On Your Mind: Husband in a rage

on your mindNOTE: The question below reached us through our “online hotline” button which lets anyone send a question to a local counselor at Ozark Guidance — in a completely anonymous way. The email comes in with no email address and no identifying information. We set it up this way so women would feel free to write about anything on their mind.

I am seeking some direction or advice on where to go from here.  I’m a mother of two beautiful boys (3 and 1yr).  I’m a wife to my (normally) very loving husband of 6 years. Two days ago he was trying to wake me up to get the kids ready for the sitter’s house. After a very busy weekend hosting friends and kids, I asked for 5 more minutes to sleep. He then started to toss things at me from the bathroom where he was getting ready. I of course was awake after that but just laid there with my eyes open to honestly see what other crazy things he was going to come up with to get me out of bed.

He then came over and grabbed my leg to drag me out of bed. My feeling was that, yes, he was angry. But that this was a playful yet, serious gesture. As soon as he grabbed my leg, I hopped out of bed and went to the bathroom to ask “What is your problem?” He started shouting and yelling about how lazy I am along with a bunch of expletives. 

He was in an obvious rage and I couldn’t help but throw back two sample size hotel bottle shampoos back at him and he immediately came at me and threw me back and I went to the floor. I consider myself tough and am not an easy size to knock off balance. I am 6′ tall. I was in shock and just yelled back and wanted to go right back at him. I was for the first time scared of my husband. After he left that morning, he sent me a message stating how sorry he was and how he regrets that it got to that level. 

He has been physical prior to this but all were directly related to alcohol consumption and happened before we were married and had children.

I just want to know how to best handle this? I know I did set him off, even more than he already was by throwing back two of the small bottles he initially threw at me. I know he is normally very loving and only wants recognition and appreciation. 

I  am trying to be honest with myself and honest about the details of what happened because I consider any man who lays a hand on a woman an animal. At least I thought that’s how I felt. I won’t speak to him and have asked him for space until I can figure this out. 

How do I handle this with him?

Response by Diane Shott, MS LPC, NCC; Erin Goodwin, MS, LPC; and Erica Boughfman, PhD, LPC

It’s terribly hard to approach a difficult subject with someone that you care about. It’s hard to know what to say and when to say it.

It sounds like you want to address the issue that occurred on that morning but are unsure of how to approach the topic. You write asking for advice; but first, I want to reflect upon the accuracy of your statement “I know I set him off.”  As kindly as I can say this: You want to be honest with yourself, so please start there. You may have pushed a button of his but it doesn’t excuse his actions.

In situations like this, it’s important to trust your instincts. If you feel afraid for your safety, you should trust that feeling.

Relationship violence is a very serious concern and will likely need professional intervention to make the needed changes. I would recommend that you both seek the help of a professional counselor who can help guide what is needed to improve the safety and communication in your relationship both individually and as a couple. This will also allow you and your husband to have the needed conversations in a safe environment.

It’s also important to have a safety plan in place in case the violent behavior continues or escalates. This can include having a plan for how you would leave, having a code word you can say to your older child to alert him or her to call the police, and a plan for where you would go if you needed to leave.

I would also encourage you to seek out the Peace At Home Shelter in Northwest Arkansas. They have a 24/7 crisis line (479.442.9811 or toll free 877.442.9811) and also have information on their website peaceathomeshelter.org.

Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.