Husband is starting to repeat old stories exactly like his dad
DEAR ANNIE: It is a modern kind of problem to have such a long life expectancy. My husband and I are in our early 60s. His parents are in their early 90s. They still live independently and are fairly healthy. We often have family get-togethers with his parents, our children and our grandchildren.
My husband’s father tells the same stories over and over. He completely monopolizes conversations and will interrupt a speaker and start telling his own tale from days long gone. His wife will sometimes say, “Dear, you’ve told this story before,” and he will momentarily pause, but his brain is stuck on one track and he’ll keep going. He is unable not to continue, complete with the same jokes and dramatic pauses that he has learned through repetition. We try to be polite and listen, but I see how my children’s eyes glaze over and eventually, they find reasons to leave.
Here’s the real problem: Over the past few years, I have seen my husband developing this same need to speak. Usually, he wants to make a point or he has some complaint. But he seems unable to just let it go. He also has started telling long stories, over and over, about his younger days. Yesterday, he ruined a family lunch by fighting about something minor that he absolutely could not let pass.
I don’t want to spend years hearing the same stories and putting up with a husband who is unable to be silent and listen to others. My father-in-law is oblivious to others, and I can see that his son is headed the same way. What can be done?
Dear L.: You’re overlooking the possibility of an inherited neurological problem behind this tendency. It is not uncommon for some seniors to become repetitive and focus on their younger days. But the inability to drop an issue when asked, even when it causes family fights, has an element of compulsive behavior. Please talk to your husband about this when he is in a more reasonable mood. Ask him to speak to his doctor about an evaluation, or better, go with him. But please work on your tolerance levels. Your husband isn’t being annoying on purpose. Instead of allowing your frustration to boil over, try to understand how difficult it is for him to control himself, and then help others be understanding, as well.