My wife has had a somewhat bullying and controlling personality most of our marriage.
Edward, I agree with @happy as a clam
that you're describing red flags for a mental disorder. Many behaviors you describe -- i.e., temper tantrums, verbal and physical abuse, controlling actions, lack of impulse control, emotional instability, and always being "The Victim" -- are some of the classic warning signs for BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Importantly, I'm not suggesting your W has full-blown BPD but, rather, that she may exhibit moderate to strong traits of it.
I caution that BPD is a spectrum disorder, which means every adult on the planet occasionally exhibits all BPD traits to some degree (albeit at a low level if the person is healthy). At issue, then, is not whether your W exhibits BPD traits. Of course she does. We all do.
Rather, at issue is whether she exhibits them at a strong and persistent level (i.e., is on the upper end of the BPD spectrum). Not having met her, I cannot know the answer to that question. I nonetheless believe you can spot any strong BPD warning signs that are present if you take a little time to learn which behaviors are on the list. They are not difficult to spot because there is nothing subtle about behaviors such as strong verbal abuse, very controlling behavior, and irrational jealousy.
"Intense, inappropriate anger"
She recently (last 18 months or so) became physically abusive/destructive during our arguments.... she has started punching me and destroying things in my office... she broke 2 of my guitars, a lamp, a neon sign, and gave me a bloody lip and left a visible bruise on my right cheek. In the heat of anger, she also motioned to try to get into my gun safe.
is one of the nine defining traits for BPD. It therefore is not surprising that the physical
abuse of a spouse or partner has been found to be strongly associated with BPD. One of the first studies showing that link is a 1993 hospital study of spousal batterers. It found that nearly all of them have a personality disorder and half of them have BPD. See Roger Melton's summary of that study at 50% of Batterers are BPDers
. Similarly, a 2008 study
and a 2012 study
find a strong association between domestic violence and BPD.
She's can be a very sweet and loving person most of the time, but has a serious anger management problem.
BPDers generally are not bad people. Their problem is not being bad
but, rather, unstable
. Moreover, a large share of them are very easy to fall in love with. Indeed, two of the world's most beloved women -- Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana -- both had full-blown BPD if their biographers are correct.
She (predictably) has a major blowup about every 3 or 4 months.
Similarly, my BPDer exW had major blowups about that frequently. In addition, there usually were minor hissy fits every several weeks.
She definitely has other OCD type issues going on.
If she is a BPDer, that would not be surprising. A recent study of nearly 35,000 American adults found that a fourth of the female BPDers also suffer from co-occurring OCD. See Table 3 at 2008 Study in JCP
Our friends and family have no idea what is going on.
If your W is a BPDer, that is to be expected. The vast majority of BPDers are very high functioning people who typically get along fine with casual friends, business associates, clients, and strangers. None of those people is close enough to the BPDer to trigger her fears of abandonment and engulfment.
There is no close relationship to be abandoned. And there is no intimacy to trigger the suffocating feeling of engulfment (wherein she will be convinced that YOU are controlling her). Those two fears will be triggered only by the few people who draw close and try to establish a close LTR. Because they are close, they will start triggering the BPDer's fears and she will eventually push them away. This is why BPDers usually have no close long-term friends unless they live a long distance away.
Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.
stated, "You should get out, like yesterday!"
I also agree with @Ursula
that you should take the dogs with you. And I agree with the other respondents that you should divorce if she is unwilling to obtain professional help.
Yet, if you are still reluctant to leave her, I recommend that you see a psychologist -- for a visit or two all by yourself
-- to obtain a candid professional opinion on what it is that you are dealing with. I also suggest that, while you're looking for a good psych, you read about BPD warning signs to see if they seem to apply.
Learning to spot these red flags will not enable you to diagnose your W's issues. Only a professional can determine whether her BPD traits are so severe as to constitute full-blown BPD. Yet, like learning warning signs for stroke and heart attack, learning those for BPD may help you avoid a very painful situation -- e.g., avoid taking her back or avoid running into the arms of another woman just like her.
An easy place to start reading is my list of red flags at 18 BPD Warning Signs
. If most of those signs sound very familiar, I would suggest you read my more detailed description of them at my posts in Maybe's Thread
. If that description rings many bells, I would be glad to join the other respondents in discussing them with you. Take care, Edward.