Friday, July 18, 2014

Anger, yelling and the silent treatment - not the way to live

On Life and Love After 50 newsletter  Friday, July 18, 2014

Anger, yelling and the silent treatment are not the way to live

Have you ever dated, or worse yet, lived with, or even worse, been married to, someone who yelled and screamed at you? Particularly, when you did little or nothing to provoke that type of behavior? That's the topic of today's newsletter.

It warms my heart to hear from couples who meet and fall in love later in life. When I heard from Ann (not her real name), she glowingly described her 16-month relationship. My initial reaction: I hope she and her new man will be together forever.

Ann, 60, divorced for 12 years, said, “A year and a half ago, I met a divorced man, 62, online. He is nice looking and his profile seemed sincere. We met for coffee. He was very charming and easy to talk to and we seemed to have a lot in common.

“I have a great time with him. We both wanted to be committed. Our relationship became serious; we got engaged in March and he gave me a ring. I have never felt this way before. He loves being with me and reminds me how beautiful I am. I feel very special with him.”

I thought, so far, so good, how nice that Ann is sharing her love story with me so I can share it with you. A key ingredient for a new, later-in-life relationship to work is that both the man and the woman sincerely want to commit. Having a lot in common can be an asset as well.

But—and there often seems to be a “but” when people find love after 60--Ann mentioned two that bother her.

But # one – he’s messy

Ann said, “One of my concerns: he is not neat. His car is messy and his house is cluttered. It doesn't bother him. I hated going into his car because of the mess. Eventually, we drove my car. 

“When we started talking about marriage, I explained that I can't live in this clutter and he seemed fine about cleaning it up (I was going to help him). I felt I can overlook this since I don't mind cleaning. He wanted to make the change.” 

Tom’s comment: It sounds like Ann and her guy have uncluttered that mess. However, older people find it hard to change; I wonder if he is really willing to do so? Regardless, Ann will still have to be the cleaning machine in this relationship. Always having to pick up after someone would get old after awhile. 

But # 2 – He’s a ticking time bomb

Ann’s second “but” is more serious. She said, “He has a temper. At times he gets explosive. When we went on our first driving trip last July, it was fun and beautiful at first, but on our way home, I made a comment about his driving. He yelled at me and said I was treating him like a child. He stopped talking to me and though we had one more day together, he drove me directly home. We did not speak for a week. Eventually, we made up.   

“This behavior has occurred a few other times. What bothers me is it is always my fault. He doesn't accept any blame in our arguments.”

Ann described another road trip this year. ”By the fourth day together, we started to snap at each other; I understand that happens when you are together around the clock four days in a row. We were sitting on a bench in a public park. I had made a comment that his legs sticking out could cause someone to trip. He started yelling at me. People around us were staring. When I tried to be nice, he ignored me and was rude. He did not speak for eight of the 11 hours on our trip back.

“At his home, the same ‘silent treatment’ behavior continued. I was angry, decided to go home, and gave him back the engagement ring. I asked myself, ‘Do I want to live with a man who yells and then gives me the silent treatment?’ I have a 16-year-old daughter. Will he be yelling at me when she is there?

“In discussing our previous marriages, he blamed his wife and he didn't like the way he was treated by her. I'm confused and wonder if I was the cause of these arguments?  His anger scares me. Any advice would be helpful.” 

My response to Ann: Your relationship is dysfunctional. Arguing, yelling and the silent treatment are not the way to live. It will only get worse. Whether the arguments are your fault or not is irrelevant. What should bother you instead is that he yells at you and then pouts like a child. Yes, he will yell at you in front of your daughter. What happens if he explodes and hits you? Dealing with a person like him is stressful and potentially dangerous. 

And stop taking road trips together. 

Oh, and the house will be messy and cluttered, unless you always keep it clean.

Possible solutions: First, he needs anger management counseling. And second, get him a vacuum cleaner for his birthday and make him prove to you that he can learn to use it.  

Until then, if ever, don’t accept the ring back.

For more finding love after 60 articles: Finding Love After 60


  1. Tom you are Right on with this one! i was married to a rageoholic for 25 years- when i got into alanon, i learned she wasnt healthy and my self esteem was terrible. two years after the most contentious.. divorce my attorney's seen, where she made my adult kids sit thru the whole divorce- the ex and my kids are still silent. it hurts and your column helps alot! i am back to dating respectful... women . keep them coming we are not alone! ps i think my ex was borderline personality disordered..but that her deal now! jk minnesota

  2. I agree with what JK said...I was in a relationship with someone I met online who was intelligent, charming and handsome....there were never any issues. We married 9 months later and the day after the wedding everything changed....literally....raging, putting his fist through the wall, everything was everybody else's fault, what was mine was his and what was his was his......he would come home and I would not heaer him, sneak up behind me and say, "remember, until death do us part".....turns out he had narcissistic personality disorder. I left him 9 months later while he was on a business trip. He was online the day after he got back looking for someone new......
    So Ann, do not walk, RUN in the opposite direction. You deserve so much better!!
    KF, WA