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 coworkers — anyone, really — and why. The goal of this isn’t to examine the deeper meaning of screaming or come to any great conclusions. This is a story about the urge to yell and where it comes from. Here, Greg, a 37-year-old father in Seattle who normally considers himself a calm dude, discusses a financial “bomb fight” between he and his wife.
Would you classify yourself as a yeller?
I honestly don’t yell very often. I’m just not a dude who yells. I pride myself on having a pretty even keel. When I do get angry, I’m more of the type who stews internally until I can burn it off at the gym or smack a tennis ball around. I don’t like conflict and I also don’t like losing control of myself. I know it’s not good to bottle stuff up, but I tend to think of it as slowly twisting the cap off a fizzy bottle of seltzer to let out the carbonation so it doesn’t explode.
So when was the last time you lost it?
Maybe two or three months ago. I’m not proud of this, but I had a pretty put-up-your-dukes — not literally, but you know what I mean — argument with my wife and it got loud and, honestly, pretty heated.
What was the fight about?
It was money related, which is pretty much always the case when I yell. Money is a sensitive subject for me because I feel like I’m the only one paying attention to our financial situation and that my wife tends to make decisions for herself first and not us. She’ll admit that she’s not the most financially aware person and I get that. But she also doesn’t seem to care about planning for the future and how choices today will affect us down the road. I admit that I’m pretty touchy when it comes to this subject, so it’s always a hot button issue for us. We know that but it still happens because it just does.
So what happened?
My wife had been working a freelance gig for the past couple of months. It was paying her decently but more so it was in a line of work that she wanted to be in. So it was a stepping stone to doing something in the field that she wanted. And she’d been out of work recently to find something in a different career because she was unhappy with what she’d previously done. But when I came home the other night, she’d left her job. She’d apparently been thinking about the decision for a while. I lost my shit because A) now we’d be stretched for money again because we’d be going back to a single-paycheck household and B), and this is most important, she did so without bringing me into the decision. So what really set me off is that she made the decision for herself and not for us. The thing was that she only had a few more months left of this gig because it was a contract position that ended in November.
If you could rate this argument on a DEFCON scale, where would it land?
Oh what’s the highest? It’s a five, right? Then this was a five. Like turn the keys and let the nukes out. Doors slammed. Tears happened. And it was one of those fights where I don’t care about the tears. You know when you need to look past the tears because tears can sometimes be a distraction to the task at hand? I hate seeing someone cry, especially my wife. It emotionally wounds me. But this was one of those times where the situation demanded I keep going and completely collapse on my argument. I was furious.
Was there any resolution?
A bit. A few days later when we were on speaking terms again, she promised to make sure to include me in her decisions. I was still pretty indignant about the whole thing and said that wasn’t good enough. We then argued again, but this time it was less of a fight. I find that with the big fights, it’s just not one fight. It’s lots of little fights of either lesser or greater severity. It’s never one conversation. I refer to them with my friends as cluster bomb fights because lots of little explosions occur later the first bomb was dropped. They don’t happen often but, shit, when they do. Like, a week after we had this fight about a purchase she made. She was spending as though she still had a job. That wasn’t the case. Wooo boy that one was tough.
Okay, what about in the weeks to follow?
She’s been a bit better with cluing me into her decisions, which I appreciate. And I’ve been trying to not act like money isn’t the end all be all. But, to be honest, while it’s not, it does helps us live the way we do. That’s just the way it is. And while I don’t want to be a person who cares about money, money is what helps us survive. If it was eating cookies that made the world run, I’d fight about eating cookies. That’s a weird metaphor but I hope you get what I mean.