Posted by: | 2017/09/22

Tantrums in adults

My partner and I are both in our early 60's and have been together almost 6 years. He was widowed and I was divorced 26 years when we got together. Our relationship is really good and solid and I could not imagine not spending my retirement years with him. However, I am really stumped by his "childish" behaviour at times. For example today, he is not really computer literate, only the minimal, and I have shown his often how to save onto a memory stick. Just before we were due to go out he now wants me to download and save. I did so, with him alongside showing him again how to do it. I admit I was curt. He jumps up, hauls out all the other issues, throws them at me, storms upstairs, slams the bedroom door to go and sulk. I finish the saving and call out to him "come, lets go" he shouts out "I am not going anywhere" I say, "please do not act like a child" he says "I will. I am a child" I left at 11,30 and returned at 13h00. It is now 18h00. He has not left the room!! Still "like a child!" Yes, he is awake and moving, I hear him move around. This is not the first time he says I am a child, I want to be a child" when angry. I just leave him to cool off. How do I manage this? I just withdraw, pour a glass of wine and enjoy the spring evening in my garden!! I really thought I was done with temperamental teenagers long ago but it seems not.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2017/09/25

When I was younger, I remember my parents often used a term I haven't herd for years : they'd speak of someone entering or being "in his second childhood".  This seemed usually to refer to men, for some reason.  At a more advanced age one would more readily think of the possibility of an early dementia.  But actually we all decline a bit in our comprehensive mental capacities as we grow older, and often grow less tolerant of our own failings. Indeed some folks show, as you seem to be describing, what seems to be a most alarmed reaction to events that suggest they are not as able or effective as they once were. And though it usually feels to their companion as though they are simply cross with you,  it's actually more about being very cross with themselves. 
And they can get trapped in their own response : having stormed off, slamming the door, and shut yourself away : it's hard to find a dignified way to come out again !  Let alone to apologise and try to put things right.  This is where a tactful companion, even though thy may have actually been in the  right, may need to be the bigger person, and try to devise a return to normal,  without emphasizing the original spat.
And in the example you quote, it can be helpful to choose a time when the  matter is not in contention, and as part of a friendly chat, perhaps mentioning that you also find computers can be confusing at times, ask what aspects of backing up copies of stuff onto a memory stick he finds the most puzzling.  Maybe this could help find ways to make it easier for him to do it for himself.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Anonymous | 2017/09/25

You say that you were curt with him? Maybe it is that he feels degraded or humiliated by the way you treat him and this is his defense mechanism. I sometimes feel the same way when I have to ask my son for the umteenth time to help me with technology I don't understand and he gets irritated because he has shown me TEN TIMES already. Make sure that you are not the root cause of his outbursts and maybe change your own attitude towards him first. If it doesn't improve, then, the best thing you can do is what you are already doing. Just ignore him and carry on with your plans without him.

Reply to Anonymous | 1 comment (hide)
Posted by: Anonymous | 2017/10/02

Thanks for your comment. Yes, I concur. I need to be more patient.

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