Hus­band is start­ing to re­peat old sto­ries ex­actly like his dad

The China Post - - TV & COMICS -

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?

— L.

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.

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