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My husband got angry at me during an argument yesterday and threw his keyboard (in shattered) and ripped down the whiteboard (may have thrown it, I don't know. We had left the room) on the wall and raged a bit more (I heard a few bangs, but doesn't appear to be more damage). I was holding my 9 month old (who screamed), but left the room and closed the door. I was a bit scared and I know my son was, but likely from reading my reaction. I calmly reassured him and played with him alone in the other room and he bounced back quickly, but it alarmed me.

Before baby, nothing like this had happened. About 6 months ago, husband threw and shattered a mug in anger during an argument, though.

I don't know how concerned I should be. Keeping my son safe is obviously my #1 priority.

I know he would not intentionally hurt either of us, but the display of rage is intimidating and frightening.

I am seeking professional help to try to help with my part of the communication problem. In this case, we had a disagreement and he started stonewalling, which is his usual. I normally can just let it go and let him cool off (sometimes takes a day or two), but yesterday, I was just tired of like my concerns were being rug swept, and I kept on talking and really raise my voice. I know I need to work on my tone with him, because obviously, it triggers something for him, but I also know it is 100% his responsibility how he handles his anger when triggered. To me, throwing things seems like an unacceptable display of rage, particularly in front of the baby.

Yesterday, I was feeling triggered by his stonewalling and raised my voice. I know that was my responsibility, and when he told me to pause, I should have listened. Like I said, I am seeking therapy to learn how I can catch myself before raising my voice. I know I had a major part in the argument and it was disrespectful of me to continue talking, even when he was telling me to pause, as he clearly needed some time to cool off. And I also think raising my voice was probably inappropriate in front of the baby. But I feel like throwing stuff is over the line. I need some perspective.

In my family, we raised our voices, but never threw anything. I can't imagine that ever being acceptable in my family, and I would be ashamed to tell my family that my husband has done this and that I have stayed.

I think for him, raising voice must be a big trigger. I'll try to remember for the future. He was verbally and physically abused as a child and especially teen.

I've asked repeatedly for us to go to therapy and he refuses. I think we had some problems with communication before baby (me having a tendency to want to hash out the argument and quickly get through it, him straight up stonewalling on most disagreements), but baby has really highlighted it and made it much worse.

How concerned should I be? Now that baby is in the picture, he has often told me to shut up and called me stupid, called me a bitch Or told me to stop bitching (neither are acceptable to me, and my family would never have treated each other that way), and these two incidents of throwing things. When I talk to him calmly later about the names and the shut ups, he says it doesn't seem like a big deal to him. I haven't brought up the throwing stuff, but my guess is he will try to say it is my fault for continuing to talk/argue when he told me he wanted to stop (again, I realize I should have stopped, but I think he should have gone for a walk or something, anything, rather than fly into a scary rage like that).

I'm just concerned about our son seeing this as he grows. I was scared (I don't think he would intentionally hurt either of us, but I know plenty of people say that and end up in horrible situations...my sense is it would never be intentional, but it is intimidating...made me feel like I had no choice to shut up and get away so as not to be hurt by some random debris from his rage).

I don't want my son to grow up thinking it's ok to call names or throw things in anger. If husband won't seek help, is there any way he will get better, though?

I already am just like, well I 100% can never have an argument with him in front of our child again...which I think is unrealistic. My next thought it, well, I have to work really hard to own my way of handling the anger and work on healthy expression. But it is like eggshells sometimes. He gets so moody, cranky and down right snappy with me about little things (not being able to tell him exactly which pocket the keys are in in the diaper bag, for example), and it feels quite disrespectful. At the same time, he seems overly concerned about me not showing him respect. As best I can tell, he interprets certain tones as disrespectful (i.e.:yesterday I was worried and he took it as being condescending, which started the argument), and seems to interpret any disagreement as disrespectful. I'm a smart woman, and if I disagree, I want to be able to tell him. I obviously need to consider my tone (it must be coming off differently than I intend), but I just feed like there are some big double standards on his part.

It's been a stressful year. Sorry for the long post. Can anyone offer any perspective/insight? Is my olnly option to end if? Am I blame shifting? He is a fantastic father otherwise and a pretty decent partner a good potion of the time. I want to believe we can work through this, but the blame-shifting, demonstration of rage and refusal to go to counseling with me have me worried. I want to do what is best for my baby.

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    "I don't know how concerned I should be" - Very. I'm not talking about him hurting you physically. A prolonged relationship with someone who has anger issues can result in lasting psychological damage for both your child and yourself. There are support groups for domestic abuse, which are better equipped than I am to provide you with perspective and many more choices than just a simple "break up" or "stay". Contacting one of these would probably be a better option than you going into therapy to avoid "triggering" him. – Peter Apr 6 '17 at 23:50
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    think that's a very wise recommendation.want to get into therapy for my own issues, as it's definitely contributing to our communication problems, but it's bothering me...it's always been me that has sought to change my role (not my first round of therapy), and he refuses. At a certain point, it does feel like I'm trying not to "trigger" him, and that's 1) not fair, given that if he does do introspective work on this, I never see or hear about it 2)not something I want my son to learn. It should be about MUtUAL respect and Communication, not just one person getting their way all the time. – Eisen Apr 7 '17 at 0:19
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    I just feel I ned to point out one thing I realised: you keep pointing out things you feel you should have done differently. But it was him who stepped it up to physical violence. It is he who stonewalls against your concerns. Yes, there are two sides, and when there is trouble, both sides should do their best to adjust their behaviour, yes. But if you keep adjusting how you act out of fear about his reactions, you do set yourself up for what can easily turn into a seriously abusive relationship. Do keep your eye on that, too, for your own good. – Layna Apr 11 '17 at 12:23
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Your husband is clearly abusive. He calls you names, is prone to violent outbursts, and he has brainwashed you into thinking that its your fault. He's making you walk on eggshells in your own home, terrified that any slight deviation from what he wants will be perceived as "disrespect" and provoke violence.

You should be very concerned. He is an abuser, and he's not going to get better. Things will almost certainly get worse.

  • @Willow. Thoughts on this perspective? This is what I am concerned about. – Eisen Apr 7 '17 at 20:40
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    @Eisen - Though I would not have put it so bluntly, I agree wholeheartedly with this answer. If you want me to elaborate, I will. Just say so. – anongoodnurse Apr 7 '17 at 20:42
  • @anongoodnurse: sure, please do. We can move to chat. – Eisen Apr 7 '17 at 20:46
  • @Eisen I do not know this person and cannot judge their message. If it sounds right to you -- act. If it doesn't, then walk on by. I think of this site is like a library or a buffet of information. You get to research and select what makes the best sense to you. None of us know the whole story. We react to your question in our own individual ways, based on our own knowledge or experiences. Your own instincts are telling you what to do. Please, please listen. It is sometimes very hard to make that 'right' choice -- but it could save your life, your child's and even your husband's. – WRX Apr 8 '17 at 14:45
  • not leaving someone alone when they have asked you to and raising your voice to them is also characteristic of abusive and coercive behaviour. They have a communication problem that they cannot fix if you encourage one of them to see themselves as a victim. – user1450877 Apr 11 '17 at 9:46
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It is very likely your husband is experiencing post-partum depression, especially if this behavior is highly unusual for him. It can happen with fathers and I experienced a great deal of it myself during our kid's younger months. Encourage him (kindly, patiently, and compassionately) to find help. If he won't take the steps to locate the assistance himself, try bringing resources to him such as where support groups in the area may be or recommendations for therapists.

It could be the behavior will simply improve as the kid gets older and the stress slowly changes but there is no problem with expressing your concern as long as you keep in mind why he may be acting this way. A child is a big and new stressor in someone's life. You need to get him to communicate more with you and may want to consider marital counseling for communication issues.

I don't have any helpful advice if he refuses to participate in some form of therapy or at least work on methods of communication with you. Communication is the most important part of a good relationship.

EDIT: Sources: There's a wealth of research on postnatal depression exhibiting itself as anger in men such as here. WebMD also has a great summary. WebMD link thanks to @Willow

  • I think you need a link for this Jack. You could add this one link or find one you like. I'll upvote you when you do. – WRX Apr 6 '17 at 20:40
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    Thank you for pointing that out. Our son was a micro-preemie and that hadn't quite occurred to me. I experience considerable PTSD when he was in the NICU, and you are probably right that my husband is experiencing that, just perhaps later than me. – Eisen Apr 6 '17 at 20:41
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    I was actually just poring through some articles to find a good one! The link you provided is a better summary than the scholarly journals I was looking through though. I'll add both! – JackOfTales Apr 6 '17 at 20:41
  • Do you have any recommendations for books on communication in marriage? It's most likely that I'll be the only one reading them, but it would be great if I could find one that might spark a bit of interest. I like how you put it: maybe he won't go to counseling, but he does acknowledge that we have a communication problem, so maybe if I can somehow bring it up as a compromise--we both read it or work through some of the ideas presented in the book. I'll ask my therapist, but I was thinking something by John Gottman, maybe. Any other suggestions? – Eisen Apr 7 '17 at 0:09
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    Thanks also for the links, both Willow and JackOfTrades. I think the post natal depression or PTSD probably has a good bit to do with it, and I am grateful that you pointed that out. I definitely had PTSD, no PND, but significant anxiety, which I know can be hard on a partner, too. Plus he lost his job right before baby came. It's been a hard year. Thanks for pointing that out. Helps me put a bit more in perspective and be a bit more patient with him. – Eisen Apr 7 '17 at 0:14
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Hi Eisen and Welcome.

I cannot say that you should or should not be concerned, but it sounds like you are and that you think it might be inappropriate for your baby to see this and to pick up on the anger and fear both parents are feeling. I might feel like that, too -- but I can only go by your words. I was not there.

Always trust yourself. When you think you are wrong, you probably are.

I wish I could say that we are usually right when we think we are -- but sometimes if we do not have all the information or we've triggered a response as you think you may have, we are not in the right.

When you think you should be afraid -- listen. Act. If you think you need to remove your child from this situation -- do it. You can always fight it out later. Your child is the priority and her/his safety is always paramount.

In any argument there are at least two people. You cannot argue alone. When you or partner says or does something (the first grenade) the fight is started. Okay. Big deal.

When you or your partner returns another grenade -- now it is a battle. One of you has answered and upped the ante to the next level.

No one thinks starting a fight is okay -- but this is the opportunity to stop the fight before it gets going. Stop. Ask why your partner is angry -- or explain why you are. Use calm words and make sure that you're understood and that you understand. In our home 90% of disagreements are because someone misunderstood something.

It's a given that you love each other, your child, that you do not want to fight and that neither of you "meant to." If one of you meant to do the thing -- that's a different issue.

A trained therapist can help you to argue constructively. If you cannot afford one, many religious communities offer it, and so do some social welfare departments in towns, hospitals, or clinics. You cannot make your partner attend, but you can quietly teach him and yourself to fight better -- more constructively.

A fight can clear the air, but if it is all about saying things we do not mean or will regret and are not constructive -- they're a waste of time. Anyone who has passion for a thing will fight for it. Love is worth fighting for and so is family. I hope you do ask for help. None of us come knowing all the answers. There is no shame in trying to learn something so that you can improve yourself.

On edit: Jack of Tales made a really good point about Postpartum in men.

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    Our shul offers help to individuals and couples or families. You do not have to be Jewish. It is not religious in nature. – user27143 Apr 6 '17 at 20:36
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    Thanks Willow, as I said, I am seeking professional help for myself to improve my part of the communication. I thought I made it pretty clear in my post that I fully understand I was part of the problem here. I do wish that he would seek professional help as well, but I cannot do anything about his refusal. – Eisen Apr 6 '17 at 20:38
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    I have already located a student therapist Training center . Thanks so much for your advice. – Eisen Apr 6 '17 at 20:40
  • @Eisen That's great. I did understand and was trying to encourage you, I meant no disrespect. I think you are doing the right thing. – WRX Apr 6 '17 at 20:42
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    Guess my biggest concern was wondering whether only one person seeking therapy would be able to help. It seems to me far less constructive than both people seeking therapy. Especially since both of us are part of the dynamic. But I will just do what I can to change and see what happens. – Eisen Apr 6 '17 at 20:42
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There is a destructive dynamic going on here. I don't know what the two of you were like before the baby, but things have not been so good since the baby arrived.

Tension secondary to decreased sleep, increased responsibilities, etc., can make people with babies testy, but your husband (and maybe you as well) have gone beyond "testiness" to abusive.

You cannot control or be responsible for your husband's actions, only your own. If you raise your voice because you feel you are not being heard when you speak in a normal tone of voice, that's one thing (it doesn't make it right, but it can be understood as a result of being ignored); if you raise your voice because you don't like the way your husband copes with stress, that's something you have to work on regardless of what your husband chooses to do.

Your husband is using physical intimidation. No, he hasn't hit you (yet), but he is manifesting his anger as aggression: throwing things, breaking things, etc. Normal people are intimidated by these displays, feel threatened. People (including your husband) know that this kind of behavior is threatening and not acceptable. It can be forgiven on rare occasions, but it sounds like it is happening with more gusto, if not frequency.

I'm just concerned about our son seeing this as he grows.

And you should be. Your son is witnessing bullying behavior. If you want him to grow up to be like that, do nothing now.

Again, you can't change your husband. If he refuses to go to counseling, you can try it by yourself and see if that helps, or you can start accepting that this will continue, that it sets a bad example for your child, and that you will get no respect as a woman, smart or otherwise. What you do when you realize this is up to you.

  • Hey do you want to believe that me changing my part of the dynamic will change our relationship for the better. But the problem remains that he clearly admits that he has an anger problem, also recognizes that we have communication issues. But he is unwilling to go to therapy, individual or marriage. When I asked if we could work on our communication issues for a half hour a week, he refused. – Eisen Apr 7 '17 at 21:55
  • Sorry for all of the excess of comments. I'm having issues with my phone. I don't want to fool myself that need changing will ultimately change things for the better. I can try where I can, but I don't want to play the fool here, and I don't want our son to end up damaged. When I just tried to discuss this with him, as calmly as possible, he told me that while he would never slap me, he threw something because I pushed him into it; he felt I did deserve to be slapped. I told him that if he doesn't understand what's wrong with this thinking I don't know what to do. – Eisen Apr 7 '17 at 22:00
  • Jeez, also sorry that I should have edited the comments before posting. I was using the microphone on my phone, and can't figure out how to edit now – Eisen Apr 7 '17 at 22:13
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    You need to stop thinking that this is your fault...that if you only handled things perfectly, he would be fine. That's wrong. Imperfect people do not deserve to be treated the way he treats you. No one deserves that. – swbarnes2 Apr 7 '17 at 22:33
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    @Eisen, swbarnes makes a good point. Whether your husband is ill or not -- any abuse is NOT your fault. Even if you push one of his 'buttons', his reaction is on him -- whether you meant to or not. In any marital type of relationship we can make mistakes or fight in a nasty way. It can be hurtful and sometimes someone says something really hurtful -- but verbal and physical abuse are not that. You do know that difference in your heart. IF this is abuse, leave, get help and then get your husband some help. If he won't take help, he's made his own choice. – WRX Apr 8 '17 at 14:51

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