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, Chad, 37, a Marine Corps. Captain and recent law school grad recounts a day when his broken-down SUV revved up an argument about finances and his impending wedding.
You’re a marine and a lawyer. I imagine it takes a lot to set you off. What triggered you?
A 2006 Nissan Xterra. It’s my car, and it shit the bed. I was driving down the street with my fiancée, laughing at some silly shit, and we were about five minutes from home. CLANK! The car jerked, made a big noise, and I couldn’t accelerate past 20mph. I just thought, “I took care of you for 120,000 miles. I changed your oil. I cleaned you. I took every maintenance issue seriously. You owe me at least 200,000 miles, asshole.”
Everyone has car trouble…
It wasn’t the car. It was how much fixing it would cost. The bill would’ve been $4,000 plus. Do I spend that to buy a new transmission? Oh, but wait, I have to pay rent. And bills. Food. Insurance. And let’s not forget that I was unemployed because no one seemed to want to hire a veteran law school grad. My fiancée wanted to buy a new car. Just buy a new car. I didn’t want to put thousands of dollars down on a car, plus make monthly payments while being unemployed. Keep in mind that finances are already an issue because we have a wedding coming up. I suggested eloping in Atlantic City and grabbing an IHOP wedding special. No dice.
So, you were boiling?
Not for a few days. The time came where a decision had to be made — do we fix this car, or get a new one? I voted to fix the car, and keep it until it really, really dies. She, of course, says buy a new car because it’ll be more reliable. That’s when it started to hit me. Finances are never an easy subject to talk about when you’re struggling. All the emotions of not having enough, while wanting to give your fiancée anything and everything, just got me. They started running roughshod in my mind, and I started talking louder…louder…LOUDER…until eventually I was yelling. About the car, the money, the wedding, getting a job — everything. We both lost our cool, but I fell right into the rabbit hole and couldn’t get out.
Do cars and money normally upset you?
I like to think I’m a pretty chill dude. I like to keep things laid back. But, driving? I yell at everyone when I’m driving. Especially bicyclists. So, I’m sure the fact that this situation was about a car had something to do with my reaction. I do try to keep cool in chaotic situations — the military trained me for that. But, when you’re emotionally involved with someone…
So in those moments, all those drills go out the window?
Right. I don’t love my wife – I’m in love with my wife. I couldn’t imagine living without her. Those kinds of emotions get to you and can turn you into something you’re normally not.
How did the argument play out?
It’s funny — I know how the fight started, and I know how it ended. But the middle part always seems to get lost. In the end, we calmed down, apologized, and took comfort in the fact that we were both scared to make such a big financial decision.
Nothing gets resolved when you yell at someone you love. At that point, you’ve lost all ability to reason. The people around you — or, in our case, our Siberian Husky — are the ones who feel it and run into the other room to hide.
Did you learn anything from the argument?
I’ve really never talked to anyone about it, to be honest. My wife and I still disagree on the topic, but we agree that it’s okay to disagree. I have regrets after every argument, for sure. I hate fighting. I wanted to reach out and hug her, and tell her how much I love her, despite the fact that we were yelling like crazy. And we were arguing about something that, in a year, probably won’t matter. I’ll try to remember that the next time I start to lose my cool. Whatever the next argument is, I’m sure I’ll regret that one, too.