make any fucking difference.

Your relationship is poison. Either you've got a man who is sliding down the path to domestic battery or you've got a guy who may not be truly awful inside but becomes extremely awful with you and you become awful when you're with him. Why would you want to be in either of those relationships?

There is contempt in your relationship. It's spilling over physically. This is not a thing that can be fixed.

Move on and be well. Not having kids or overly entangled finances helps a little, but this will still be the probably the worst thing that has ever happened to you. My divorce in similar circumstances nearly killed me. It was still worth it. I've found another life, with a happy marriage, where we're not (literally or figuratively) at each other's throats. I wish the same for you.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:12 PM on January 5, 2015 [14 favorites]

I want to reiterate that OP threw the object and punched the door (neither of which put her husband in harm's way) after he charged her and shoved her onto the floor.

OP, I would suggest you read WHY DOES HE DO THAT by Lundy Bancroft, and take the advice of an expert on abuse over ours. Though well-intentioned, I fear that recommendations of marriage counseling or suggestions that his actions are somehow not abusive because you also behaved in imperfect ways may keep you from realizing how dangerous and unacceptable this situation is.
posted by kapers at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

Want to highlight Monsieur Caution's words. Once you violate the line of civil discourse and cross over into disrespect and contempt, it's very, very hard - I'm going to say impossible - to go back to a mutually respectful relationship built on good faith. I've never seen it happen. It turns partners into enemies. Toxic, poisonous, those are absolutely the right words. The well of goodwill becomes poisoned.

The low blow is seductive, once it's made, because it "wins", in the short term. It's worked for your SO. He just has to scare you a little, and you cave. You might feel trapped into the same kind of response as a defence, because nothing else seems to work, because it's been a long time since he stopped sharing your reality - he's gone hostile and accusatory and is no longer sharing the same goal of resolution.

It's been this way for you two for a long time - it's a habit, built into how you are with each other, and into your shared memories. I really don't see a way of coming back from that with him.

The first time your SO crossed the line, with words, or actions, like leaving you at a store, you took a breath. You knew that was wrong, you felt that violation. You can keep trusting that instinct. The part that needs tweaking is the bit of you that thought "but the wedding and trips were so nice", and wished and hoped for things to improve, because that hope kept you in it long enough to get used to this.

I think with a new person, and a blank slate, you could avoid getting into this kind of dynamic again, if you follow Mr. Caution's wise advice. It will also mean thinking about the partners you choose, and working on yourself and your communication. It's not uncommon for people who've been abused to mimic their abusers, within that relationship and later, because like it or not, they learn that it "wins". That is going to take some unlearning, but you can do it. Just not with your husband.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:30 PM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]

I have to say that divorce is tough but basically only because we have a kid together. Making the decision was agonizing but once we actually separated, it was so so easy to adjust. The legal stuff is a pain, not much more.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:54 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is abuse. Your husband is escalating. You can't see that because you're too close to the situation. You can't feel the truth that you need to leave him because you're in shock.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: please understand that this isn't about who's morally correct, or fixing your toxic relationship, it's about interrupting an emerging pattern of violence and escalation before it claims your life. It really is that serious and you have to take this seriously for your own safety.

I'll outline it for you:

That time he left you at the grocery store? While it was technically non-violent (though still abusive), it was his way of testing your boundaries to see what kinds of abusive behavior he could get away with. Classic abuser behavior: abandoning you in an unfamiliar or dangerous place.

That time he held you down on the bed? It was another way for him to test your boundaries and slowly get you used to physically abusive behavior without the painful or startling violence that might have allowed you the moment of clarity needed to leave him. Classic abuse behavior: confining you or keeping you from leaving.

Then this last incident where he pushed you down? It's a clear instance of physical violence and it's an escalation. This is a pattern that's been going on for a while and if you stay it will continue until he either makes your life miserable or he actually kills you. Classic abuser behavior: pushing/shoving, physical violence. Classic abuser behavior: gaslighting you, blaming you for "problem".

Women are far more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men and you should be aware that many women are murdered by their intimate partner are killed during an argument. The fact that there's so much vitriol and anger during arguments is a really, really bad sign - especially when you consider his recent behavior.

While it may be true that your own behavior isn't stellar, you're not responsible for him hurting you. You're not responsible for his behavior or him abandoning you at the store or holding you down on the bed or pushing you down. You need to stop thinking, "But I'm just as bad as him!" because it doesn't matter right now. This relationship is toxic and it cannot be saved. You definitely need therapy for yourself, but marriage counseling, as Ruthless Bunny points out, is not appropriate for this situation.

To that end, don't tell him you're leaving or divorcing him. Definitely take your pet(s) with you when you go because abusers frequently hurt or kill them as a way to get revenge when their preferred victim isn't available. If it's safe to do so, work out a plan for leaving that he has no access to. If you have time, erase all of your passwords, caches and internet histories on any computers/devices you leave behind. Make sure you take your phones, computers/pdas/tablets, important documents and any medicines with you. If you have space and time, take anything that's irreplaceable because he will more than likely destroy it.

If you need to talk to someone because you're unsure, why not call or visit a domestic violence organization? Sometimes talking to someone whose voice you can hear helps more than reading articles on the internet or even reading AskMefi.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence - State Coalition List
posted by i feel possessed at 3:08 PM on January 5, 2015 [21 favorites]

*should be "many women WHO are murdered by their intimate partner are killed during an argument". Sorry, missed during editing.
posted by i feel possessed at 3:16 PM on January 5, 2015

So both of you are physically and emotionally abusive. Recognize that, and THEN decide what you want to do about it.
posted by stormyteal at 10:29 PM on January 5, 2015

It's time to go. I give you permission. Please. You are not an abuser.
posted by macinchik at 10:46 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Every domestic abuse article I can find says to leave, but following that advice from some generic article feels more like "well, A happened, so I have to do B," rather than a bona fide decision on my end. Like I said, I grew up with this; verbal and physical abuse was my normal until I was 20, even though it's something I never, ever wanted to follow me to my married life.

Here's the thing. The part of you that is sane wants to leave and knows it's the right thing to do. But the unhealthy part of your conditioning is looking for excuses to stay -- like, "Hey, all these domestic abuse articles by experts say leave but that just sounds like following a rule!"

The truth is, you will stay until you leave. None of us can make you leave. When you feel that your breaking point has been reached, you will take the steps necessary to escape what is an extraordinarily abusive and toxic situation.l

My question for you is, what would your breaking point be? Would he have to shove you again? Hit you? Punch you? Scream at you uncontrollably? How much torture are you willing to put up with? How much would be enough for you to follow the rule
that says "I deserve better than this shitty relationship?"

All of us who witnessed abuse growing up have to learn new emotional rules. This isn't a cop out - it's part of re-wiring your brain and your behavior for healthier patterns.

I really hope that you find the strength to take a leap of faith and trust your healthier impulses - the wisdom that is stirring inside you even now, telling you that a better life is possible. You are not condemned to live out the abuse you grew up with. Healing is possible.

Here are your next steps:

1. As everyone else said: from a safe place, call that domestic violence hotline. Get your escape plan ready and do not tell him a thing.

2. Get yourself a therapist for SOLO counseling.

3. Let this be the very last Christmas a psychopath charges at you and calls himself your husband.

4. New rule: Love yourself fiercely. Follow it religiously.
posted by Gray Skies at 4:37 AM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

If my friend described this I would advise them to leave immediately (following the sensible abuse-prevention steps listed above) and seek therapy. Of course that's easy advice to give and hard to follow, but I hope you manage to improve your situation. It's no kind of life, living with that horrible tension of potential violence.
posted by Drexen at 8:04 AM on January 6, 2015

Abuse is a very deep rooted issue that is above you and him. It does not magically fix itself in a few sessions of therapy. Take therapy for yourself and find ways to heal yourself first. You don't have children and so you can still leave this situation with a clean break. Take this wisdom from the people here if possible and please plan your exit.
posted by gadget_gal at 10:10 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I posted this question a while back. Although your situation is different than mine, I think you will find some very similar overtones. Lundy Bancroft's book "Why Does He Do That?" has been tremendously helpful to me, and has some excellent insights into abusive behaviour. And do not go to couples counseling. The statistics show it won't work, or worse, it could place you in greater danger.

Something helpful that a lot of people pointed out to me is that:
a) there were lots of signs indicating that there was a problem before the abuse started, and
b) once abuse starts, it almost always escalates.

Take a very close look at your life with this man. Do these ring true for you?

Another thought I've been pondering lately: It's easy for someone to be nice/kind, etc. when things are going well... However, it's what someone does when things are tough that determines what kind of person they truly are. If someone is respectful and doesn't resort to abuse when things are bad, that is a truly great person to build a life with. Which kind of person is your husband? Which kind are you?

As someone who has experienced abuse in relationships, I understand how hard it is to leave. Hell, it might be hard just to seek the counseling you need to face the reality of what you're going through. But please do something proactive for yourself. You have been hurt and you need to heal. My thoughts are with you.
posted by chatelaine at 9:45 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

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