I became involved in therapy because my wife pressed the issue with me. I was disgruntled at first and a little unnerved at the prospect of opening up my can of worms to a virtual stranger. Once I got started though, I found myself needed to speak freely about what was troubling me. As my sessions progressed a wider arena of awareness came to me.
I began to understand more about myself and the bigger picture concerning my family situation. I can’t begin to explain what an eye-opener it was for me to discover that my wife and I indulged in a cross-battering relationship.
We had married fairly young and perhaps for the wrong reasons, but to my recollection things went pretty well the first couple of years. After our first child was born my wife displayed behavior that was hard for me to cope with. Perhaps the stress of parenthood overwhelmed her because she’d quickly loose her temper, yelling and speaking abusively to both me and our child; of course I realize now I could have handled my reactions to the situation differently by not responding with counter violence.
I remember watching the fierce interaction between my parents which had a profound effect on me as a child. My parents were basically good people but both had problems they never resolved. Dad loved to drink and on his days off spend his time at the local tavern. I dreaded coming home from school because I knew he’d be drunk. When he got tired of family life, he’d sign up for a stint the Merchant Marines, leaving his parents to fill the void of his absence. Mom had her good points but I could never stand to be around her. She had a tongue like a sailor and never had patience with any of us. I suppose I feared the sharp, volatile side of her nature because she could display such a maniacal rage. What I detested most about my mother, I unknowingly emulated as an adult in my own marriage.
During the time in therapy I’ve come to learn that I’ve got to take responsibility for my violent actions, whether past or present. My wife and I must both share the responsibility for the violence that has taken place in our marriage. But she must learn to be accountable for her own actions and to seek help with her own battery issues. The road is hard and it takes time courage, and strength not to indulge in the violence and cross-humiliation we’ve been used to.
Daily I make a commitment not to batter my wife or children, physically, emotionally or verbally, no matter how irritating the situation, I renew this commitment daily to live without resorting the violence, especially when I see the effects its had of my own children. My greatest hope in my own life, and that the cycle will cease in my children’s lines and not continue after them.