Why Do Old Women Become Bitter and Angry?

By Barbara Morris, R. Ph.

Certainly, not all old women become bitter and angry. But let's get real. You've probably met more than a few in your life.

I was having a discussion with a fortyish doctor friend who specializes in achieving wellness and he commented that so many of his older female patients are bitter and angry and he couldn't understand why.

He doesn't understand for three reasons. He's young, he's happy and he's not a woman.

You have to live long enough to understand why so many old women are bitter and angry. I explained that a major reason for bitterness and anger is a feeling of being unfulfilled (usually an unhappy marriage). Being old intensifies the pain.

While I was working as a pharmacist I knew many old women who were bitter and angry. I recall one woman in particular who lamented that she spent her life with a man she should not have married. "Then why did you marry him?" I asked. She explained that as a 25 year old woman living at home with a domineering mother, she could not wait to get away. (At that time, most girls lived at home until they married.) She was so eager to be independent that she married the first guy who showed interest in her. It wasn't long before she realized she made a mistake. "Then why didn't you leave?" I asked. She said It would have made her mother furious. So she stuck it out. He died when she was in her early seventies, bitter as a lemon, believing her life had been wasted. I asked if she was looking for another relationship. She was quick to respond, "Who wants one of those sick, farty old guys that's out there. They are the only ones left and I'd rather do without" she snapped. I could not disagree with her evaluation of the state of most old guys, but I told her there must be someone worthwhile if she just kept looking. She added that if she found a suitable man, all his parts had to be working. "Know what I mean?" she winked. I knew what she meant.

She continued, "But look at me, I'm wrinkled. Not just my face but my body. I have arthritic knees. But the really awful thing is that the person living inside of this old body is still 40. How the hell do you deal with that?" She knew that men, regardless of age, look for youth. The old men are turned off by females whose appearance is a reflection of their own state of decay.

Yes, I understand why so many old women are bitter and angry. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you are mentally competent and you have the capacity to make choices, you can make the choice to make life better rather than be bitter.

But it takes preparation. Before you are old: If you are in an unhappy relationship and can't or won't get out of it, create a life within the confines of the relationship. Get a new job, or go back to school to learn to do what you've always wanted to do, preferably something that not only benefits you but is of value to others. You can create a life that will prepare you to feel fulfilled when you are old, whether or not you have someone to share your life. It will help keep you from shriveling up into a bitter, angry old woman.

What about the getting old issue? What about the wrinkles and out of shape body? If you take care of your health early on, chances of keeping a more youthful appearance as time goes on improve significantly. Wrinkles are not the end of the world but if they bother you, while you are working, save some money in a "fix up" fund to use when you can no longer stand looking at the reflection in the mirror.

Smart older women refuse to allow uncontrollable circumstances to shape their existence. They know that the antidote to bitterness and anger is to choose to find a way to be better. They take the lemon life hands them and they squeeze every last drop of juice out of it to make the tastiest lemonade ever -- sweetened with gratitude for all the good things in life and the realization that happiness does not come from others. It comes from within to the degree that you decide to be happy.

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Source: April, 2009 Put Old on Hold Newsletter

Barbara Morris, R.Ph.

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