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I Lost My Cool When My Wife Made a Big Purchase for the Kids Without Me

"Money’s not tight or nothing. We’re doing just fine. But she should’ve discussed this with me. If only because we’re a team and teammates don’t do that."

Welcome to “Why I Yelled,” Fatherly’s ongoing series in which real dads discuss a time they lost their temper in front of their wife, their kids, their coworker — anyone, really — and why. The goal of this isn’t to examine the deeper meaning of screaming or come to any great conclusions. It’s about yelling and what really triggers it. Here, Luke*, a 32-year-old father in Mobile, AL. discusses how his wife’s impromptu pool-purchase made me blow a gasket. 

When was the last time you yelled?

Last week. Last Friday, to be exact.

Who’d you yell at.

My wife.

What happened?

Well, she bought a pool.

Can you explain a bit more?

Ha, yes. She bought a pool for our backyard. A big above-ground one for the kids to use this summer.  This monstrous thing got delivered the other day and was sitting in my garage. I pull in and nearly ran into it.

That doesn’t seem so bad.

Well, it was. She never brought it up with me. This monstrous thing got delivered the other day and was sitting in my garage. I pull in and nearly crashed into it. I mean, this box was the size of a shed.

Had you guys discussed getting this pool at all?

We’d had a small discussion about maybe getting something for the kids for the backyard sometime down the road. But that was a few months ago. In terms of this pool? No sir. The first I learned about it was when I read the side of the box and saw what it was.

Guessing you got pretty mad.

I surely did. We have a good marriage and it’s good because it’s based on one rule: honesty. Honesty about everything from feelings to finances. And this hurt both.

How so?

How would you feel if there was a major purchase sitting in your garage that you knew nothing about? And how would your bank account feel?

Pretty hurt. But the first one would hurt more.

Exactly. Money’s not tight or nothing. We’re doing just fine. But she should’ve discussed this with me. If only because we’re a team and teammates don’t do that. I was thinking What the hell is this?

So what happened?

I went inside and found her in the kitchen. The kids – we have two boys – were with friends. So it was just she and I. And I said, “What’s that in the garage?” She went white because the delivery guys must’ve dragged it into the open garage with her knowing it, or when one of the kids was home earlier. In any case, she was surprised.

I said something like “I damn near crashed into the box” which was true. But I said it to make her feel guilty. Then, I waited a second and asked her why the hell she didn’t tell me about the purchase.

Was your voice raised?

I was mad that’s for sure. But I was trying to stay in control. I wouldn’t say I was yelling or anything. But I was definitely on the cusp of yelling.

How did she respond?

She apologized immediately. She told me that she was online a few weeks ago, searching for summer pools for the boys and this one was on sale for 45 percent off and had great reviews. The place that was selling it was going out of business or something. She thought it would be a nice surprise for the kids, who aren’t going to camp or anything this summer.

Did you understand her point?

At that very moment? No. I told her that it was ridiculous she didn’t tell me about it and that I didn’t want to hear anything about it. I was being belligerent. But the truth was this: She could’ve texted me. She could’ve have told me one night when I got home. 

Would you have been that mad?

I would’ve been annoyed that the purchase was already made, but I wouldn’t have felt so weird about it. I also wouldn’t have been so immature about the whole thing.

How so?

Oh I left and went for a drive, which is what I do to cool off when I’m angry. The car and the radio on a backroad just make me feel a bit more centered. But this time I didn’t come back until a few hours later. That meant I didn’t help her with the preparations for her sister’s baby shower that was happening the next day. I didn’t answer the phone or nothing. So, she got mad at me about that.

Did that resolve eventually?

She gave me the cold shoulder during the next day’s event. But we worked it out.

Okay, so what happened with the pool?

We talked it out the day after the shower. I made her dinner, apologized, and told her what was actually bugging me. It wasn’t the money or even that she didn’t tell me. I just like to be involved in surprising the boys with something. I think the pool is a great idea – and I’m excited to hang out with them in it this summer.

So the entire fight wrapped up nicely?

Always does. Like I said, we have a good marriage.

*names have changed