Annie's Mailbox: Be gentle with friend who talks too much
Dear Annie: I spent two hours on the phone yesterday with a friend who can talk nonstop and rarely requires a response. I have another friend like this, and it’s exhausting.
I’ve seen letters in your column from other readers complaining about this, and you often suggest that the talkers might have a hearing problem. I disagree. These people joke about their “loud mouths,” have never complained of any hearing difficulties and seem to hear when they want to.
One friend mentioned that she no longer has much of a social life, but I didn’t bother to tell her why. “Sally” pretends to be interested in me and my kids and will ask questions, but if my answer is longer than 15 seconds, she interrupts. And I have to yell over her to finish a sentence.
I wonder if either of them will see themselves in this letter and at least attempt to change. I’ve heard of “listening classes” that can teach people how to actively listen. For now, I’ve got plenty of other friends who care enough to listen, so I’ve given up on the others. – Middle Aged and Finally Waking Up
Dear Waking Up: Hearing problems are only one possibility for those who, over time, begin to talk nonstop. Another possibility, of course, is self-involvement or perhaps a fear that they won’t remember what they intend to say if they don’t say it immediately. So they interrupt and talk over you.
People who do this rarely recognize their actions. It is your choice to end the friendship over such annoying behavior. But how much kinder it would be to gently point out to Sally why this bothers you, and to remind her when she does it again. You could regain the friendship, and help Sally be a better listener. What do you have to lose?
Dear Annie: I’d like to provide a different perspective for “I’d Like My Wife Back Please,” who has been married for 25 years and his wife suddenly hates him. He mentioned that she had been exercising quite a bit and had totally changed her diet.
I was married for 28 years. My husband was controlling, abusive with our children and wouldn’t keep a job. As the kids left the nest, I realized that I was going to be living with this man for the rest of my life. It scared me to death. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I turned the corner and knew the marriage was finished. I’m sure my husband thought it was a sudden change, but it had been building for years.
I’ve come to realize, as women, that we do what we have to do. We raise our kids, we go to work or stay home, whatever. But the bottom line is, when we are done, we’re done. And it sounds like she is done. To this day, my ex doesn’t think he ever did anything wrong. – Happily Ever After
Dear Happily: It’s true that problems can fester and, over time, can destroy a marriage. When they are addressed early on, the relationship can often be salvaged because both parties are aware of the issues and are working on them. This is why we so often recommend counseling. But when one person suffers in silence, the result is built-up resentment and despair.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.