Regardless of circumstances and gender, nobody should ever push their partner in an argument. Pushing can be classified as assault and could be just the first sign that your partner is physically abusive, which will escalate. This is red flag can’t be ignored, and there must be consequences for it.
Relationships can be complicated, and fighting with your partner can get messy, but you also need to know where to draw the line. So, if your husband or boyfriend pushed you during an argument, how should you proceed, and what’s the right thing to do going forward?
Pushing is often seen as a non-violent act that is not intended to be harmful. It’s not a punch, a kick, or strangling, but it is still a forceful act used to intimidate and assert dominance. Whether you’re six weeks into your relationship, six months, or six years, when your partner resorts to pushing you in a heated argument, it is far from being harmless. And next time, that push could become a punch or a slap.
Before we go into the details of where pushing lies on the spectrum of domestic abuse, let’s be clear that it doesn’t matter what your partner’s gender is or what yours is. Everyone can be an abuser and whether you’re physiologically stronger than your partner (men generally tend to have more dense muscles than women) makes no difference to whether you’re exhibiting abusive behavior or not.
There are a few exceptions where pushing is acceptable, and they include the following:
- Consensual pushing (i.e., playful nudges, etc.)
- Pushing someone out of harm’s way
- Pushing an attacker in self-defense
- When someone is blocking you from leaving, you push them out of the way to get past them.
But other than in cases like those above, it is never acceptable to push someone into an argument. There is plenty of legal precedents that would allow you to call the police, press charges, and file for a restraining order from what may be excused as “just a push.”
It’s never “just a push,” and allowing it to happen is the first step to showing your partner that they can get away with abusive behavior. Next time, it will be a punch or a slap and, before you know it, you can find yourself in a relationship where you’re in genuine danger and could fear for your life.
Related Reading: Why Does My Husband Pick Fights With Me When He Drinks?
Should You Leave Your Husband After He Pushed You?
The real question that you should be asking yourself in the wake of your argument that led to the push is whether you should be staying with your husband or not. Was this just a one-time thing? Should you address it directly, or should you just keep quiet and let the tension subside in the interest of saving your relationship?
You’ll often hear excuse after excuse from abusers who will say it’s just “a one-time thing”. They’ll become incredibly apologetic and promise it will never happen again, but the push is a sign of the way that your partner tends to resolve conflicts.
Rather than handling a disagreement in a civilized manner, using words, your partner regressed to an immature response – a physical one. The intensity of that physical reaction will only escalate after you’ve made it clear that you won’t leave; when your partner knows they can get away with it.
You need to acknowledge that any move made at another person intended to intimidate them is wrong and a clear sign that they lack the maturity and knowledge to deal with conflict appropriately.
No level of physical abuse is appropriate, and you need to be very clear, assertive, and even forceful in showing that you’re unwilling to compromise on this.
Suppose you genuinely feel that you want to stay. In that case, you need to lay down the law and insist that your partner takes steps towards atonement, whether that means they agree to attend therapy sessions or if you simply have to remove yourself from the situation temporarily while you figure things out. But, it needs to be clear that this is being taken seriously, and you will not tolerate it. And, if it ever does happen again, you need to leave.
A good rule to follow is to take a step back and look at your entire relationship and ask yourself objectively if you’ve noticed any other warning signs indicating that this partner has a propensity towards being abusive.
Have they ever been controlling or possessive or expected you to be obedient? Do they assert dominance in a way that makes you uncomfortable? Trust your gut.
Consider The Situation In Context
So having said all that, you may be thinking, “okay, what do I do now?”. Unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions because each case is unique and may require different steps. However, it’s helpful to think about your situation in context.
For instance, is this the first time he has shown any aggression towards you? Is this the first time he has shown aggression in 20 years or are you newlyweds and it just happened? Do you detect any other forms of mistreatment or abuse, such as shaming, manipulation, sexual coercion, threats, or emotional blackmail?
Assessing your circumstance in context may assist you in determining the best course of action. Consider categorizing your relationship with ‘flags’ to help you assess the relationship as a whole. Do you have a husband that continuously looks out for you, does things for you, is concerned about your well-being, and so on? These are what are known as “green flags.”
Do you find yourself tip-toeing around your husband? Does he sometimes assert power control over you and dictate what you can and cannot do? Do you ever find yourself prioritizing his needs and wants over your own, whether it’s out of fear or something else? If you notice any of these things in your relationship, they are “orange flags.”
On the other hand, red flags are crossing boundaries, whether they be emotional, values, or your physical body. Orange flags do not mean that boundaries have been crossed but rather indicate that they will be crossed soon.
Talk To Your Husband About What Happened
If you have assessed the situation and concluded that your relationship is primarily green flags, then talking to your husband may prove beneficial. Again, it is important not to sweep it under the rug – even if you do feel that your relationship is mostly green flags.
Make it clear to your husband that you will not tolerate such behavior and that you will not stand by passively if it occurs again. Furthermore, if you believe it will help the situation, describe how the shoving made you feel, just in case he decides to put up defense mechanisms when you are addressing your stance on the subject.
Unfortunately, if you are in an abusive relationship, this is the hardest part. But it’s entirely necessary. Do not tell yourself that this person will change and things will get better, or blame yourself in any way. There’s no working around the fact that you need to get out of the relationship because, if you don’t, your life could be in danger.
But getting out of a relationship (particularly a long-term relationship where you share a home, pets, kids, etc.) is complicated. And you may think that letting things be would be far easier than going through the process of leaving. But, if it’s a matter of life and death, you couldn’t be more wrong – and, with abusers, it often is.
When a victim of abuse tries to leave a relationship, it can be dangerous. If possible, you should get help from a lawyer or social worker to gather legal documentation like affidavits. You will also need access to a bank account and a safe place to go to when you leave.
Victims will be safest if they end their relationships quickly and decisively without making threats or changing their minds, and this means you’ll need a safety plan for where you’re working, living, and your children. In other words, try to find a place where your partner can’t find you.
Staying with your parents would be the obvious choice, but it’s also the easiest place for your partner to track you down. However, there are plenty of resources available to victims trying to get out of an abusive relationship. As you prepare to leave, domestic violence programs will provide you with the support you need to transition safely into your new life.
Furthermore, if you have any, both you and your children will also need to enter counseling sessions with a professional to help cope with the psychological effects of the relationship.
For further assistance, get in touch with the following helpful organizations:
Get A Third Party Involved
Consider involving a third party if you have noticed that your relationship consists of quite a few orange flags. Because it can be challenging to address difficulties in “orange flagged” relationships, a third, unbiased party may be just what you need to help deal with the relationship.
For instance, seeing a marriage or couples therapist – usually a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) – can assist you in getting to the core of your issues and creating beneficial solutions. Marriage counseling provides a safe environment for couples to express their true feelings, anxieties, and challenges.
Marriage counselors can see both individuals and couples. Saying this, it is best if you and your husband attend therapy together in order to deal with marital problems effectively. If your husband does not want to attend therapy, the second-best option is to seek advice about him from a licensed Marriage Therapist.
It is important to remember, though, that you can’t make your spouse change his behavior; he has to want to. Having said this, if no change or resolve occurs during the relationships, those “orange flags” can easily turn into “red flags,” resulting in a toxic and damaging relationship.
Disengage From The Relationship
If you have assessed your marriage and have determined that the shove has been accompanied by additional red flags such as other displays of aggression towards you, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, you are in an abusive relationship.
Furthermore, the red flags may be harder to diagnose as orange indicators can be extremely similar to the red flags. For instance, red flags can be an amplified version of orange flags, such as consistent and repetitive name-calling or controlling behavior.
It is important to know your worth and that you don’t have to live with mental or emotional abuse. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is unlikely to change without professional counseling. If you are in danger or are fearful of your partner, try to cut all ties.
However, it is vitally important that you do not tell your partner about your plans of cutting ties or anything of the likes. Seek help from trusted relatives and friends, as well as domestic abuse or violence shelters.
If you are in imminent danger call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. This 24-hour hotline can connect you with service providers and shelters all throughout the country.
Moreover, if you are unable to leave, try to disengage with the abuser; refrain from arguing with him, and minimize your exposure to him as much as possible.
Related Reading: Husband Raises His Voice At You? 5 Ways To Deal With It
If you find yourself being pushed by your partner, it is a sign of abusive tendencies, and you either need to address the issue and make clear that you will not stand for that behavior, or you need to leave your partner.
You should not be trying to assign blame. It is entirely unacceptable, and legally, you’re within your rights to take the matter to the police. But also remember that this is a delicate situation that can go very ugly. Hence, you need to be careful in the way that you approach walking away from your relationship.
However, with a proper action plan, you will be able to get out of your relationship and begin a new life without your abusive partner.
After earning his Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto, Stuart gained experience working with families in community mental health settings and in the child protection sector. Since becoming a father himself, Stuart now works in private practice offering psychotherapy services. FatherResource is an opportunity for Stuart to share what he learns on his journey as a father with a larger audience.