On Your Mind: Answer to a local mom’s question

on your mind

Dear Tom,

My husband and I got into an argument about his friend’s wife and the fight turned ugly as usual. This time we have a newborn baby and he pushed me 3 or 4 times, screamed obscenities, broke the baby’s pack and play, and threatened to leave me. I don’t know where to go from here. I’m tired of being talked to the way I am by him. I try so hard and I give everything to him, and I need to be there for my son now. I want this perfect family and it is until I feel like this. I can’t live like this anymore!

Dear Mom,

This is serious — VERY serious. What your husband did is called “assault” and/or “spousal abuse” in most states, according to state law.

During any marriage, arguments are bound to occur and sometimes they can become intense or heated, but the argument and its intensity should never result in, nor justify, “hands on” one spouse to another.  That is just unacceptable.

Not only is it unacceptable, it also crosses a boundary that can result in you and your baby getting hurt. Not only can it cause physical harm, it can also trigger psychological distress and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Sometimes spouses develop codes of conduct for disagreements. These codes or rules contain mutually agreed upon principles for disagreements or arguments, such as:

  • We’ll listen to each other without interrupting, taking turns to explain how each one of us sees things.
  • We won’t call each other hurtful names.
  • We will NEVER touch, push, hit, shake, break things or throw things at each other.

Those are pretty basic rules and should become a mandatory part of how you and your husband talk to each other.

The fact that you mention the fight turned ugly “as usual,” and that you are “tired of being talked to this way” tells me this is something that has occurred before,  and it may even be his pattern of behavior. Listen, this is not just about  you anymore. It’s about the baby, too. This pattern of behavior will hurt your baby, physically and/or psychologically. I know you don’t want that.

So here’s what you do: IF YOU FEEL THAT IT’S SAFE, talk to your husband about what happened during the argument. Make sure you’re clear with him that pushing or ANY type of physical contact during an argument is absolutely unacceptable.

Then see if you can get him to agree to a new set of rules that apply to any and all arguments. If he’s not willing to do that — or if you feel like it’s not safe to talk to him about it — you’ve got to get into counseling right away.

If he won’t agree to no contact during arguments or to seeing a counselor, you also NEED to decide what your plans are. You have options:

  • Women’s shelters can help you — Fayetteville’s Peace at Home (479-442-9811)
  • NWA Women’s Shelter (479-246-9999) in Rogers
  • Ozark Guidance can provide counseling too at 750-2020.

Mom – one positive note for you is that you recognize that you “don’t want to live this way.” Please don’t ignore your own gut feelings about this. Get help as soon as you can.

Best wishes to you.


Tom Petrizzo serves as CEO of Ozark Guidance and has degrees in social work and law. You can reach Ozark Guidance at 479-750-2020. Tom has spent the last 20 years managing non-profit centers in Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas. He has also served as adjunct faculty at the social work graduate program at three large universities. He’s married to Teri Classick, a licensed clinical social worker, and they have two daughters. When he’s not at work, Tom likes to jog, bike ride, read and he even belted out the National Anthem lately at a Northwest Arkansas Naturals Game!

Tom 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. Tom will be back each month to answer another woman’s question.

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.