Hello Dr. Olsen,
Thank you for your reply. It's hard to say. I feel a little nervous about both things. I'm over 6 feet tall and athletic, and she's 5'4" and slight of build, so the disparity in size makes me feel a bit silly to feel threatened. However, after arguing at some length last night I went to bed and she went to sleep on the couch. After a few minutes the door burst open and she yelled "I want to hurt you". After some more frantic yelling she dissolved into tears back on the couch.
She has a propensity for standing over me (or if I'm standing, getting on her tiptoes) to put her face in mine (inside my personal space) and gesticulate aggressively. She has thrown things, and hit me before -pounding her fists on my chest, but not hitting me in the face or anything. But now she pounds the bed table, etc. However, her outbursts almost always end in heart-rending tears.
Last night, she came at me, flailing and screaming/crying and I thought I was being attacked. I had told her several times in increasingly stern tones earlier in the evening that she cannot hit me or touch me aggressively. When she came at me I grabbed her wrists and pushed her away. She fell on the bed, crying. She later said that she was coming at me because she needs affection and wants me to reach out to her. Very confusing and upsetting.
This morning she said that it was out of fear of shaming and emotionally ruining her family that she wouldn't kill herself, otherwise she doesn't want to live. I feel an unpleasant and complex set of emotions - concerned, scared, sad
, compassionate, angry, etc. After more than a year of this type of dysfunction (spooradically, and sometimes in streaks), I don't know if I can take it anymore. I'm at my wits end, but I don't want to abandon the cause if it can be worked out to the point that we can both have and enjoy the intimate, rewarding and happy marriage that I think we both want and deserve.
I have the keys to a friends house and his permission to stay there for a few days, but I don't want to set her off further. Our dynamic is totally toxic right now, so i don't know if being together is better or worse. We have an appointment tomorrow afternoon to see a couples therapist in the city. My fear is that when I'm open and honest in that 'safe' (or at least neutral) environment, she will be very angry/hurt, and having to go home w/ her will put us in physical space where the hurts manifest into anger and acrimony. I want space, but fear that she'll see that as more of my 'avoiding' or not really wanting to reach out to her.
I know i'm just brain dumping on you, and for that I apologize. I wanted to give some background because i understand that it's difficult for you to make a succinct and sound judgment on a complex situation just based on a few paragraphs of text. Ultimately I want to do what is right for both of us as human beings. If that means divorcing, I can come to terms with that. However, I don't want to make any conclusions without some professional input. I have gone to a therapist a few times to talk this through, and am interested in your opinion about: 1) what you think might be motivating my wifes behavior 2) what tools i should avail myself of to 'decode' and 'defuse' her language and the situations we get in and 3) is it just better to be apart and have some 'space' while we go through therapy?