My husband and I had a bad fight six weeks ago where I slapped him in his face and got aggressive with him, which is completely out of my character. I was so angry because afterward, he wanted to run. He said he does not want me and doesn’t trust me to be around him. I have apologized and told him I’m disappointed in myself.
At first, he just wanted me to leave him alone, then he stopped talking, and then it eventually turned into him wanting to be out of the home. Our children are confused (they weren’t home when it happened and don’t know the details). He agreed to four months of separation to see where this goes.
He has a passive attitude about it, like, “if it works, it works.” He basically told me I would need to respect his wishes if he doesn’t want to stay married. Please help.
This kind of crisis is usually the culmination of hundreds of broken interactions over years of struggle. You both snapped in your own unique ways, which is tragic for everyone involved. A separation isn’t the worst outcome in the aftermath of a situation like this. You both are taking a time out from a relationship that has progressed to this painful point.
It goes without saying that your children can’t be exposed to violence between their parents. In fact, you could go to jail if you do something like this again in the presence of your children. I realize you were pushed to the brink and possibly were being verbally abused. Regardless of what pushed you over the edge, your priority is to protect your children from seeing or hearing this type of aggression from either of you. A marital separation can be a protective measure so your children never have to experience something like this between their parents.
I obviously don’t know anything of your marital history, so it’s difficult to know why your husband says he’s done with the marriage. If you want to stay married to him, then use this time to work closely with an individual therapist to better understand your own contributions to the marital struggles. You might see these same patterns in your other relationships, so it’s worth it to use this as an opportunity for self-reflection and personal accountability. If your husband is open to it, then marital counseling can also be a safe place for you both to work on the relationship while you’re separated.
Your husband may change his mind about staying married, but you have to be prepared to accept his decision. It’s not helpful to threaten or coerce him to stay in the marriage. Stay in your own personal accountability for your contribution to the marital struggles. Continue to be accountable for striking him and being aggressive, even if you felt provoked. You are in charge of your own reactions. If there are patterns in the marriage where he’s been verbally aggressive or physically hurtful to you, then use this separation as a chance to clarify boundaries around what you will and won’t allow in your future interactions.
You may also use this time to consider whether or not you want to stay in this relationship. You both need time and space to reevaluate what you’re both doing in this relationship. These escalations can’t keep happening.
Your husband feels uncertain about the marriage. If you feel certain about it, then look hard at your own contributions and make the needed repairs. If you’re uncertain about it as well, then this is an important opportunity for you to come together and have some structured conversations about your future. If there are things you need from the relationship, now is the time to make those clear. Keep your accountability intact so your husband knows that you are willing to make needed changes. If he’s willing to offer you the same conditions, then your conversations will be more honest and productive.
This slap doesn’t have to be the end of your marriage. It can be a signal that there are unresolved patterns that need serious attention. Use this space as an opportunity to examine all aspects of yourselves and your relationship.
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