Annie Lane: Irritated by in-law’s interruptions

Published 6:22 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

Dear Annie: My mother-in-law, who is 68, has a really bad habit of talking over me when my husband asks me a question. It is getting very irritating because I am trying to teach my 3-year-old daughter that it’s not nice to talk over people and to wait her turn. Am I wrong for getting mad at my mother-in-law? Is there a nice way to ask her to stop? Right now, when she does it, I just stop talking.

I haven’t said anything to her because it is an extremely sore topic for me. It’s not her fault that it’s such a sore spot for me, and that’s why I haven’t said anything. Isn’t it conversation etiquette to let the addressed person finish talking?

— Let Me Finish, Please

Dear Let Me Finish: You’re not wrong to be frustrated by your mother-in-law’s constant interruptions. Yes, it is rude to cut people off before they have finished speaking, and when done to us, can make us feel less valued and heard in conversation. But confronting her behavior with silence won’t get this message across to her.

Since this seems to be a pattern, you might consider finally sitting down with her one-on-one and telling her that this bothers you. She might not realize she does this, or maybe she’s so excited to contribute to conversation that she doesn’t perceive her interruptions as inconsiderate. Either way, letting her know directly where you stand and saying your piece will tip her off that she needs to speak less and listen more.

• • •

Dear Annie: My best friend and I have been friends for about 45 years, and I love her dearly. We live about 1,200 miles apart. I’m always there for her, and sometimes she’s there for me, but not as much as I wish. I don’t need anything from her but a listening ear or advice. We stay in contact most of the time, and I have visited a few times and enjoyed the time with her and her family.

However, there have been many times I have texted or called her, and she hasn’t responded. Then, there are times when she does answer the phone when she has company, and she completely ignores the fact that I’m on the phone and continues to hold a conversation with them. I would much rather her tell me she has company or that she’s busy and will call me back. I have mentioned to her before how this makes me feel. But when she needs a favor, I hear from her several times till her favor has been granted, and after the favor, she ignores my calls and texts. This really hurts, and I’m confused. Am I taking it too personally?

— Puzzled Pal

Dear Puzzled: Between work, family, friends and other obligations, everyone is bound to miss a phone call or a text from time to time. But the fact that your friend doesn’t give you her undivided attention — or she will when it’s of benefit to her — is frustrating. Suggest a set time each week or every other week to chat on the phone or FaceTime together with no distractions. This consistent quality time catching up with one another can help bridge the physical gap and strengthen your bond with one another. One of these catch-ups would also be a good time to address the almost transactional encounters you’ve had with her, if they persist and you feel comfortable doing so. After four decades of friendship, I’m sure there’s very little you can’t openly say to a true friend.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.