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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Me: 29
Him: 33
Together: 12 years
Lived together: 10 years
Married: 3 years
Children: one daughter, 10 months.

A little background: http://talkaboutmarriage.com/sex-marriage/100081-feeling-totally-discouraged.html

I'm looking for any advice/insight from people who have divorced abusive/volatile spouses. I have made up my mind to leave, but I feel sick to my stomach when I think about how I'm actually going to tell him/get out.

He has a history of property destruction, physical violence toward me, and has threatened suicide. I think he has a gun that he keeps hidden. He has repeatedly told me that if I leave and "take away" our daughter, he will have nothing left and he may as well kill himself. Once when we almost broke up, he said he'd thought about taking me for a drive and crashing the car so we'd die together.

These could well be empty threats/ manipulation tactics, but I don't want to take chances, especially with a baby in the picture.

I am going to IC today to talk it over, and I have some notion that I need to see a lawyer. I want to avoid getting police involved if at all possible, as this will only make him angrier. I want to avoid doing anything that could hurt my custody case down the line (e.g., fleeing with the baby). Plus, I don't want to make things any more contentious than they have to be- after all, we will be dealing with each other for the next 18 years, at least. I don't want drama, I don't want to get at him or make him suffer. I just want out.

Thanks for reading and TIA for any advice.
 

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Go to a shelter and an attorney. Get a restraining order. At this point do not care if he gets angry, care if he gets violent. Most likely his threats of suicide are merely an attempt to manipulate you. You have a right not to live in fear.
 

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In your case, I wold not tell him. You can send a letter or serve him with divorce papers. You should not risk yourself to let him know. He should already know its not too hard to figure out why you want to leave. If he threatens suicided call the police and or his family.Look for victim violence support in your area they can help you with this process. Call or visit the police station tell them about your situation tell them you need a restraining order failure to do this will impact your custody order. They will have documentation that you can use in court later. By not getting them involved its your word against his. He can get mad all he wants, as long as you are safe and no where in reach.

You cant just flee with your child, do not do this or you will end up with more problems.

Try looking for help here:

National Domestic Violence Hotline
 

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My wife's first husband was exactly like what you describe. She got to a point where she would rather be dead than stay. When she left, nothing happened.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
He actually left the house and is staying with his mom. I never thought that would happen- there have been several times in the past that I've asked him to leave, and he always refused (told me I had to leave if I wanted us to be apart, but I couldn't take the baby. I'm still breastfeeding, so he knew i couldn't leave her). It is such a relief to have him gone.

He's now going through the remorse phase, where he accepts the blame for everything that has gone wrong between us, tells me I was right about everything, doesn't try to justify/excuse any of his poor behavior, etc. He set up IC and wants to set up MC (not the first time- we only went to 2 appts, then it was "too expensive," and we didn't "need it" anymore). He's going to a specialist about his low T. He says he's doing all this for himself first, but also for our family, which is what he knows I want to hear.

Thing is, this has happened before, this pattern. I've always given in and recommitted to the relationship because each time it happens, he does something that he has never done before, something that makes me think that this time really is different. BUT I know that this level of intense commitment to change can't be sustained, and the real test would be how everything settles out when the acute "crisis" phase is over.

My feeling is that after he has been pouring everything into trying to reconcile for a while (who knows how long), he will eventually switch over to being angry that I'm not responding the way he wants me to. He will do everything he can to make me feel like the split is all my fault, that I'm failing our daughter by not "trying harder," etc.

So I know I need to stay away. And if he does make profound, lasting personal changes... That's great for him and for our daughter. But I feel like I need to stand my ground and firmly establish my boundaries, for once. I need to get my self-respect back.

I started looking for an attorney last night. Our lease is up Sept 1, and we have to give notice of intent to vacate by Aug 5. So I guess we should both move out into cheaper places or move in with family temporarily.
 

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Good for you. Stand tall. There is nothing wrong or unreasonable to tell him in MC, that you see your current situation as a pattern, and you will not be open to continuing the relationship until there is a sustained change in the behavior. Maybe you and the counselor can develop the guidelines for what it would take for you to try to recommit to the M. Things like-no less than six months in IC and MC, being respectful of you and the baby, no threats-whatever it takes to really show a change. Letting him know at the beginning, that these initial steps he's taking have failed in the past and are simply not enough might prevent the anger that's come through before and it shows him how serious you are. This is not to say there may not be some set backs. Good luck.
 

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Stand your ground.

I will suggest that if you do give any other chance that you set specific clear goals that he has to do before he comes back and rules for his behavior and consequences that you will enforce.

What I mean is, instead of saying he needs to get help, say he needs to go to counseling for his anger. You have to meet the counsellor, and you have to be convinced that he has grown and changed, and you need to yourself hear from the counsellor how he is going to be managing his anger.

Instead of saying change or we are done. Say, if he gets angry and break something - then he has to leave the home for 48 hours.

See specific goals & consequences that are set when he's being rational, not thrown in when he's loosing it.
 

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Please make sure you have a shelter to go to on a moments notice. Being prepared is so very important.

In my area, there is a crisis hotline which has well trained people to help you through a process you may need.

Additionally, if you work, your employer may have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which is a professional benefit service that can also help you be prepared to take action if needed.

Good luck,
Stretch
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Thanks for the support and advice, guys. The suggestions for specific clear, guidelines about what I will/will not tolerate are right on. I work with special needs kids, and that reminds me of the type of boundaries I have to set for them. How telling that I need to approach him with what essentially amounts to a behavior chart if I choose to stay with him. :rolleyes:

The impulse to fall back into my old pattern of rug-sweeping is so powerful that I can't even let myself think of reconciliation as an outcome. I have to keep reminding myself of the way I felt when he was towering over me, screaming in my face. In that moment, I would have done anything to get away from him. If I am honest with myself, I know that divorce is ultimately the best choice for me and the baby. It's not even a question of hoping that there's someone else better for me out there. I'd rather be alone forever than go back to accepting the kind of treatment I did from him.

He came by after work tonight to spend some time with the baby. I invited him to; I have no intentions of trying to keep him from seeing her. However, I don't want to interact with him beyond the bare minimum necessary for practical communication. Told him that I was going to another part of the house and to come get me when she was ready for her bath or bed (told him he could do bath if he wanted; he didn't). I could feel him staring at me imploringly. I didn't return his gaze. It's pretty clear to me that he mostly wants to be around her in order to be around me... Especially when he gives up time that he could have with her (bath, plus 30 minutes of playtime I told him he could have). I think I did well not getting drawn in to his passive aggressive attempts to get me to "talk." I have to keep reminding myself of the reality of how he has neglected, devalued, and mistreated me, and how starkly that contrasts with his insistence that the baby and I are his "whole life" and "the most important things."
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In case it wasn't clear from my post above, I was feeling a lot of anger last night. It's self-protective, but I think I need to find a better way; I have a hard time not letting it spill over when we talk, and I know it doesn't help anything.

Before he left last night, I asked him to text me and let me know when he wanted to take the baby to his mom's the next day (today). He agreed.

He doesnt text, but calls at 10 pm; I don't answer. He leaves a vm asking me to call him back about "childcare arrangements" because he'd "rather talk about it than text about it." "That's all I want to talk about," he insists. I'm a little irritated but call him back anyway, thinking maybe there's some complicated situation or issue that will affect childcare.

It was nothing like that; he just wanted to talk about it because written communication about parenting time seemed "so cold" to him. I told him I specifically asked him to text me because I wanted it our discussions about parenting time to be businesslike, and I found it more difficult to keep my emotions out of things when we talked in person or on the phone. My annoyance was building, but instead of finding a way to quickly end the conversation, I let him guide it to other topics. He asked me if I still wanted to go to the MC appt he'd set up on Wednesday; I told him, not particularly. I wasn't optimistic that anything more could be done at this point. He said he thought I wanted to fix things. I told him that I didn't know for sure, but if he was pressing me to come up with a definitive answer right now, it would be no. He asked if he should cancel the appt then, and I told him yes.

Before we finally got off the phone, we agreed that he'd pick up our D between 11-12 and would text when he was on his way. We also agreed that he'd drop her off by 5. 5:00 is her dinner time and the beginning of her bedtime routine. He is aware of this.

Today at 11:30, I hadn't heard from him (he's staying 30 min away), so I texted him asking for his eta. He replied that he lost track of time and was leaving then. He got here at 12:15 and gave me lots of his passive aggressive longing stare as we got the baby packed up. I apologized for losing my temper with him last night, and he apologized again for calling when I'd asked him to text. I also told him that I wanted to keep the MC appt after all, because communication is important, and we're able to communicate more constructively when there's a neutral 3rd party. He agreed and seemed relieved.

Before he left, I confirmed that he'd have the baby back at 5. He said, "yeah, around then." I reminded him that we'd agreed by 5. He said he wanted to keep her until 5:30 since he was running behind. I made it clear that I was annoyed that he was pushing my boundaries again, but told him that it was fine to drop her off at 5:30. I said that in the future, I wanted us to make plans and stick to them. I asked him to write me with the times he wanted to see the baby this week and email them to me tonight or hand-write them and get them to me before the weekend is over. He seemed hurt but agreed. He is acting like a contrite, fragile little boy being unfairly treated by a disciplinarian mother (me). I hate seeing myself that way, so I always second-guess myself when I set boundaries with him. I think he knows that...

I feel discouraged because he continues to disrespect the boundaries I set. On the one hand, I am mad at myself for giving in and letting him change plans today, but on the other hand, I don't want to appear "inflexible" with childcare arrangements. I'm almost sure that there's a custody fight ahead (not that he's been very hands-on since the baby was born, but now that he thinks I might "take her away" from him, she will undoubtedly be the most "important thing" in his life) and I don't want to do anything to indicate that I've been uncooperative or tried to keep her away from him.

This is so ****ing hard. Am I being cruel or unfair to him? Am I sending mixed messages? Or am I not being "firm" enough?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
We have MC this afternoon. I'm going to tell him I want to live separately and start the divorce process. I wanted to wait until today because I think it would be good to have a third party there as a buffer of sorts. He is on his best behavior when we're in MC sessions.

Still. I feel sick to my stomach.
 

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Good Luck - I hope it went well.

Try to remember the reasons you want to leave. If you reconcile, it has to be a long time down the road and after he has reached the goals you set. You don't say if you love him. If not, I guess there really isn't any point in establishing criteria for reconciliation.

As my counselor told me years ago "do not engage". I had to keep a post-it by the phone with that on it. It reminded me to keep him on topic. He would call about pick up/drop off arrangements and then get off track with blame, then tears, then anger and hate... and I would respond and reason to no avail. But I finally got the hang of interrupting him and saying "if we're done discussing XXXX, then I'll hang up now" or a version thereof. Practice that - it will help when he starts pleading and ranting.
 

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Your story is very sad. I hope you have some good support in real life. Someone to listen and give you some hugs and encouragement. Do you have friends and family nearby?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So we went to MC yesterday; counselor ended up wanting to see each of us separately before he saw us together. During my time, the MC and I talked it over and he suggested that I propose a continued separation only, not tell H that I wanted a divorce. This made sense to me for a number of reasons, so that's what I did. We were able to speak to one another civilly about practical arrangements, both in the session and afterward. I felt such a tremendous sense of relief as I drove to pick up the baby. We were going to take things slow, and that was ok. We were both committed to staying amicable.

Well, today during drop-off, he told me that he found my TAM threads, and that I should have been forthcoming with him about the fact that I want to divorce. He claims that he understands.

I guess it's my own damn fault for posting my story on the interwebs for all to see, but I felt/feel that the advice of experienced strangers was more helpful than what I could get from my family and friends, who can't give me objective advice for one reason or another.

I feel so violated. If I'd wanted him to know the things I've written here, I would have told him. I tried to take away the privilege of knowing my innermost thoughts, but he snatched that back and now he knows them anyway. I feel stripped of any nascent sense of empowerment that had been building over the past week. Back to being vulnerable and exposed, doubting all my choices.

He has succeeded in making me feel powerless once again. And once again, I'm left clinging to my anger like an anchor so that I don't just lay down and blink out of existence.

Guess it's time for me to bow out. I'll still be lurking, though.... That has helped. This is a really great community, and I'm really sorry that I won't be able to really be part of it.
 

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post in the private section from now on
 
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