Abusive Relationships/Should I Stay or Should I Go
I have been married to my husband for 25 years. The first 15 years there was no abuse. Since then there have been several incidents, each getting increasingly worse. We can go 5 years without an incident and then something happens and bang. I have been drug to the floor, flipped, hit, etc (probably a total of ~ 6 incidents in the life of our marriage). The most recent incident was the worst.
We had been out together, at a dinner party with friends, and had a few glasses of wine throughout the course of the evening. When we got home he was agitated that I didn't want to make love. So, he rolled over and played music very loud on his phone. When he would not turn it off, I reached over him to turn it off, and ended up on the floor. Things got much worse from there. He says that I was hitting him as I reached over him, but that is not my memory of it. I remember him pushing me away and me striking him back. Admittedly, everything from that evening is a bit of a blur to me. I do know that after being pushed to the ground, smacking my face on the bedside table and landing square on my shoulder, I got up and punched him square in the face (leaving a nasty bruise)
I am very confused. I am a confident successful woman. I am scared. I am worried that it is me. I am strong-minded and a "fighter" by nature. I love my husband and I don't want to leave. I feel as though I am less tolerant and even get agressive toward him (like reaching over him to turn the music off ---- maybe even striking him myself. My question is this: Am I abused or is it "us"'? Is it me? If we get help, is there hope?
I really don't want to leave this man. We have worked on our relationship so much over the years, and it has made a big difference in other areas.
Thank you for writing and asking these very good questions. Knowing what to do can be difficult especially when physical altercations enter into the picture after many years without any such events. First of all, physical force is just that—force--using force to get your own needs met without any regard to the other’s feelings, wants or needs. Physical force is usually done and can become a “habit” when healthy communication skills are not used. Verbal abuse, lying and other behaviors such as turning on the music loudly fall under the same category.
Your question of are you abused or is it “us” or you and the answer is any pattern of physical altercations is considered abusive and aggressive behavior. Being scared and worried is a good thing and hopefully will lead you into seeking counseling to resolve these issues of aggression which needs to stop if you are going to develop a healthy relationship. Learning new communication skills without aggression may do the trick if both of you are willing to go through the process of learning new ways of expressing your needs and wants. If you both are willing to do that, than there may be hope. If you are not, then you are better to go your separate ways before someone really gets hurt.
Another approach is to start seeing a professional counselor yourself that may help start the process if your husband is not willing to go down this road. Learning healthier approaches and responses to situations will help reduce aggressive attacks and keep yourself safe. Then if your husband still refuses to learn new communication skills, you will have the answer you are looking for. But regardless, this type of altercation needs to stop to keep yourself safe and from getting hurt.
If he is willing to seek a marriage counselor and learn new communication skills, that would be your first choice. If he is not, then seeking a counselor for yourself would be the second choice. Taking these two steps will give you the answers you are looking for.
Thank you for writing and keeping yourself safe is the goal. Please keep asking questions as you go along and remember, you have the power to create a happier and healthier life and reaching out for help is the first step in making that happen!
Much peace to you,
Cathy Backlund, Life Coach, Specializing in Abusive Relationships and Domestic Violence Education