I met Michael about a year after he and his wife Diane had gone for two counseling sessions following an incident at home. One evening, after they returned from a gathering with friends, Michael accused Diane of flirting with the husband of a woman who was Diane’s best friend. Diane acknowledged that she’d had a few drinks that night, but she was taken aback and denied that she’d been intentionally flirtatious. This was not the first time that Michael had made such accusations. In fact, he had a longstanding habit of accusing Diane of wearing “sexy” clothes when they went out, of flirting with other men, or of exchanging glances with other men when they went out for dinner.
Despite Diane’s denial a fight ensued, which she could not de-escalate. Then, as he made to leave the room Michael pushed Diane. She stumbled backwards, knocking over a table and lamp, and fell to the floor. Michael’s yelling, combined with the racket made by the table and chair and Diane’s fall, woke their two children, who emerged from their bedrooms in tears. Michael then proceeded to stomp around the house, upending a chair and further frightening the kids. He then left, got into his truck, and drove off. At that point, fearing for what might happen next, Diane called her best friend, hastily dressed the children, and spent the night there.
Michael figured out where Diane and the children had gone as soon as he returned to his house to find it empty. He called there, asked to speak to Diane, and apologized profusely. He also agreed, albeit reluctantly, to see a counselor with her again.