Hello and thanks for visiting JA.
First, he has to accept that there is a problem, and then to accept help for it. Ideally, I would suggest that he should have a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and anger management to help him to learn to communicate and control his anger, but first all you have to convince him that he needs it. I'll come back to that.
It is very very likely that his emotional abuse and physical abuse has a lot to do with your current condition. I'm not going to beat about the bush here. Your husband is a coward and a bully - that is what we call people who hit children and women - people who are more vulnerable than themselves - and this has got to stop. No half measures.
I think his self esteem issues are secondary - of primary importance ias his immaturity.
He has been getting away with this awful behavior for too long, and it's now time to turn things around.
First off, your husband needs to be confronted with your feelings about his behavior, and made to understand that while you care for him, his behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated, at least by you
He also needs to understand that that any continuation of this disruptive and anti social behavior will have consequences. They need to be spelled out to him very clearly, with clear emphasis on the fact that they will apply immediately. You might,advise him that if he ever hits from you again, you will involve the police, and ultimately, if he does not clean his act up, he can leave.
Remember, he is an adult and responsible for his own choices. That said, until he finds out that the world owes him nothing, and accepts that it owes him nothing, not all the drugs in the pharmacy will sort him out. They might help his behaviour a little, but it is grass roots change that is required here.
We humans only indulge in behaviour that brings reward of some kind. Only when that reward (whatever it might be) disappears, or the consequences of our behaviour promise to be unpleasant do we consider changing what we do. Right now, he has no reason to change - he gets away with whatever he wants, so why should he change? It is time to give him some reasons to alter his behavior!
Here is the clue to sorting things out. When you are faced with non-co-operation – give him choices, and make sure he understands the consequences of his choice – and always follow through. If you don’t he will continue to take treat you and your children the way he is doing just now.
Ask him too, what he is prepared to do to change his behaviour in future – tell him to research what might help him, what professional help he might get, and even consider a ‘contract’ between you. In other words, involve him in his own change, with a prospect of a small reward for success and dire consequences for failure.
However, don’t get angry, stay cool and in control, matter of fact and stick to the facts. Avoid drama.
As for a short separation, that may help him accept that he has problems to deal with, and to get sorted out. I do not think it would be too hard on the kids – or on you. I, would, however, try putting in place the boundaries I have spoken about first.