So, I have been married 3 years. My wife has serious anger management issues. I've always been very calm, but her destructiveness (screaming obscenities at me over something trivial like her anger I am not more interested in her gardening ideas while our little children are crying and screaming at her to stop) can really push my buttons. We generally have a blow up about once a month. Yes, I've considered it is related to PMS, but my issue here is my own behavior, not my wife's.
With concerted effort on both our parts, we went 2 months without a major blow up, until yesterday. The kids were napping. My wife expressed her opinion I caused our daughter grief when I took our son to the store a week ago. My reasons were very practical -- my son was ready to walk out the door, I was trying to run a quick errand as a favor to my wife, I figured leaving her with just our daughter instead of both kids would be doing her an additional favor, my daughter is still in diapers which means a production whenever we leave the house of preparing a diaper bag, bringing a bottle of milk, and my daughter is much more bonded to her mother than to me (our son is the opposite) which raises the specter that my daughter might realize at the store that her mother is not in sight and have a melt down. The easiest thing to do was take my son. As I was walking out the door with him, my daughter went to follow us (she follows her older brother everywhere) and I shooed her back inside. My wife said something like, "Oh, she feels left out," and I said something like,"Oh, she's not missing out, I'm sure she's going to be doing something special here..."
I was hinting -- strongly -- that my wife should distract our daughter from feeling like she was missing out, by getting her excited about something they would do at home while I was gone, like have tea party or go on a treasure hunt, or whatever. The point is, a 2 year old is very easy to distract and can get excited about almost anything. When I got back from the store, my wife hits me with the news that my daughter was hysterically upset that she was left behind, and she thinks it is my fault because I have now taken my son but not my daughter three times in a row on errands of this sort over the past 2 months. Again, my reasoning was always based on practicality -- these are quick errands and my son is old enough to hop in the car -- and I never figured my wife was so unable or unwilling to distract my daughter from feeling as if she was being left out.
So all week, my wife keeps bringing this issue back up, of me not treating our daughter fairly. I have spent the last week wracking my brains on how to tell my wife that I really think she could have tried harder to make staying home something special for our daughter so she didn't feel left out. It's exactly the sort of thing I would have done without even being asked. To me, it's what parents do, as partners, to help each other. I wanted my wife to realize she could have made an effort to make my daughter feel like she was going to do something special so she would not feel left out simply because she was being left at home. I did not say anything for a week because I feared it would set my wife into a rage. Anything that seems critical of her parenting does that.
Finally, yesterday, she made a comment again about my not taking our daughter a week ago. I finally said something about how I thought there were two sides to that, and I thought she could and should have made an effort to get our daughter excited about staying home, instead of reinforcing that she was being left out by saying stuff like, "oh, don't worry, you'll get to go another time." That sort of stuff just reinforced that she WAS being left out of something special. As I had feared, this threw my wife into a rage. She started shouting how I don't love my daughter like my son and how I ignore her and am causing her psychological damage. Both our kids awoke from their naps and started crying. Not knowing how to calm my wife, I left the room. My wife followed and continued yelling.
I told her to stop and think of the kids. She did not. I said it over and over. I shouted it. She kept on swearing at me. The kids were crying. I was holding a glass of water. Finally, I threw the water at her. She looked shocked, then she came at my swinging her fists. She's smaller than me, but strong and in better shape. She hit me a couple times, and something in me broke. I knocked her back and said, "YOu do NOT get to hit me!" I hit her again, and grabbed her, subdued her, then let her go. She came at me again swinging. I again knocked her, told her she does not get to hit me, grabbed her, immobilized her, and let her go. It happened one more time like that.
Afterwards, her view is that, as the man, the same standards do not apply, and she gets to hit me without me being allowed to hit her back. I should have subdued her by grabbing her arms without landing any blows myself. On reflection, I wish I would have done that. I've always thought I was the kind of man who would never hit a woman, even if the woman was hitting me. But at that moment she was hitting me, I was enraged that she was so out of control, so disregarding our children's emotional health, and so insistent on turning a simple discussion of differing views on child-rearing into a screaming argument -- and that she does this regularly. But part of me was also enraged at the double standard that I should let her hit me and she gets off unscathed. I probably could have subdued her without landing any blows myself, but at that moment, I wanted to land a couple blows myself. For whatever it's worth, it's not like a swung first, and it's not like I hit her after she was subdued. But I also did more than the bare minimum to subdue her.
Now that I've hit a woman for the first time in my life, I am forced to ponder what kind of man I am, how badly I am flawed, and what type of problem I have, whether it's an anger managment issue or an interpersonal issue, whether it's a function of a lot of stress I've been under, or what. Any opinions would be appreciated.