A book I read called "How To Survive When They're Depressed" used the very example you did. Where the father was short-tempered with wife and children & as soon as the phone rang he could be completely pleasant and nice with the person on the phone.
Try going to depressionfallout.com and see if this sounds like what you're going through.
I have no idea of your H's age, but if he's getting close to midlife that might be a reason into his possible depression ??? Sometimes men can show signs in their 30s. So maybe you might want to look into that too?
I hope whatever it is, it's short lived. Maybe once you realize what it is you can turn inward & treat yourself with better respect and create a space between yourself & his current abuses. Maybe you can even learn to speak to him, letting him know how you feel, without making him feel threatened. It's hard to do and you'll probably need to read up on how to do it, but I have seen it work with my H. In fact, I used a technique from the 'how to survive' book I mentioned above.
Don't forget to treat yourself to something special - you deserve it when taking on somebody else's moods.
1. Back off--Women are very nurturing; but when your spouse is going through an emotional crisis, learn to back off. Why? Because
Hi gardengirl, I can so relate to you. I have been having the same issues with my SO. I think people hurt the one's they love the most the most often. In other words, you are there for him, present in his life and maybe he feels safe letting his feelings out on you more than other people. It isn't the correct way to deal with pressure but I am sure it happens quite often. I think the challenge is to let it roll off of your back or bounce it right back at him. It is hard not to take it personally but I think the only way to remain sane is to let him own his own depression. When my BF gets in his 'moods' I just let him be and make my day as perfect as I can for myself.
I am now learning to tell it like it is. Heaven knows life is short and we deserve to be loved and respected. Tell him you expect it to go both ways. I think men have a hard time communicating their feelings and if you say what you expect and deserve you might be surprised that he will come through. Lets hope anyway;)
hang in there, Ollie