Domestic Violence/Hoping counseling is the next option and that I'm not just being dilusional.
Hello, my question is that I want to know if counseling is the smart choice for my husband and I or if its something that I need to walk away from. Some background my husband and I have been together for 5 years and married for 1.5, we have a 2 year old daughter and just bought a home together. The beginning of our relationship was a little strained, I left my fiance for him (I was only 19 and the engagment was a huge mistake) but it put a strain on our relationship, he was never physically abusive but definitely mentally. When we would fight he would always storm out of the house and leave for the night noramlly coming back at midnight or so and sleeping on the couch. We were young and most of the fights were very stupid, stemming from jealousy and thrusting ourselves into a very serious relationship way to quickly. Things calmed down and he evened out as he grew up some and we got to know each other better. After dating for just about 2 years I found out I was pregnant, we were so scared and excited but never viewed it as a bad thing. The fighting increased a slight about while I was pregnant but he came out writing a note saying how scared he really was for being a dad, after we talked about it things seemed to get better. Once we had our daughter things stayed about par for the course when we would fight he would threaten to leave me and then leave for the night and come back later, I finally grew the nerve to call him out on it and say "okay is this just going to be like every other time and I'll see you tonight" he still left but said it really opened his eyes and that he wanted to start getting better about it. We had our wedding and things seemed to get a lot better, 2 months after our wedding we moved out of state for his job and things were wonderful, very little fighting ect. About 6 months ago my parents came to town and visited so for the first time in quite awhile we were able to go out for a night. We had a very nice time and I felt like I got to dress up like I normally wasnt able to since it wasnt really mom attire. When we were walking out of the movie theather I notice a guy who took a second look at me and it made me happy because I felt like I lost a lot of my "sex appeal" when I became a mother. I told him that I saw a guy check me out and he became very quiet and odd for the rest of the drive home. I confronted him about it later and told him that I realized I may have used the wrong words but he was very upset and told me that I should have some modesty and was trying to force me out of our room and was holding me up against the wall and I wouldnt budge so he threw me on the bed. He didn't hurt me but I was very upset with him. The next day he said he was embarrassed about the way he acted but that he was still upset about what I said, that I should be confident because he thinks I'm beautiful not some random guy. I explained that I was confident because of him but just the other day after I told him he looked very nice in a specific one of his shirts he told me how he liked to wear it because he always got lots of compliments when he wore it and that it was no different because he works primarily with females. He said he understood but I know he was still unhappy about it but we moved passed it. Recently I have been far more confident in myself I feel like I have the ability to stand up for myself far more than I did when I was younger, possibly because I want to project a strong role model for our daughter but because of that when we do fight I now really push his buttons. But never as bad as I had last night. He was upset with me because I was trying to help him fix one of our sprinklers and he was in our backyard and I was in our front by the control pannel. He was shouting what he needed me to do and I was doing the best that I could understanding what he needed but his instructions were unclear and our daughter had found her way outside to me. As I was starting to head into the backyard to see what he was trying to say he just shouted nevermind and to turn them off. So I did and went inside he was inside and I bluntly asked what I did wrong. He told me I was absolutely zero help and that I should have figured out some way to put our daughter inside and that I finally got the brains at the very end to actually open the gate from the front yard to the back to see what he needed. I responded telling him that he was incorrect and that I was helping and that his insructions of turn the other one on were not clear and he could have helped more, and that I also didnt know what he wanted me to do about our daughter following me outside. He got upset and said he was going to go outside to be useful and I sat down with our daughter and told him to have fun. And then he told me that I think I am so cute and I just smiled back and he went off. He started yelling at me telling me that I didnt respect him and I told him I felt like he treats me like a child. He told me all I do is take take take and buy things and he held up a new nail polish I had just gotten in the mail that day and asked what if I smashed this what then. I told him that was fine so he did, I could honestly care less about the material things it was more his temper that scared me at this point. I told him that was a dumb choice because now he had to clean up spilled nail polish and shattered glass. And he said oh now your the calm one and he walked over to me and put his hands around my neck at first I thought he was just trying to scare me and I started telling him to stop it but he actually squeezed tighter to the point where I couldnt speak or breath but then let go as soon as I hit that point and I screamed at him do you want me to call the cops to which he replied go ahead. Of course I did not do that but instead I just started crying on the couch about what had just happened he was walking to my office to get nail polish remover and said I'm sorry. He started to clean up the polish he broke and asked me to take our daughter to bed who had been watching a tv show at the time. It was just a little early for her bed time so I took her and got her ready for bed and put her down. When I came back out he had a suitcase packed and said he was going to get a motel for a couple days. I asked him not to leave and for us to alk about it. He said no that I didnt deserve to be treated that way and it was unacceptable what he did earlier. He left and we text a few times again he told me what he did was not okay and that I deserved better than that. He came home and slept on the couch but left for work before we got up in the morning. I'm so confused I just want to write it off and continue with our life but I'm actually scared now. I don't want our daughter to grow up with that but a part of me still can't believe that he could be like that. Is counseling a good option for us, or have we been on the path to separating. I really don't want to leave him but I also don't want my daughter or I to be abused ever.
Thank you for writing and asking these very good questions. Relationships are challenging under the best of circumstances but when abuse enters into the picture, something has to change. You are right about how important it is to not have your daughter witness such events and needing to protect her. Good for you.
Your question of can counseling help or do you need to walk away is a difficult question to answer. Most of the time, abusive behavior escalate such as you are seeing and can become very, very dangerous. The good news is that your husband seems to know that he has a problem which if the case, then counseling may help him. But he needs to see a counselor.
If you really want to save your marriage, I would suggest that you seek another place to live and see a professional counselor by yourself and encourage your husband to see a counselor who specialize in domestic violence for men. Your husband needs to learn better and more effective ways to communicate his anger which may mean dealing with some past childhood issues that is causing him to react in such ways.
But you need to understand that this is NOT your fault that he responds is such ways and it is HIS responsibility to seek help and learn better ways to deal with his anger. In the meantime, your counselor can help you stay strong and guide you to rebuilding a life for yourself and your child. Then if your husband gets the help that he needs and changes the way he responds to anger, then you can reevaluate the relationship at that time.
A program as such usually takes at least 6 months to a year to complete and would encourage you to stay away at least that long to see if he sticks with the program and can maintain the change but just to let you know, MOST cannot make the permanent change and fall back into their abusive ways.
You also need to understand that he will NOT change without counseling and to pretend that this will go away only puts yourself and your daughter in more danger. Taking the proper steps today will ensure a happier and healthier life for you and your daughter.
Please keep asking questions as you go along and always remember, you deserve the very best in life and you have the power to make that happen.
Much peace to you,
Life Coach, Specializing in Abusive Relationships and Domestic Violence Education