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Thread: Warning Signs? What to do?

  1. #1
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    Warning Signs? What to do?

    I've been married to my husband for two years, and we've had a great relationship since the beginning. He's been the exact opposite of what anyone would think of as an abusive person: he helps out around the house (does most of the cooking), he's never controlling, is respectful of women (especially his mother), respects my job, my independence; he even unashamedly carries my purse for me in public. Hopefully that helps set up the picture. Great guy, family loves him, friends love him, etc.

    The topic came up about a year ago--he grinds his teeth in his sleep. When I asked him about it, he said he has "anger issues" and has pretty violent nightmares, so his teeth grind a lot. The teeth grinding made sense; he does yell out a lot in his sleep and thrash around. The part that didn't make sense was the "anger issues," and I had a hard time believing him. He is the most laid-back, quiet, easy-going type of person. He was a little irritated that I didn't believe him and told me that his psychologist has confirmed that he has anger issues. Fair enough. Nothing had surfaced since then, and a little teeth grinding was no big deal. Again, this was about a year ago.

    Then this week happened. We've gotten into two big fights, which involved a lot of sarcastic and mean comments on both ends (that's usually all our fights amount to and then we work through it). On Monday, however, after I kicked his pillow off the bed, he sprung on the bed and raised his fist like he was going to punch me and said "I could just punch you right now." Granted, we were pushing each other's buttons, but I've never seen him do anything like that. My response was completely unfearful because it was very unlike him. I responded with a confused "what?" and he turned around and immediately left the room. I knew he was angry, and he didn't actually hit me, so it kind of blew over and I didn't think of it again. Unfortunately again this Wednesday we got into another fight. This time, amongst some snarky remark I said to him (I honestly don't remember what it was--we throw a lot of mean comments back and forth), he backed me up against the wall, put his hand accross my throat as if to choke me and raised his opposite hand in the air in that wound-up-punch position. Similar to the previous fight, he said, "I could just choke you right now." I was heated this time, and I told him to do it and see what happened. Also similar to last time, he backed away and walked out of the room right afterward. At first, I was going to let it blow over like last time, but this time I followed him up the stairs. I looked straight at him and, while crying, told him in a very stern voice that if he EVER carried through those actions and hit or punched me (etc.) that I would be out the door and it would be over. I made it very clear to him that if it ever happens, our marriage would be over. He was silent the entire time I spoke to him. Since then, we haven't spoken. It's been about 48 hours.

    What I said is absolutely true: I would pack my bags, call my parents, and leave the second he did anything. But he didn't. He only raised his fist, placed his hand on my throat. I'm not sure where to go from here. Is he really a physically abusive person? It's ridiculously hard to imagine. He doesn't fit any of the other "warning signs" listed on websites I've looked at. Not a single one. He's not controlling, secretive, manipulative, etc. People would be completely shocked--I wonder if they'd even believe me. I can barely believe what happened myself. What do I do from here? He openly admits he has anger issues; he's seen a psychologist about it; he's not in denial... Do we go through counseling? Is this salvageable? Am I being pathetic or making excuses when I say "but he didn't actually hit me..."? I'm not one to put up with bull****, but this completely came out of left field. Were these two fights severe enough to be red flags? I mean, people push each other's buttons all the time (believe me, I know, I teach high schoolers) but you don't turn around and threaten to punch them as a response, especially your spouse. There should be no excuse, right? I don't know. I'd like some feedback. I really don't want it to escalate into an actual punch and have my marriage be over. Because it would be over.

  2. #2
    Angel Irulan's Avatar
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    I got, by the end of the first paragraph that your hubby might feel in a submissive position: doing all the cooking, carrying your handbag, surely those are symbolic of female stereotypical behaviors and it might bother him. It bothered me reading it! And secondly, what really bothered me in reading this is that you did not call the cops when the man put his hand on your throat. Do you realize that he could kill you that way, without really even meaning to? Cut off your air or the important blood flow to your brain for even a few seconds and your life might be a moot point! (Read all the kids who die in 'The Choking Game' and you will see what I mean.) You should have put an end to that one by getting him thrown in jail! I don't care if you'd never ever had a problem of any type before, that's a clue that something is seriously wrong.

    You need to get him into individual therapy for his passive aggression and you both into couples therapy.

    I wish you good luck.

    Angel

  3. #3
    Gold Member Citlali's Avatar
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    I think he has to continue seeing a therapist alone to work on his personal issues and that you two need to seek therapy together at some point to work on comunicating in a more healthy manner, i.e. without "pushing buttons." How is it you had no idea he has anger issues? When and why did he start seeing a therapist? It's just odd to me to not know that kind of stuff about your own husband. In any case, you need to sit down and talk to your husband, express your support of his therapy sessions, and ask that you both seek therapy together for the sake of the marriage. Clearly, there's no excuse for either a man or a woman to raise his or her hand to or place them on his or her spouse. But both sides also have to take responsibility for how they express disagreements within the marriage. Now that you see he does have issues to work through you'll need to change the way you communicate with him. Of course, this doesn't mean that what he did wasn't wrong or that you "deserved" it. I think you may also have to evakuate his submissive behavior. I mean, carrying your purse? Really? Have you thought that maybe this bothers him, though he won't say so? Anyhow, you're in time to work together on this so that the marriage won't end. Frankly, though, of my fiancÚ even raised his hand at me, I'd leave in a second.

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    Thanks for the feedback. I should have clarified--he doesn't buy into all of the gender stereotype bull**** (one reason why I married him). He enjoys cooking and is very good at it, and he does the purse carrying thing in defiance of that stereotype. I almost always carry my purse; it's just something he's done before as a laugh. I was using those as examples to show how he is quite the opposite of controlling or manipulative--which is what all the websites say abusive people are.

    Anyway, so the hand on the throat is raising the biggest red flag? This is the feedback I was looking for. He had his hand there, but he wasn't actually putting any pressure on or choking me. Still, though, not okay at all. I'm thinking couples therapy is the way to go too.

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  6. #5
    Super Moderator Capricorn3's Avatar
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    Yes, I think counselling would be a very good idea for BOTH of you, as you seem to have anger issues too. He is open about his anger issues and is seeing a psychologist about it. He is already in treatment, but what about you? You admit to pushing his buttons and say that "we throw a lot of mean comments back and forth". That doesn't sound like a very healthy marriage to me at all and for that reason alone, I think counselling would be a good idea. "Throwing a lot of mean comments back and forth" is hardly a recipe for a good and stable marriage, imo.

    You are fully aware of his anger issues, he has told you about it and you know he's seeing a psychologist about it. He seems to know how to handle it by walking out when he's mad. It would probably be a very good idea that you don't push his buttons, and don't provoke things by following him, or making mean and snarky comments when he leaves the room etc. Take his example - when you get angry, walk out and cool off.

    Counselling would be a very good idea for both of you.

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    No Citlall, and that's the thing. Absolutely no warning signs besides the teeth grinding thing. Up until this fight, he has been very level-headed and fair whenever we've had a disagreement, which is one thing I really admired about him (one reason I married him, actually). I tend to think I've made pretty sound decisions in life so far, so this incident is really throwing me for a loop, hence why I'm writing on here. He's been seeing a therapist since high school for depression-related reasons.
    Last edited by ICC8; 07-13-2012 at 03:12 AM.

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    Good idea for counseling, get everything out and work it out. Nothing can't be solved in this world.

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    Quick question, though. Isn't an argument an argument? Generally they involve throwing comments back and forth at each other that aren't so nice. This wasn't a scathing, verbal-abuse type of argument, (sarcasm yes; unnecessarily cruel and vicious, no), and we don't argue very frequently; it hasn't been a traumatized marriage, and I don't think having an argument qualifies it as unhealthy. Occasional arguments come pretty standard with marriage. Yes, he did walk away, but he also threatened me before he walked away, which would contribute to why he has an anger issue. I didn't make "snarky" comments after he left the room, that would have been a very bad idea. I didn't get physical with him or throw objects or anything similar, so perhaps a psychologist could say I have an anger problem, but that hasn't primarily been an issue. I'm open to work on myself and my end of the bargain, of course, but it's the physical reaction from him that is most alarming right now.
    Last edited by ICC8; 07-13-2012 at 03:11 AM.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Crazyaboutdogs's Avatar
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    On Monday, however, after I kicked his pillow off the bed
    I think you are making light of your own anger issues. Your last post seems to downplay what you said in your first post. He had already told you he has anger issues so he realizes he has a problem....as his wife, by not believing him, you were not really supporting him. By throwing insults around and kicking pillows off the bed, you are adding fuel to the fire...it is almost like waving the red flag in front of the bull. Put another way, if someone tells you they are on a diet and is working hard on losing the weight, would you wave a chocolate cake in front of their face? This is in essence what you are doing by throwing insults and throwing pillows...it is unwittingly baiting him and drawing out of him the over-the-top anger that he is trying very hard to control. Of course his actions were very wrong...but he already knows it. Remember that he walked away without carrying through on any major violence...but if you keep on fighting in this way with him, then one day he won't be able to master himself. He has an anger problem and he recognizes it and it trying to do something about it...believing him would have been the first step to supporting him... communicating with less nastiness would have been the second way to support him. In this case by supporting him, you are also supporting your relationship and your own well-being.

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    Thanks for the feedback. In my previous post, I was attempting to clarify what happened because there is a big difference between mean comments during the argument, which is what I wrote, and yelling them after he's left the room (that would most certainly be baiting). Events that didn't actually happen were being added to the conversation, which isn't going to help.

    I understand not pushing buttons and definitely think I could downplay it to help him out, and this is probably something a counselor would discuss with us. I don't think "walking on eggshells" so I don't get punched or choked during an argument is a healthy attitude, either. I really would like feedback on the near-punch and near-choking incident and the severity of it--if it was just part of an argument we shouldn't have escalated to, or if I should have called the police and taken more action. I'm still not entirely convinced that defending myself during the conversation qualifies as me having anger issues. I should definitely be more conscientious of what I am saying as to not trigger or "wave the cake," but I feel like, if I had done anything other than roll over and cower, people would immediately jump to "anger issues too" platform. I do think kicking the pillow off the bed was a "baiting" action that I shouldn't have done. I should have just taken my own pillow and headed to the couch to signal that I didn’t want him in bed with me. That would have been a better decision. It was a bad decision, but I didn’t kick it out of uncontrollable rage or the desire to hit him with it or anything like that. I think that’s the difference between having anger issues and baiting or making stupid choices, the latter of which I did. Anyway, perhaps a counselor would not agree with me or agree with you or who knows; I’m certainly not against viewing this in a new light, and I appreciate your comments. Since “counselor” has been thrown around so much here, I’m guessing it’s time to call one. That will be on my agenda for the day. Thanks for listening.


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