#14 A wolf in sheep’s clothing

A phrase often meaning a person that appears friendly, kind or harmless but has malicious intent.

As you read the story below, use these questions to critically reflect what might be happening.

Does any of this story sound familiar?

What impact might Phillip’s behaviour have on Barbara’s feelings of isolation?

Why do you think Phillip feels entitled to behave this way?

What are the risks as they age?


Let’s  meet Barbara, 61 & Phillip, 78. Barbara has children from a previous marriage, & 2 grandchildren, who she adores.

Phillip and Barbara met very soon after his wife died, a second chance for both of them later in life.

Phillip, a retired well known, professional sportsman, was considered a very good catch.

Friends were slightly concerned at the speed their relationship developed, but Barbara explained when you don’t have many years left you need to grab happiness with both hands.

Phillip made her feel desired.

He spoilt her & whisked her away on romantic extravagant trips. He proposed just 6 weeks after their first date & they had a small secret ceremony in Scotland.

The secrecy felt spontaneous & very romantic.

Friends & family were shocked but wished them well. They understood as people get older, family dynamics shift & a quiet wedding out of the public eye, solved all those uncomfortable issues.

Barbara knew Phillip was ‘old fashioned’ & ‘traditional’, being older than her, but she was bowled over by the attention.

Once married, he insisted on managing all the finances & investments. With his wealth & the sale from Barbara’s former home, they enjoyed a luxurious standard of living, in Phillip’s large country house.

In return for his ‘generosity’ he expected his new wife to behave like a lady, look after his needs & most of all, show gratitude, particularly in public.

They spend ALL their time together.

Barbara gave up the volunteering she loved, to devote herself to her new husband. And devoted she is, everything she does is to please him, right down to her choice of lipstick.

There is one exception, when Phillip takes himself off to the golf course. This hobby is always followed by drinks with the gang & Barbara collecting him. Barbara insists on this, as previously Phillip would drive home having had several pints & whiskey chasers.

These are her favourite days.

She often sees her daughter & grandchildren, plus she gets a break from his demands, opinions about current affairs & the state of the world.

When they arrive back, Barbara prepares his favourite dinner, precisely how he likes it, to soak up the alcohol.

She does this because Phillip has a temper & when he is angry there will be consequences. Silent treatment, a broken piece of furniture or restricting her contact with family.

Barbara tip toes around Phillip to keep him happy, the thought of not seeing her darling grandchildren fills her with dread.

She feels ashamed that she was seduced by the lifestyle he offered her. She is grateful not to worry about money, but she is gradually feeling trapped & miserable. Phillip is well respected & has complete control of all their joint financial affairs.

She worries about the future & Phillip has hinted that he has a plan should either of them become ‘dependent’. She pushes those fears to the back of her mind, focussing on the present.

This is not the fairytale ending she was promised.