My fiancé and I have been together for 2 years. Yesterday, I was arguing with him and it escalated to yelling, which is very, very rare for us. Push came to shove, as they say, and my husband-to-be smacked me on the arm. It wasn’t hard enough to leave a mark, but it scared the hell out of me because it felt unprovoked. Should I try to work through this with him, or is this a sign that I should cut and run?
Really Cold Feet
Dear Really Cold Feet,
First off I want to start by stating that people have a wide variety of opinions on this kind of thing, most of them very strong, and that can easily heat up a conversation fast. So, while I am going to give you my opinion – since you asked for it and, well, because it’s my job – please remember that I only have a very miniscule amount of information about the two of you from your question. You alone have to be smart, alert, and conscious of your partner’s patterns and behavior within your relationship. Only you can know your own boundaries. For some, a harsh word would be enough to cross the line into inappropriate behavior, and for others, smacking someone across the face when they are being rude is okay.
That being said – here’s where I stand on this.
Hitting is never, ever okay, under any circumstances, whatsoever. BUT does that mean you should turn on your heels and run from him? Not necessarily.
From the construction of your question, I am going to assume that this kind of behavior, this physical show of emotion, is not typical of your relationship. Am I right? It’s not usual that a man who doesn’t tend to have big blow out, scream and yell fights, is going around hitting the women he’s with. This is where your intuition and perspective comes in much handier than mine.
For instance, the shootings in Colorado last week get you to thinking about the trail of clues people leave before they do something really horrible. I would bet good money that that young man’s family and the people closest to him had some idea that there was something amiss in him.
Only you can know that about your soon-to-be hubby. Has he ever showed signs of this kind of physical violence before, has he ever seriously hurt you – physically or emotionally? You need to go back in your memory and decide if this is part of a pattern, a sign leading you to a truth that you don’t want to see, or just a terrible, out of character, out of control, mistaken moment from a man who would never want to hurt you.
Which reminds me – what was his reaction after he hurt you? Did he recoil in surprise that he had done it, or was he alright with what he done? That’s something else to look at. If you’re having any trouble deciphering whether or not what you’re dealing with is cause for concern, take a look at this fact sheet for guidance. Also this website has a ton of useful information and reliable references. I know they may seem heavy handed, but it never hurts to look. Especially if it’s hurting you not to look.
But, I am also going to assume that the reason why this threw you off so much is because he hasn’t ever done it before, and it was completely out of character for him.
If that is in fact the case, and I sure hope it is, here are the steps I would take to deal with it.
- Talk to him about it, immediately and often. Do not let this sit on the table and get cold so that you are afraid to bring it up. You mustn’t go into a pattern of denial that it didn’t happen and it’s okay and it won’t happen again. If you don’t talk about it now, and set boundaries, it might.
- Set up a session with a counselor ASAP. Good Therapy.org is a great resource for finding counseling for couples all over the nation. This is something you two need to discuss and work through with a third party mediator to figure out the underlying cause for this sudden burst of physical impropriety.
- Keep this in your back pocket. Obviously, if you are going to try making the relationship work for the long haul, you are going to have to move past this. But you don’t want to be too quick to jump back into the water with him and let bygones be bygones. Be conscious that this has happened and it’s going to take more than a bouquet of flowers to get back in your good graces.
An addendum to the last note — I do not mean unnecessary punishment and guilt on him for the foreseeable future. I mean the balance between acknowledging that this thing happened and moving forward from it.
Hoping for warmer feet,
Dear Kate is a column that runs on Kate-book.com every Thursday at noon. It is written by the wise Katharine Luckinbill, who you should follow on Twitter. Got a life, friendship, family, dating, or relationship question that you’d like Dear Kate to answer? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will help you out.