Hello, I'm Alicia.
I'm happy to help with your question today, although I am sorry to hear about the situation you're in with your husband. It's good that you've been reading a lot and have been trying to educate yourself, and to be quite honest with you, everything you are describing meets the criteria for abuse. His behavior is NOT normal, and it's not just a matter of him lacking self-control as he says, by blurting things out without thinking about what he's saying. It is not normal to threaten to kill you with his gun, and if he did
this while under the influence, then I would be extremely worried if I were you - and I am very worried for you.
It sounds to me like your husband may be suffering from borderline personality disorder
, although, of course, I cannot say for sure without meeting him in person and even then, it can be a very difficult disorder to diagnose. The issue with this disorder is that it's extremely difficult to convince people that they need help. I am going to provide you with a link so you can read the symptoms and see if they ring a bell with you:
You might also review the sidebar information about treatment,
It's very common for people with the disorder to be charming and likable and nice - but like you mention in your message, it's very difficult to predict when those times will occur. And I'm sure that when he is being nice to you, you almost feel like the bad times never happened, or that you'd forgive him anything. People with borderline personality disorder have a flawed sense of self - and they become inappropriately angry and even furious over things that might seem small or insignificant to you. So, to answer your question, it's different than just becoming angry. Everyone becomes angry at times, but NOT everyone threatens to kill their spouse with a gun, engages in manipulative behaviors, throws things and all of those behaviors that you describe in your message.
The tricky thing is, you probably won't be able to convince him that his behavior constitutes abuse. People with borderline personality disorder - or whatever it is that is going on with your husband - live in denial about their actions and how their behaviors impact others. The only thing that I can suggest to you is to seriously consider whether you want to stay in the relationship, and to seek continued help for yourself. You say you've tried counseling, and I would really, really encourage you to continue this, if you're still involved with a therapist, or to seek counseling again.
Another suggestion is to read the book, "Stop Walking on Eggshells" by Randi Kreger. It is one of the best books for people who are involved with someone with borderline personality disorder, and includes tips on how you can protect yourself and draw better boundaries - but sometimes, it does involve getting away from the person. I don't want to sound like I am suggesting, necessarily, that you need to separate from your husband, but you should seriously consider whether he has the capacity for change - as well as the capacity to seriously hurt you in the future.
You might also consider contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline - their website: http://www.thehotline.org/
You can call and speak to a counselor free of charge and around the clock. They can help you get help if you choose to take action.
You can suggest to your husband that he seek counseling. If you want to stay together and improve your relationship, it has to be a two-way street. You can't be the only one doing all the work. I realize that he is going to deny the need for help, of course, but he should understand that you can't stay together like things are right now. If you are interested, there is a specific type of therapy that has been developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder, known as dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. You can read more about it and find a therapist who practices DBT on this website:
I hope that helps, and I wish you luck. Please protect yourself and think about getting more intensive help with this issue. And please feel free to ask any additional questions here.