I had so many red lights going off here Mama. It was like blink blink.....
It's hard to have an old friend, with a long time friendly relationship and think they might be exhibiting bad behavior as a husband. Because you are not around this family on a daily basis you are only hearing one side of the story. Your friend unfortunately gave you all the clues you need to examine this issue.
It made me remember seeing my ex-NPD at a party after our divorce. I was with my new boyfriend (now husband) and he was with his new girlfriend (soon to be wife). I remember being shocked as he always went for the sexy type, and this woman was older than he and fairly conservative. I was so in love with my current boyfriend, and had recovered very nicely from the horror of that 10 year relationship. Enough so that I could chit chat with him and his girlfriend with no fear.
After about an hour of the party he came up to me and said, and I quote "What do you think of Chris? Can you believe that her former husband used to beat her? She is recovering because she's been terribly abused" OMG
Now this was coming from the man that used to "beat" me. He fractured my jaw at one point and I ended up at a womans shelter for a bit. Both me and by boyfriends mouths fell open when he said this. I think that the ex thought we were just shocked at the story he told us about his new girlfriend. To come up and tell me something like this....well there must have been such major denial....Wow.
It's the most explicit story I have to clue you in that many men are simply unaware of what they do. They have explained all their behavior away.
I can't even tell you how I felt reading his note to you. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I'm so sorry because I know how much we support and love our friends. You invest so much in them and it would be very difficult to see them as having major issues. After all, they have been nothing but loving and supportive to you all these years....right?
Mama, read everything SS said to you twice. This man is not being played. This man needs some serious help. He self admitted that he had to go to therapy to deal with his anger issues. There's much more of this than meets the eye.