Not so in the case of Radcliffe Haughton.
At a restraining order hearing Thursday, the wife, Zina, begged the court for protection, saying her husband would surely kill her.
With her voice shaking, she outlined how he'd threatened to throw acid in her face. How he accused her of cheating on him. How his red hot jealousy terrorized her "every waking moment."
"Things have gotten so bad. We need to separate," she said at the hearing, according to a recording obtained by CNN affiliate WISN. "We need a divorce before you hurt me. I don't want to die."
The judge sided with her. Haughton was ordered to stay away from his wife for the next four years. He was forbidden from possessing a gun.
But on Saturday, he bought a .40-caliber handgun from a private seller. Wisconsin law only requires background checks for purchases from a dealer.
And he waited.
The next day he took her life.
'I don't want to die'
At the bizarre Thursday hearing, Haughton acted as his own attorney -- cross-examining his wife, asking questions that the judge refused to allow.
Haughton said his wife's infidelity was to blame for their failing marriage.
"I have been involved with Zina Haughton for most of my adult life. This is the woman that I love," he said.
"Things have not always been the best that they could have been but I can stand before the court, stand before God and say that I love her. I love her unconditionally. This situation was brought about by infidelity."
The wife said the abuse began long before the infidelity accusations.
She detailed a night when she said Haughton pulled a gun on her. It accidentally discharged. The bullet narrowly missed her and her daughter.
"For 20 years, we've fought. He's hit me. We've fought. But since May 29, the evening that he thinks I cheated on him, just the threats have gotten so bad, and like I said, I don't want to die," she said.
A long history with police