#1145: “My husband stops talking only when he is asleep and sometimes not even then.”

Hi Captain.

I need some help. And some peace and quiet. My husband has what appears to be a vendetta against silence. First of all, he’s a talker. He tells me stories about his day, about his co-workers about whatever political thing happened that day. He goes into extreme detail about his favorite hobby that I have only a passing interest in. Mostly, that would be okay. I like to hear about his day, and I can tolerate some political talk (but not much). Except he isn’t done.

He reads me entire articles or Reddit threads on his phone. Sometimes he finds them so funny, he’s laughing too hard to read them, and makes me read them, even if I say I’m not interested. In fact, he does the first part even if I say I’m not interested either. He’ll start reading a thread to me, and I’ll request he not, a couple of times now by saying “if I wanted to read the whole article, I’d go read it” That makes him grumpy. I admit I read him the occasional funny comment or picture, but never every comment in a topic. It’s just overkill.

It doesn’t help, probably, that we have a toddler who himself is a source of endless noise, but he’s two, so even playing by himself envolves lots of noise, which is to be expected. I tolerate that much better than the endless chatter from hubs.

It’s getting to the point I dislike being in the same room with him for very long. Even if he’s not talking to me, he’s watching videos on his phone, with the sound all the way up. He does this even while lying in bed, winding down to sleep. Sometimes he keeps talking when the lights are off and I’m actually trying to sleep. I once got so fed up I asked him if he ever shuts up. It was mean, and I felt bad, but he finally did and I went to sleep. He was fine in the morning and continued with his usual way.

Disenganging doesn’t really deter him. I can say “that’s nice” and “oh cool” for hours. I can straight up say nothing, and he keeps going. Is there a nice way to say “Sorry honey, I missed that actually important thing you said because I ignore almost everything you say because you say a lot of everything”? If I say I need time to myself, he has before grumped that I never want to spend time with him.

I should note, that I don’t think it’s an emotional labor thing. I’ve watched him to the same thing to male friends of his, as well as in group settings. He’s just always got so much to say.

Thank you,
About to buy stock in ear plugs

Hi there, Ear Plugs Stock Buyer!

The guy you fell in love with was presumably a gregarious dude with a lot to say and this isn’t totally new behavior, but clearly things have gotten very unbalanced. Like, when do you get to talk? And, when you say “Oh, I’m not interested in that” why on earth do you end up feeling like you have to sit and listen to internet comments read aloud? You have learned that not engaging at all doesn’t stop him, noncommittal non-answers don’t stop him, yelling at him stops him temporarily (but no lessons are learned). So, the time for hinting & gentle requests is long over.

There are several levels & kinds of conversations to have here. I don’t know which order or priority works best, so I’ll give you all the strategies that occur to me and you see how you want to use them.

The big overarching conversation (possibly one to pursue over time with a couples’ counselor) is to tell him what you told us, “Hey hon, I think that by sharing alllllllllllll the stuff you read online and allllllllllll the stuff about your hobby and your day, you want to connect with me. That’s great, I want to connect with you, too, and hear about your day, but a lot of the time lately it feels like I’m being talked at and talked over. Like, you don’t really check first to see if I’m interested in something, and when I say outright that I’m not interested or talked out for the day, it’s like it doesn’t matter – you act like you don’t hear me at all, you just keep going. I’m starting to check out a lot of the time, which I don’t want to do, but it’s too much, and I’m starting to get really upset and annoyed by the dynamic. It’s hurting our relationship. How do we work on this?” 

A counselor will, if nothing else, referee things so that your husband has to give you equal air time during the sessions and not interrupt you, and also signal that this is a very serious problem that needs attention. A good couple’s therapist can build in some accountability and help you practice better communication over time.

The smaller, more specific, more ongoing conversations have scripts like this:

  • We’re taught not to interrupt people because it’s rude. It’s also rude to use social conventions against interrupting to natter on at people forever without regard to their interest level, and to steamroll them when they say outright they aren’t interested. INTERRUPT HIM. “[Name], you’re monologuing again. Please stop talking now.”
  • Yep, politics is very scary and annoying. But I spent my politics anxiety budget already today, so, can’t absorb yours!” 
  • “I have like, 10 minutes of Hangin’ With Reddit in me today, so, lay it on me, but when the 10 minutes are up, they’re UP.” 
  • “I do not want to listen to you read internet comments to me, please stop.”
  • “I’ve told you before – I don’t really want to hear the comments. Why is this still a thing?” 
  • “I said I wasn’t really interested in hearing about this. Did you not hear me?” 
  • “Ok, you heard me, so, why did you keep going?” 
  • “It’s okay for us to read different articles, I don’t have to read everything you read.”
  • “Sorry I missed [important thing]. You’ve been talking nonstop for 3 hours and I kinda tuned out there. What did you want to tell me?” 
  • “If you’re going to watch videos with the sound on, please put on headphones or go in another room – the noise of that really bothers me.” 
  • “I’m trying to wind down for the day and go to sleep. I need bedtime to be quiet time, so if you’re still wanting to stay up for a while and watch videos, that’s fine, but please go in the other room.” 
  • “Thanks to [Beloved Toddler], I’m kinda talked out right now. Can we watch some TV together or read quietly or do something else that doesn’t involve talking?” 
  • Edited To Add: “I really don’t want to read the article, but I want to know what you thought was interesting. Can you sum that up for me in a couple of sentences?” 

If you set a boundary and he won’t stop, or take it to another room, then maybe you go in another room and shut the door. Also, I think you are already saying a lot of this stuff just fine, and he’s not listening, but here’s something I spotted in your question (bolding mine):

“He’ll start reading a thread to me, and I’ll request he not, a couple of times now by saying “if I wanted to read the whole article, I’d go read it” That makes him grumpy.”

When this happens in the future, where you kindly ask him to Please Not, and he gets grumpy, LET. HIM. BE. GRUMPY.

Do not soothe his feelings about it. You’re allowed to say “no thanks, I’m not into it!” in your marriage. You’re allowed read what interests YOU on the internet, when YOU want to, you’re not an empty vessel for his recitations of other people’s witticisms from 7 hours ago. YOU DON’T LIKE IT. YOU ALREADY TOLD HIM THAT. It’s okay if he feels grumpy – you’re feeling pretty fucking grumpy when he doesn’t listen to you. So if you ask him to stop and he flounces from the room or goes all “fine I guess I’ll never talk again, then” or “I guess I’m just not an interesting person” or plays whatever the hell sulking & reassurance game that has kept you pretending to listen in the past, let him do it. Don’t fix it. Hold fast. You told him directly what you needed. You weren’t mean or unreasonable. You’re allowed to be annoyed and angry and to want it to stop and to have an argument about it if it won’t. “Do you ever shut up?” isn’t how you want to talk to him and it felt mean and like you were not being your best self when you said that, but let’s be real: It did get him to actually be quiet (when nothing else did). If you lose your temper a little or express how actually angry and frustrated you are, that doesn’t make you the asshole. The default can’t be that he gets to talk all he wants until you get angry about it, like it’s your job to police him about that and not his job to listen to you the first time/respect you/self-modulate/self-soothe. One way we learn to stop our own maladaptive behaviors: We piss off people around us and they tell us to knock it off and/or they start avoiding us. Your anger & exhaustion here is justified and if he were smart he’d pay attention to it. He’s paying enough attention to get mad at you when you don’t want to spend as much time with him, but, reasonable consequences, dude!

There are other things to try here:

  • “No phones” date nights.
  • No phones near bed (I’ve banished my own phone from the bedside table recently, it’s great).
  • Dropping the chatty toddler in front of chatty Dad and walking away, to a different room or the local library or coffee shop or a friend’s house.  Let them wear each other out. (Like kittens). And let me gently suggest that if one parent of a toddler still has a bunch of reading-the-internet & talking about it energy at bedtime and the other parent is exhausted, something in the parenting/childcare workload could use a serious rebalance. He also needs to help you get some time to yourself if that’s what you need, not take it as an insult to him. You’re a parent of a young kid, OF COURSE you need some time to yourself. It sounds like it’s time to do a re-balancing of leisure time and who gets it in your house, and make sure you get your share of time when you don’t have to take care of or listen to anyone.
  • Husband finding a group or a league or some buddies who share his hobby, going to do that thing with them on a weekly basis (you can’t make him do that but you can suggest & make room in the schedule if he wants to).
  • Ritual check-ins where you do give each other your full attention for certain part of the day, but, you know, alternating, so everyone gets to talk. Like maybe seeking him out right after work and tuning in hard for a little while can pre-empt the thing where he’s chasing you around the house all evening with all his stored-up thoughts.

Being chatty, enthusiastic, a little lonely, hungry for adult conversation, or a bit oblivious doesn’t make your husband a bad person, but you need him to become a lot less oblivious and actually listen to the words you are saying if this is going to work. He has choices about how he treats you, and this choice to ignore you and keep right on blabbing when you say “I don’t like that” or “I don’t care about this” is not a happy one for your relationship and does not show him in a good light.

Moderation notes:

  1. Some people like reading the internet out loud to each other. If this is you, and it’s fun and consensual and everybody gets equal air time, then nothing in this letter is about you and you don’t need to explain to us that you & your partner actually enjoy it sometimes.
  2. We’ve got some new readers, so this bears spelling out. There are neurodivergences like autism and ADHD that make monologuing more likely and monitoring others’ reactions to same more difficult, especially when one is enthusiastic about a topic. This is a reminder that we don’t diagnose people through the internet on this site, and also that when we’re talking excitedly about something and the other person is saying stuff like “I’m not interested in that” or “please stop talking now” or not answering at all or physically moving away or tuning out completely, that it’s not a mysterious rune that needs a team of codebreakers and archaeologists or mages to decipher. It means “Wind it down, the other person is not that interested in what you’re saying.” “Take turns sometimes in conversations.” “Check in occasionally with your audience to make sure they’re with you.” “Your romantic partner is not your excess word-dumpster.” Social skills can be learned, consent is important within social interactions, and neurodivergent people are often far better at checking in and monitoring this stuff than neurotypical folks because they know they struggle sometimes and they care about not being That Person. They do also tend to appreciate and not take offense to direct “Hey, I’ve heard enough about the Titanic for one day, can you wrap it up now” boundary-setting. 
  3. If you are a monologuer or reformed monologuer, I’m interested in hearing what worked to help you curb this habit, but any “It sounds like your husband has ______ condition” comments will be BALEETED. Even if you were correct, there is no mental health condition or neurodivergence that is treated or accommodated by the people around you being endlessly compliant and patient listeners to the detriment of their own well-being and happiness. So, as always, let’s focus on behaviors and conversations that can help the situation.The husband in this letter is steamrolling the Letter Writer when she does speak up and that is the problem. Thank you.  




417 thoughts on “#1145: “My husband stops talking only when he is asleep and sometimes not even then.”

  1. I’ve had a very minor experience of this in my family with my step-grandmother who didn’t seem to stop talking to breathe/eat. We had the luxury of not visitng all that much, so we took the ‘missing stair’ approach. Someone was on ‘grandma’ duty and had to listen to her so others could talk to my grandfather. Clearly not going to work here!
    I think the Captain’s advice is good. Directness and problem solving together seem like they are needed.

    1. We did this with my Grandpa – usually it was hazing for whatever new person had married into the family – but we would tell that person that they could just get up and walk away. “Oh that’s so interesting but I need to get more water!” He wouldn’t really notice because that would require thinking about someone else for a second.

      1. I had to learn this with my in-laws… I used to feel so trapped and anxious and irritated by their endless, monologue stories until *finally* I realized a couple years ago that they are actually talking AT me/my husband/the dog/the wall to the degree that they are not offended if you spend the entire story staring at the tv/phone and you really can just exit the room at any point. Sort of like going to really bad stand-up show.

        1. This is a very interesting comment for me; thanks for making it. I know someone who grew up a parent like this and I think he absorbed the lesson that any talk that is not immediately actionable is just random broadcast venting that everyone else can freely tune out. Conversations just don’t happen.

          1. Ha, my dad is a little bit like this. He tells the same stories endlessly but my entire family will cut him off and finish the story if we don’t want to hear it or say “I don’t want to hear you soapbox, we were having a conversation”.

            Otoh, I’m very prone to being loud and talking over people to make myself heard.

          2. This guy got the opposite lesson, I think: that you don’t have to listen to anyone else because no one ever really has anything to say!

        2. Oh my gosh, yes. My father-in-law likes to tell and re-tell the same stories and it doesn’t matter AT ALL if you tell him you’ve heard it before, or interrupt to tell him what happens next, etc… I just had to get comfortable enough to “ignore normal manners” and do whatever I want while he’s talking (I mean, he isn’t exactly being polite either!).

          1. Especially fun when “repeats the same stories over and over, even if you heard it before, were there when it happened, or originally told THEM the story” combines with “expects you to know the details of stories you don’t know/weren’t there for/aren’t something you could possibly know” to let you know how much of an interchangeable listening object you are.

      2. Oh man, I have this family member. It actually makes me fairly anxious sometimes because he was also quite ragey growing up and it stresses me out to be around it. And pisses me off.

        I try to avoid as much as I can, but it’s hard to avoid entirely b/c of the rest of my family. My partner often ends up taking the hit and listening to the endless “talking at” session that bounces from random topic to random topic…..the rest of us then walk away and have our own normal human side conversation. Though we’ve told partner that he can also just walk away.

        1. I once brought a similar-in-personality-to-my-grampa-who-I-adored boy home to meet my grandparents once in college.

          After we beat him at Scrabble and he was a sore loser about it, the next day my grandma said the sickest burn I’ve ever heard: “Jennifer, he starts all his sentences with ‘I’.”

          1. Interesting that Grandma called this guy out instantly, but seemingly put up with Grandpa exhibiting the same behaviour?

          2. She loved my Grampa a lot! But the time he spent puttering “in his den” with the door closed probably saved their marriage and possibly his life. :-p

    2. A family friend’s kid was REALLY chatty around age 4-5 and so my SO and I took turns that year on Small Child Audience Duty when we got together so his parents could have an adult conversation with the other one of us for one hour of their lives. He once managed to talk nonstop about the plot of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs for 90 minutes, during which he somehow also ate a hamburger without stopping talking.

      I could only manage it because I got to leave after a couple hours and we only did it every few months. But woof, it was exhausting!

      1. Around that age I used to talk nonstop about whatever fantasy world I had in my head at the moment- I once talked without a break for four hours in the car from Massachusetts to New York. In desparation, my mom bought me a tape recorder so I could get my stories out without needed an audience. I promptly went up to my room, filled an entire cassette, and then brought it back down to the kitchen and made my mother listen to it in its entirety. Thankfully my conversational style has changed a lot since then!

        1. I love this. When I was much younger, my cousin paid me to not talk for several hours. While it was a challenge, he definitely underestimated my stubbornness outweighing my desire to talk endlessly.

      2. That is a 90 minute movie. He spent as much time discussing the movie as it takes to watch the movie. I’m impressed. A

      3. Did his parents ever try to teach him that doing this is completely inappropriate and that other people don’t like it or did they just let him be like this?

        1. He was in kindergarten or younger at the time of this anecdote. This is a normal stage many children go through, and it takes them a while to grow out of it. Why would you suggest that the parents weren’t on top of this situation?

          1. Because not all parents allow that. It is possible to stop kids from dominating the conversation, or telling them (nicely) to scram because we’re going to have Adult Talk now. My parents indulged a certain amount of non sequitur talk from me at that age, but they wouldn’t have let me monologue at their guests or extended family members for 90 minutes straight.

          2. I think if you don’t have children close in your life, and haven’t seen one grow up, you don’t necessarily appreciate that being want-to-scream-and-possibly-abandon-you levels of annoying is a natural part of being a young child, and if you beat down chattiness/assertiveness/enthusiasm too much as an adult figure you risk them feeling guilty about those same things later and suppressing them.

          3. Yeah, we used to say that while the kidlet was asleep the words would build up, and then they’d all have to come rolling out in the morning. It’s normal for preschoolers. For adults, not so much.

        2. This is actually totally appropriate (for a small child) and part of learning to human. Also part of learning to human is having people who will (gently, lovingly) model dialog and discussion.

        3. It also depends who the extended family or friends are and how close they are. My sister and brother in law pretty much never jumped in when their kids were interacting with me, including if the kid was being rude – they let me decide how to respond myself. Sometimes it was frustrating at the time, but it means that now I have close independent relationships with the kids that aren’t primarily mediated through the parents.

          And as far as talking, I have a very talkative nephew and I sometimes enjoy just giving him free reign to tell me a story for a while. It’s relaxing to have him just entertaining _me_, and I know how much it means when most people don’t want to hear your long story, to sometimes find someone who will let you tell it.

        4. I have a kid like this. Sometimes we work explicitly on turn-taking. Other times, like when we are late for something and she can’t stop monologuing, I find myself just saying “[Child], please stop saying words now and focus on [task].” (And I feel like a jerk every time.) Trust me, the parents were probably very aware and maybe even very annoyed sometimes, but corralling garrulous people is a process, and just because you as the parent have an endpoint you’d like to work toward, doesn’t mean the kid is ever going to get exactly where you’re aiming.

          1. Just feeling you on the being a jerk part. I usually say “Honey, my ears need a break. Can we stop talking for a few minutes?” and then I also feel like a jerk. Sometimes the best we can manage is getting her to go in her room to play by herself, during which time she will narrate her every move.

      4. Ha! My husband’s co-worker’s child once told us about Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer in excruciating detail and none of us adults could derail her. She was maybe 11. I felt a little bad but we declined some future restaurant meals with the child. My husband left for grad school so situation resolved.
        We’ve already told our daughter this story so we can use code word Rudolph.

        1. I once said to my eight year-old niece: “You really need to think about whether other people will be interested in the stories you’re telling. That includes looking around and seeing if they seem interested.”

          Sorted that right out.

          At my nephew, I screamed: “OH MY GOD GET TO THE POINT OR SHUT UP.” Also works. Kids did not get offended. You know why? Because I was engaging with them and showing them how to get the most positive attention possible.

          1. I once had a friend of my daughter’s follow me from room to room just chatting endlessly. She was 10. I ended up telling her I wasn’t her mother and didn’t have to pretend to be interested in what she was saying and then shutting the bathroom door in her face. She literally just stood outside the bathroom door talking until her mom picked her up. I never invited that kid over again.

          2. With all due respect, that is an absolutely unacceptable way to talk to children. I’m shocked that no one else objected. These are young humans learning to navigate interpersonal exchanges. They don’t deserve to be screamed at or belittled.

          3. That’s a horrible thing to say to a child. It may not have offended him, but it very well could have hurt him, a lot. I still remember a similar incident, about 30 years ago, and how it really cut into my self-esteem and mental health. I became much, much shyer and quieter, all from one respected adult’s yelling. Please don’t ever do that again – it might not turn out so well.

          4. It is a mean thing to say to a child, but also 1) long in the past and 2) a good reminder here for parents to teach their kids about boundaries and for people to get comfortable speaking up waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before they reach their snapping point. If you don’t gently teach your kids that not everyone wants to hear every single word they have to say and normalize the idea of “ok, enough talking, be quiet now!” people who don’t love your kids will deliver the message less gently.

          5. Though it may be long in the past, my sense is that a lot of people use the comments here as a source of scripts and strategies, so that’s why I felt moved to respond. i have just a ton of respect and admiration for what you do here, but I’m really surprised that screaming “get to the point or shut up” to a kid isn’t being regarded as verbal abuse here (I don’t think “mean” quite covers it.) I can’t imagine any other recipient of that kind of lashing out would be treated with a “yes, but there’s an object lesson here.”

          6. My son was this kid. He used to follow us around the house listing Pokemon attacks for hours. We usually just gently told him, “You get five more minutes to talk about Pokemon, and then we get quiet time.” It seemed to work just fine.

            But at one point we ended up in a super-awkward, unwanted roommate situation (the daughter of our landlord moved in with us for a while, and because the landlord was a friend and was giving us a sweet deal we didn’t know how to say no at first) and the “roommate” had no scripts, I guess, to make my kid be quiet.

            Because I didn’t want her there, it was actually kind of gratifying to hear my son drive her crazy instead of me. And it ended up being a good exercise for her, I think. Before she left, she finally got brave enough to say things like, “No, you can’t the bathroom me. No, you can’t talk about Pokemon to me while I’m on the toilet.” I could hear these conversations from my bedroom and I would laugh until I cried.

          7. I’m honestly surprised at your response. If a spouse said – or yelled – that to their significant other, it would be a clear sign that the relationship is not healthy, regardless of what the talkative spouse should learn. Is it really okay because it’s a child? Especially given that children sometimes take things to heart much more than adults do?

            Also, though this particular incident is in the past, Fantasia said that the screaming at a child works and that kids don’t get offended. That’s a suggestion for future actions, not a comment on past ones.

          8. Do I think it’s great for people to yell “shut up” at children? No. However, there are some situations where “shut up” would be verbal abuse and some where it would not (what is the tone, what is the relationship, what is the power differential, what else did the person try before getting to that point, like, maybe the 4 hours of polite redirection didn’t work, did they apologize and discuss it later, like, “I’m sorry I yelled. I was mad because you weren’t listening to me and it doesn’t feel good to be talked over“, is it a one-time thing (vs. a constant yelling & belittling).

            Have I been trapped on a long car ride with a kid who won’t shut up about Minecraft and a parent who has totally tuned it out and doesn’t even notice it and had to be the one who is like “Minecraft is interesting to you, and you are interesting to me, but Minecraft isn’t interesting to me, can we talk about something else or have some quiet time now?” Yes. Yes, I have. Did the kid cry? Yep, it really hurt his feelings that I didn’t love what he loved the exact degree he loved it, and that made me sad, so I apologized. The next time he tried to talk about Minecraft, did I listen for like, 5 minutes and then say “Hey, that’s all the Minecraft chat I’ve got in me today! What’s new at school?” and did he get a little sad for a second, again? Yep. And then we changed the fucken subject and it was fine.

            Also, I’m from a yelling family, and I don’t personally love yelling and I try never to do it, but if my parents are yelling at each other or saying “shaddup” nobody is being abused. It really is how they talk to each other, tone is everything. My younger brother is a Never Quiet who latched onto me relentlessly when we were kids. One time I told him to shut up or I would break his favorite toy and flush it piece by piece down the toilet, and that’s why Optimus Prime is in our septic system, because he did not go away or stop. We were 9/10. Was that A+ conflict management? No. Were we abusing each other? Meh?

            One time I was on a long CTA train ride after a really shitty day and I had a migraine and a mom & her two little kids were rampaging over the end of the car and they were SCREAMING at each other and I was like “Hey, could we try inside voices please” to the kids and nothing changed and I said to the mom “Hey, adorable Halloween costumes, can we try inside voices though” and I said to the kids again “Hey, that’s really loud could we try being quiet” and they started running up to me and yelling AT me, extra loud, as a joke, and I tried a few more polite things, like to the mom, “Your kids are adorable and they have so much energy, the noise is really piercing though, could you ask them to take it down a notch” and she rolled her eyes and ignored me and then I said, in a voice at like, 40% of the kid’s volume, not yelling, more like a strong Teacher Voice, “COULD WE PLEASE USE INSIDE VOICES, THANKS” and the mom FREAKED OUT at me and yelled at me for scaring her kids and I’m not proud of it, yeah, I lost my temper for a second, and I apologized to the kids for raising my voice, but also, I tried lots of other strategies before we got there. In the case of the Letter Writer, I don’t want to set a standard that you can never lose your temper or yell at someone when they’re talking over you. Sometimes kids are really, really, really annoying and they push all your buttons and you respond as not your greatest self. If it’s an overall loving and supportive relationship, kids recover and forget.

          9. I was trying to figure out how to say basically this, and yeah, I think there’s a difference between a pattern of mean and controlling behavior and occasionally losing your temper with behavior that’s really annoying and won’t stop.

          10. I just want to say that I have two young kids and completely agree about losing it with kids. My therapist says that the best way to move on from something like that is to apologize and own it, and I have occasion to use that strategy very, very often. And also, Jennifer, I’m so sorry about those demon kids on the train and they’re ridiculous mother! :0

          11. Huh. Maybe my standards are different, but I think that, in the scenario you described, you’d have been totally justified to say “Cut that out!” to the kids, no apologies needed. Anger is a reasonable response when people are deliberately making you feel uncomfortable or hurting you, and kids gotta learn that.
            (Seriously, running up to you to yell at you for fun? What the heck, kids?)

          12. Oh gosh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that Jennifer needed to apologize in either of those cases, just that it’s normal to lose it with kids sometimes. And sometimes kids’ feelings are just going to get hurt by necessary feedback, and that’s fine. (Tbh, if the post in question had said, this one time I lost it with my chatty nephew but it actually worked out because he learned a valuable lesson, I wouldn’t have objected. It’s more the sense I got recommending this approach. Plus the screaming.) I think that’s more than anyone needs to know about my child rearing philosophy, so I’ll leave it there!

      5. Not for nothing, but I assumed the monologue was about the 34-page book. And I found that pretty plausible for a kid in that age range.

      6. My 9 year old (5th of 6 children) has a LOT OF WORDS! I am often heard to say, “There are some things that you can think and not say out loud.”

        1. my almost seven year old has heard this enough, that she will sometimes ask me (after a particular statement or question goes poorly) “was that one of those things I should have kept on the inside?”

    3. Yeah,grandparents and kids that you only spend a few hours around per month (or even less). They can yammer on a bit. Heck, I even listen to my 1-year-old niece babble and she can’t even do words. Someone you spend more time around on an equal basis (friend or SO)? Nope. They can learn to STFU or I’m learning to GTFO.

  2. “Ok, you heard me, so, why did you keep going?”

    This is an important point. I think when dealing with an unwanted behavior we can get so caught up with the desire to just MAKE the other person PLEASE PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP what they’re doing, that their persistence just elicits more PLEASE STAHP from us rather than a “you’re not stopping; explain yourself”.

    Point out that they’re steamrolling over your wishes. Make it awkward and weird if you have to. Make them examine their behavior and why they choose to persist in it. Make them think about someone other than themselves.

    1. Hah! My coworker said to me today “You catch more flies with honey” and I was like “No, because sometimes you are not trying to attract a fly, and you need a fly swatter to swat it away”. – as in: you need a freaking behavior to stop now. It needed to stop last week. Sometimes that means we need to lose our patience and let the other person wallow in that for awhile. Its how you have to set boundaries sometimes.

      With that said, my son has pretty severe ADHD. Finishing his irrelevant/ill-timed/inappropriate thought is almost compulsive. It is not a good trait, and its one of the most important things his therapists work on with him. It is important that conversation is a two way street and to listen and hear/notice boundaries when you see them.

        1. Very true. If you ever have a fly infestation, pour some vinegar and soap in a dish and leave it out. The flies will drown themselves without you having to do anything.

  3. This quote by Rainer Maria Rilke quote isn’t useful/actionable, but it is beautiful, and it is something that you’re allowed to want in a marriage:

    “I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.”

    (it was worked into my marriage vows – that’s how important I think the sentiment is and how much I think you’re entitled to some alone/quiet time)

    1. I love this so much. I just texted it to my introvert partner. (We are two introverts…) Thank you!!

  4. I can sometimes be guilty of this, as I know when I’m feeling a bit insecure or disconnected from my partner, my instinct is to chat more without any real purpose and being ignored really sets this off for me. While on the flip side, my partner needs long, prolonged stretches of silence, and preferably complete solitude. (I mean, I probably do too, but he’s not super chatty usually so it doesn’t come up.)

    Anyway! What helped me was him being very straightforward about what he needed, but also me requesting that he gives me more of a heads up that he’s entering “quiet mode” so I don’t get thrown off by being ignored. I learned better boundaries about what’s important enough to chat about (usually because he was like “please….. not this,” and if he’s moving around getting a beverage or initiates some low level communication, he tries to respond much more pleasantly to my brief comment/joke which makes me feel affirmed and not left to drift like a ghost in my home. Also, I reminded him that he’s super annoying on purpose (it is just his way!) when I’m a bear in the morning, so it gave us some more grounding in “okay, we both do annoying things sometimes, let’s try to stop it but also be patient with each other.”

    Finally, a very helpful thing we discovered was ways to tell each other to be quiet that are cute or funny to us. We have some inside jokes or ways of delivery (we can say “yoooooo shut the fuuuuuck upppp” in a particular way that rings as silly instead of mean, for instance) that mean “no, seriously, please be quiet, but also hi I love you and we joke around together.” Can you guys maybe find similar things that fit you? Any request delivered in a way that affirms your love for the other person is likely to go over better than resentment breaking free. I love to feel like I’m helping my partner, but I hate feeling like I’m being scolded.

    1. yes, I’m like this too and I too need a VERY CLEAR directive. Not “oh cool” eleven times or silence or “I’m not interested in this”, because that just seems like I’m not doing a good enough job being interesting and I should try harder! I need someone (usually my husband) to tell me “I want to read this chapter before bed and I need silence to concentrate.” etc. At that point, I still will probably murmur “Guess what else!” every hour or so, but I understand that anything more is being disrespectful.

      Also, my old friend from the 90s, the telephone! I actually call people when I’m feeling talky so my whole personality does not need to find vent with my husband on days when I don’t have out-of-the-house plans. Even a good text dialogue helps!

      1. Ooooh yes, I know those feels – the idea that having someone signal to me that they’re not interested just means that I am FAILING at my attempts to convey what is clearly an interesting and thrilling anecdote or idea….! *shameface*

        A conversational quirk that I hear myself do A LOT at work and I haaaate it is repeating or summarising my point or idea once or twice more than needed at the end of my spiel. I don’t need to do this! I am (in general) a clear and articulate speaker! I need to trust that my original dialogue was enough and not belabour my point but gosh it’s hard.

    2. I’m very much the ‘you’ in this relationship dynamic as well. When partner starts feeling distant, I sometimes get anxious and lean in. HARD. On the communication stuff.

      I love your input about informing the other person on when is quiet time (and, just as importantly sometimes, when is not!). One thing we’ll often say is “I’m out of words for today” and often follow up with an alternative, like “do you want to cuddle/walk/watch tv/whatever together?”

      This does two really great things:
      1) sets my neglect/abandonment panic at ease because it’s about HIM being tired and not having verbal energy, not about him being tired *of me*. Very different.

      2) What I really want here is to connect. I’m talking as a ‘bid’ for attention and affection. Redirecting to a different form of connection means I get my bid returned and we get to feel close without it being draining on the one who needs quiet.

      The obvious caveat here, and the Captain did well to include it, is that the quiet partner does need to have some verbal time. Obviously balance is important, but you can’t use ‘quiet time’ or ‘I’m out of words’ 100% of the time. Given the extreme dynamic of OP’s situation, I don’t see that happening, but it’s something to be considered nonetheless.

      1. I think my SO is similar to you 🙂 And I appreciate your perspective.
        I’ll have to keep #2 in mind more often (though mine would be an offer to do something together *later* because I’m an “I need alone time” person, not an “I need silence” person).

        1. Friends of mine use, and I have adopted, the verb “to hamsterball”. As in, “I need to go hamsterball for a half an hour or so and then I’ll be happy to socialize.”

          “Husband is hamsterballing but he’ll be out in a bit.”

          1. Story time! When I was maybe 6, we had pet hamsters that turned out to be a male and a female. At one point, they were both in the hamster ball at the same time, and they were mating. I asked my mom what they were doing.

            Mom: Remember when we talked about how babies are made?
            Me: Yeah…
            Mom: Well the hamsters are doing that to make baby hamsters.
            Me: Oh…*pauses*…did you and Daddy make [Brother] in a big plastic ball?

      2. I agree with this. I just had this conversation the other night with my SO. I basically said that verbal affirmation is important to me in general, and that I need for him to verbally affirm he isn’t doing x AT me. I just said we all have needs, and I recognize his (lots of physical affection that isn’t necessarily my thing) and find time to give. If I can be good on making him feel loved, then why would it be a struggle to give that back?
        I think husband here just needs a reminder that like conversation, relationship is give and take. It is not all about one person. And if one person is dominating all talk, then that person is pretty much making it all about them. That is just how I would approach it with him.

      3. (I’m the quiet one.) No, we can’t use “quiet time” 100% of the time, but if the boundary-setting process is new, I’m going to need more quiet time now than I may need later, so the talker may need to suck it up and wait out a period of more quiet time than they like. Sorry, they’ve made me uncomfortable with excessive talking for this long, they can be uncomfortable for a while while I recover.

        Also: I’m fortunate in that I have a job that doesn’t usually tax my interaction energy, but in the past I have had jobs that required a lot of human contact and talking. This is going to affect how much talking the quiet one can handle after hours, but it’s also not something over which they have much control. I couldn’t tell my bosses, sorry, I need to deal with people less today, because that would have meant I couldn’t work. On busy days, I’d basically come home and shut down because I just. did. not. have. any. bandwidth. left. This is why the husband here needs other outlets.

      4. I can be similar to you sometimes too if my partner is feeling distant. I find some kind of on purpose facetime/check in time each day totally alleviates this for me, as does being explicit about, “I’m just gonna go do this thing by myself for a bit.” A big part of why my last relationship didn’t work out is that we were good at being like, “Do you need hobby time before I come over?” at the beginning, but as we transitioned out of the honeymoon phase, communication about how to spend time kind of broke down. For me this stuff can’t be assumed, partners need to be able to say, “I need time to do this by myself,” and “Before your friend comes over to join us, could we have tea and catch up on the day/cuddle/whatever for 30 min?”

    3. Ok, but the LW has actually given him a heads up, and told him she’s not interested, and asked him to stop.

      He hasn’t stopped talking.

      I think you’re less like the husband than you think.

      1. Monologuer husband needs to adjust his expectations and learn to listen.

        When I saw the title, I was gleefully going to send this to my partner, because I am a monologuer as well. I will be reading this out to him later (I hope that’s not weird, Captain; we both love you). I read stuff out to him a lot, I usually have music/YouTube/Netflix running for background noise because I don’t like silence, and I do talk at my partner. Thankfully he’s not someone who’s easily (… at all?) distracted by noise.

        — If he needs quiet, he asks. If he seems like he’s a little bristled, I will ask if he wants me to stop, and I’ll find something else to do. Similarly, if I’m repeating myself, he’ll point it out.
        — We have sit-down dinners where we don’t take book/phone with us and converse.
        — Possibly linked, but another ‘quirk’ of mine is suddenly introducing/changing topics in conversation without warning or indeed context. I’ve apparently done this all my life, and my old friends just roll with it, only bringing it up if I’m particularly bad (one noting “I’ve not seen you that bad since school”). For newer acquaintances, my partner will say “Context, dear” before people start getting too confused. As with the “You’ve told me this”, “I’ve heard this one”, “I need some quiet for a bit”, etc., I don’t take it personally. I might get embarrassed, but I’ll be the one dealing with that.
        — When putting on music sometimes I try put on his favourite stuff rather than mine (soppy love ballads, emo, stuff with lots of feelings). I may progress to occasionally putting on DotA or Starcraft tournaments.
        — Probably the most important: I don’t actually expect him to listen when I ramble at him. There’s often signs that he is listening (laughing, other responses), but the monologuing is really more for my benefit than his.

        Obviously, for people I’m not as comfortable with as my partner or who are distracted by noise… headphones.

        Captain’s strategies are good. You’re just asking for space, and he should be able to cope with that. There may be some initial discomfort, but stick with it. Good luck xxx

        1. Oh my goooooooodness the no context. My husband is the KING of no context and there have been times where I thought I was nuts because I didn’t understand what he was talking about. I love the idea of “Context, dear.”

          1. When my husband does this I usually say “Thank you, Captain Non Sequitur”. That gets a laugh and an explanation of his train of thought.

          2. Oh goodness LOL! I’m relieved it’s not just me who does this! But I am genuinely not aware I’m doing — the leaps make peeeeeeerfect sense to me! — so I’m glad someone less socially awkward is looking out for me. You should give this a go (I have also been referred to as ‘Queen Non Sequitur’ in my time…).

    4. I am in this camp too! My SO needs serious downtime after a day at work, and he also just doesn’t enjoy a good rant about the state of the world. I frequently do – although having him set boundaries on his willingness to listen/partake (apparently we are *not* living in an Aaron Sorkin script) actually helped me see that rehashing my day and my angst at the world at large was not good for *me* either.
      We used a combination of firm ‘please stop’ from him, combined with both of us investing time and effort in finding funny and loving things to share and do – so I still get the interaction I need, but he can take time out when he needs.

      We have also invested in Bluetooth headphones for the tv, as he is a lover of action movies and I am a lover of books. So, like any good relationship, it definitely goes both ways.

      The Cap is totally right here. LW, you are not wrong for needing time out. It is entirely up to your hub how he responds to your needs. It might be hard for him to understand (I took it hard initially, and no one likes it when a boundary is enforced, but I very quickly had to realise that my SO telling me his needs was actually a Very Good Thing), but please be as clear with him as you are in this letter. You both deserve a relationship that makes you *both* happy.

    5. Yes, I’ve noticed that I can be guilty of this as well. I will start to ramble and comment on every little thing, and it’s because I’m trying to get my husband (or previous boyfriends) to just engage with me. I’m just looking for attention and interaction. Of course, now that I’ve realized that I do this, I generally try to stop when I notice it happening. My husband is definitely someone who needs some quiet time. So if I notice that he’s kind of stopped responding to me, I now try to find something else to occupy myself and leave him alone for a while.

  5. My MIL is like this. Her every thought simply must be put out into the atmosphere. It’s non-stop. Oh, and she also likes the TV on “for background noise.” I fee you, LW. This is exhausting!

    I have two small children, and my MIL and I often get “peopled out.” I take time outs. They are non-negotiable and they are not taken at home. I will tell (note: not ask) my husband, “At 4:00 I am going to Starbucks to get some thinking done for an hour and then I’m going grocery shopping. I’ll be home before 6:00. Text me if you need to, but i”m not aswering my phone.” Then at 4:00, I go do it. If the MIL or the kiddos pipe up with, “Can I go too???” I give a firm “Nope. I need to do this by myself.” LW, you must guard your “time to think” fiercely. Tell him and go. Do not ask.

    1. My mother is like your MIL. Non-stop chatter plus the TV on in the background. Over time I learned skills in tuning her out, but there’s always the one in a hundred random thoughts that I need to hear that will come up later as, “but I told you about this,” or “let me give you an update on this story I told you earlier.”

      1. Oh the updates! Those are the worst. ‘cuz it’s not just the update it’s “well, in case you forgot” + a rehash of the original story then the update itself peppered with, “….and Marge…you remember Marge…she’s the one that….” and then off on the tangents we go….

      2. I’m wondering if you two are my spouse’s in laws. My MIL is exactly the same. TV is always on even though she rarely sits still to watch it, every little thought that goes through her head is said out loud. She once, while making sure every grandkid went to the bathroom before we left the house, asked me, a fully grown human, “do you need to go to the potty?” How do you respond to that?

        1. Fuck you?

          My mother is like this, too, and when she wages war against my mental autonomy she is EFFICIENT. She will literally place herself in-between me and a person I’m talking to or a TV show I’m watching in order to force upon me her special recipe for baked potato. When we talk on the phone I do not get a turn, period. She either can’t hear me interrupt her or she ignores it; not sure what’s going on exactly. In the unlikely event that I force my way into the conversation long enough for me to say, “Well, my husband’s appendix exploded on Saturday,” she’ll talk over me to her dog. Every time.

          Me: So, I just finished my degree-

          Her: Fido! Get down off the couch! No! Stop it!

          Me: …I thought that was kind of-

          Her: Fido, stop it! Get down! (returning conversation to herself) So I just drank the best milk!

          1. You mean “you respond to that inappropriate behavior with ‘fuck you'” not “Fuck you, Abe Froman” right? Phew.

          2. I saw the comment come through in the moderation window (so without your comment being right there as reference) and for a second I was like, Jeez, usually Abe is pretty reasonable, what did they DO? And then it all made sense. 🙂

          3. Haha this all made me laugh.

            But like both of you are saying, I have found my sister is like this! Only it isn’t the dogs but her kids. It is just endless ramblings, and then you can almost *hear* her mind wonder once I start talking. And then, its the yelling at the kids! And my sister in law is like this as well but only about her health issues or her opinions on things she really isn’t informed about! Like why? Just to fill the air? You know I know that didn’t happen that way or that is not how economies work, so why? I swear sometimes I think the older people get, the more lost in themselves they are. I am relatively introverted. By the time my day is over, I am peopled out to the max. It is why I like to be around people who are like this who have other people to be like this too on a casual level. Then, I don’t have to engage. But one on one, I just cannot handle it!

          4. My mom is incapable of carrying on a conversation about literally anything other than her animals at this point in life. She called me a few weeks back after I hadn’t talked to her in a while, I answered and told her I couldn’t talk long because I was a t work and she made it less than 60 seconds before she launched into a story about some cat being pregnant and how that happened. (we know how it happened Mom) She used to be a nurse and and an intelligent conversationalist and now she’s just an animal hoarder. You can’t get a word in edgewise either. I had to literally yell over her to make her hear me that I couldn’t be listening to her talking about random pregnant cats while I was at work. Ugh! She obviously NEVER asks me how I am.

          5. Holy crap MJ, that is hard core fucked up (your mother, not the other thing). Good on you actually managing to succeed in life when clearly you receive no encouragement or interest from your mother. You are a saint for putting up with that kind of behaviour.

          6. My father does this. He’ll talk over you or the show you’re watching, to the cats. When you protest, he says, well, he wasn’t talking to you. But he’s talking in a full-volume voice, and it’s not stuff that *needs* to be said. It’s infuriating.

            This is totally a control mechanism. People do this when they don’t value your time or activities, and need attention. My mother is having a rough time with retirement because Dad has basically become a four-year-old now that he doesn’t have work to keep him occupied and give him an attention boost.

          7. “I can see you’re busy – call me back when you’re ready to have a conversation! Love you.”

            And hang up.

          8. MJ said: She will literally place herself in between me and a person I’m talking to or a TV show I’m watching in order to force upon me …”

            That’s way worse than asking potty questions, but I almost wish the attention needers in my life were so horrible that they were that obvious. At least then I could imagine getting up from the couch, tackling them to get them out of the way, and then returning to person I was talking to originally.

            The way it plays out in my life is: It’s a group setting, maybe family, maybe hobby group. A and B are talking about something of general interest. C, D, and me are listening because the subject is interesting. Any of us could join the conversation, but we don’t because A and B are doing so well. Attention Needer is there too and evidently bored because no one is paying attention to her for all of a few minutes. She quietly calls my name and asks me a question, even a polite question, but something small talk and nothing to do with what A and B were talking about. Nevermind that everything about my eye contact and body language clearly showed that I was paying attention to A and B. No, Attention Needer has to call me away. That’s the situation that gets me every time because it’s done so slyly, so quietly and politely. I was so proud of myself when I said “Attention Needer, I’ll talk to you later, but right now I’m interested in everything A and B are saying.” I turned back to A and B. Damn if Attention Needer didn’t wait all of 30 seconds before thinking of another question she apparently thought would be more enticing to get me to talk to her.

          9. My mother would do the same. Given the opportunity, she’ll monologue for hours and if someone else dares speak, she’s more than happy to turn her attention to the closest cat and keep talking.

            Here’s the fun part – at one point, I was talking about something important to me, and became very annoyed when she turned away from me and began cooing over the cat while I was speaking. I said that her behavior was rude, and she dismissed the complained entirely, saying that I was oversensitive, she didn’t mean anything by it, etc, etc. Both my brother and father were present in the room for this exchange.

            Less than a week later, she was castigating my brother for doing something trivial that she disapproved of. Mid-tirade, my brother turned away from her and began petting the cat. She *lost it*, and began ranting and full volume that what he just did was disrespectful and demeaning and he would pay attention to her when she spoke, etc, etc.

            I, my dad and my brother all immediately pointed out the discrepancy between how she treated me, and how she expected to be treated, but it was like trying to explain quantum physics to a brick wall. It’s not so much that she has a double standard, it’s that she treats everyone else as NPCs in the grand drama that is Her Life.

        2. My mom is a bit like this. When we (tactfully, gently) brought it up she said “Well when you have little kids, you need to talk to them/narrate/point things out!”

          My sister and I are in our 30’s; she has not had to regularly talk to little kids in many years. But she was an only child, and likely has some form of ADHD (she has speculated this herself), so I think there’s a confluence of reasons.

          But it’s possible some people start doing this when they have small children and just never stop.

          1. Oof, the “it’s a parent thing!” excuse. Being a parent might give you a compulsion (I use this term non-clinically) to “point things out” but it doesn’t mean you suddenly and permanently become incapable of self control.

          2. I kinda think it might be some people latching on to a convenient excuse, for decades longer than it plausibly makes sense.

        3. In that particular situation where an adult in-law asked me (also an adult and the same age) if I needed to use the bathroom before leaving the house, I was so flabbergasted I just stared. Later I realized it was all of a piece. What was in her head had to be in my head. She needed to share. She did this because she liked me and wanted us to be close. It didn’t come out right away, but it turned out that she needed to pee more as she got older so she thought I must be the same and the reminder would be appreciated– or something. But the point is that as soon as I recognized her behaviors as one more variation on boundarylessness, the easier it was for me to erect my own boundaries. There are times I wish I didn’t need to have so much practice with erecting boundaries, but now that I’m better at it (I wouldn’t say anyone ever gets really great it– adequate is fantastic), I pat myself on the back and say to myself “there goes another one”. It helps me laugh off the do-you-need-to-go-potty moments.

        4. “You are a saint for putting up with that kind of behaviour.”

          In all transparency, I really haven’t been putting up with it much. I rarely have contact with her anymore. Everyone on that side of the family thinks it’s because I’m selfish or unforgiving and I’m seen as “that family member” who “has to make waves” or “take unnecessary stands” or, ironically, “have all the attention.” But literally all I’m doing is sitting here in Texas and asking myself everyday if I have the spoons to deal with her. Usually, the answer is no!

        5. Oh, jeez, I’ve done the potty thing before, but it was ACCIDENTAL and I apologized profusely. (I have a now 5yo.)

          Someone doing that on purpose? Jeez.

    2. I HATE the TV being on in the background. Hate it hate it hate it. My brain tries to focus on the TV even though I don’t want it to do that. I hate the TV on in the background in waiting rooms when I just want to read so much. I will wait for other people to read and sneak up and turn it off or turn the volume down.

      I also grew up at a particular time in the 90’s when it seemed like all my classmates needed a TV or radio to be on in the background in order to fall asleep, and I cannot sleep unless there is absolute silence, so I was very unpopular at sleepovers.

      If my husband tries to watch video on his phone when we are getting ready to sleep, or plays his games with the volume on my rage will quickly spiral wayyy out of proportion. I usually manage a “Could you turn that down” hissed though my teeth as politely as possible, and he almost always will. But it is one of my few triggers for Hulk Rage.

      1. I’m not even sneaky about shutting down noise in public places. I will shut off the TV or turn the volume all the way down if I can find the remote in any waiting room in which I find myself. I have a quick look around to see if anyone is watching – they never are – and just shut it off, bold as brass. It is almost always Fox News or some sports game. One time when I was getting my oil changed I did switch it from Fox & Friends to Judge Judy, because I wanted to watch Judge Judy, my guilty pleasure. The key is appearing confident as you do it.

          1. My father was a big fan of that. He told of someone in HIS father’s family who once took a bet that he could steal a table & chairs from a fancy NYC restaurant. He dressed like a waiter, and took an entire set-for-lunch table outside & set it up out there. And left to collect on the bet.

        1. What kind of dentist lets Fox News run??? That’s awful.

          The doctor / dentist / hospital network in my area seems to have formed a committee and discovered that the most universally inoffensive channel for patients is HGTV. I try to sit with my back to it anyway, but at least if it drags my attention all I’m watching is attractive people smash houses to make fancier houses.

          I think my worst ER waiting room / tv experience is somebody had decided to put on the show House. So it’s like, ah yes, a tense and occasionally gory medical drama while I’m waiting for my test results. A wise choice.

          I admire you just walking up and changing the channel though.

          1. My office installed TVs in the elevators during a renovation a few years ago. (Why? I have no idea.) The first month or so they were set on Fox News, which was dreadful. Then they were switched to CNN, which wasn’t as bad but I would still occasionally find myself ready to put a fist through the screen. Now they show the weather channel, which is not a bad compromise. It might be anxiety-inducing on occasion, but I’ve never yet found it rage-inducing.

        2. I do this too. The funny thing is that no patient (in a doctor’s office or hospital waiting room) or customer (in a car repair shop waiting room) ever complains. (I’m generally the only one there when I turn the t.v. off, or if there is someone else, I’m very careful to make sure they weren’t watching and to ask if turning it off is okay.) But then a receptionist will notice that something’s not the way it usually is and will look around like something’s broken with real alarm. I quick explain that we all wanted it off or that the noise was bothering me, and I’ll get a look like I broke some rule but they’ll let me get away with it this time.

          If there’s an absolute policy that the t.v. must be left on, and if the t.v. is on Fox, I’ve had good luck with asking if I can watch a sports channel. For some reason, sports is considered non-controversial and okay for everyone. Then I’m handed the remote, I switch the channel, and while I’m at it, I turn the sound down.

        3. There is a universal remote for televisions. I have always dreamed of owning one so I could turn off/down the ones in restaurants, dr’s offices, airports…

      2. Yep. I explain to people that I get overstimulated, just like Autistic kids who go to pieces in grocery store because there is SO MUCH light and colour and noise and people and stuff and choice and it’s all way too overwhelming and they need the special hour on Tuesdays where the lights are dimmed and the music is turned off.

        SENSORY MELTDOWN. It’s a thing.

      3. Ankh-Morpork, are you me? (I even have an ankh tattoo, LOL! Not Pterry-related, though.)

        I can’t stand the damn TV-background-noise thing, it drives me right straight up the wall. I have ADHD, and I CANNOT CONCENTRATE ON ANYTHING with the TV going — not a conversation, not a book, not even sex.

        (I have a pretty strict rule in my household that we’re either *watching* the TV, or it stays off. And no TV in the bedroom — I do read on my phone at night, but I also don’t have a live-in partner. I’m fine with co-reading together, though!)

        But, yeah. TVs in waiting rooms are my particular bugaboo, because both my daughter and I have a serious chronic illness (so we spend a lot of time in doctors’ offices), and *I* want to relax and read and not be anxious, rather than getting put on-edge by Dr. Phil or an infomercial about weight loss surgery 😛

        *Hulk Rage fistbump*

          1. All the yeses in the world.

            And TVs in restaurants. Multiple TVs. On different stations. Positioned so they cannot be avoided. My daughter & I had to change our sit down order to takeout because of the TV overload at Buffalo Wild Wings. Good food, convenient location, but we’ll never go back.

            Exception, we went to a small Asian place that had the TV on for staff, and they automatically turned down the volume when we came in. Then I realized it was Wil Wheaton and we got them to turn it back up. Geeking out with an elderly Asian immigrant who loves Star Trek & gaming might have been the highlight of that week.

          2. Yeah TVs in the waiting room only work when its on a station that plays mind-numbing addictive shows like watching people redo a house or cook something. You can sit there and watch it, have no opinions or thoughts, and maybe just enjoy it for that reason. I hate when people play videos on the cell phones in waiting rooms. It is so disrespectful!

          3. My dentist has a television ON THE LIGHT THAT SHINES IN YOUR MOUTH. So that when you lie back, it FOLLOWS YOU. I mean, at least it’s usually on HGTV with the sound off, but it gives me a very 1984 feeling about having my teeth cleaned.

          4. My dentist has TVs in the ceiling, above the chairs – but those are set to show Netflix and are muted (closed captioning for everything), and you get handed a remote so you can have it play whatever you want to see. And it’s pretty explicitly just to give you something to distract you from the dental work (even if it’s just a cleaning).

        1. I can’t hear over background noise, especially TV. Plus, if there’s something interesting on, I will watch the show rather than pay attention to the other person. (Yes, I’m aware this is extremely rude and makes the other person feel invalidated, disrespected, and dismissed.) So, I mute the TV and turn to the other person so I can give them they attention they require.

      4. Headphones for videos and gaming are relationship savers when you’re on different sleeping schedules, let me tell you.

      5. Also, cafes that play pop radio (or any music of the loud variety) can get stuffed. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve just wanted to spending a nice hour sipping a coffee and reading a book, but have instead had to deal with having my ears assaulted.

        1. The thing with me is, I like loud. Loud is great. (Tomorrow is a Flogging Molly/Dropkick Murphys concert and I can’t wait!) But I like loud when it’s part or all of the reason I’m there, like dancing, or chanting at a protest, or cheering at a sports game. I do not like loud when it seems to be for no point at all. A cocktail bar with no dance floor, for example, should not be blasting music to the point that I have to strain my voice to talk to my companions. I’ve stopped going to restaurants and watering holes that I otherwise love because if I can’t talk to anybody, I may as well stay home, wear pajamas and order delivery.

          1. That bothers me so much. I once went to a steakhouse at Disney World that played nightclub-volume, bass-thumping music in the dining room. We had to yell to hear each other. In what universe does that improve the atmosphere?

          2. @AMT: loud music has been shown to increase the speed at which people eat. i.e. they’re not trying to improve the atmosphere; they’re trying to get you to free up the table ASAP!

      6. Oh I massively feel your pain! And I do not enjoy being told how ‘unreasonable’ my need for quiet is. ARG HULK TIME!

      7. saaaaame! LW you deserve so much more peace, reciprocity, and support than you’re currently getting from your spouse!
        The period of time when my partner started bringing a laptop to bed with him to watch shows or play a game was…a really not great time.

      8. I usually hate it when the tv is on – and I have the tv on in the background a lot, to dampen me being stressed by loud noises. So I get why people may do it – it’s interesting how something that’s bothering me in certain contexts, is soothing in another for me.

        (I always turn it off with people around though. And NO NEWS. Gladly here there’s the BBC that has a lot of programs about sheep herding, pottery painting, oil pressing, housing or trains. All very non-exciting. English not being my native language makes it even easier to let it gently murmur in the background, and me not being spooked by loud noises.
        I use music for that too, but music sometimes has too much of an emotional impact.)

  6. I definitely have been that monologuer, and I cannot offer enough sympathy to anyone who has to deal with constant background noise. For me, it was definitely based in the sudden appearance of previously undiagnosed mental health issues, and while medication has been helpful (for the talking and like, the other stuff), it definitely hasn’t fixed everything. When I get manic, I can actually feel the words building up inside my chest.

    Things that have helped or currently help, sans medication and therapy:

    -Journalling! I write down everything I think is interesting or funny or might be worth telling someone. When I get manic, EVERYTHING seems funny and worth sharing with my entire friendgroup RIGHT NOW, and journalling soothes that urge to share and also provides a set of breaks. Sometimes I go back and reread and think, oh wow that actually is funny and worth telling someone. Most of the time I’m very thankful that whatever it was stayed within the context of a ninety-nine cent composition notebook.

    -Spending time alone. Nobody around? No temptation to overshare. There’s an added bonus that spending time alone and getting used to silence and sitting with my own thoughts helped me build a stronger sense of self. I learnt that it’s okay to have funny thoughts and read funny things and keep those things in my own head. If a joke makes me and only me laugh, that’s fine. My own amusement is enough.

    -On a similar vein, I did a weekend-long silent retreat. No technology, just me praying and meditating. This might not be feasible depending on your individual circumstances and religious beliefs, but if at all possible I’d recommend it. It was the equivalent of going cold turkey and helped me reset the way I thought about communicating.

    Good luck, OP.

    1. Oh yeah, I didn’t mention this in my main comment about being a reformed over-chatty partner, but I also just leave the house for hours! If I’m going to be reading/chipping away at my own work/lazily browsing the internet all afternoon and my partner needs silence, there’s no reason not to take myself out to a coffee shop for a few hours and neatly avoid temptation to share a joke/thought.

      1. . . . . comment part II.
        The one who need time alone takes over the house, and the spouse and the kids go somewhere else for the afternoon. Which works, but I’ve started wondering why the one who needs time alone doesn’t, on occasion, take themselves off to a coffee shop. Because caring for the kids is exhausting, and taking the kids out is extra exhausting. I might need to gently poke people and see if there’s a reason they can’t occasionally change the plan.

        1. I know for me, I NEED –¡NEED!– alone time in *my space* to live. Hard need. Solo dates, coffee shops, hanging in parks can be energy/introvert recharging and I enjoy these things. Hanging solo in a different room can take the edge of. But regularly (minimum weekly, can survive fortnightly, start to lose it if less often, and sometimes just as a hard reboot ad hoc if something’s happened) I need to just root into my home and be alone there. Or I get to the point that I cannot handle anything in my life. It’s just a life/brain/person maintenace thing I hard-need.

          Now there’s a balance to be had here when you live with other people, and sometimes I just have to suck it up (like when my housemate had surgery with a month’s recover). (My ex-spouse Did Not Get This. They were also an introvert but a homebody in a way I’m not generally but without this need. I finally had to be like, I don’t care if you don’t get it, get out of our house for a minimum of one evening a week or move out. I don’t understand why this was a Major Ask; they didn’t get that this was a Major Need; we are now divorced.)

          It is totaaally worth having this discussion if your needs aren’t being met, but just wanted to provide the perspective that for some of us, introverting at home and introverting out are Not The Same and don’t scratch the same itch.

        2. I don’t know your friends, but for me, a coffee shop is not restful. Coffee shops are public and stressful. There are lots of strangers in them, and there’s a lot of noise.

          1. “Also, at a coffee shop you must wear clothes”

            Wellllllll, they only really *specify* a shirt and shoes, usually….

        3. Maybe they need alone time to, e.g. do the taxes, or clean the garage, or otherwise do things that can’t easily be carried to a coffee shop.

        4. I think you’re looking at this as if it’s transactional. You’ve already said that it works, so no need to insert yourself into their (working) dynamic 🙂

    2. Silent retreats are also awesome to get your fix of silence, in the LW’s case. I used to do mine (Catholic) by reading and taking notes and thinking, so you don’t need to pray or meditate if that’s not your jam.
      And if there are no available retreats in her area that she likes or feels comfortable participating in, there’s always public libraries. BLESSED TEMPLES OF SILENCE and books and people not talking to each other, all hail libraries.

      (I realise that this is on the husband to fix, but in the meantime, the LW might need the occasional escape from all the noise.)

        1. I’m sorry to hear that; it’s not been my experience, so maybe it depends on location/particular library?

  7. I wonder how much of the monologuing is a replacement for other talk. Maybe he’s trying to connect on a deeper level but doesn’t have the language to express himself in that way, as a lot of men have issues with? Whenever I become overly chatty it’s often because the talking is a proxy for something else: expressing affection or intimacy in an easy way, purging emotions or energy (especially anxiety), feeling invisible (maybe especially acute with a baby around). It is definitely his responsibility to manage and explore that, but the suggested partner connections seem most interesting. “What about this story is interesting to you and makes you want to share it with me?” In all the noise, is there something he’s skipping over?

    1. I’ve seen a lot of male engineers mansplain at women in their lives and then protest they’re legitimately trying to connect.

      I tend to think if they don’t actually give enough of a shit to try to connect in a way that is pleasant for the other person, they don’t care enough for the listener to bother with.

  8. A marriage counselor suggested an actual timer. That is: Set the timer for 5 minutes. He talks without interruption. Set the timer for 5 minutes. I talk without interruption. We used it for about 6 months until we got the hang of taking turns and a feel for how long 5 minutes is. Same could go for periods of talk and periods of silence. It sounds weird and unnatural, but it worked.

    About the volume of the gadgets. Check for hearing loss. People who are losing their hearing in some registers honestly don’t know how loud they are. People who are losing their hearing also often talk rather than listen. It’s a cover for the way they’re missing several words.

    1. I agree about checking for hearing loss. My family and I got accustomed to my husband talking right over us as we were speaking. I lost my temper one day as we were all sitting around the table conversing and he kept talking over me as I would begin to speak. I snapped at him (loudly) that what he had to say wasn’t more important than what I was saying. Long and short of the story: he simply hadn’t heard me speaking, didn’t realize that I was speaking because he wasn’t looking at me, a lot of background noise going on. And he also had the volume up on any device he was using.

      1. Ok sure, screen for hearing loss. It’s in the scripts – “Did you hear me?” “Ok, if you did, why did you keep going?”

        But also, your husband (before his diagnosis) didn’t care to check that you were speaking. He didn’t look at your face (which deaf and hard of hearing people I know do a ton of). You had to yell at him a bit to get him to pay attention to the idea that you might be speaking. That disregard is part of this Letter Writer’s story even if hearing loss is also present.

        I agree, it’s possible, but it doesn’t explain everything (“you’re not paying attention to meeeeee” when the LW wants time for herself). So let this be the last of that diagnosing in the thread please.

          1. There are some mental health conditions that can correlate with paying-attention loss. People who struggle to pay attention and who are upset that their friends/spouses/peers are giving negative feedback can seek out mental health resources to help overcome it or at least manage their emotional reactions to not being listened to continuously.

  9. I’ve realized over the years that some people feel that anytime they’re in a space with another person, noise has to happen, ideally people talking. They feel weird when they’re in a room with someone else and neither of them is talking. It’s why coworkers feel the need to make forced, awkward small talk in the elevator or office kitchen. It’s why my former roommate would come into the kitchen and remark on what I was making, or ask about it no matter how obvious it was (well let’s see, it’s a bowl of broth with some noodles and vegetables and OF COURSE I’M MAKING SOUP, CRAIG!) in an attempt to turn it into a conversation. LW’s husband is probably frustrated that there isn’t a more ongoing, naturally flowing dialogue between the two and he has to fill the silence somehow. Husband may not even realize that the silence isn’t making LW uncomfortable!

    What hubby needs to understand is that when two people live together, sometimes they’re gonna be in the same room doing different activities, and neither will be talking, and if that feels weird, it’s on him to get used to it.

    1. I am one of these people!!!!

      My husband is not. We came to two agreements:

      1. He needs to SHARE with me about things going on with him, and he doesn’t have to wait for me to ask. “Just tell me stuff. Assume I’m interested.” When I ask questions and all I get is 1-3 word answers, I have a tendency to monologue.

      2. I need to just be quiet with him sometimes. He can say, “Hey you know I’m kind of winding down, can we have some quiet time?” I also ask him if he needs quiet right now. It took an adjustment period for me, but I got there.

    2. This is what we tried to explain to our Finnish home office when they wanted us all to share cubicals. Like yeah it works in Finland where even I would be considered an extrovert, but it doesn’t work in other cultures like here in the US. People generally think Americans are either crass or very welcoming/friendly because of our cultural need to “fill the air” unless awkwardness ensues. But if Husband feels that awkwardness even around his own wife, that seems odd. It also doesn’t count in the fact that the dude is not even considering her in these “conversations (monologues) to the point he totally ignores her asking him to stop. Yeah, we all feel that need to have noise (spend a time in a country once where there isn’t constant irrelevant chattings about and you will see haha), but we also have certain levels of respect within our social contracts as well – the biggest being to listen as well.

    3. Oh God. Sometimes sales people come into the engineering zone here at work and announce, “it sure is quiet in here!” I like to answer, “well, it WAS.”

      1. All of my seething hate. I generally work in IT, where it’s quiet. For a while, I was bounced over to the Client Relations department, where no one appears capable of keeping their internal monologue internal. I invested in large headphones and set up my computer to automatically play white background noise. It’s not nearly as pleasant as genuine quiet, but it’s vastly superior to listening to my coworkers yammer.

    4. There’s a conversation in a recent series of The Bridge that runs something like this:

      *In elevator*
      A: Do you do small talk?
      B: I’m sorry, what?
      A: Co-worker X likes doing small talk between colleagues in situations like this. But Co-worker Y doesn’t. Which one are you?
      B: Er, right. No small talk. Thanks.

      And I’m thinking YES LET’S ASK THIS MORE.

    5. I don’t think it’s that in this case. Certain people, (in public, almost always men it seems), want to dominate your attention with their talking. They’re truly madly deeply not interested in you or your point of view. It’s never occurred to them really to care. They experience you talking as a very trying time while they wait very impatiently to start talking again. You are a receptacle to receive their brilliant political insights, charming stories, hilarious jokes, etc. “Listening politely” can seem to engage an almost dark place in them-a frantic desire to bury you with words, and then you’re cornered against a wall as they lovingly describe the symbolism of their blue lives matter flag…

      Basically they come off not as extroverted (extroverts usually like other people?) but as monstrously needy.

  10. I had several friends who did this in college (engineering school, where GSFs run rampant). It happened a lot in study group settings, and by graduation I’d gotten a lot of practice at cutting in with “so how do we solve this free body diagram?”
    And yes, they were grumpy about it–and embarrassed. I was too, because (GASP) I’d spoken up.

  11. I had a friend who was a monologuer. He started really delving into psychology to get a better insight into himself and *just* *had* to share everything he was learning with me… in great, great detail.

    What helped him was holding a sugar packet, or a conch, or a stuffed toy. Having something in his hands drew his attention to how long he’d been holding it. If he was going on and on and on, I’d look down pointedly at the thing in his hands a few times. He’d notice, look down and realize that he’d be going on for a while. It didn’t quite stop the monologuing, but it certainly curtailed it a bit.

    1. I had wonderful roommates where, we had a fake mustache that we had to wear if we were talking during house meetings. S/he who wears the mustache has the floor! Passing the mustache meant passing the talking time to another person.

      1. Ha! I love that! My husband and I started playing “pass the fruit” when a “discussion” escalates into a fight and we’re talking over each other and/or not listening to what the other person is saying. One of us grabs whatever piece of fruit is on the kitchen counter at the moment (usually an apple), and whoever holds the apple gets to talk. Then, said talker tosses the apple the other person, and they get to talk until tossing it back. We established a rule that no one person gets to monopolize the fruit. It forces us to take a deep breath, slow down and articulate what we want to say, and truly listen to each other. And, it usually diffuses the tension and makes us laugh a little bit 🙂

      2. My six roommates and I, in an intentional community setting I once lived in (and loved), did this with a dancing plush penis doll that we found somewhere. Gave a new meaning to the phrase “talking stick,” as well as some levity to difficult group discussions.

  12. My husband is not this bad, but the amount of time he spends trying to get my attention has gone wayyyyy up with a kid in the house (who is 3). She takes a ton of my attention (and I give it to her happily), and I swear he is unconsciously competing with her for my attention fairly regularly. When I speak with him, she will do things like try to cover my mouth or yell over us- typical preschooler rudeness when trying to get attention- which I gently correct. I feel like the monologuing can be a grown-up version of this from someone who is used to getting more of your attention. Not that this is a good strategy, I just can imagine how you would get there from a chatty person who now has to share your attention.

    I have had some hard conversations lately about not dumping work anxiety on me ad nauseum. I have been pretty clear “you are making your anxiety into my anxiety when you dump on me; I am not the emotional garbage receptacle”, which he heard. And when I have set boundaries about conduct and he has been upset about them, rather than just letting him sit there with the bad feelings and feel weird while I know he wants me to apologize/sooth his discomfort, and I am so not going to, I have actually had better results lately naming that: “I understand you are unhappy with this, but this is important to me, and I am not going to try to take your feelings away about this. You need to respect what I am telling you I need, and deal with your own feelings about it, because I am not wrong and I am not going to fix how you feel. If you are frustrated right now, you are going to have to just be frustrated and come back to me when you have digested on your own.” His head almost exploded but he took care of his own feelings and I felt like a ninja.

    1. “And when I have set boundaries about conduct and he has been upset about them, rather than just letting him sit there with the bad feelings and feel weird while I know he wants me to apologize/sooth his discomfort, and I am so not going to, I have actually had better results lately naming that: “I understand you are unhappy with this, but this is important to me, and I am not going to try to take your feelings away about this. You need to respect what I am telling you I need, and deal with your own feelings about it, because I am not wrong and I am not going to fix how you feel. If you are frustrated right now, you are going to have to just be frustrated and come back to me when you have digested on your own.” His head almost exploded but he took care of his own feelings and I felt like a ninja.”


      1. This… I need to take notes on this. This basically condenses today’s chat with my therapist in an applicable way. This is BRILLIANT.

      2. +100. I had to have a very similar conversation with my SO. He is adamantly convinced that other people / normal people do not need alone time from their partners and would be EXTREMELY offended if I went into the other room and shut the door. He felt that us sitting quietly watching TV or working individually at our desks (next to each other) and not talking should be more than enough.

        It took me awhile to get the total shock that he was convinced alone time is not a real thing? Like somehow I was the weird one for wanting it? Anddddd to get to “fine, I don’t care how you feel about this. This is something that HAS to happen for me to happily stay in this relationship, and you don’t get to override my emotions because you also have them. If that’s a dealbreaker, let me know. Otherwise, you’re going to handle your own emotions and stop making me feel bad about mine.”

        And as far as I can tell, he’s managing just fine, and that was a long time ago 🙂

          1. Bwahahaha. Depends if I’m showering or just using the facilities!

            (I kid; he asks for permission to join me for showering – and I didn’t have to teach him that one, thank goodness!)

        1. I have done a similar thing with my partner! He has a bad habit of sulking if I set a boundary he doesn’t like – the most recent time it became an issue I insisted we sleep with two duvets because otherwise he wraps himself around me like an octopus and I heat up to 50000 degrees and turn into a puddle of sweaty dehydration by the morning. He was doing a proper pout and I asked “do you think i’m being unreasonable?” he had to admit it wasn’t actually unreasonable and managed to tamp down the sulking slightly!

          “Do you think I’m being unreasonable?” is now my go to question when he’s sulking about something I’ve asked for or insisted on. Normally the answer is “no” and that’s the end of the conversation. Once or twice it’s been “yes” and that’s opened up an actual discussion about it instead of him just pouting and expecting me to guess what the problem is.

      3. In resi care, we call this NAME IT AND TAME IT! (The senior psych always write this in caps in a playful way, and now it’s just spelled like that in my head.)

        It is so vital for traumatised kids who can’t connect their body’s physical responses to their emotions to healthy ways of dealing with those emotions, and NAME IT AND TAME IT! gives them a framework for learning to do that. But lord it is super effective on more-or-less healthy adults too.

    2. “You need to respect what I am telling you I need, and deal with your own feelings about it, because I am not wrong and I am not going to fix how you feel.”

      Nice! I think that this should be printed on a card to be handed out when necessary.

      1. I’m seriously considering making a cross-stitch pattern with that script on it. Maybe to be stitched onto a pillow that can be thrown at the boundary-crossing person.

    3. I want to hang this on my wall for my partner. He’s great at anxiety dumping and my “I literally have nothing I can do to fix this.” is falling short for obvious reasons.

      1. I’m sorry, this is really hard to go through! My partner and I are just coming to a turning point regarding this behavior. For the longest time if I tried to set a boundary he’d counter with “Spouses should support each other!” followed by “I support *you* when *you* are sad!” What finally stuck was being explicit that I was setting a boundary, and when he pushed back, asking him if he thought I was allowed to set boundaries, and when he begrudgingly agreed that I was, asking who was allowed to decide where the boundaries would be. Forcing him to admit that it’s actually you don’t get to be the judge of whether your partner’s boundaries are correct or not was a game-changer.

        1. Part of the reason I left my husband is that he literally doesn’t accept that boundaries are a thing. Or, at least, that you basically can’t set a boundary unless you can get the other person to agree with you about it. So when I set boundaries, he just ignored them as it suited him, and couldn’t understand how I could be upset about it. “I didn’t realize how important that was to you! How could I have known when you didn’t explain it to me?”

          Aside from the fact that I HAD explained it to him, multiple times over many years, sometimes you also just have to respect a boundary. Every time I’d try to explain even the CONCEPT of boundaries, he just straight-up did not agree. That should have been a massive red flag but I just kept feeling like I had to explain it better, because what reasonable person is unable to understand the concept of boundaries?

    4. I am writing this on my hand for a discussion I need to have with my spouse tonight. Considering all the work we’ve been doing around “not rescuing loved ones,” my therapist would approve.

      1. Thanks you all! I have been studying at Awkward University since it opened and I totally felt like I earned my diploma that night.

  13. Hmmm, my fiancé is a constant vocaliser… I commiserate! It’s not even talking a lot, but humming and harring when he’s going about his business at home, or going “Tehee” when he gets out of the shower. When we eat he constantly tells me how good and tasty the food is (even if we just reheated a pizza), asks me if I want more and offering repeatedly… I was direct about the latter, “if I want more I’ll take more”. Also banished YouTube when winding down in bed, it seriously upset my ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Now he reads. I love him and his quirks, as CA said, he’s reaching out, communicating and showing he cares, but sometimes it riles me up and I get monosyllabic and he gets the hint…

    1. I have a coworker who’s something like this. Work schedules have recently shifted to where the two of us spend a lot of time as the only ones in the room.

      She often browses on her phone (not in itself a problem, we’re allowed to do that after finishing our allotted tasks). But she reacts – loudly – to things she reads. Peals of laughter. ‘Are you serious?!?!’ Etc.

      Now, unlike LW’s husband, she’s not attempting to engage *me* in conversation every time. (Mercifully.) But I’m socialized that making noise when there’s only one other person in the room is a request that they pay attention to you, so when we started this, there was a lot of:

      Her: Oh my god.
      Me: What’s up?
      Her: *gestures at phone* Just something I was reading.

      It’s gotten to the point that I don’t reflexively look over at her whenever there’s an outburst, even though it feels unnaturally rude. (I’ve thought about saying something, but there’s basically no script that doesn’t make me sound like a librarian. Fortunately, earbuds exist.)

      1. “…I’m socialized that making noise when there’s only one other person in the room is a request that they pay attention to you”

        Oh wow. You just put into words why I find it so annoying when I’m trying to focus and my mom is monologuing to the cat, even when there’s no actual expectation for me to listen. I’ve begun to train myself to ignore any vocal input that doesn’t begin with “Hey [Violet],” after telling her explicitly a few times that this is what I was doing, but boy howdy was she annoyed the first few days that I wasn’t tuned into her every spontaneous question like a radio dial…

        1. I work in a semi-shared office space (there are three people sharing my room) and other coworkers often need to come in and talk to one or more of us. One of my officemate coworkers has this down to such a science that we joke that he’s like Alexa. His ears don’t turn on until his name is said.

          People can be talking all around him and he will not notice or remember anything that was said before his name. It’s a handy skill for working in a shared office.

          1. I’m actually pretty good with this when there are *multiple* people in the room, so ignoring any individual doesn’t feel as rude even if it turns out they *were* trying to get attention. (A less-horrifying application of the bystander effect!) I’ve just needed to train myself out of my default assumption where solo time with this coworker is concerned, which seems like the same pattern Anne is trying to establish with fiancé – especially since it seems he’s good about knocking off specific call-and-response rituals when it’s requested he do so.

          2. Yes. I talk about having my “admin ears” on. For the first year or two, I just pretended I didn’t hear the conversations around me. Then my brain sort of “got it” on some level and now I tune out work conversations by default unless my name is spoken. The noise still can be distracting but the meaning usually stays out of my brain.

    2. Mine is the same – only he has ONE SPECIFIC song he always hums. It’s gotten to the point where he starts and I can pop up and go “no!” and he just laughs and purposefully chooses another.

      But he didn’t even know he was doing it, and totally acknowledged it was odd when I pointed it out to him. Plus, I told him humming was fine, just not the same thing EVERY DAY.

      1. I had a coworker who hummed without realizing it. His voice was just deep enough that instead of hearing the humming, I could activly feel my ears vibrating. I ended up changing desks, because I couldn’t live with it, and I felt like an assignment complaining about something subconscious.

  14. My husband will get real long winded on certain topics. We have an agreement (he is a very reasonable guy) to deal with this. When I can tell that he is in monologue mode I interrupt him and 1) ask him how long he thinks this will take and/or 2) tell him I can only devote 5 (or 10 or 15) minutes to listening. Or sometimes I will interrupt him and say that I’ve reached my limit. Fortunately he realizes he does this and is respectful of my needs so he works with me in this way. For my part I will often give more time than I am really interested in, because I know this is something that is important to him. And sometimes I just nod and let my mind wander to other topics.

    1. Yes. I do most of the mental labor in my marriage. My husband knows this – and appreciates it. But still, sometimes I’ll have to hold my hand up and say, “Stop. I already have about 50 things floating through my mind that I have to remember and if you add one more the next seven months are going to be chaos.” It felt really mean and rude the first few times….and he felt really hurt the first few times. But I finally said, Look…do you want to tell me that funny work story. Or would you like for the bills to get paid on time and for there to be food in the house this week? I can’t give you both. He gets it and respects it. LW, dont’ feel guilt about “rudely” cutting him off if your brain just can’t handle it at the time.

  15. I don’t know where I got this, but I suspect from this website. My husband is a reforming monologuer, and I’ve started using the “Three sentence request” when I can’t listen anymore. (Please sum up this story in three sentences.)

    Being able to ask and have him respond to that has (generally) made the balance of conversation better. He’s extrapolated out as well.

    Good luck! I hope you can get your quiet time. (I hope I can too – my new boss is a talker and while he says I can interrupt whenever and ask him to wrap it up, I want to do that 16+ times a day, and I’m trying go slow for now.)

    1. 1) This is great and
      2) I am going to start using it with my 9 year old, whom I regularly request to stop monologuing. (Actually I ask him to converse instead, i.e. talk about something we can have a back-and-forth with, but what I’m thinking is, like a tiny villain.)

    2. I do this too! My wife loves to read articles out to me whereas my attention span just can’t take it, and it makes me anxious to have to sit there not being “allowed” to interrupt for that long. Explaining to her that I hated it hadn’t helped a whole lot because she would forget, so I’ve started interrupting her at the start of any article text and saying “I can’t take the whole article right now, please tell me the gist in a couple of sentences”. It works WONDERS.

  16. My partner and I each have the tendency to go on at each other, and early on in our relationship, one or the other of us would occasionally feel stifled, or annoyed when the other person interrupted our monologue to do their own. Over time we learned to speak up when if the other person unfairly interrupted, or if we felt like we just couldn’t get a word in edgewise. If he’s been going on for a while, usually lay a hand on his arm and say, “I have a thought!” and he’ll say, “Ok, just let me finish my sentence!” And then when he does, I get to share my thought. Or if I’ve interrupted, he says, “wait just a second, I want to finish my thought.” It works well, but only if both parties actually care about the other person’s conversational needs.

  17. I once briefly (emphasis on “briefly”) worked for a friend of mine who was/is a non-stop talker. The problem was that, although I find him interesting and enjoy his various stories, having him talk all the time interfered with my concentration, to the point that I was making constant mistakes at which he took umbrage. It took me a couple of months to figure out that he wasn’t going to stop talking and that, for the sake of our friendship, I had to bail, so I did.

    You are not wrong, OP, and I’m guessing that bailing is not an option for you, so please listen to The Captain and do what you must to carve out some quiet for yourself.

  18. I have this feature where mostly I don’t talk except in intentional conversations, but sometimes, I start babbling. This means either I am exhausted, or a migraine is on its way. The weird thing is it took us being in counseling (for some other cause entirely) for us to notice this pattern, and noticing it has helped a lot.

    It’s completely counterintuitive, even to me, even though I’ve been aware of this tendency for decades now, but in point of fact, for me, the babbling doesn’t mean I have extra energy left at the end of a day. It means I have reached the end of my rope, that I need desperately to be asleep but I don’t have enough mental cycles to organize my brain to fall asleep. Somehow, the babbling soothes my brain enough to let it start to fall into the patterns it needs to sleep. But I still have to notice that I am doing it, then get myself washed/brushed/flossed/into bed, and then let the babbling carry me off. And this means that my partner can help me by pointing out as soon as the babbling starts, by redirecting my attention to the bed preparation, and by having a very good set of ear plugs that they can use to tune me out so they can sleep.

    The key thing is that my partner can call out the pattern if they see me starting, and they can help by keeping my focus on getting into bed and winding myself down, but it’s not their job to do that. I have had to learn to listen for the babbling to start, and until we found a good set of ear plugs, I also would sleep downstairs when this happened so as not to drive my partner from their bed.

    A good sleep clinic or migraine treatment group may be able to help with strategies, if your husband’s problem is similar to mine.

    ((I am not at all sure that the situations are similar, but I wanted to mention my situation because I think it’s easy to hear someone talking and think they must be full of energy, where that’s not what’s happening with me at all.))

    1. I’m the same way; when I’m very tired I tend to lose my brain-to-mouth filter entirely and just ramble on and on, annoying both myself and everyone else in the room. Not sure if that’s what’s going on here (it sounds a lot more deliberate with LW’s spouse), but it’s something to consider.

      My spouse does the ‘Honey, I think you need to go to bed now’ thing, but yeah: it’s not really his job to do my self-regulating for me.

      1. “I need desperately to be asleep but I don’t have enough mental cycles to organize my brain to fall asleep.”

        Yup, it me.

        (I also really LIKE the going-to-sleep intimacy of being in the dark with a partner and chatting . . . but I definitely have an exhaustion-babble problem, and sometimes those two things don’t mix well.)

        I can even be conscious of it (more easily when I’m still more awake), and doing my best to MAKE IT STOP, and it’s just this . . . anxiety-fatigue loop that is very difficult to get under conscious control, because it happens when I’m flat-out exhausted and often in pretty bad pain.

        Oh, and if I have to take my last-ditch opiate med for severe pain, it MAKES me ramble verbally, so THAT’S exciting! Ugh.

        And it’s not like I was ever a concise, non-tangential conversationalist in the first place . . . which most people I spend time with find reasonably charming, but it’s a problem for folks who are into brevity and staying firmly on-topic.

    2. Yes! I (and everyone around me) can always tell when I’ve had a bad night of sleep, because I will just. keep. talking. Every thought I have just must be shared. It’s like the part of my brain that goes “nah, that’s not an out-loud thought” is still asleep.

  19. When my Mom comes home from work she’s had almost no social interaction all day, and often really Really wants to talk to my Dad, but sometimes he’s busy preparing for an evening class that he needs to teach, and in that case he’s in a grumpy mood of concentration where he doesn’t want to talk. They worked out only recently (after more than 40 years of marriage) that there needs to be a time limit: More than an hour and a half before his class, he needs to be at least polite; within the hour and a half before his class is The Silent Zone where she leaves him the heck alone and saves all social interactions for afterwards. Now he’s relaxed and friendly when she gets home, because he knows he has The Silent Zone upcoming to retreat too. (Yay for long-term marriages being living, growing things, rather than static!)

    I think the LW needs to try to institute something like “LW’s Quiet time” where he watches the kid and LW retreats and regroups after a day of noise. Maybe after dinner, or something, so they’ve had some friendly interactions first. I think just knowing that there will be relief would make a big difference to the LW; and it should be regularly scheduled, so that husband doesn’t take it personally.

    But yeah, this sounds exhausting. I wonder if it’s a recent change (I can’t imagine that they would have gotten past the first date if all he did was talk non-stop). Does he have a new position at work that is more socially isolated? Do LW and her husband never get time to actually talk to each other sans kid, so that he’s kind of lonely in the marriage and desperately trying to connect with her? Is he anxious about the world we live in and his mind has started to obsess over things? Has he developed tinnitus and is always wanting noise to drown out the ringing in his ears, ala Baby Driver?

    1. ” I wonder if it’s a recent change (I can’t imagine that they would have gotten past the first date if all he did was talk non-stop)”

      I wondered that, too. My theory is that the LW is peopled-out because of their toddler and has a lot less patience for the husband because of this. Could be that he was always like that and she could deal but now, with the new small person around, things changed.

      Hm..It seems the LW takes on the bulk of the work with their child and the husband is feeling maybe a little bit lonely… sooo maybe the husband could go talk with the toddler then? 😀 And use all that energy to play with the child while LW rests!

      1. “sooo maybe the husband could go talk with the toddler then? 😀 And use all that energy to play with the child while LW rests!”


  20. I am guilty of the monologuing, although in my relationship I’m the stay at home partner due to disability. I’m alone all day 5 days a week which gets lonely, so when my partner gets home I’m often desperate for some conversation. Except he’s an extreme introvert who is so peopled out from his workday and commute (on the train) that he just wants to sit in silence at his computer. Now we have a set up where he talks to me for 10-20 minutes when he gets home, then he goes has an hour quiet time before dinner. If I’ve had a crappy day or something important has come, we talk for longer.

    I wonder if your husband doesn’t really have anyone he connects with at work, it can be extremely lonely being the only person on that point of the political spectrum or the only one not involved in the popular interest. Not that that is any excuse for carrying on monologuing after he’s been asked to stop, but it might explain why he’s so desperate to share his interests with someone. I would agree with the other commenters that setting a time limit for that kind of talking is a good idea. Maybe he gets to tell you about one article or just talk for 20 minutes, before he takes over the childcare so you get a break. Could he e-mail you links to things he thinks you might find interesting? That way you can bring it up if you want to? I wish you luck LW, and some quiet time.

  21. LW: You get to be grumpy too and he gets to have to deal with that. It doesn’t always have to be one way. It’s not right that he expects you to listen to him, but he doesn’t listen to you– you’ve been clear and you’ve been ignored. That’s not acceptable.

  22. Oh, my son was exactly like this! From the time he could speak, he would matter on endlessly about everything. We joked that if he ever shut up he’d disappear.

    He narrated video games he was playing.

    He told his full life story to everyone he met, whether they’d heard it before or not.

    Every thought in his head came out of his mouth. And oh my yes, it was exhausting!

    We started gently correcting him when he was old enough to really start to reason. First, we started reminding him that it wasn’t always safe to tell everything about yourself to people you don’t know, and coached him on acceptable conversation. Then we worked on interrupting. We told him that it was okay to tell us anything, but that he need to wait for a break in the conversation.

    Finally, we informed him that it wasn’t a bad thing to talk out loud to himself, but that if he expected other people to pay attention and respond, he couldn’t do it constantly.

    He’s fourteen now, and still narrates video games. But he doesn’t expect anyone to care, and is otherwise quite polite about interrupting.

    And it took years of patient correction, with a young and flexible child. An adult is going have to make an active effort.

      1. Or at least find an audience of people who are actively looking to watch someone narrate their video gaming 🙂

  23. I have a tendency to talk too much about the things I’m interested in or my day at work. My adult daughters would say it’s more than a tendency. Ha. The Captain’s advice is good! What helps me a lot is when they clearly tell me that I am monologuing, or that they are not interested in what I am saying. It does hurt my feelings when I hear this, but after a few minutes, or hours, or the next day, I see that they were totally right. I love my daughters and it actually makes me very happy that they feel comfortable pointing this out. I just sometimes takes me a bit to realize that.

  24. LW, one question that struck me reading this is whether this a long-standing problem that has been around for most of your relationship/marriage and you’re now just hitting your breaking point, or whether something has changed that has triggered or exacerbated the problem.

    Neither answer would undermine Captain’s advice, but if this has recently started/gotten worse, it might be worth exploring what might have kicked it off. Having a baby/toddler, for instance, can throw a wrench into our abilities to interact with other adults. There might be other things going on in your life that might be related that we don’t know about from your letter.

    In any event, good luck figuring this out together.

    1. My thoughts went immediately to “having a two-year-old” as the change agent. Kids that age are draining, and demand near-constant attention. If Husband was used to a certain amount of attention and face-time from OP before the kiddo came along, he may be trying to cram all that need for interaction in without noticing that OP is tapped out.

      But! There’s an upside to this. Do you know who loves having constant attention and long, meandering conversations about nothing? Two year olds! Let Husband read his reddit feed to the toddler. Let him explain geopolitics to Toddler while s/he is playing in the dirt and you, OP, are taking a bath and having a glass of wine in blissful silence inside.

      1. My husband has been really into political biographies lately, which I find completely boring. So when he’s in the mood for a read-aloud, and I am not, he corrals our 1-year-old twins and reads to them. They love it, he loves it, I get to go be somewhere that is Not There for a little while and everyone is happy.

        1. Gotta be honest – I’m loving the visual of your twins going off to preschool as the pre-eminent experts in the differences in foreign policy between Chamberlain and Churchill in the four-and-under set.

        2. Yes. My aunt babysat me when she was a college student and I was a toddler and she read her required reading out loud to me. I apparently enjoyed listening to her (I still love my aunt’s voice) and she got to study.

        3. This reminds me of one night when the kidlet got out of bed late at night, and the spouse said, “If you go back upstairs, you can fall asleep in your nice quiet bed. But if you stay down here, you have to listen to me reading Heidegger.”

        4. Heh. My husband was getting ready to DM his first game in years when our daughter was born, and the book he grabbed to take to the hospital was the D&D Monster Manual. So our daughter’s first read-aloud session was on the racial characteristics of Dwarves. Or maybe it was Halflings, I was a little delirious.
          When she was in 5th grade we drove cross-country for Thanksgiving, and put on a non-fiction audiobook after she went to sleep. The next day she kept coming up with questions about salt, cod, fishing… and we realized it was a Very Good Thing we’d picked Mark Kurlansky’s Salt history book, not “Game of Thrones” !

          1. Yeah, my mom probably thought she was being efficient by just reading aloud the books she wanted to read herself… which were frequently not unlike Game of Thrones in content maturity level. Unfortunately you can’t really predict when a kid’s brain is going to suddenly switch on to comprehending and retaining material, and I will playfully needle her for the rest of our lives about all the graphic sex and violence she probably thought would go over my head. (All while she was trying to get me to shut the hell up about Star Wars and go to sleep, naturally.)

      2. Oh yes – even if a baby has been taking up more of your time before now, a two-year-old is another person who is starting to be capable of having conversations. It really is a whole different kind of attention demand from a less-verbally-demanding baby. I think I’m less touched-out now than I used to be, but I am finding I do need more of adult wind-down time after she’s gone to bed than I used to.

        (I love having conversations with Miss-Just-Turned-Three! It’s fascinating to hear how she’s beginning to articulate her understanding of her environment and the people in it. But she does also demand attention now in a way that she didn’t before. “Mum. Mum! MUM! MUUUMMMMYYY!”)

  25. Fellow mom to a tiny chatterbox here. The thing about you being exhausted and hubs being a big ol’ chatterbox jumped out at me too. FWIW, when husband and I fell into a pattern after I went back to work where I was continuing to do the majority of baby care and also going out of my way to help him get his introvert alone time, I let it go on for FAR too long and we wound up in a big messy argument about it one night. Afterward, I did not feel good about piling all my most petty grievances on husband at once, but the upside was that it broke through the haze of the routine that we’d built up. It took some time, but we’ve managed to break up the various household duties into blocks that we take turns with depending on work schedules, available emotional and physical energy, and our individual strengths and preferences. We also now both make an effort to give each other some grownup time/baby breaks. It was super awkward to talk about at first, but things feel fair now, and we’ve both been better about checking in with each other semi-regularly.

    I wish you the very best of luck.

  26. I have been this husband, and it took me a while to pay attention to the boundaries my wife set, which is on me, but we are both happier now that we’ve learned to communicate clearly about it.

    She will raise a finger when I am going on too long, and I will pause, and she will say “this doesn’t interest me” or “I need to focus on X right now” or “not right now” or “okay, that’s enough.”

    *IF*, on the rare occasion, I have a strong emotional need or am talking about something which is deeply important for me, I tell her, and we figure out when would be a good time to discuss it.

    Otherwise, I say “Okay!” and go do something else. Sometimes it does feel like rejection and hurts my feelings. That is okay. I know if I am not feeling heard or paid attention to I can express that another time, and she will find a compromise with me. I am a natural storyteller and I know she values that about me – it was one of the main reasons we got together, that she liked my stories. I don’t need to feel insecure that she doesn’t want to hear THIS story right NOW.

    Most of this is to say that this problem can be navigated and he can learn to listen & respect those boundaries, and be happier because of them. I hope he clues in soon!

  27. I don’t have any advice, but wanted to share that I once referred to my husband’s CPAP mask as ‘the shut up mask’ (in a fit of pique brought on by my husband chattering away and not acknowledging I was trying to go to sleep).

    Now he sometimes asks if I want to chat at bedtime, or if he should just put on the shut up mask.

      1. I had to ask my mother to stop talking to me (when I had a CPAP and she didn’t) because I couldn’t respond to her with the mask on. She didn’t really get it…

        …until she got her own CPAP.

        Shut up mask is perfect.

    1. My husband and I both have monologing tendencies about different things, which has actually been fairly helpful in our curbing it since we both know where the other is coming from. When one of us is starting to go on too much, or if the one not monologing is in the middle of something else, we’ll ask the monologuer “can you curate that for me?” It’s our code for “I know this is interesting to you but not as much to me, but I still care about you and your interests, so tell me either the most funny parts or the most important parts or otherwise sum it up in some way for me because my stuff is important, too, and I don’t have infinite time.” It works wonders. I am still trying to teach him to pause the TV when I’m paying attention to what I’m watching and he wants to tell me something (he treats the TV as background more than I do), but that’s getting better.

      We also both acknowledge that alone time is important, and it’s not a referendum on how much we like the other person if one of us asks the other for more of it.

  28. I wish the LW lots of luck because I see this being bumpy for a while. If someone is used to talking and demanding attention from a partner 100% of the time, scaling back to 50% will seem – to them – like they’re being neglected and that their needs aren’t being met.

    I think that one of the main issues here, aside from just the exhaustion of never having a moment of quiet, is that he doesn’t LISTEN. It’s not just that he talks, it’s that he never focuses on the LW. He’s putting his interests above her interests constantly, 24/7.

    When he inevitably starts in with how she “doesn’t listen” to him and that means that she “doesn’t love” him, I think it would be in her best interest to turn the question around on him. If he doesn’t want to listen to her read a 45 minute article on [insert her hobby here], does that mean that he doesn’t love her? I’m genuinely curious as to how he would react he she started mirroring his behavior back to him. If attention=love to him, what does that say about his feelings for her?

    I also don’t think that it’s a coincidence that this behavior has reached a pitch as their toddler has become more demanding and assertive. I suspect that he’s having a hard time adjusting to the fact that the child is (reasonably) getting more of her time and this is his way of demanding it from her.

    Honestly, I think that seeing a counselor would be a great option for these two.

    1. Yeah this is the thing that I think is kind of missing from this thread so far. Is he ever listening to her? monologuing is a thing to set boundaries about on its own, but I think there’s another dynamic here of always being the one dumping out all of his thoughts but never reciprocating. Also the letter paints a picture of one person chilling on their phone reading out what they’re reading about while the other person is? If it’s because the other person is up doing household tasks/childcare, that is 100% part of the problem.

      This absolutely became a thing in my last relationship. Not the household work unevenness, but an unevenness of caring about the other person’s thoughts and feelings. You can’t just talk endlessly at someone and never reciprocate or shut them down when they talk about something that’s going on with them that they would like validation or support about.

  29. I have a similar issue compounded by the fact that he works from home, and I work in an office. I’m on the phone all day long and dealing with people a lot more than I really enjoy as an introvert, so when I come home I am happy for peace and quiet. But he hasn’t seen another human being all day long, and he is like YAY MY FAVORITE PERSON IS BACK LET ME TELL YOU EVERYTHING I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT THE LAST 12 HOURS and oh man, it is a LOT for me.

    What we’ve managed to work out so far is that sometimes right when I get home I need some chill time doing one of my hobbies. Or frequently playing video games to unwind. So I come home and hug him and say “I’m gonna go kill aliens for awhile” and he has come to expect that, and I get 1-2 hours of decompression time and then we have dinner and talk and hang out the rest of the night. It’s made both of us less frustrated because I used to come home with my shoulders around my ears and he’d feel rejected and lonely, but this way I am more relaxed and ready to deal with the monologue. Which is still a thing.

  30. Those are some excellent scripts and marriage counseling does seem like it would be very helpful for both the refereeing of the conversation but also to signal that yes, THIS is a serious issue!

    I’m also picturing that once some headway is made in getting husband to recognize that this is serious and get on board with limiting these behaviors to negotiated time frames, maybe a non-verbal cue can serve as a reminder that you are “reclaiming your time.” If he tries to interrupt, maybe a raised palm? Also a symbolic object placed beside your space when you want to quietly read or watch something serves as a reminder if he looks your way and starts to tell you something. I feel like a silent response helps reinforce an agreement that you really need quiet time.

    Maybe husband can take all this talking and informing energy and make youtube videos or a podcast of his own. He could even join Toastmasters.

    1. Would he like to make calls for a political candidate he supports? Some of them even have auto-dialers, so you are talking to people nearly non-stop! Kind of kidding, but kind of not. But of course you have to read off the script for the most part, you can’t just natter about Reddit.

  31. LW, my mom is like your spouse. Talk, talk, talk, even when you ask for quiet, even when you outright tell them you’re not interested, but god forbid YOU have something to say because they won’t listen. They don’t care if you’re bored. They don’t care that you already know the thing or have your own opinion on the thing. They just talk.

    It’s exhausting, and ultimately dehumanizing to realize they treat you basically as a target to talk at rather then a person to have a conversation with.

    I learned to interrupt strategically as a kid because not learning it would have meant missing buses and not getting my homework done because mom wouldn’t stop talking at me (often about things that I didn’t understand and probably shouldn’t have been hearing about as a child, but that’s another topic). I also learned to ignore “jokes” about how I never share anything with mom – anything I do say gets ignored because she talked over me. I think she has an imaginary conversation with me that overwrites whatever I actually say, even now.

    Like, let’s say the topic is “apples.”
    IRL I could say “I hate apples” but me-in-her-head said “tell me more about apples!”
    So mom will then joke that she doesn’t know anything about me, even though I told her one thing (that I hate apples).

    It’s not a good way to be.

    Now, I limit time with mom and make sure that time we spend together has an activity involved, usually a sport (either doing it or watching it).

    I really don’t know how to handle this with someone that you -want- to spend time with and need to have conversations with.
    Something definitely needs to change though. I guarantee you this is not sustainable.

    1. You have my mom! She is so much like this, although crazily (maybe related to therapy) she’s been occasionally letting me talk. So I guess she’s a little better. (Although I still have that same thing where anything that doesn’t match her mental model of me just gets overwritten so she often doesn’t remember the things about me that I do tell her.)

      One of the worst things is after I’ve spent a weekend with her, I have to fix myself to have normal social interactions. I’ll catch myself interrupting people because I *have* to with her.

    2. Nanani, I think we have the same mum lol

      I posted a longer comment but I think it’s in the mod queue still, but this sentence you wrote, ” I also learned to ignore “jokes” about how I never share anything with mom – anything I do say gets ignored because she talked over me.” REALLY resonated with me. Any time I have ever tried to talk about something that has upset me or hurt me to my mother, she immediately either dismisses it and goes on talking about some irrelevant and pointless topic, like sport or reality shows she’s watching (and she knows I actively loathe both of those things) or she will make it all about her and how her problem is SOOO much worse (when her problem is always NOT WORSE and/or is self-inflicted).

      Every now and then she makes a comment that she feels hurt that I never tell her about things that are worrying me anymore, completely oblivious to the fact that SHE’s the one who taught me there’s no point in trying to talk to her about anything important.

  32. I tend to have an issue with monologuing when I’m super worked up about something. Unfortunately, my boyfriend gets the brunt of my monologue and when he told me it was too much for him, we made a plan. If it’s about work or issues with my family, he’ll usually let me talk it out and then comfort me (advice doesn’t work for me in the heat of the moment, I prefer comfort until I cool down then when I’m in a calm state of mind, I can handle advice). If it’s about politics or the state of the world, he’ll give me a minute to talk about whatever is bothering me the most and then that’s it. Having a plan that works for both of us has really helped because then we both feel heard and respected. Good luck LW!

  33. I’m a monologuer! My husband has helped me figure out how to manage this with him over the last few years. This is also healthy for me because I’ve learned to better monitor my airtime in other situations as well. I’m not perfect, but I think I’ve improved a lot. A few strategies that works:

    1) Ask questions -I ask before I start talking, and agree not to be insulted if the answer is no. So for example “are you ready to hear about my day?” Sometimes I NEED to talk something through to get it out/figure out what to do. That means sometimes to follow-up to that is “ok, I’ll wait.” and sometimes it’s more like, “I really need to talk about this meeting with my boss today. Can we talk about that?” He agrees to say yes to specific requests to talk about something, and if he really can’t listen or pay attention now, he tells me about when he can (ie, I need half an hour to unwind. Let’s talk about it over dinner.) He gets to ask questions too – “is this something you’re sharing with me or are you looking for feedback/advice?” And I agree to answer them honestly.

    2) Music- Having on music we both like. If there’s something else on in the background that we both like, it curbs my need to make noise. (Still working on getting over the idea that there doesn’t always have to be noise…) My parent’s home always has people in and out so there was ALWAYS noise growing up.

    3) Phone calls – I come from a family of monologuers. That means there are other people in my family I can call to monologue at, and sometimes that’s what I need to do. I talk for a while, someone else talks for a while. It’s not so much a dialogue as a recitation of our days, and then we’re all caught up and hang up the phone. My siblings are the same, so I guess this is how we were raised?

    4) Setting time limits – after dinner, I need to do X and you need to do Y, so let’s wrap this up by 8:30 so we both have enough time. X can be “start to wind down for the evening”

    5) Headphones. When he really needs to check out, my husband puts on headphones and listens to music/reads while I watch TV/get on those family monologuing phone calls/talk aloud to the food I’m cooking. I know that if I want to tell him something, I need to actively get his attention. The fact of interrupting helps me assess whether what I’m saying is actually important or just words I’m saying out loud.

  34. What helps in my marriage is paraphrasing what my spouse says. The paraphrasing forces me to pay more attention, and my spouse feels heard and validated.

    1. I’m not sure that would help in this situation, because the spouse isn’t acknowledging any acknowledgment of his words at all. Your method would work better in a place where a dialogue rather than a monologue is occurring, I think.

  35. When my husband and I first started dating, I had a very extroverted job. Now that I have an introverted job, I have enough social energy left over at the end of the day that I end up monologuing unless I put an intentional damper on it. We commute together, so we can chat about our day during that time, and it helps us stay connected. After we get home, our activities diverge and an interruption becomes more noticeable.

    This might not work for your needs (toddler in the house) but headphones have been a great tool in our house. First, they keep our sound-producing technology to OURSELVES. If my husband is occupied but open to being interrupted, he moves one headphone off an ear. If both headphones are on, I don’t interrupt him unless it’s necessary. This wasn’t an explicitly stated thing, and he never had to stop me from talking. He has responded to less important interruptions by being less interactive, which has helped me calibrate my interruptions. (Another point towards “let him be grumpy”!) In your case, you might need to be explicit about what this signal means and how you need him to act when he sees it.

    1. > If my husband is occupied but open to being interrupted, he moves one headphone off an ear. If both headphones are on, I don’t interrupt him unless it’s necessary.

      Great idea, this is my solution also! I wear my headphones more or less constantly at home, as I sometimes have calls/meetings via the headset, but also because silence makes my OCD eat my brain. I HAVE to have music on, or a show, even if I’m not paying the least bit of attention to it, even if someone else is playing music in the room.

      So the right headphone lives offset from my right ear for the most part. If both headphones are on, I might be writing, or feeling overwhelmed, or listening to a good song, or trying to focus on work – in any case, my husband knows that it means “actively solicit my attention before assuming you have it.” As he’s the kind of person who talks to himself out loud a LOT, this has helped me not feel like I have to pay attention to him constantly, and helped him feel like if I’m ignoring him, it’s not necessarily about HIM. I think the non-verbal indication of boundaries helps the reminder feel less like a personal rejection.

  36. I sometimes need to sternly tell my partner that no, I don’t want to hear about the latest conspiracy theory you’re laughing at, or what the stubbornly ignorant people in forums and comment threads are up to. Because really it only results in annoyance, anger or despair for me. And it feels mean to shut him down, he just wants to share, you know? But my inner peace won’t save itself. In my case, I don’t necessarily want him to be quiet, so I try to force a new topic upon us.
    I think it’s good to get more comfortable with interrupting the other person when you are in a close relationship and can’t really excuse yourself and leave the room, like you might do in a social setting.
    Also, headphones for everyone. Phone noise is the worst.

  37. When my sister and I were kids, we would want to sometimes hang out and read in the family room without being interrogated about our days at school. Sometimes we were up to talk, but sometimes we were not!

    The solution was that we kids got a special hat that we would wear when we wanted to not be talked at. It was a red baseball cap (which did not have the same connotations in the late 90s that it does now), i.e. unmissable. Wearing the hat = no talking at me.

    The hat has limitations. It only works by taking away plausible deniability regarding whether the talkee wanted to be talked at. It doesn’t work with determined talkers. My sister and I still got a certain amount of “I know you’re wearing that hat and don’t want to be talked to right now, but [talking followed by more talking]!!!!”

    But it certainly helped!

    It also helped my sister and me define our own boundaries to ourselves, so we could enforce them better, and help us feel absolved of social obligation to humor attempts at talking since we have clearly already indicated that nope, we weren’t interested!

    1. I was going to congratulate your family on coming up with a way for the kids to set boundaries, until I got to the part where you sometimes got talked at anyway D: D:

      1. I mean, part of setting boundaries is enforcing them. Yes, people should absolutely respect them as soon as they are communicated! But this experience was also good practice for my sister and me to not cave in to people who tried to smash past those boundaries. It’s hard, and it shouldn’t happen, BUT it does happen throughout life, and not feeling bad about shutting down boundary-crossers was a great thing for my sis and me to learn, particularly over something as relatively low-stakes as overly chatty parents.

      2. Oh, and I’d say the hat cut down on interruptions by 80% or so. Not perfect, but a big improvement for sure.

    2. I used to do something similar with my kids. That was until I realized that all that “alone time” my son wanted was him actually withdrawing. That he was being tortured (yes literally) by another kid at his daycare and being bullied by his entire class at school. And then he tried to commit suicide. So … we don’t do that anymore. If i can ask him about his day and push, then I likely get an answer. Otherwise he will pretend all is fine and he needs some unwind time to try to cover up the utter soul crushing depression he is feeling … parents should talk to their kids. Not talk AT them. But talk to them and teach them how to have conversations, absolutely. Sure kids need some space and should be taught how to articulate that, but they are also still kids and need guidance and yes even interrupted from their quiet time as well. Tough lesson I learned.

      1. I agree, there’s a line to be walked, particularly with kids who are still learning how to have conversations and communicate when they need help.

        My sister and I were always expected to be present, physically and mentally, at the dinner table every night, so that gave my parents a time to check in on us.

        I think a mixture of “you can be quiet if you want”-time and “you gotta communicate, at least a little”-time is likely healthy for most kids.

    3. This is genius. I wish I’d thought of this visual cue when I was still living with a monologuer roommate. There were times when I wanted to be out in the living room watching the big TV, but didn’t necessarily want conversation. But then she wasn’t so good at picking up social cues so she might have kept monologueing anyway.

    4. my mum does the same. I’ve told her many, many times that I don’t want to discuss [subject] and why (I tried something once, decided the mental health cost was too high. she disagreed, and [subject] was related to that).

      her way of acknowledging that was “I know you don’t want to talk about [subject], but….”

      I eventually failed to use my words. I said “AAGGGGGGRRRRAHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” at some volume.

      it sorta worked. I still hear about [related subject] (her doing the thing, but not pushing me). we’re also working on her understanding of the phrase “I need antisocial time” (she might get it, she might not. I don’t want to risk sharing a hotel room)

  38. Ah, thanks Cap. for addressing this topic. My current roommate is a chatterbox and *loves* to talk about everything under the sun when we both get home from work in the evening (and before work in the morning). While it’s obviously different being married vs. roommates, the best thing I’m able to do for my own mental sanity is go into my own room for awhile and read/watch YouTube videos/take a bath. While you & your husband share a bedroom, is there a separate room in the house, preferably with a door, that you could transform into your own space where No Talking occurs? If not, then 100% support getting out of the house to go to movies, spend time at a coffee shop, etc. And yes, just be upfront about it. I’ve noticed with my roommate she just…doesn’t realize that she’s been monologueing and even though it’s awkward and it may feel rude, I just need to be direct with her. Hopefully that can work with your husband too, and he will get over his Hurt Feelings very quickly.

  39. Dayum, I think we’re married to the same dude. Mr. Atomic is a super smart guy who is interested in a lot of esoteric things most people aren’t interested in, and he has lots of feels about those things. He is not good at reading social cues. He also works in a different state a lot of the time, so my phone call from him on my way home from work will be him saying “Hi, how are you?” and then launching into telling me every detail of his day, what he ate, what he did, didn’t do at work, what he read, what he thought about what he read, and so forth, and then finally, thirty minutes later when he asks how my day was, “Fine” is about all I can manage because I’m a) exhausted from listening to him b) pissed off because once more I was too aligned with the manners my mother instilled in me about not interrupting people and c) even more pissed off because when he does this it feels like our relationship is ALL ABOUT HIM. This on top of I actually have a very intense and sometimes stressful job, and I’ve mostly used up all my available emotional energy managing large staff of widely diverse people. I super love Captain’s advice above and the input from everyone else. I’m absolutely going to try to absorb some of this and put it into action.

    1. I had an ex that sounds similar to this, except that I still wanted to talk about my day when he was done and he would “have to go”. He had hours to discuss his topics, but when the conversation finally made its way to my day, he was suddenly busy. If he had 60 minutes to chat, 57 of those were his.

      I tried to be understanding (he’s an extrovert! he doesn’t have many friends here yet! he just has poor social skills! he just needs to learn!) but ultimately I realized that he just didn’t care about me. He didn’t seem interested in me because he wasn’t interested in me. It felt one sided because it was one sided. I was so predisposed to being helpful and understanding that I missed the more blatant (and sad) explanation.

      I don’t want to suggest that the LW’s husband doesn’t care about her thoughts, but I don’t think that she should entirely rule it out either. It sounds like she hasn’t been able to share anything about herself in a long time, and he seems fine with that.

      1. OMG, THIS! “he seems fine with that” – once I figured this out, it was the death knell for my marriage.

      2. Yup. Sometimes the people who act like they don’t care about us… don’t care about us. Sometimes they even think they do, but deep down… nah. And that can hurt deeply. But ignoring it won’t make it better. Saying it may even help.

      3. I do have to add, in his defense, on the occasions I do share my thoughts or feelings or tell him about some of the crap I’m dealing with at work, he really does listen. He’s just very oblivious to the fact that he consumes so much time telling me all of his stuff that he doesn’t leave me much room to talk about my stuff, and that not having a back-and-forth conversation is way less stressful for me than having him monologue at me. If I don’t have a chance to speak, I get too frustrated to want to. I like the idea of the three sentence rule.

  40. I am this guy, though less extreme. My wife tends towards the expressionless (her family does too), so I have had to take conscious steps to note whether she wants to engage or not. Am in therapy (for other things, but this comes up).

    What worked is some of what you said. She had to be a bit more explicit – usually if she either touches me or says my name I snap out of it – but over time I came to learn that the braindump wasn’t helping us become closer (I had long thought that braindumping was something couples always did). I was hurt and I’m sure I sulked and thought jerkbrain things about my self worth etc, but over time I came to be able to reframe all of it and tried to see it from her perspective. Just backing off a little helped a LOT, and now I am able not to just babble unless I’m in a really really bad mental place, in which case we are now able to notice why that’s happening and I either meditate or go off to think about what’s really bothering me. When I identify that, she’s happy to talk about it if I’m actually distressed, and once I am able to name feelings, I also stop babbling. I also prepare for possibly stressful social situations in advance so I don’t get as worked up during them.

    Not diagnosing anyone. But this is my experience. It’s still not perfect yet but it’s much better than it once was.

    1. Hey, thanks for your story – it’s a hopeful one about what happens when people love each other and work on their shit. I’m glad it’s better.

    2. I am also a babbler, and I am definitely much worse when I am anxious or feeling isolated or afraid. I think you have a solid point there.

  41. Former monologuer here. When I was young I would talk the ears off of anyone who came to my house once I got going. Things that helped:

    1) More practice socializing. As a kid I had practically no contact with other human beings outside of school. My parents were very asocial and made no allowance for me to be social. College finally gave me the chance to start improving my people skills.

    2) More people to socialize with. See above, plus increasing access to the Internet and its endless supply of discussion boards.

    3) Public speaking and writing. Essays and articles are a great outlet for the internal pressure of things I want to people, and one of my hobbies has conventions where people can volunteer to do informational talks. Would the LW’s husband be interested in starting a blog?

    1. A blog… or a *podcast* even?

      Anyone can create a podcast, there’s heaps of apps out there (Anchor comes to mind).

      Perhaps the practice of curating his thoughts into set episode time limits would be good practice for general life.

  42. I once told my husband (then boyfriend) that him monologuing about a tabletop gaming system made me want to jump out of a moving car. He was offended but you know, he never did it again. It was not a nice way to put it to him but he got the message. It’s okay to lose your temper. It happens because we are human. Sometimes when we focus on being nice we don’t actually get the message of “I am past my limit on this” across.

    I highly, highly recommend the “husband finding a group or league” tactic as well. I have found that when my husband is talking about something I have no interest in that saying “you know who you should talk to about this? Your BFF. Your BFF misses you a bit.” Which gets him to stop. It’s a nicer way of saying “I am not interested so please shut up.”

    I am an introvert with a job that requires a lot of socializing with people. I have literally come home from work and told my husband “I’m going down to the basement for an hour. Don’t follow.” Saying “I need this set time of quiet within this time frame” and then moving to the location can help a lot. Your need for a little quiet is not unreasonable.

    1. Oh my goodness, yes! My husband and I used to have to take 6+ hour drives regularly, and it’s one of the only times my husband has little to no regard for how much he talks (and he likes to listen to podcasts at the same time). I have literally said “If you say one more word in the next 45 minutes, one of us is getting physically removed from this car”.

      1. Somewhere in my husband’s life he absorbed the rule that if there are two people in the car, they need to converse the entire time because they are in a car together and must entertain each other.

        I’m fine with talking some, but after about an hour, I want to read for about an hour, and then I’ll have the steam built up to talk again. And I don’t mind real informational talking; we’ve done some very good marriage work in a car going somewhere. What I mind is this…..

        “Hey, big truck, use your own lane. I remember once I was out with (first trucking employer) somewhere in Iowa….or was it Kansas…Fields are looking good, they’ll be harvesting soon. First time I drove anything was nine years old and they put me in the grain wagon and I figured out shifting by the time I got to the granary, and….Big Blue Creek. Doesn’t look very blue to me, wonder how it got that name…” and then he looks over and says, “Oh, but you don’t give a shit, you’re READING. You don’t want to hear a fucking thing I have to say. Book’s more important.”

        Apparently my job is to respond to all this and to Google things like “history of big blue creek Anywhere, State.” and read off the result.

    2. I love both these systems. My husband and I both use the phrase “I can’t people today.” We’re both neuroatypical/neurodivergent–we need breaks. Some days, we can forgo peopling together and then there are some days when we don’t spend time together at all. We also have a “Best Friends Night” weekly. He goes out with his, I phone mine and we spend HOURS talking/karaokeing/eating apart. That was hard at first, since we see very little of each other due to work, but one night a week is a small sacrifice when it means my husband has friends outside of our marriage and I have friends I can chatter with who haven’t heard all the week’s news yet.

  43. I’m a reformed monologuer, and the thing that helped me the most was when a professor told us (all us chatty, off-topic-anecdote-sharing monologuers in the class) to write it down and send it to him. If it was relevant to the subject we were covering he would invite us to share it in the next class. After he instituted this rule something occurred to me that I wanted to share and I thought, “I’ll just jot down a quick note so I’ll remember to send it to him.” I spent 3 minutes writing (by hand – cell phones were not connected to the internet back in those days) before I realized “I’m bored writing this, why would anybody be interested in listening to me talk about it?”

    And just like that, I was cured! (I mean no, not really, but it did make me more aware of how much time I could easily suck up with a topic that only interested me.)

    She could try telling her husbutt “can you write it down and send it to me, like a Daily Husband Digest, and then I can be caught up on what you want to share with me and we can talk about the topics we share an interest in.” It may cut down on the noise pollution and give a better avenue for actual conversations instead of him just talking at her constantly.

    1. This is what I do with students who want to endlessly pitch me their ideas and talk about their ideas and get feedback on their ideas (but not do the homework where they write their idea down and I read it and grade them). “Write it down!”

    2. I like this a lot! The one thing my partner loves to talk about for ages that I don’t really want to hear about is politics (or math), but that’s mainly because he always wants to talk about it when I’m tucked under three blankets watching Netflix. Like…. can you not see I have turned my brain off for the night? But recently we had a long chat about a Serious Political Topic and he was surprised because I obviously HAVE spent time thinking about this stuff, just not with him. (It was a little insulting he just assumed I didn’t like to think deeply about things, but I guess he wouldn’t have known otherwise since he doesn’t see it firsthand.) I realized the secret was my best friend and I have these rambling conversations about current events entirely over text, so I can pick it up and put it back down at my leisure. He started just emailing me articles and striking up conversations that way, and I can pop in when I feel ready for it.

  44. I can be this person sometimes. I realized that I’m more likely to blurt things out with no regard for whether my husband wants to hear them *at that moment* (even if I know he’ll want to hear them later!) when I’m worried I’ll forget otherwise. So now, I keep a list in the notes app of my phone of things that came up during the day (a casting notice for a show he’s excited about; a tidbit about a new restaurant in the neighborhood; a reminder to tell him about a good moment at work), links I want to share, tweets I want him to see, etc. When hubby has the bandwidth to listen, I look back at the list or think about what’s on it, ask myself what’s most important, and go from there. I also find that a lot of these things end up coming up naturally in conversation anyway, but writing it down is what helps me allay *my* anxiety about forgetting to share something I think he wants/needs to hear, which lets me be more considerate about waiting until he’s ready to hear it.

    We’re both Sharers of Articles, and one thing that mutually works well is Instapaper or another read later app. We share stuff with the knowledge that the other person will get to it when they’re interested and can engage, even if it’s not immediate.

  45. I’m one of those people who reads the internet out loud to her partner, and he has actually asked me to cut back, and I have! He essentially said to me, “I’m usually busy doing something else when you decide to tell me about stuff, so you’re often interrupting what I’m doing, and a lot of the stuff you want to share with me makes me anxious. I’m not asking you to stop entirely, but just to be more mindful of what I’m doing when you want to tell me about something, and what you want to tell me about.”

    This went for both reading him stuff off the internet *and* talking about certain topics in general. Because of his anxiety, he needs time to wind down before bed so he can clear his mind of stressful things prior to sleep. He won’t sleep at all if he’s stressed and anxious, so his wind-down time is pretty crucial. And for a long time, I was undermining that, since I like to end my day by running through what’s going on tomorrow. I’d climb into bed and start gabbing about tomorrow’s schedule and oh, don’t forget we need to do this time-sensitive task we’ve been putting off because it’ll be difficult, etc. etc.

    It has taken practice, but things have improved a lot. I do the thing way less in general, which is good, and when I do it (because I’m human and sometimes I can’t tell when he doesn’t want to hear about something), he’s able to point it out and I apologize and back off.

    It can be tough because some people think in zero-sum terms–“Oh, so now I CAN’T talk about ANYTHING?” and I think one of the reasons that my husband and I have been able to work through it is that I understand the concept of, “I don’t actually want you to stop completely.” But if your husband can’t figure out that you can cut back on a behavior without stopping completely, then it sounds like stopping completely is for him!

  46. Generally I’m the one reading my partner internet articles, but I always ask if I can first. He also learned pretty early on that my “being talked at” limit is incredibly low, and I will absolutely be the person who walks out of a conversation. My job has people constantly talking around me, and we have a 3 year old, and my tolerance is just so incredibly low for noise. One of our favourite things to do is “be alone together” where we get the proximity and the closeness, but also we’re QUIET.

    I’m pretty rude though, so it definitely involved some of me walking away at first. Or generally just ignoring him.

  47. Husband has recently-diagnosed ADHD and he too, does the same thing (especially Reddit!) – some of it is boredom and loneliness. We moved to a new place without a lot of friends so if he has something to say, he’s probably saying it to me. I’d have suggested perhaps LW’s spouse is also bored and lonely but it sounds like he has friends, he’s just oblivious or really hates silence. If he’s not heeding “please stop”, even when asked with a smile, there’s more going on there and at that point it’s not about what he has to say but rather his absolute overriding NEED to say it.

  48. Oh, my God, thank you. This is great. One of my partners is basically just like this guy – complete with the grumpiness (although for Partner it takes the “well, fine, sorry to have bothered you, I just won’t talk at ALL, then” form) – and my love for them does not change the fact that it drives me up the bloody wall. Most days every moment from the time they walk in from work until they wind down enough to chill the fuck out already is an opportunity for monologue. I have asked for equal time and am now occasionally offered it, which I appreciate, but I have a hard time taking advantage of the offer after the Wall of Words comes into play.

  49. +1,000,000 for “INTERRUPT.”

    I have a friend who is a Never Quiet. Early in our friendship she said to me, “I know I talk a lot,” so whenever the mood strikes, I say, “Friend! You’ve been talking for A WHILE now and I need you to be quiet / let me talk / put some of that dinner in your face / go outside.”

    The part where she doesn’t get mad about whatever I say is the part where she’s aware that a) she does a thing that b) is annoying to people. But because of her, I’ve come to realize that most Never Quiets will not actually stop unless you interrupt them, so I’ve started doing it with all the other people who Just. Keep. Talking.

    Sometimes they get bummed, but at least they also get quiet.

  50. I can be this guy. Give him a few minutes of quality connection, then direct him to the toddler / cat / potted plant.

    It’s never too early to teach the toddler about the importance of voting.

  51. Dear LW,

    You have my sympathy. I was stuck with a non-stop talker as my poll worker partner. I was angry and frustrated by the end of the day.

    Part of what bothered me is that I don’t enjoy anger. I feel lousy when I’m close to losing my temper. I deeply resent someone ignoring social cues and thus participating in my evolution into someone I don’t want to be.

    If that’s an element of your distress, I hope toy can express it.

    Good luck.

    1. I once had four weeks of fieldwork (thankfully not all in a row, and with weekends off) where it was me and one other person, and I’m a moderate introvert, and they’re an extravert. By the middle of the fourth week, I just wanted to scream “Have you ever had a thought that you didn’t say out loud?” Especially since we were working long days and then eating dinner together. My alone time was often just enough time to shower and sleep at night and change and eat a couple Clif bars in the morning. I don’t imagine it was easy for them either, since I spent a fair amount of time making noncommittal sounds.

  52. I’m a reading-the-Internet-out-loud-er and my partner is a monologer.
    It used to be super annoying (“why are you just reading that advice column to me? I don’t want to know” or “you have told me about dull hobby for 20 min now. I don’t care”) but we changed the script a little bit. I’ll ask “wanna hear something someone has said on the Internet?” or “you’ve got 5 min to tell me why [thing] is interesting”
    But this only works if someone recognises there is a problem and that they want to change.

    Good luck!

  53. I’m curious. I’m guessing that your husband has been a fairly chatty guy his entire life, including the days/months/years in which you met him, fell in love, and agreed to get married. Did this behaviour bother you then? I’m guessing that must be a “no” or “not as much” or “I could deal with it then because I had my own place/space to get away from it” or possibly even the unfortunate “yes, but I figured he’d knock it off once we got married (ie: he’d change)”. In all cases but the third – having a quiet place where you spent plenty of time needed to recharge your ability to withstand the constant barrage of talk – I wonder what might have changed for you (him?) that makes it so much harder to deal with now than it was before you got married. Maybe if you are able to dig deep enough to figure that out, you will know how to rewind back to the place where you could tolerate the chatter and figure out how you handled it back then, maybe re-adopting those coping strategies?

    1. Notice how you’re putting the burden completely on the LWs shoulders to cope with their partners behaviour?

      The problem isn’t that LW doesn’t want to listen to their partner, it’s that their partner is blatantly ignoring all signals, requests and flat out being shouted at to stop.

      Partners behaviour needs to change it’s not on the LW to tolerate something they don’t want to tolerate.

    2. “what might have changed for you (him?) that makes it so much harder to deal with now than it was before you got married”

      Having a (talkative, attention-demanding) toddler seems like the most likely thing, and there’s no rewinding those or sending them back. Although kids do at least tend to get quieter around puberty and want to get out of the house more with their friends…

    3. What you wrote reads as if you assume that the issue is a reduction of the LW’s tolerance rather than an increase in her husband’s chattiness. You then suggest that the LW (re)learn how to tolerate her husband’s habits.

      This seems very unhelpful. It boils down to telling the LW to tolerate noise and being ignored.

      1. I concur. Maybe it didn’t bother the LW then, but it bothers her now. It’s necessary to address it, and it’s on her husband to do most of the work in finding a new balance because he’s the one who’s steam-rolling all over her boundaries.

    4. Meh, partners should listen to each other. Assuming that LW’s husband is actually reasonable, that point should be made clear “hey, how come when I say I’m not interested, you keep going?” Maybe just make it clear everyone needs to respect “no”, “please stop”, etc. It’s something we’re especially aware of parenting little kids, to stop when they say stop even when it’s clear they want to keep going (ie, tickling, play fights, etc – if they say stop we stop even if they’re laughing etc – then start again if/when they ask for more). So I think that conversation could even start as a parenting strategy discussion, then segue into “by the way, we should do this with each other too! Like when I ask for some quiet or to stop reading an internet article!” (assuming they both agree on this policy)

    5. I don’t think it takes deep digging. It’s not at all mysterious what changed: They have a toddler. Less sleep, more to do, zero quiet time.

      You don’t “rewind” having kids. You construct a new way of getting your needs met. And you have to be intentional about it, because there are 10,000 things you took for granted before (like silence, and peeing alone, and not having other people’s vomit in your hair) that take a lot of extra work and attention with tiny people in your house.

      Everybody only has so much bandwidth. LW doesn’t have enough to accommodate the monologues anymore.

      “He was like this when you married him” doesn’t mean that LW is obligated to do all the adjusting, and the baby’s father is clear to sail on through business as usual without making changes.

      He needs to step up and be more mindful of himself and considerate of LW, and LW needs to prioritize actively seeking that precious silent time.

    6. It doesn’t matter how or why (or indeed if) this has been tolerated in the past. What matters is that LW is feeling exhausted, hurt and frustrated NOW. And they deserve a spouse that will listen to their needs and not sulk.

  54. My husband is THIS so much. He’s always been prone to it but it’s gotten so much worse this year. In his case, we’re pretty sure it’s a combination of a specific mental health thing + a recent uptick in alcohol consumption that we are already addressing, but there have been times when I have told him, specifically, “I am out of energy for your stream-of-thoughting so I am going to go make dinner and get some peace” and he has *followed me to the kitchen and carried on talking, in the way of the stove* so LW, I really feel you on this.

    It really is so crucial to be explicit about it, even if it feels unkind. Both in the moment but also as a specific conversation you have with him. It… may need to be several conversations, depending on how ingrained this behaviour is and whether it has anything underlying it like like it does for my spouse.

    We’re… still working on solutions so I can’t offer much advice beyond just +100ing what everyone else has said. And sometimes yeah, you do need to be direct that This Is A Thing To Stop even if it might upset him in the moment.

  55. Recovering monologuer here!

    What worked for me was not trying so hard to make a graceful exit. I used to notice that people were kinda bored but would feel like I couldn’t stop until there was some kind of mythical good stopping point. Now when I realize people aren’t engaging with as much enthusiasm as I have for a topic, I just go with “Anyway, this is so long, the point is I’ll send you the link/my coworker was being so weird today/it was such a good dog.” No one minds you just saying it’s getting long. Everyone already knows it’s getting long!

    1. ME! I DO THIS! “Mythical Good Stopping Point” is exactly what I am looking for! ACK. I’m totally going to do what you said. Thank you!

      1. The biggest obvious-in-hindsight trick I learned is that I can just… stop talking. I don’t have to be “done”, just close my mouth at the end of the sentence and then don’t open it again. If no one notices that the story wasn’t over, that is a capital-M Message that I made the right call.

    2. I think a lot of people at the mandatory work staff meetings have this problem. People seem uncomfortable just wrapping it up, so they say the same thing three times while I’m getting more and more antsy because this is boring and also it’s lunchtime.

  56. We have similar spouses. Mine used to start talking the moment he woke up whether I was awake or not. It has gotten better because I enforce some limits, which is very hard for me although it gets easier the more I do it. I tend to ignore A LOT and focus on my deal-breakers: politics and bedtime. Whenever politics came up I would say “I don’t want to talk about politics” or “ANYTHING but politics” and that has happened enough that talk about politics has almost ceased. At bedtime if he is listening to something online OR PRACTICING HIS GUITAR (that has a headphone plug) while sitting on the bed that I am obviously sleeping in, I say “Please put in your headphones, I’m trying to sleep.” Sometimes I even had to say “I can still hear that, can you please go in the kitchen?” I TOTALLY agree with what The Captain and others said about you sticking to your needs and him sitting with his feelings.

    The one time non-stop talk comes in handy: road trips. When he is driving he’ll say, “talk to me, I need to stay awake,” and I’ll say “who’s going to win the ACC this year?” and he’ll be gone for at least half an hour before catching on.

    1. This, like the LW and a few other comments, points to a frankly appalling lack of shit giving about other people.
      I can’t imagine being so self-absorbed as to start playing guitar! in the room where someone else is sleeping!

      A cat may wake you up as soon as it decides it wants breakfast; an adult goddamn human should have a bit more awareness and let you sleep.

      1. You would think, right? This is one of the great mysteries of my marriage. On good days I’m mystified but willing to chalk it up to missing neuron connections/severe undiagnosed SOMETHING and on bad days I think about applying the Sheelzebub principle. I am in therapy working on speaking up and getting MY needs met.

      2. The kitten may wake you up when she decides it is time for breakfast – the grownass adult cat who has had months+ of conditioning and being ignored during AM sleep time will wait politely, staring you down next to your head, until the alarm goes off.

        And if a cat can learn, so too can a grown-up human.

        (It took over a year of ignoring progressively larger paws dancing across my face in the morning to finally get my cat to accept that I decided when breakfast Happened, not her.)

  57. My husband and I are both fans of The Dave Chappelle Show, so if one of us is droning on for too long, the other will just say “WRAP IT UP!!!!” (Admittedly, this may not go over well with everyone….)

  58. Autistic & ADHD here – I am a bit of a monologuer when I’m left to my own devices. The main thing that’s helped me has been people flat out saying “I want to talk about something else” or “I’m not interested in this.” Of course, the person doing the monologuing has to care. Sometimes just changing the subject (with a crowbar, if need be) can help, or just… walking away (I never had anyone do that to me, but I’ve done it to other people, when I needed to). I don’t know if I’ve STOPPED monologuing, per se, but at least now I can catch myself in the middle of it & check in on the person I’m talking with – “Sorry, am I going on too much?” – which can make people at the very least feel listened to.

    1. I’m trying not to break this clear and reasonable mod rule, because I do sometimes have bad-brains monologing of a different variety. I think the Captain is very correct that clear straight-forward boundaries (including the active information that I’m making my partner mad) are useful no matter what the origination of the blather.

      (In my case since my brain often produces Great Ideas!!! For Right Now!!! at a terrifying velocity, my partner has set a rule that I can tell them about my great ideas but only if I’ve drawn a detailed set of diagrams first. Writing it down helps my brain slow its roll, which is really a relief.)

      LW, even when I’m not having braintimes I am just _more_of a chatterbox than my partner, and my partner hates having their train of thought interrupted at completely random intervals. They also like listening to music or podcasts around the house, so I asked them to switch to larger and more obvious headphones and now when I have a THOUGHT, an important THOUGHT, so many THOUGHTS if their headphones are on I wave my hand and go “five minutes?” and they thumbs-up and wander back through in five minutes. The lag helps me sort “I really do want to talk about this” from “I am liveblogging my brain activity, which is fine, but sometimes partner is not down for it.”

      (If sometimes the headphones aren’t playing anything? it is absolutely none of my business.)

      This might be a lot harder with a baby, though, and as a former childcare professional I am also wondering about one partner wanting to be alone and the other partner wanting even! more! attention. Handing the baby to the chattering parent and saying “come back in 2 hours” does seem like a possible joint solution.

  59. I went on a holiday with someone who is a constant talker. She’s a great person, but I am an introvert and I need quiet to relax. She needed to fill the space with words. I didn’t mind when she would fill the silence with song, but otherwise… a peculiar form of torture. It didn’t help that just before we left, my late husband started manifesting his final illness and was behaving cruelly and irrationally. I did find earbuds were somewhat helpful, but I am hoping to go on holiday with her again some day, so I am eagerly farming this letter and thread for coping strategies.

  60. As the daughter of, basically, the letter writers’ husband, it has been really important for me to define “How much of this can I take?”, and make my own decisions, accordingly. My opportunities to limit, are obviously, much easier, as an adult daughter, than it would be, were it a spouse. I know that I approach burnout after an hour or two, so I make our meetups closed-ended, more likely in his home (I can leave), and weekly. Is there a time/ place that you could self-define as “me time”, in order to get some space that makes the other times more tolerable? I second the folks who have “unwind after work hour”, or whatever it is.

    Coming from a family where I could expect to be talked over, I developed a pretty aggressive conversational style myself. (I figured if you wanted to say something, you’d interrupt me, right?) My husband’s feedback was not cruel, but it was very direct. Sighs and spacing out didn’t reach me as much as “Can we make a house rule that you’re done talking about work after 7 o’clock? It’s just a lot for me to take in.” and “Hey, isn’t it 7:30?” Humor and a light touch helps for the feedback giver, and the feedback receiver has to have a genuine desire to give and take.

    And just an idea — I don’t function on lack of sleep. Is this part of why this is really much more noticeable for you lately? You’re lying in bed awake listening to the video till midnight, then maybe having a 2 am nightmare call from the two year old? Under those conditions, you should feel good you haven’t taken to throwing the furniture. If it were me, the noisy nighttime would be the first issue I’d tackle, even though the daytime talking is what appears to be driving you most crazy.

  61. I’m a big monologuer (and was just diagnosed at 32 with ADHD two weeks ago; didn’t even know yet that my frequent need to talk was a part of that diagnosis, WHAT A JOURNEY). One of the things that my husband and I have worked out is me talking to/at him while he plays video games. He is not trapped listening to me, he can do the leisure thing he likes, and I can chatter as much as I want while knowing I have about half of his attention. If I have something important to say, I’ll either specifically call that out separately, or I’ll check in about it later. (Sometimes you only remember the important thing in the midst of a flood of other words! I don’t know why.)

    Also, if I can feel myself starting to taaaaaalk or realize I’ve already been at it for a while, I’ll check in about it: “hey, do you mind if I keep chatting, or do you need a minute?” My husband will also sometimes say, “sorry, I had a rough day at work and need to decompress” and I will either shut up or leave the room entirely. I try to do more checking in, though, because I know it’s hard for him to tell the person he loves “please go away” even though we’ve talked it over and set explicit parameters where that is okay and I’ve reassured him that this does not hurt my feelings.

    But all of that is predicated on my awareness that not every sentence that drops from my mouth is a brilliant witticism, and in fact I’m really annoying sometimes. And that is hard to learn!

  62. My partner J is a casually chatty extrovert. He doesn’t monologue, but he talks to himself a lot and frequently thinks out loud. I’m about midway between extrovert/introvert and got used to being casually chatty with him and externalizing a lot of my own planning/remembering. We would frequently sit together in the living room and read and occasionally say things to each other as they occurred to us; it was our normal mode.

    Then my deeply, deeply introverted and ADHD partner X moved in with us. And I started being casually chatty with them, and it did not work for them. They’d be hyperfocused and my chatter would interrupt; they’d be peopled-out and my chatter would be like nails on a chalkboard. And of course J would also be chatting at X, and at me, and at himself. Eventually they gave up on being in the public spaces of the house. At all. For about a year.

    Some things we had to collectively establish:

    – When someone must not be bothered or interrupted, for whatever reason, they go into their own room and shut the door.

    – However, someone merely being in the public spaces of the house is not in itself an invitation to converse.

    – If X is in a public space but looking at their laptop or engaged in a task, and I want to have a conversation with them about something, I preface the interruption with an alert. I usually say “ring, ring” because X and I are both fans of Charlie the Unicorn, but just about anything will do, including a straightforward “Let me know when you’re interruptible”. And then I stand there and wait silently until X finishes their thought or the bit of the task they’re working on, looks up, and says “What’s up?”. Now we can have a conversation that we’re both part of, or I can remind them of something and have them actually remember it, or whatever. Another option is to send X a PM in our household Slack (group chat) that says “can we chat when you have a second? no doom, I just wanted to check in about [whatever]”, because they have a much easier time processing digital interrupts than aural ones. (“No doom” is because we’re all anxious people and any explicit request for a conversation can come across as WE NEED TO TALK unless flagged otherwise.)

    – If I forget to do this and do the casual chat thing without preface, X makes a big show of pausing or setting aside what they’re doing and asking whether I want to have a conversation. Abashed, I apologize and try to get better at sending them that funny link or stray thought as a PM, or I go find J for some casual chat time.

    – Meals are conversation time unless we all agree it’s a reading meal.

    – J and I go on long walks and dinner dates where we talk to each other and X gets to enjoy a quiet house where no one is talking to them.

    – X and I have co-laptopping dates where we work on separate projects, read Tumblr/Twitter/Pillowfort and send each other funny links, and mostly don’t talk. We also watch a lot of TV and movies together.

    – X and J have dates where they cuddle, X falls asleep on J, and J reads the internet on his phone. I think this is the least satisfying dyadic mode, but it’s the best compromise they’ve been able to find.

    – We also have a toddler and I can absolutely confirm that telling a chatty person to go interact with the toddler is very effective—if the chattiness is casual and contentless. However, a particular type of verbosity stems from being anxious and wanting reassurance, and does not do well with being sent away and also does not do well with needing to focus on caring for a toddler. That needs to be addressed head-on with meta-conversation: “You’re repeating yourself in that agitated way that stresses me out and doesn’t help anyone. Can you take a moment to step back out of that mode, and then we can talk about what’s making you so anxious?” And if what I’m trying to do is talk through a challenging matter related to household finances or sort out plans for November or something, the toddler is not the best conversation partner (though toddler debugging is nearly as useful as rubber duck debugging).

    I’m not at all certain that writing this out is going to be useful for the LW, though, because all these steps require that the chatty person(s) respect the non-chatty person’s need for non-chatty time, respect the need for protocols to transition from non-chatty to chatty time, respect closed doors (LW, if you don’t have a space in the house that’s yours alone, maybe it’s time to set one up—your own bedroom, an office or crafting room or garage workshop or attic studio, a corner of the living room marked off with blue tape), understand that being proximate isn’t the same thing as being present, find other people to spread the chat-load to, wait until more opportune times for conversation, and not take it personally when their attempts for conversational connection are received as a blast of noise or a disruption. I don’t see anything in the LW’s letter indicating that the husband is willing to do those things. But if he is, great!

    A few people have mentioned the possibility that the LW’s husband is feeling competitive with the toddler for the LW’s limited conversational attention. That’s definitely possible. However, it’s also possible that the husband is full up on toddler-level interaction and desperate for adult conversation. The first is something that has to be negotiated, like any scarce resource issue. The second might be easier to address collaboratively.

    Good luck, LW. I hope your husband can remember how to treat you like a full human being whose ways are worth respecting even though they are not his ways.

  63. I’m one of those people who gets excited about something and then wants to talk about it right now. I’m not as bad as LW’s husband, but I know there were times when my husband wasn’t interested in my chatter and I didn’t understand why, because this thing I was excited about was SO INTERESTING.

    My wake-up call was when I called him to come look at whatever was on the computer, he came over, glanced at it, said “OK,” and then walked out. He was there about three seconds.

    At the time I thought he was dismissive and I felt put-out. But I got the message that he wasn’t interested. When I thought about it, there were other times when he dropped big clues that he wasn’t interested in whatever was bouncing around my brain, but I was too caught up in myself/my topic to realize it. I got it when he walked out of the room. Now I pay greater attention. My husband is quieter than me by nature, and it’s easy for me to just keep going over him. But I shouldn’t do that and so I watch myself.

    LW, I didn’t see in letter that you’ve tried physically removing yourself from his presence. Go from, “Stop, I’m not interested” to “If you don’t stop, I’m leaving the room” and then leaving the room. Let him grump; you warned him. It looks like he likes having an audience, so deny him that. I hope it works.

  64. Hi LW.

    I am a monologuer. I’m working on it, and if your husband had written in I would go into detail about how. But since you wrote in, I have to tell you that the *only* thing that even brought the fact that I monologue to my attention was people who love me, who love spending time with me, who think I’m otherwise awesome and cool, saying “Put a sock in it” or “I’m REALLY not interested” or just straight up walking away. Yes, I felt hurt and a bit defensive, but because of who was saying/doing it I knew they weren’t making it up or looking for an excuse to hurt me.

    You have to be that blunt with your husband. After that it’s up to him.

  65. For whatever reason, I seem to attract friends who just talk or make noises constantly and it wears me out. I can go (and have gone) weeks without speaking out loud. I keep my phone on mute 90% of the time. I am burnt out on answering phones at work by Friday and don’t enjoy talking on the phone, so that right there is a sign I am not into lots of verbosity. (I have the opposite problem: I am a long-winded (but outwardly silent, IRL) Internet commenter sometimes.)

    My first roommate after college had verbal diarrhea to the point where I had to go hide in my room. It felt like being smothered in shredded dictionary pages. It was rarely new info or interesting info, and she had the ability to be extremely interesting, but for some reason she’d get on a subject and talk about literally that subject and hardly anything else for weeks. She was also a constant noise emitter, humming, singing, tapping on things, playing the TV loud, etc. We did not last as roommates.

    Current housemate is an interrupting monologuer AND she mumbles. I have crowd deafness / middle ear deafness, and mumblers tend to make noises that fade into the background of other ambient noise going on, so I often really don’t hear and am not tuning out on purpose, but sometimes, YES. I AM TUNING OUT. She yells at her under-trained animals. She slams doors. She kicks things when frustrated. And she talks non-fucking-stop and gets mad when I head straight to my room after work, but I can’t deal with being mumbled at and then growled at when I ask for a repeat of what she said, then interrupted when I try to engage or respond.

    In both cases, I was or am the sole social outlet for these folks outside of family, because they always have Reasons why they cannot join a club or try a new hobby or get a job around other human beings, and I don’t care what the Reasons are, I just know that being relied upon to take on the entire weight of a more-extroverted-than-I person is really, really difficult. As a quiet person, I find it maddening to have a long speech directed AT me, and then to be interrupted when I try to make it into a dialogue we both can enjoy.

    I wish the Letter Writer all the success in the world. I will be coming back to look at the suggestions in this thread!

    1. Sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster, I hope you can change your living situation soon. Your housemate sounds unsuited to living with others.

      1. Working on it right now! 🙂

        Incidentally, I was apparently quite the little monologuer when I was a wee one. I went from silence (when most kids are already talking) to full, mostly grammatically comprehensible sentences (and paragraphs) overnight, and my exhausted dad claimed I was “vaccinated with a phonograph needle.” When my mother shamed me about it in front of a group of my peers, it hit hard, and, being an “I’ll show YOU” kind of child, I did a 180 and became Calvin Coolidge to make a point and it became habitual, so now I am generally silent or terse by default…except when typing online. (Though I’m getting more terse here, too. Twitter enforces brevity, and being restricted to 140 characters when I started using it was a good training tool at the time.)

        BONUS of being terse: emotionally and verbally abusive mother has a LOT less ammunition to latch on to, and it clearly annoys her that I’m not a chit-chatty person with her like her friends’ kids are with their parents. It sucks that childhood pettiness caused this, as she learned nothing, but it wins that I don’t wear myself out with logorrhea.

      2. To be fair, my current housemate isn’t a bad person. She just has a lot of stuff to say, most of it pertinent and interesting, and no adult humans around to interact with, and then I enter the room, an adult human, but I’m totally peopled out for the day and too tired to fight my hearing issues. The problem isn’t with her personally, it’s with clashing communication styles and how we express frustrations (she: quickly and physically; me: slowly and internally).

  66. Something that really helped me get better about this was understanding and owning my own needs. For a long time, I considered myself an introvert because social anxiety + geek interests, but actually that’s not true at all. I need to socialise with people regularly, process thoughts and ideas out loud etc. This really came home to me while I was unemployed for a few months. My very much introverted wife would come home hoping to silently decompress and would instead be met with what she charitably described as an overexcited puppy. Understanding that we were different people with different, equally valid needs helped me to think differently, recognise what I needed and make more of an effort to make regular social plans etc, and so much less likely to monologue at my poor other half the moment she gets in the door, when all she wants to do is lie on the sofa and play Candy Crush in silence for half an hour.

    LW, I hope your husband can get his act together and find ways to channel his social energy *with* people rather than solely *at* you.

  67. I have definitely had problems with monologuing in the past. Contributing to this problem: I have a pretty strong personality, my family tends to have volume arms races in conversation, I have some niche interests that are SO! EXCITING! AND INTERESTING! to me (about which most people give minimal to zero fucks) and I tend to figure things out by saying them out loud.

    My come to Jesus moment on this (and something that I hope is relevant to the LW), was when I went to visit some friends that I hadn’t seen in a few years. I spent a weekend hanging out with them and the circle of friends where they lived, including my best friend from college’s S.O. of several years. After I got home, she called me to say something along the lines of:

    “Hey, we have been friends for a long time, you know I don’t think you are a bad person. BUT. You were here for a weekend and hardly asked anyone else any questions, or showed much interest in asking THEM what they thought on a topic. Clearly they were interested in what you had to say, but you didn’t reciprocate at all. [My S.O.] thinks you’re kind of a jerk, and honestly you acted like one.”

    That made me realize that these behaviors don’t just affect me, my relationships, and others’ perception of me, but also the feelings and external relationships of people I care about. I felt ashamed, embarrassed and, well, like a huge jerk.

    It’s been a few years since that visit, and I’ve been making a continuous effort to be more considerate, pay more attention to those around me, ask more questions, and cut myself off if necessary. Of course I still have those tendencies (this is a lifelong effort), but I think I’ve come a loooong way.

  68. I love my husband endlessly but he does this to some extent and it has definitely led to some angry conversations. He’s very introverted except around me, and while he has a small group of friends, he doesn’t talk to them more than a couple times a month. I’m less introverted, have a job that basically requires me to be professionally outgoing and empathetic 40 hours/week, and have close friends I text daily. He will monologue at me about obscure sports things (I like sports but not that much!) and sometimes he’ll do the thing where I think a conversation is over and he’ll jump back in like two hours later. He will also try to get me to guess some random fact that I will never, ever be able to guess and that makes me so fucking anxious.

    So we’ve settled on three solutions: (1) if he starts to talk at me I’m allowed to ask him if he needs me to actively participate in the conversation and if he doesn’t I’m free to listen, or not, as I choose; (2) if he tries to make me guess something I’m allowed to tell him to knock it the hell off; (3) I set up playdates for him sometimes so his friends don’t forget he exists and I get a night to myself. It’s probably more emotional labor than I should be doing but it’s soooo worth it.

    1. “if he tries to make me guess something”

      One of the things I love from the television show “Doc Martin” is that, whenever anyone tries to engage him in guessing (e.g., “Guess who I saw just now”), he responds with a flat “No”.

      1. Ha! Doc Martin is such a grumpy Gus. I relate to that on a deep level, though, honestly, I am a lot sunnier than that character will ever be.

        The show is also a good reminder that it is often true that “for every old sock, there is an old shoe.” You may be a misanthropic genius living in a no-stoplights-town on the outer edges of civilization, and even then you, difficult and brusque person that you are, may meet someone who loves you exactly as you are, warts and all. It’s fiction, sure, but it’s a nice, comforting one.

  69. I was in this situation for a long time with a dear friend. In my case, some of the dynamic was due to my own behavior – trying to be Nice until I got fed up, and then my friend would feel blindsided/defensive, and I’d end up apologizing, and we’d rinse/repeat. It got better partly when I started being more honest about my disinterest, earlier on, before I hit the point of needing him to just STOP and STFU.

    But it also got better when he started respecting my disinterest. Frankly, this was easier for him to do when I was up front about it, but it was a step that I couldn’t make him take.

    LW is being up-front about their disinterest. They are asking clearly for what they need. So yeah… it’s time to stop any pretense of ‘Nice’ and get angry. When you ask someone to stop something and they ignore that, it may not mean they don’t care about you. It just means that on some level they’re thinking “my right to do whatever I want matters more than your right to feel comfortable or cared for”.

    And especially in a marriage, especially with a kid starting to absorb conflict resolution strategies in their family, that needs to be addressed.

  70. I have a friend who has a tendency towards this. She will tell me at great length and in incredible detail about her hobby thing that she knows I’m not into. She will tell stories about her day that take as long to tell as they did to happen–sometimes longer! She will send me internet articles and then read most or all of it to me on top of that, along with any comments she finds particularly funny. It can be a lot.

    The thing is, though–she’s considerate about it. When I tell her I’m done with a topic, she drops the subject. When I tell her I’m not up for chatting at the moment, she finds someone else to talk to, or finds a way to keep it to herself. When I tell her I’m super burned out on talking about X and need a moratorium on it for a week or two, she remembers that and doesn’t bring it up again. When she’s just looking to vent some thoughts and doesn’t care if I listen or respond, she tells me that upfront.

    That is what well-intentioned monologuing looks like: it respects boundaries. If your husband was doing even half of those things, I suspect you’d be much less annoyed with him. Instead, he’s deciding that his desire to talk at you is more important than your explicitly stated boundaries.

    In fact, I think that’s the real problem here–the disregard for your boundaries. That’s a terrible trait in a partner. And unfortunately, if he’s choosing to ignore them, there’s really no way to stop him other than just to remove the opportunity. Maybe you can try that? Leave the room, heck, leave the house and go to a coffee shop or the library for a bit if that’s what it takes. If you told him you don’t want to hear an article and he keeps reading it, talk over him and say “I told you I don’t want to hear it”, and leave if he still doesn’t stop. If you told him you need some quiet time and he keeps talking, put on noise-cancelling headphones and ignore him. If he gets grumpy, that’s his problem; he could’ve avoided those hurt feelings if he’d just respected the reasonable boundary you gave him in the first place.

    1. Yes, this! I identify A LOT, NO REALLY A LOT A LOT with the LW, because my husband is very similar to theirs. 13 years in he’ll call his dad (both my FIL and BIL are like him but worse – my husband can’t stand the monologs of his brother and the way he doesn’t care about other people in the conversation and I have used this as an example when pointing out his own behaviors to him).
      My main issue with this is that he tends not to listen to me. Not to boundaries , ideas or opinions and that reads like he doesn’t care about me. This has been the main problem in our marriage and is only recently getting better after I had a meltdown this summer and threatened a divorce. Up until that moment he claims he did not get how much this bothered me. (BUT HOW, I TOLD YOU FOR THIRTEEN YEARS).
      Anyway, good luck, LW. The couples therapy is a good suggestion, as is being way blunt – his feelings do not matter more than yours.

  71. I am a version of the LW’s husband; I am a champion monologuer especially if it’s actually important, including relationship stuff. So. Here’s what my husband’s counsellor told him about managing me: the counsellor’s wife was a similar over-talking person (and she was also a counsellor!). She asked him to give her a non-verbal signal to let her know when he’d had enough (bearing in mind she was highly motivated to follow his lead). He came up with this lovely little hand-patting-heart motion, which was his way of asking for a break because “his heart was full.” When my husband told me about this, I said “That’s lovely! Did you come up with one for you to use with me?” “Yes, actually! I roll my eyes back in my head and feign death!” True story.

  72. My spouse definitely does the “watches videos at full volume in the middle of the room” thing and I LOATHE it, so we have a short-hand phrase for when he does it and it’s “headphone protocol.” Most of the time, he’s pretty good about it, but it took some time and lots of me saying “headphone protocol, Spouse!” Use CA’s script and then a liberal dosing of a short-hand that makes sense for the two of you after the first few times.

    I am a talker. I’ve always been a talker. (I’m also neuroatypical, so some of these scripts come from that place, fyi.) It took years to learn when I was rambling and there are definitely days that I don’t notice. I’ve had to consciously practice it for decades and I still fail. Additionally, sometimes I need to talk more, because I am a verbal processor. I can loop around the same concept half a dozen times before it clicks and I can internalize.

    Here’s how I combat all this:
    *I require myself to ask [x] questions (sometimes x = number of questions the other person has asked, sometimes x = 1 question/story I tell, pick your formula)
    *At least 2 questions must surround conversations we have had prior or the day’s events.
    *Reciprocal questioning is a must. A “how was your day” must ALWAYS eventually be returned with a “how was your day” unless the question was already answered. If already answered, I choose a different question.
    *I try to spread out my verbal processing in conversations with multiple people (input does help me) so one person doesn’t have to hear me try to work it out several times.
    *If I can’t talk it out with multiple people, I try to tell the person I’m talking to that I just need to talk through this and could they listen for a bit longer, please?
    *I use my commute to great effect: I talk through things, have mock conversations with strangers or friends or family where I ask myself questions and provide answers. I offload some of the processing outside of conversations, since verbal processing can be more monologue than conversation most days.

    It sounds like your husband has completely stopped asking questions. I love CA’s scripts–they lay down those vital boundaries. Without them is when the yelling and snapping and fantasy strangling starts. I might suggest adding: “Honey, can you ask me about my day/if I’ve [read/seen/found] something interesting? You haven’t asked me a single question.” or, “Sweetheart, I’m so glad you had a good day and I know it can get easy to get wrapped up in all the cool things you [read/saw/did], but I’m not feeling like I’m part of this conversation anymore. Can we talk about [insert topic that you are interested in]?” Encourage him to ASK questions as well as STOP when you have laid out those boundaries.

    Also, have you possibly stopped asking questions? It sounds like he needs no encouragement to talk, removing the need, so it makes sense if you aren’t. My husband rarely did, at first. It helped me a LOT when he would actively ask questions, because it derails the monologue tendency and also lets me know what he wants to hear. I definitely need both the “I’m not interested” scripts and the “Hey, you were doing [thing], any update on that?” or the “Wait, go back to [thing], can we talk more about it?” questions. Again, neuroatypical, so who knows if it would work for you two, but integrating more questions on both sides of the conversation really changes the game for us. It goes in cycles, but on the whole, I’m not ceaselessly chattering and we both feel invested in the conversation.

    1. I finally told Husband that I could certainly wear headphones while playing the FPS game or while listening to music, but if I do that, I won’t hear everything he says, and he’ll have to get my attention if he wants me to hear him. The desire to have me hear every little thought he thinks won out, and now he wears headphones so he can hear his movie over my cello concertos, but he can say whatever he needs to and I’ll hear him.

  73. So, partly due to my neurodivergence, partly due to personality, I’m a big talker. Silence can feel weird. The process over the last few years has been to start figuring out self-checking strategies and learning that silence is okay.
    Strategies include recognising if I had interrupted someone and acknowledging that, then giving them back the floor. It also means asking, “Whatcha thinkin’?” in situations where I’ve been talking a lot and my conversation partner hasn’t (works well with my partner). LW, your husband’s strategies may/ will be different. The first step is forcing him to realise he’s not letting you have room. It will be yucky and he will have feels (e.g. anxiety). This is part of the process. Hopefully he starts self-regulating.

    (Below info was originally part of the main comment but I realised it might be extraneous info, so put it below instead.)
    Strategies for me started in part because family encouraged me to realise that long-winded explanations or circulatory convos aren’t everyone’s thing. It feels yucky to be corrected by others about something that feels a big part of me (ie the way I talk) so I had to learn to self-regulate instead.

  74. I’m a (at-least-trying-really-hard) reformed monologuer (and person who excitedly interrupts sometimes). My fiance needs a lot of time to himself doing quiet activities, and there were many times early on where I would be monologuing and REALIZING I WAS MONOLOGUING and that it was annoying him, and this amazingly counter-intuitive part of me was like, “If you can just find the part of this subject that really interests him, you two will connect and he will tell you his thoughts and you will follow up with excitement and it will feel great.” That did not work well at all.

    What worked for us, eventually, was to introduce ALL conversations as a polite inquiry. Instead of, “Oh my god, listen to this—“, it became, “Have you read this article about the atrocity that is another live-action Avatar the Last Airbender?” And then WAITING for the other person to say “No, but I’m busy right now, text me the link” or, “No, I don’t really care about that,” or “Oh dip, that sounds terrible, what is Aaron Ehasz’s feeble excuse for such a terrible idea?”

    Once every conversation was automatically introduced with a “Hey, I recognize this might not be something you’re interested in” opener, it was a lot easier for me to read what he DID care about, rather than what he was just silently enduring because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. And I have a lot of other friends to nerd out over pop culture stuff, so he doesn’t have to field every conversation about everything I get too excited about.

    If your hubs has a hard time remembering to frame things that way, it also worked when fiance would interrupt ten or fifteen seconds into my monologue and say, “Sorry, I was trying to wind down and wasn’t paying attention. What is this about?” And then I’d have to start over, which gave him room to say, “Okay, but I need this time right now, so can we talk about it in the morning?”

  75. My husband is an Affable Talker, and will keep going long after I’ve told him I don’t want to continue the conversation. For him, it seems to be a deeply ingrained bad habit that he doesn’t hear/process polite requests to stop when he’s in the middle of a conversation (no surprise where he learned this from– his dad will pretty much ignore you while talking at you.)

    Here’s what’s worked for us. Keep in mind, my husband agrees this is a bad habit and doesn’t want to keep being obnoxious to me, which it sounds like your husband doesn’t.

    (1) Me leaving the room. Horray for nonverbal cues!

    (2) A code word! For some reason “I don’t want to keep talking about this” doesn’t get through, but a conversational safe word does.

    (3) If I’m in bed and I either just woke up or am drifting off to sleep, inarticulate grunts and moans gets the point across.

    Good luck!

  76. My whole family is extremely chatty (including me, and also my 4-yr-old, who talks all the time including sleep) and I have to agree with the Captain that a person with a toddler who can maintain this level of chattiness is not doing enough parenting.

  77. I am a talker, luckily, my partner is too. But ocassionally we need silence. We have had a few hurtful moments when one person requested silence and the other didn’t recognize it as a genuine request.

    I wonder if literally the words, “this is my serious voice. I mean that I do not want to talk/I want to finish this book/ I am thinking.” Is needed. If he’s reading disengagement as engagement then a short sharp reminder can help.

    You may need to redirect him to others—political friend, game friend, Reddit friend. “You should call Jennie, you know she wants to hear about Trump!”

    Sometimes I’ll facetime people to go deep into something my partner is done listening to, and then he gets blissful peace and I can still talk.

  78. I am a talker, luckily, my partner is too. But ocassionally we need silence. We have had a few hurtful moments when one person requested silence and the other didn’t recognize it as a genuine request.

    I wonder if literally the words, “this is my serious voice. I mean that I do not want to talk/I want to finish this book/ I am thinking.” Is needed. If he’s reading disengagement as engagement then a short sharp reminder can help.

    You may need to redirect him to others—political friend, game friend, Reddit friend. “You should call Jennie, you know she wants to hear about Trump!”

    Sometimes I’ll facetime people to go deep into something my partner is done listening to, and then he gets blissful peace and I can still talk.

  79. OOOOOHHHHH, grrrrrr. I had a whole long comment (that I worked really hard to edit down because I am totally a talker) and it disappeared. Or maybe it was moderated away, but I never even saw it post for moderation. So, if I broke a rule, I’m REALLY sorry. To avoid possible rule breakage again, I’ll try a summary:

    1) CA’s scripts are GREAT. Boundaries are super important for talkers, so I’m with her: make those boundaries hard stops.
    2) I, too, have a spouse that prefers to just blast videos which is something I LOATHE. I had the conversation about not doing it with him several times and then just started liberally sprinkling the phrase “Headphone Protocol!!” every time he did it. It’s mostly stopped. I have great hope for your success.
    3) I highly recommend more questions all around. Myself and my spouse have a similar dynamic. I am a talker (though not at your husband’s scale), he is not. This resulted in me asking few questions and him asking none himself! I’d get one to three word answers and he never needed to ask because I was providing all the information. It was boring, bad communicating, and led to a lot of hurt feelings. To CA’s scripts, I would add: “Honey, can you ask me about my day/what I’ve [read/seen/found] on the internet? You haven’t asked me a single question.” or “Spouse, I love hearing about your day, I’m so glad you had such an enjoyable day! Can we talk about [thing important to you]?” When you feel up to talking, but he’s started to monologue, reminding him that he is not asking questions can be a HUGE help (it stings, too, but it helps more in the long run). Tell him you need him to ask more questions of you for it to feel like a conversation. As a talker, boundary statements like CA’s help me a lot (even as I actively work on it myself, too). Boundaries plus questions help me in so many ways: I know what interests my spouse and what doesn’t, I feel he’s listening, I’m subtly or directly reminded that I need to ask questions if I haven’t, I know when my spouse needs silence, etc.

    Good luck!

    1. About 98% of the time, both here and at Ask a Manager, I feel that great strides could be made in the LW’s problem by emailing the URL to the problematic person.

  80. I’m an extrovert with monologuing tendencies (especially when tired or nervous) and lots of introvert friends/partner. “I’m done talking about this / about you / at all” caused me to be like “WELL THIS IS JUST WHO I AM LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT.” The most important thing was when my partner said, “Hey, I want you to ask me about MY day.” I had just assumed he would jump in with whatever he wanted to say, but I hadn’t even noticed that he wasn’t doing so. That was what I needed to see how self-centered I was being. It also gave me a really clear path toward the thing I really wanted, which was an intimate, connecting conversation.

  81. So, does OP ever get to talk? I wonder if her husband even cares what she might have to say about herself or her day or her life. I’m guessing the answer is no.

  82. I am the husband in this situation! Except I’m a wife.

    Things that stop this being a problem in our marriage:

    1. I’m aware of it, so I can be somewhat mindful about how much I’m talking, and I don’t take it (too) personally if my husband doesn’t want to listen as much as I want to talk
    2. My husband does sometimes listen even when he’s probably not really in the mood
    3. He tells me clearly when he just wants to be quiet, and we’ll read books or look at phones or whatever next to each other, or do our own thing separately
    4. If I want to watch TV while he’s relaxing, I go in another room and keep the volume reasonably low. If I want to watch something while he’s sleeping, I use headphones or subtitles.
    5. We have a designated “bed time” which probably helps in defining the cut-off for low volume vs headphones
    6. Unlike certain people in my family he doesn’t criticise or make fun of me for being talkative – I know he generally likes my chatty nature, so when he asks for quiet time I know he’s just telling me what he needs, not saying there’s something wrong with me.
    7. I have other people to talk to – friends, family, colleagues, the internet. Does your husband chat to his colleagues throughout the day or catch up with friends? Does he have a group chat or post in online communities? Does he call his parents? If not, could he?
    8. Occasionally he wants to talk and I don’t want to listen! So I can understand how he feels when it’s the other way around.
    9. I love and respect my husband so of course I try to accommodate his need for quiet time, just like we try to accommodate all of each other’s needs
    10. I’m a woman living in a world where Women Talk Too Much And Rarely Say Anything Of Value – I’m not receiving a lot of messages about how every thought I have needs to be expressed and those around me should be glad to hear it

    PS: We have a 2 year old niece who we babysit often, usually only for 2-3 hours at a time. When we come home I am NOT in the mood for a big chat.

    1. I tend to be chatty. My whole life. It’s a struggle but I do try. And while I don’t like folks who are nasty and rude about bringing it up, I am always receptive to the comments. I don’t think folks are horrid if they say ‘oh gosh you’re going a mile a minute!’ Or ‘did you just have a lot of coffee?’ Etc. I acknowledge it also so there’s no elephant and folks don’t have to feel too nervous if I do it accidentally. I hate that I do it but I try hard to create a safe space for folks to call me out when I’m doing it. One thing I do: if there’s a room of x people, divide the time you spend, say 2hrs. If there are 10 folks you can speak at a max of 0.2 HRs. By thinking this way I can get perspective. Another thing is needlepoint when visiting, it focuses my mind and is relaxing.

    2. Ok I hope your comment on ‘women who talk a lot but rarely say anything of value’ is an inside joke or something and not meant to be serious.

      1. If I’m not mistaken, she is saying that that is the message society gives us. I.e., women tend to be a bit more hesitant about talking so much because we so often hear the message that women talk too much.

      2. yeah I read it as, that’s society’s general view on women, so she’s getting constant cultural messages to talk less, whereas LW’s husband isn’t. (SS Express I wouldn’t worry, i think the capitals made it clear)

      3. Jers,

        “I’m a woman living in a world where Women Talk Too Much And Rarely Say Anything Of Value – I’m not receiving a lot of messages about how every thought I have needs to be expressed and those around me should be glad to hear it“

        I don’t interpret this as a joke or sacrcasm, but rather as her describing societal messages, for the following reasons:

        She says she lives “in a world” where she receives a particular message.

        She goes on to describe the message and has capitalized the first letter of each word in the phrase “Women Talk Too Much And Rarely Say Anything Of Value” which is a technique used for indicating that the phrase is A Thing (such as, But Family, or I’m Such A Nice Guy”).

        Finally, she finishes by saying she doesn’t get a lot of messages to the contrary in the world that sends the message that “Women Talk Too Much And Rarely Say Anything Of Value“.

  83. I have a weekly phone date with a friend, and when we both get tired I get chatty and she gets quiet. Our favorite technique for this is that if she’s getting too tired she will give me a 5 minute warning so I can get out any last words, wrap up the latest story, tell her I’m unavailable next week, or whatever. It’s helpful and could be adapted easily to things like 5 more min until bed prep or whatever.

  84. First husband (the one that died) was veeerrryyy verbose. After about 20 years I was just all “STFU a while!!!”

  85. Hi, LW.

    There’s two big possible problems I see here. You might be having both of them at once.

    One of them is that your husband is constantly demanding your attention and not respecting your boundaries. There’s a lot of advice about that in this thread. But you mention he does this with everybody, and he doesn’t seem to care if you tune out, and it sounds like you don’t have a great script yet for enforcing your boundary, either.

    So it’s possible based on this letter that part of the problem actually is that he does not understand what boundary he is crossing. There’s lots of good advice above about things to try to establish what the boundary is, very clearly. If you try some of those and he’s not cooperating, if you are clearly and consistently saying “I need quiet now. Please stop” before you are at the point of snapping, and it still never stops, or you get pouting instead of silence, then I suspect the main problem is lack of respect for boundaries, not noise.

    But I have had problems where there’s a cultural gap (even between two people who grew up a mile apart!) over what level of noise is expected in a house – some people expect a home to be noisy all the time (and may try to fill what they’ve been taught to consider an uncomfortable silence with meaningless noise), some people expect a home to be quiet (and have been taught that any noise means someone is demanding their attention.)

    I had a roommate once where he thought I disliked him because I always used headphones when in the same room as him, and he read that as “go away don’t talk to me” (whereas I read it as “I will be polite and not subject you to my weird musical tastes”), and I thought he was extremely rude because he never used them even when I was clearly busy with something else (whereas he read it as “I am reaching out to you and creating a friendly space.”)

    We eventually had an actual using-words discussion about these different assumptions and it helped a lot.

    If you haven’t ever had that discussion about what level of general noise is expected and comfortable, and what talking, putting sound on, or wearing headphones means to each of you, it might make a good, less-confrontational starting point to change the dynamics.

  86. I can get this way from time to time (probably not this bad though!) and my best friend tells me “Uh, you’re being really boring right now.” (It usually has to do with something I get excited about at work, and she isn’t in the same work field so…it is boring to her.)

    She can do that because she will know that I will care about whether or not she is bored, and I won’t end our friendship over her bluntly telling me to STFU. I don’t want to bore my friend so if she tells me I’m being boring, I’ll knock it off! Because I don’t want to bore my friend, and I care about the quality of our time together and her experience of our time together. I want her to experience her time with me as fun, not boring.

    The problem isn’t that he wants to talk, it’s that he’s not listening to you or caring about your experience of the moment. And your experience of the moment is important because IT IS TURNING INTO ALL THE MOMENTS. And that is just really rude and not the behavior of a good partner.

  87. Reforming monologuer here (it’s a work in progress). Things that have helped curb that behavior:

    1) Making a habit of reminding myself to ask and to listen. When my partner comes home from work, I make sure to ask how their day went. When they get excited about something they read on the internet and start monologuing themselves, I make a serious attempt to pay attention and engage (even if it’s a topic I don’t find interesting). Doesn’t change the asymmetry in how much we talk, but it does help to ensure that they’re being heard, and that I’m reciprocating the attention I get.

    2) I talk to myself during my commute, or my cat. Some topics I don’t actually need an interlocutor for, I’m just enjoying talking about them and working out my argument… if they’re not things that my partner would be interested in, a monologue doesn’t always require a real (as opposed to imaginary) audience.

    3) Sort of an extension of the second one, but I write stuff down. If I’m finding that I’m repeating myself while talking, I make an attempt to write a blog post about it. I don’t ever post these anywhere, but they get the thoughts out. Then I might offer them to my partner to read, but that’s 10 minutes of quiet reading for them, not 40 minutes of listening to me chatter on about my philosophy of toilet seats. Plus, my opinions are more interesting once they’re organized a bit.

    4) There are particular topics I really enjoy talking about… some of these topics are not super interesting to my partner. I try to be especially careful when I’m talking about these topics that I’m not going on too long: looking at body language, checking in verbally if they’re bored, taking a moment to see if I can condense what I want to say into a couple of sentences, etc.

    5) Probably most important: my partner has permission to (nicely) ask me to wrap it up. This is a hard one, because it kind of bruises the ego to be told that the person you’re talking to hasn’t been hanging on your every word. But yeah, we’ve discussed that I tend to monologue, and agreed that sometimes the best solution is for them to just say “Love you, can’t listen to any more about X right now”, and I’ve agreed to listen to that, and to not take it personally.

  88. I can be shy and sometimes when I click with someone I just want to kep talking and talking and talking to spread out the joy of clicking. Which has the effect of leeching the fun out. Someone firmly ending the conversation by leaving/doing a thing works.
    My only diagnosis is that LW seems to be married to one of my coworkers who always makes sure that someone is talking in the lunch room! 🙂

  89. LW, there are a lot of comments here with suggestions for you, and suggestions for your husband.

    I think the ones for him only work if he actually gives enough of a fuck about you to change his behaviours.

    And if he is completely ignoring your ‘I’m not interested in this’ statements, it seems like he may not care?

    Anyway, his behaviour is NOT OKAY and he is being incredibly disrespectful and selfish by ignoring what you are telling him. If I were you, I’d go to couples counselling (or counselling alone if he refuses) to address this and get support for yourself.

    Best wishes.

  90. I tend to be chatty. My whole life. It’s a struggle but I do try. And while I don’t like folks who are nasty and rude about bringing it up, I am always receptive to the comments. I don’t think folks are horrid if they say ‘oh gosh you’re going a mile a minute!’ Or ‘did you just have a lot of coffee?’ Etc. I acknowledge it also so there’s no elephant and folks don’t have to feel too nervous if I do it accidentally. I hate that I do it but I try hard to create a safe space for folks to call me out when I’m doing it. One thing I do: if there’s a room of x people, divide the time you spend, say 2hrs. If there are 10 folks you can speak at a max of 0.2 HRs. By thinking this way I can get perspective. Another thing is needlepoint when visiting, it focuses my mind and is relaxing.

  91. I am a partner of one of the Great Monologuers, and I have two coping strategies:

    1) Hand-raising, like back in elementary school. I learned long ago that if I waited for a pause to come, I’d be waiting hours. Now instead I signal warning, FIRMLY INTERRUPT and say “thats cool but I gotta go [pee/take the trash out/get back to work].” If I plan on re-entering the conversation, I make an effort to remember where we left off to demonstrate interest.

    2) Finding activities that I can do while listening. Doesn’t fix the steamrolling problem, but it did mitigate my nagging anxiety over how much time I was spending listening instead of doing literally anything else. Lotta dishes get done over pleasant conversation.

    Also, I wanna second the Captain’s point about letting it get awkward. My relationship improved dramatically once I worked up the chutzpah to say “Sweetie I love you but I need you to STAHP”

  92. I love my husband, but get irritated with the way the TV in the living room is almost always on, especially if there is lots of news and talky videos (I don’t necessarily have opposing views, just can’t stand constant political banter of any stripe). I finally made a “no political videos” rule a while ago, and made it clear I just needed it for my sanity. Now, I’d also like a “TV off entirely (including facebook and videogames on mute) from around 8pm-9pm (little kids bedtime), and he tends to say “ok” but not do it. Eh.
    Anyway, my sense from the letter your husband isn’t doing this in bad faith, necessarily, so I would recommend making it EXTRA CLEAR that you need quiet time and when you say “not interested” you mean it. I’ve noticed it’s a not-uncommon human behavior to press ahead despite expressed irritation, or even sometimes find it funny and do it extra. I’ve found that calling it out (though usually humorously in the case of someone I otherwise like) “Wait what, I just said no! Why would you do it more! WHYYYYYYYY!” kind of way tends to actually halt the behavior. Takes repeating but usually sinks in eventually. Also helps model good behavior to little kids “stop means stop” etc.

  93. I tend to monologue as well. What has helped me is learning to be more comfortable with silence and cutting big conversations into smaller chunks. Like this:

    1. I learn something interesting. I have a whole, big, all-encompassing picture in my mind I want to share.
    2. I zoom-in and take a part of that picture: a thought, an idea instead of the whole thing.
    3. I speak that thought. The three-sentence rule is great, though I usually need like, five.
    4. This is the important bit: after I’ve spoken my thought, I Shut Up. I let there be silence. I let there be time for the other person to think about what I’ve said and share a though of their own. If I get impatient, I try to sit on that feeling. If I can’t, I prompt my conversational partner (“So, what are your thoughts on that?”).
    5. The other person says something.
    6. I listen and engage with what they said. Usually this takes the conversation in far more interesting directions than what I had anticipated.
    7. If I want to share something more or think it’d add to the conversation, I repeat from step 2.

    It’s a work in progress and a conscious effort, but conversations flow way better when I’m using this method. Especially conversations with the introverted people in my life, who usually need a bit more time to see if I’m finished and to formulate their thoughts (with my extroverted friends, I usually take turns monologuing).

    TL;DR: your husband needs to learn to listen, and to learn to be OK with silence. But for him to learn that, he actually has to be interested in what you, and others, have to say.

  94. My husband is not constant with his overtalking, but he has plenty of days when I just want it to STAHP! He also goes to bed & to work much later than I do, so the monologues are usually keeping me awake or making me late. It’s really not on purpose – he has no sense of time at all.

    I tried several different ways to dance around it, and lost my temper a few times, too.

    Now I just announce, “Okay, I’m going to bed now.” Sometimes he will follow me to kiss me goodnight (still talking), and I’ll just say, “Sleep now.” And turn the light off. Then he stops.

    Or I’ll just say “Bye, Work now.” And walk out.

    He used to seem grumpy about it, but it was more because he was embarrassed. Now he takes it in stride. It doesn’t stop him doing it, but it stops me feeling trapped.

  95. I have ADHD…and I’m like the LW! Sensory overload is a real and pressing issue for me. The thing that works for my extroverted husband is for me to say “Audio processors are offline.” I’ve also been known to tell my monologuing friends that it’s time to switch stations – when I don’t mind listening to them but I really don’t need to hear anymore about the minutiae of Yasunori Mitsuda’s 8 bit oeuvre today.

    …how many of my scripts communicate me as a charmingly glitchy robot?

  96. Hum. I’m definitely a reformed monologuer, but I don’t even know how I broke out of it. You know, I strongly suspect it was being a call center representative for several years. When you’re forced to speak for 8 hours a day, you don’t want to anymore when you get home. Maybe there’s something he can do like that that doesn’t involve a career change. Join toastmasters and force yourself to give speeches on the regular? Find out if there’s a way for him to start giving classes on something he is knowedgeble about? (Adult learning? Hobbiests? Something that wouldn’t require a certificate that he probably doesn’t have). Doing the readings at church if you’re religious? Anything that would absolutely require him to speak a lot.

  97. My wife and I both have a tendency to… run on a bit, and not necessarily notice when the other one is Done. One of the things we have done is come to certain agreements about listening and talking.

    When I first wake up, she has often already been awake for some time, or is even at the end of her day (we frequently have opposite sleep schedules), and she wants to be chatty. I, however, absolutely hate mornings and do not want to have a conversation. So the agreement is, she doesn’t talk about anything she actually expects me to interact with or keep track of, unless she specifically says, “I need you to pay attention to this” in some form that is very plain. So she chatters and I nod and grunt occasionally, and she feels like she’s getting the non-physical contact with me that’s what she’s looking for after a few hours without me, and I don’t have to do any work, but can feel loved by her wanting that contact. (Usually. Some days it works better than others. But when I break down and just Can’t and say so, she’ll stop.)

    I have a tendency to rant at great length and often very angrily about all kinds of things. She gets to either ask me to stop talking about the topic to her altogether, to stop talking about it for the day, or to ask me if maybe I’m doing myself harm by dwelling so hard on this, and do I need to stop and maybe take an anxiety pill. (Again, this better some days than others. But if she says the last thing, I almost always listen.)

    Point being: We are both very conscious of being people who talk. A. Lot. So we made some very explicit agreements that specifically make it ok to tune out or to interrupt and ask the other to Not, and we stick to those as best we can.

  98. Mister Cheshire and I have *both* been guilty of this, at different points in time.

    At one of the points that it was him, I hit a sensory overload one day with it where I snapped and said an even less kind version of “do you ever shut up?!” that I will not repeat here because…it would be against the commenting rules and I’m actually really embarrassed that this ever left my mouth at all. SERIOUSLY DO NOT RECOMMEND but since that’s Not How Cheshire Talks, Like, Ever, To Anyone, it got the point across that I was in some pretty major distress about it.

    We both seemed to get bad about this when we are feeling a lack of other good people in our lives, and in particular, it would manifest with one of us going on a monologue rant about a favorite hobby/fandom/interest in that geeky “love me, love the Things I’m Into” way.

    What seemed to fix it was getting to the point that we were actually okay about having different interests that the other person really isn’t into, letting them be big meaningful parts of our lives, and being able to vent just enough to each other without monologuing the particulars. I can’t do first-person shooter games because they give me horrific vertigo; Mister Cheshire gets migraines from looking at print too long and will never be a big reader. So he will short-form squee or rant about stuff that’s happening with his gaming, and I will short-form squee or rant about what’s up in the fandom I stumbled into while he was working nights and have been super attached to every since. But most importantly, we have other outlets to get into the details. I will vent to my beta-reader team about “can you BELIEVE that awful fic that went up, what was the author THINKING?? Please stop me before I ever try to post anything like that!” and squee to them and to a fan chat group about this or that cool fandom thing. And Mister Cheshire has his gaming clan to talk about the finer points of his favorite games. It works much better than either of us annoying the other with babble.

  99. Ah, LW, I see you are married to my coworker.

    He’s a sweet guy but has no Goddamn off switch–you can blatantly turn your back on him or say bluntly I AM DONE TALKING/LISTENING and he just keeps on fucking going. We work in a phone center, and I take four calls for every one of his because of his cheerful monologuing to captive customers and it drives me NUTS.

  100. This may be considered rude by some people, but my reaction (in place of the LW), to someone I am close enough to that I am married to him, would be ‘Dude, for the love of god, will you please shut the fuck up!’. Yes I would feel guilty that he was hurt by it, but the hopefully ensuing silence would make that guilt worthwhile.

  101. I am not really a monologuer, but I do a lot of chit-chat and I have exhausted people in social situations before without noticing it when I was like “Hey, talk is dying! Quickly, bring other interesting topic and Keep Talk Alive!” and the other person was like “will they Please Shut Up” but never said anything. I didn’t learn about this until after that evening and I wish that she had said something because all I wanted was that she wouldn’t think I hated her. And all she wanted was some quiet time between conversations, probably.

    That said, I’m a big topic hopper, and BF is, too. Like, we are talking about Serious Stuff, and if we reach a limit, we’ll change to “have you seen that post lately” and when we’re ready to talk about Serious Stuff again, we’ll do that. It comes naturally for us. But for GF, this is annoying as fuck. I didn’t realize it until she interrupted me in a serious conversation and said explicitly “Hey, could you stop that thing where your are talking about more than one topic? I can’t deal with that!” Now I try to not do it.

  102. Speaking as a person on the autism spectrum who lives with another person on the autism spectrum (and has done for about twenty years now) who has very different Very Special Interests to me, I can testify it is possible for autistic people to shut up about their Very Special Interest. We both do it. We are both blunt enough to each other to point out when we are not actually interested in the other person’s Very Special Interest, and when our nodding and smiling and saying “yes dear” is purely Routine Social Thing Practice. And yes, we are bored by this, could you knock it down to the short version, pleasethankyou?

    So, these things are skills which can be learned. Even by people who aren’t neurotypical. And that’s where I’m stopping.

  103. I’m also a reforming monologuer and I’ve done some work with children who due to one thing or an other have a tendency to not give others a chance to talk. There’s also a subcategory here of people who talk at you rather than with you, see Jennie’s comment about her grandfather.

    Short term I agree 100% with Cap, shut it down and let him deal with his own emotions. I have one suggestion I’d like to make for the long term. A good way to make changes stick is to reinforce them with positive attention. Exactly like you would train for example a dog or a baby.

    So once the monologuing stops find behaviours that he does that you like and give him some extra positive attention for those. It can be as simple as a spontaneous hug when he does the dishes or a thank you when he asks permission and reads to you an article you actually like.

    If this seems like emotional labor that’s because it is but I think with your husband being so lost in ways to interact with you saving your marriage may take some work. Ideally your husband finds these ways to interact with you that you like and reward. If he doesn’t it’s your choice how much you want to invest in him finding them. If you can I think the Caps suggestion of a marriage counselor may help here if you can afford one.

    I know from personal experience it’s possible to change these tendencies and I sincerely hope you guys find a way to make your marriage work 🙂

  104. Wow, after reading these comments, I’m surprised human beings manage to talk/live happily together at all. Maybe they don’t? I’ve lived with enthusiastic, nonstop, random talkers; silent folks who made me feel weird for saying one total sentence over dinner; had a friend who monologued his every thought, feeling, and action at me; and people who thought I talked/interrupted too much and people who thought I was too quiet and shy!

  105. I had an employee like this! I was actually his commander, which means I should have had more ‘control’ over him….but alas.

    One time we left a meeting and were walking to the bathrooms. He started telling me a story about his previous (highly technical) civilian job. He was telling me things that had no relevance at all to anything (not to our mission, not to general storytelling, not getting something off his chest…I never could figure out why he ever told me anything, actually). He was telling me a story that was so incredibly specific to him and the other person in his story, that there was no way I could have followed. He kept talking as we both opened our respective doors and walked into the bathrooms. He literally kept talking until I couldn’t hear him anymore because the bathrooms were in separate buildings.

    I watched his interactions with others. He seemed so used to people ignoring him, walking away when they were done listening to him, or talking over him. He seemed to use folks walking away as his social cue to indicate that he was no longer in a ‘conversation/interaction’ with that person.

    He acted as if he seemed to think that his talking was not actually a part of the social norm of “I’m talking in order to communicate something to you” but as if it was the equivalent of having a radio turned on in the background while the rest of his group just went on with whatever they were doing. Once a group of us went to dinner. One person was quietly eating, three people were carrying on a conversation, and two other people were carrying on a separate conversation. He was just talking into the air?

    I took him aside about this. He said he knew he talked too much. That his wife said the same thing. I had him do a mindfulness exercise where I told him how to be mindful and then that we were going to sit here and he would not say any words at all for 5 minutes. I told him about noticing things (the difference in feeling the warmth of the sun on the right side of his face and the cooler sensation on the left side of his face; the difference between the weight of the bottom of his legs on the seat, compared to the light pressure of his pants on top of his legs). We got through about 1 minute and he exclaimed, “Wow, five minutes is a long time!” I agreed and told him to be quiet. He barely made it – fidgeting and looking like he would burst. I recommended he go to behavioral health. I don’t think he did.

    From then on I worked out a system with him where I would catch his eye and shake my head at him to tell him to stop, or physically walk him away from a group interaction. I don’t think the issue was ever resolved; I just helped mitigate one very small portion of this behaviors when I was around him. It was frustrating to those who reported to him or were subordinate to him as they were stuck between being disrespectful by walking or or just listening indefinitely. They worked out a system where one would come up with an urgent issue if they ever saw someone stuck talking to him.

    I would have simply removed him from his position but I was not able to for reasons.

    My mom also talks like this. In her case I’m able to say, “Mom, too many words” and she gets to the point. We’ve talked about it previously so this is now shorthand. She gets to the point in that one particular interaction. But the next time she talks, it’s the same pattern. Thankfully I don’t live close and don’t have to interact as frequently, because I’d have to work much harder at limiting my exposure (we have other issues that are illustrated by her latest revelation to me that she no longer feels guilty/feels freed from her past actions that really hurt me as a child. I was floored, like, um, that’s great that a deceased-old burden has been rolled off your heart and you feel so light now, but like, I’m still in therapy to resolve your actions so I’m maybe totally not ever the person for you to process or celebrate this with, ever? /tangent over).

    Anyway. Good luck. I think I said all this to say, if your boundaries aren’t respected through your words, sometimes all you can do is modify your behavior so that your boundaries are maintained.

  106. “When this happens in the future, where you kindly ask him to Please Not, and he gets grumpy, LET. HIM. BE. GRUMPY.”

    So. Much. This!!

    LW, it seems to me that this all boils down to: he does something that makes you upset, but you don’t want HIM to get upset so you try to humor him. In a way, the way he feels is a priority to the BOTH of you. And the way you feel is just less important and can be sacrificed to ‘keep the peace’.

    I mean, you tell him to stop and so on (that’s awesome! words well used!) but at the end of the day, there are not actual consequences for him trampling your clearly stated boundaries. There are no consequences, because when you do introduce them, he gets grumpy. Or upset, or shows some other negative reaction – and you are a lovely person and want to protect him form that.

    But in the end, that means you being upset is less important than him being upset. Because you are already upset.. and grumpy and kinda angry about this.
    His upset does not overwrite your upset and it’s not more important to keep him happy than to keep you happy. It seems that this rule of his feeling being kinda more important is this very low key unspoken thing that exists, maybe not in your relationship as a whole, but definitely when this issue is concerned.

    So my advice is: throw that out the window and let there be consequences. Leave the room or snap at him. Let him be grumpy about it! And let him deal with that on his own. And enjoy the sweet, sweet silence.

    1. Also Dear LW, I don’t know if you are like me, but if you are you may find it difficult to show anger/snap at people because if feels rude. And you pretend it’s fine and that you are not upset (like when you try to listen to him/suffer through the monologues).

      If so, I propose looking at the issue like this: your husband does not pretend everything is fine when he gets grumpy.

      You immediately know he is grumpy because he shows the anger. He does not seem to do a ‘well LW hurt my feelings… I will try to keep this inside and not make it her problem to keep the peace!’ thing in his head. He shows you it’s not fine.
      You get to do that too. You showing him you are ALSO grumpy is not being mean or rude.
      It would be a pretty unbalanced and unfair to expect that only one of you gets to show grumpiness and the other person is suppose to keep the peace.

      It’s also very, very gendered, as the keeping-the-peace person seems to almost always be the woman and gets-to-show-anger person seems to be a man.

      1. TL;DR: to me the ‘he keeps talking’ thing is almost a red herring. It could be ANY behavior. It all boils downs to a very common, imo, pattern:

        Person A does something that upsets person B. > Person B tries to put boundaries in place, but that upsets person A. > So person B keeps suffering because they don’t want person A to be upset.> this hurts the relationship and the underlying issue is that one person’s upset-ness is more of a problem than the other person upset-ness and both of them believe that and act accordingly to this belief.

        It seems to me this is a pattern that is very often seen on CA. And in relationships generally 😦
        Ok, I’m really done now. Sorry for the rant!

  107. “There is no mental health condition or neurodivergence that is treated or accommodated by the people around you being endlessly compliant and patient listeners to the detriment of their own well-being and happiness.”

    Preach. At the end of the day, people still have to take responsibility for their own actions and respect the fact that the people around them have their own needs for mental and emotional well-being.

  108. Also recovering monologuer here.

    First, I want to be really clear here, LW—you cannot fix this for him. The Captain’s boundaries and scripts are all really good, but they’re a Band-Aid, and it’s up to him to actually cure it. He has to decide for himself he wants to change, and then has to put in the work to change. It concerns me a little that he isn’t responding to the cues you’ve given him so far, or is acting like you’re the one with the problem.

    But as to what’s helped me get at least a bit better.

    1. I try to put people in ‘piles’. Not everyone is interested in the same things. If you’re really interested in a particular niche sport or hobby, the best place to go on endlessly about the details of that thing is with other people into the same thing. The internet is magical for that! You want to spread out your monologuing tendencies—don’t dump all your excited words on one person just like you shouldn’t dump all your Feels on one person.

    2. I try to aim to talk only 30% of the time in conversations. Aiming for a 30/70 split tends to actually come out to about a 50/50 split. People who like to talk invariably underestimate how much they actually do talk.

    3. Corollary to #2, I try to really engage when the other person is talking and ask genuine and engaging follow-up questions. I also try to genuinely remember the details. I think it helps other people feel more valued and listened-to when you’re hearing a story and can say, “Joanne—is that the person who had foot surgery last month?”

    4. This feels kind of tautological to say, but everyone thinks the things they’re interested in are the most interesting things. Where many of us go wrong is forgetting that just because something is the most interesting thing TO US doesn’t mean it’s objectively interesting to everyone. I try to remember that when I want to expound on something.

    5. Corollary to #4, most people have things that interest them that you wouldn’t expect, but are interesting to hear about. It’s fun to get people talking about those things, and a lot of times you’ll learn things. Letting other people monologue is both interesting, but also tends to help balance things if you know you’re going to do it sometimes too.

    PS: I do realize there is a certain irony in writing a lengthy response about trying not to monologue so badly.

  109. I can easily talk too long or forget that whatever just occurred to me / whatever I just read online is not Actually Urgent.
    I’m more than a little afraid of sitting quietly.

    My boyfriend needs a lot more quiet than I do. He needs to be able to concentrate on one thing at a time and sometimes he is just out of conversation energy.

    We use a traffic light system. If he tells me “orange” I need to be quiet and only say things that are related to the current situation and in short sentences.
    “Red” means no talking at all unless there’s an actual literal emergency.

    This might help the LW if the problem is the husband not understanding that “I’m not interested” means “stop talking”. Unfortunately, it won’t help at all if the problem is that the husband doesn’t care whether or not the LW consents to listening to what he wants to say.

  110. I think all people like this only talk AT people and don’t listen to “Dude, stop or else” at all and are then mystified when the other person ups and leaves. I have known several people like this, and it never went very well. Only one was a relationship. I don’t know if you will find this helpful, Letter Writer, but here are the different approaches I tried with each situation:

    My grandfather would constantly talk over movies, people, etc., and my family all learned that the only way to cope was to just barricade yourself in your room with a book when he was around. He would talk MORE and WORSE if you told him to knock it off, that you didn’t want to hear, etc., so the solution we all individually discovered was to just not give him the chance. LW, you’ve already done this, and I’m guessing this isn’t the approach you want to maintain for your *marriage*, so you can tell him “Okay, I’m going into the other room for quiet time for the next two hours [or whatever]” and see how that goes.

    I had an online “friend” some years ago who would ramble about innocuous subjects constantly, and he was aware that it was an issue, but he felt that he needed to fill in gaps in the conversation (ignoring my point that companionable silence is a perfectly okay thing) and that him working on fixing that would be “going along to get along,” which I understood to mean he didn’t care that he was annoying people enough to change. I finally blocked him, and I had to block him twice more because he messaged me from two different accounts demanding to know what he did that was “sooooo offensive” that I had to disappear “for no reason” even though we’d already discussed it. I am afraid that if your husband is like this guy, there’s no fixing him. The guy in my situation simply didn’t care enough to fix an issue that had been clearly and repeatedly addressed, which, aside from annoying, also told me exactly how much he cared about others’ feelings. If your husband is like that, it will take a lot of counseling to fix.

    I really don’t believe this issue is only about him talking at you. I am quite sure it runs deeper.

    That brings me to my last example; my ex was a TERRIBLE listener, probably the worst I’ve ever encountered. The underlying issue was that he wasn’t making room for me in his life. I would be talking to him from the couch five feet away, and he wouldn’t register my presence or what I was saying at all, and after trying to get his attention a few times without results, I started dropping random nonsensical sentences into the conversation to snap him out of it. Of course when he finally noticed each time I did that, he got mad and told me I needed to call him on it immediately and directly, and when I pointed out I’d already done that and he hadn’t noticed, he got butthurt. I decided on a new approach from a book; just saying “If you continue to do X behavior after I’ve told you to stop, I’m leaving the room.” There was an infamous incident when I was jobhunting, and he kept telling me I should apply to this one company that I really hated. I told him repeatedly that I did NOT want to work there because I despised their policies, how they treated their employees, etc., and he would NOT. DROP. IT. Finally, I said “Okay, I’ve said X times that I am not ever working there and exactly why, and I’m done discussing it. If you keep talking about it, I’m leaving.” He talked right over me and kept talking about why I needed to work for this company, so I grabbed my purse, walked out, and got in the car. My keys were in the ignition when he tapped on the glass wondering why I had left. I told him “Well, I told you repeatedly that I’m not going to work for that company and why, you wouldn’t drop it, I said I was leaving if you kept talking about it, you did, so I did.” He did drop it, but I REALLY wish I had not gone back inside, because that seemed to make it okay when it wasn’t. If I’d truly followed through, it MAY have sunk in, but probably it would have just given him something else to spin into a story where I was an awful person he was just trying to help. That was the one I remember most, but there were a LOT of other incidents where I ended up basically yelling at him to get him to listen (or to get him to stop deliberately annoying me because he thought it was funny, which was a separate issue but amounted to the same thing because it resulted in me having to yell at him to make him stop), and most of the time he just didn’t listen anyway or sulked and called me wrong. I dragged him to a counselor who told him exactly what I had; that he had to listen and work on problems. Not surprisingly, when we broke up and I idiotically wanted to try to work things out and suggested a counselor, he claimed he didn’t think counseling would work.

    Anyway, I think the approach of “Please stop” followed by “If you don’t stop, I’m leaving the room” and then doing so will probably work, if not in the way you intended. My ex and I broke up because he wouldn’t stop with his annoying habits.

    The TV show Red Green had a SPECTACULAR bit of advice once:

    “Every week more and more guys are “coming out” of the tool room and admitting it. Admitting we have nothing to say, to anyone, about anything. I know that feeling. And your wife probably understands. You’ve said it all before. You’re still with her. You have nothing to add. And this is all right. Unfortunately some guys who have nothing to say still keep talking. Like, if you find yourself ranting about the way people are parking cars on your street, well, you have nothing to say. Stop talking. If you find yourself going on and on about why Jeopardy is way better than Wheel of Fortune, or about how hard it is to open those new orange juice containers, or the high price of hammers, you have nothing to say. If you notice you’re telling everyone a hilarious story that you read in Reader’s Digest—stop talking. People aren’t listening to you. The person you’re talking to has glazed over and is just nodding their head, while they make up a grocery list or plan their winter vacation, or vow never to get as old and boring as you. So don’t just keep talking until you think of something worth saying. You may not.”

    It’s hard to catch yourself sometimes, but I have learned over the years to stop talking when I realize I don’t have a willing audience. Would that everyone listened to Red Green.

    1. Oh man, your Grandpa and ex sound so much like my infuriating family member. The tv/movie thing was always so annoying growing up (and at that time, there was only the one TV….if you would tell him to stop talking throughout the movie b/c it made it less enjoyable for others, he would just be an angry jerk about it AND keep on doing it).

      Also, how exhausting to have someone where you are literally saying “I’VE GIVEN YOU MY REASONS, STOP TELLING ME I’M WRONG OR I’M LEAVING” and then to STILL have then keep talking at you. Dear God. I think the fundamental issue is that the people who keep going even at this level just.don’t.care.

  111. I’m autistic, so obviously YMMV, but what ended up helping me avoid info-dumping was having people (primarily family members) straight up interrupt me. My mom, to this day, will actually tell me, “Bearpelt, I stopped caring.” (Which is exactly the level of bluntness I find helpful, not hurtful, so it works!)

    HOWEVER, the most important part here is that this was an undertaking I had to decide to do. And it was something I requested assistance for from my friends and family. They helped me pay better attention to my own behaviors as I was talking, which then helped me figure out how to gracefully drop a topic. But this was a request I made to them; it was a favor they were doing me. It’s still specifically on my shoulders to do the work.

    I hate to say it, but if Husband doesn’t DECIDE to do the work of improving his conversational patterns, then I don’t think there’s a ton that can be done about it by other people. He has to give a shit and decide to do better and you can’t force someone to do that.

    I’m actually very in favor of the Capt’s suggestion that he has to deal with the LW’s anger and frustration. That interrupts the pattern that’s been established where he just gets to ramble forever without having to really deal with the fallout. Social interactions are about people trying to communicate in ways they want to communicate and, so far, only the ways he wants to communicate are being met, so he needs to become a better conversational partner if he wants to keep having any conversations at all.

  112. I am a talker albeit not one who would continue if i am asked not to talk, but I do have a hard time picking up non verbal communication sometimes. I picked up an annoying habit from my mom I read road side signs I don’t even always realize I am doing it and oddly enough I hated when she did this but some how the habit caught and my Husband is just like staapppp. I just don’t like complete silence, it was always used as a punishment when I was a child by both parents so I have a hard time with it as such I like some sort of background noise. I like some noise almost all the time but my husband needs quite the only time I don’t need noise is when i read When my family and friends need me to be quiet I’ll try to read a book or some article online. I literally tune everything out when i read. I am so good at it while reading I can have an entire conversation with people and not remember it if I am reading (its a rule they must stop me and make sure they have my full attention) I think possibly acknowledging and redirecting is helpful, same with asking him to use ear phones.
    I cannot imagine continuing to talk after I have been asked not to, and agree you should call it out when it happens. Do make sure you stop him dead from doing what he is doing when you do call him out so you can make sure he is listening and ensure a reply to why he is not stopping when asked

  113. Not the same, but similar with my husband in that he wants to talk, talk, talk at night (he’s a night owl) and sometimes I am literally falling asleep (I’m a morning person). He is also a verbal processor and I am very much not, I process internally and when I want to talk I want to just hash out final details, I’m ready to make a decision. Also, I’m an HSP (highly sensitive person) and an introvert, so sometimes I am OVERWHELMED and literally am getting a migraine from too much noise/light/cold/hunger/socializing/everything all day, so yeah, I’m not being rude when I need to just have some QUIET. We had to have a lot of talks about this in throughout our marriage, a lot of them awkward, but the end result is that regarding talking at night: he does it less, he usually catches himself when he does do it and apologizes, if he doesn’t catch himself and I say something he is understanding and apologizes, when he really has something important on his mind I understand and if I can will accommodate by waking myself up and talking it through with him. Some other things that helped is directing him to others who were better conversation partners for a particular topic. Also, understanding that he was a verbal processor helped my frustration level as I thought he was ready to decide something, but actually he just needed to talk it out for what seemed like a long time to me before making a decision. I’ve also learned to verbalize my decision thought process for him sometimes so he can see how I got from A to Z since I normally don’t talk about it much if at all. He also can channel his talking into posting on forums, or texting a friend or one of my brothers, etc.

    So yeah, some awkward talking about what we both needed and also slowly figuring out over time how each of us work (this is a process that never completely stops too as I still figure out things about myself all the time). But it is NOT unreasonable for you to be done with way less than this level of being talked to/at. I give a strong second to more time between husband and toddler, sounds like they would be perfect for wearing each other out or at least giving you a quiet-time break. And don’t be afraid to take that break outside of the house. That’s another thing my husband and I figured out is he doesn’t really like running errands, especially after he is home from work for the evening, but I love doing them as it is a great time-to-myself break. So I do all the “oops, we need milk” or “I could really go for a donut” or “Crap, we need a new light bulb” errands as I relish the break it gives me and he dislikes doing them. It can seem unfair from the outside, but its perfect for us.

    Good luck LW!

    1. As a verbal processor dating a quiet introvert, I’ve found asking whether he’s up for being a sounding board and talking to the cat or the houseplants in another room works wonders for keeping the peace.

      He’s the night owl though, so he is often slightly cranky to wake up to hearing me in the kitchen going “coffee, coffee,coffee, making the coffee. Scrambled eggs…let’s see…I want this, and this, turn the stove to low and add butter…Toast! Don’t forget toast!” to myself. Closing doors does wonders to solve this problem.

  114. Hello friends! I have been away from the computer for a bit, but the Comments Kraken has been released from moderation. Carry on.

  115. To the LW’s husband, I’d like to suggest adding a “time filter” to stuff. This does two things: one, it allows you to naturally remember the stuff that interests you enough to be worth retelling. You won’t be able to recall the entire article, but the things that stick to your brain will still be there. Second, it gives you time to develop personal thoughts about the subject instead of whatever your knee jerk reaction was. People who love you and want to share time with you would rather hear you sum something up and share your insights over dinner than listen to you read something out loud while they’re busy. No one likes multitasking!

    My sister is a bit like the LW’s husband. Or, she was. She still has some bad habits but she’s improved a lot. She has the need to share everything that amuses her *as it happens to her,* and she used to shove her giant phone in our faces whenever she saw a cute puppy video or something. It didn’t matter what you were doing. Reading a book, chopping vegetables, driving a car…

    I finally had to just lose it on her to make her stop. It’s annoying to be interrupted and very disconcerting to have a bright screen shoved too close to your face. I told her she was hurting my eyes and 9/10 times I had seen that same puppy video or Trump tweet already, so can we just not? At that point our *entire relationship* was her interrupting me to make me look at her phone. I always reacted with annoyance and she still did it.

    Turns out she had a deeper issue with Facebook addiction and she ended up deleting her Facebook. We share quality interactions more often. She doesn’t have interruptitis anymore. I think the major thing is that the things that are still highly amusing and worth sharing get filtered out by time. If it’s that great, she’ll remember to send it to me later or mention it the next time she sees me. She’s more conversational these days, as opposed to staring at her phone and then having a sudden burst of “You MUST see this!” without warning. She’s actually pleasant to be around. It’s amazing.

  116. My sister and I learned monologuing from our mother. I only tended to do it when I get ragey. I have learned to breathe and to talk about whatever is bothering me for the least amount of time possible to let it go. I used to rant for hours and multiple times to multiple people to get it all out. But someone I love pointed out that these people/things/situations I am upset about just are not worth that much of my time complaining about it. And they’re right – I wasted hours (likely days!) venting about things that didn’t really matter AND I didn’t even feel better after ranting!

    My sister seems to be turning more into my mom – nonstop talking about anything and everything. Usually problems though, usually with a lot of negativity. It’s exhausting. Especially since I have been experiencing significant stress from big problems lately (I own my own business, I owe thousands in taxes, etc) so it just puts in perspective how petty her complaints are (like “so-and-so didn’t shut off the machine after using it”), which makes it even harder to listen.

    The other problem is that my sister is savvy enough (actually due to CA) that any time I try to address this or other things, she always turns it around on me like a ninja. So I literally cannot say anything or I will be worn down by argument and her emotional manipulation and then she keeps on doing the behavior anyway.

    My solution is that I play video games whenever I talk to her so I only have to half-listen. She rants and raves while I minimally interact because whatever I say aside from “uh huh” is wrong. Downside is that I can’t really remember details and I sometimes (honestly, rarely) miss something important because I’m not really paying attention. Sometimes I feel guilty, but we are where she put us.

    1. Sometimes I feel guilty, but we are where she put us.

      Sometimes I feel guilty, but we are where she put us…. Sometimes I feel guilty, but we are where she put us….. Sometimes I feel guilty, but we are where she put us….. I feel like What About Bob when he learns “baby steps.” My mind is blown by this phrase. I don’t know if you coined it or if someone else did, but I had to write it in my journal so I don’t forget it!! 🙂

    2. Re: “The other problem is that my sister is savvy enough (actually due to CA) that any time I try to address this or other things, she always turns it around on me like a ninja. So I literally cannot say anything or I will be worn down by argument and her emotional manipulation and then she keeps on doing the behavior anyway.”

      Reasons are for reasonable people. Addressing things in a calm, explanatory, conversational way is for reasonable people. If someone is not a reasonable person–if they are in fact a manipulative person who would rather use any tool at their disposal to wear you down than put even a moment’s effort into making you comfortable in your relationship with them–then there is no amount of addressing things or talking things out with her that will work.

      That is when you cut your losses and stop explaining things. You say “Hey sis, X is going on and I need it to stop.” When she argues, no matter what she says or how reasonable it sounds, you say “I hear you, but I still need X to stop.” When she continues to argue, you say, “This really isn’t up for discussion. I need X to stop, or I’ll have to leave.” When she still doesn’t stop X, you leave (go to the bathroom, go for a walk, go talk to someone else, go for coffee, whatever). Repeat the process every time she starts to X. Eventually either she will get sick of it and stop doing X, or you will get sick of it and decide that you have better things to do with your time than make plans with someone who disregards your needs so consistently.

      (Worth noting: if you are a more conflict-tolerant person than I am, you can absolutely cut out a couple of these–you can leave after the first one, if you want! You don’t have to be polite to people who are disrespecting you. This is just how I would probably do it, which is admittedly too many chances; if they ignore you the first and second times, odds are they won’t listen the third time either.)

  117. I’ve also thought of a visual indicator – put up something red when I don’t want to talk for a little bit. Small traffic cone or somethign.

  118. Oh my goodness is this describes my ex almost perfectly!

    OP, I wish I had advice for you, other than “don’t silently let your fury build up until you are vibrating with rage and then break up with him simply so he’ll stop talking AT you.” Firmly enforced, loudly and oft-repeated boundaries would have gone a long way for me, I think.

  119. My husband likes to tell me stories about football players/news articles/film plots/etc. Problem is, he tends to go on and on and on, with a lot of pauses and laughs and ums and ahs for effect, often with tangents—all of which leads to me getting visibly impatient, which leads to him feeling hurt that I’m “not interested”. I finally explained that I AM interested, but my interest quickly wanes when he’s taking 5 minutes to describe something that should realistically take 30 seconds. I’ve started saying “give me the three sentence version,” which has really helped in terms of him getting to the point and me being able to listen without internally screaming “GET TO THE EFFING POINT!!”

    1. I’ve also found that pointing out the thing that is losing my attention is very helpful. Like say Sportsball Player started an pro-choice charity, and he’s telling me this because a) it’s kind of unexpected and b) he knows it’s something I’m passionate about. He might start down a path of telling me every detail of Sportsball Player’s career, to try to give me context for why HE thinks Sportsball Player is so great already… but that shit loses my interest fast, particularly when I don’t know why you’re telling me all of this. So I say “Hey we’re getting really into Sportsball Player’s career stats here, you’re starting to lose me.”

      He gets a little grumpy about it sometimes, other times it rolls right off and he goes “Oh yeah, sorry about that” and moves on to the real point, which, usually is of SOME interest to me.

    2. I call those Grandfather’s Rams. See Mark Twain.

      I have a very dear friend who has been in a rehab center or home-bound for injuries, and he’ll call me and start off on this happened and the physical therapist that and one thing led to another until another tangent looped around until he cut himself and then how he discovered he’s out of bandages and why and what he could use instead except something else.
      “Uh, are you asking me to pick you up a box of bandages?”

      Mind you, I’d cut off my arm before I’d hurt his feelings, so I grit my teeth or tune out until we meander over to the subject matter. I know a lot of it is loneliness because his wife (my best friend) passed away 3 years ago and since his injury, his dogs have been staying with a friend, but yikes, I don’t have the spoons I used to to be able to listen to babbling streams of consciousness.

  120. I unfortunately hear myself in the dude here. I tend to respond to, “I’m not interested in watching this online sketch,” with “BUT WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE IT YOU’LL REGRET EVER HAVING SAID YOU DIDN’T WANT TO.” When my husband says, “No REALLY, I’m glad it’s funny for you, but it’s not funny for me,”…..I don’t even know what I’m aiming for here but huge breather, he’s boundary-setting and I need to get a Twitter I guess.

  121. As a person in the restaurant business, being cornered by someone while you’re obviously busy trying to do your job can be gracefully handled with politely announcing that you’re leaving for Reason while physically turning away and doing so, without any sort of “okay” from the chatterbox in question. e.g., “Okay! Thanks! I’ll go put that order in!” + turning and walking away when they start the Manologue.

    The key is in treating it like it’s a decision you’ve already made without their input. You’re not asking for permission. They’re hijacking your time and attention at this point.

    1. That’s a bit like how I respond to telemarketers. Of course it’s much easier because you have a phone you can hang up, but I have met people who seem to find it hard to hang up until the other person has acknowledged or accepted their ‘bye’. Those people get trapped!

      Don’t do that. I say politely that I’m not interested, very cheerfully say ‘no thank you’, and then immediately hang up the phone. ‘No thank you’ or ‘bye’ aren’t asking permission to hang up. They’re just informing the person, in a pleasant friendly way, that you are leaving now. And then do it.

  122. I used to tell people about things/talk a lot. Desperate to be heard and acknowledged. Frustrated friend eventually said to me: ” Why don’t you keep a diary?” I did. Helped heaps. I could go on and on as long as I wanted. Tell the diary everything. And it turns out, I am actually an introvert/spend energy talking (rather than receive energy from relating to people/extroversion) so I started to feel better and more in control of things, and had more energy to self regulate. Friend African violeted me anyway… but have always appreciated the suggestion.

  123. I have a friend at work who I don’t see often, but she talks *at* people. I got stuck in line behind her and it was exhausting. From now on, I’m going to say, “C–, I’m reclaiming my ear,” and then either be on my phone, or move to the back of the line. Sorry, love you as a person, but can’t talk, and also can’t listen anymore. I’m reclaiming my ear. Like Maxine Waters, introvert version.

  124. My ex used to do this. I mean, I do it too, and so does my girlfriend. What worked for us was to actually speak up and say, “Ok, I’ve heard about this for x minutes now and I’m zoning out, can we talk about something else/have some quiet time?” Girlfriend’s kiddo does this too, and I’ve started telling her, “Hey, you’ve talked nonstop for 10 minutes and I need some quiet time, give me 5 minutes of quiet and then I’ll listen to you about whatever you want to talk about.” Enthusiasm is good! Running right over someone’s objections isn’t.

    (To be fair, this is after months of trying to work this out, including several times of me leaving the room and *being followed* by the talker on occasion. But everyone in the house soothes their own hurt feelings about it; it does hurt to be told to stop when you’re super excited! But it also hurts to not be in the mood for chatter and have someone keep going anyway, and nobody wants to make anyone else feel like they’re not important or cared about.)

  125. LW, I heartily second the Captain’s advice to take this to a good couples counselor.

    I’ve known more than a few people like this. My mother gives lengthy monologues in excrutiating detail about what she ate for breakfast, what she chose to wear that day, etc. She’s retired and lives alone, otherwise she would have work to talk about. When it gets to her telling me about things in the news, politics, or the latest diet info she heard about, I’ll occasionally go into my own contrarian rant in opposition of whatever it is, and she’ll drop the subject or try to change it. Kind of a success, sometimes.

    I’ve noticed that it’s different with men, probably due to the way men and women are socialized. The overly talkative men often act like that whatever they have to say must be heard and appreciated without question and without interruption, while whatever anyone else has to say (especially if they are female) is not worth hearing about.

    My father would get mean about being interrupted or corrected. As a kid, I learned to just let him talk and say nothing, but I got tired of watching him bully my mother, then his girlfriends, then my stepmother, as well as other family members, and I finally cut off contact with him.

    I had an ex who also would not let me sleep so he could talk, even when I had work early in the morning. I once fell asleep while he was talking, and the next day he swore I was awake and was involved in the “conversation”. I have been known to talk in my sleep, so I asked him to tell me what I said. He couldn’t. He’d also talk at me during waking hours, and if I said I wasn’t interested, he insisted that what he was saying was for my benefit and that I should gladly listen to him. Only remedy was to break up with him and go no contact so he had no more opportunities to monologue at me.

    Also had a boss with the same habits and mentality. He would sometimes ask us for our opinions, only to shoot them down. He and his few favorites were always to have the best ideas, and the purpose of meetings was to show off how brilliant he was. Only thing that seemed to work was to say nothing, not state an opinion when asked (e.g., say “what Favorite Person said sounds good” instead of my real opinion), and surreptitiously do my grocery list or surf the internet until meetings were over. Oh, and get out of that place ASAP, of course.

    So based on my experiences and observations, men who talk a lot and don’t listen also act like they are entitled to be heard at all times. I really hope that is not the case with LW’s husband, because this is so damaging to all kinds of relationships. So yeah… really strong second on counseling for the benenfit of LW, LW’s husband, and their marriage.

    1. I’ve been seeing the gendered version of this play out with male friends and colleagues and their adult daughters.

      For some reason a lot of men who can otherwise handle being told by a woman (like me, for example) to put a cork in it, are nonetheless entrenched with the notion that a daughter is a Female Audience For Life, Unconditionally.

      So the very same friends and colleagues who tell me just not to talk to my own father because of this dynamic along with being an appalling bigot, will also often express as an aside later on that they are worried that their daughter might think of them in the same way I think of my father, and they don’t want that to happen.

      So I tell them the key is simply not running their mouths. I tell them that I guarantee that there are things they say to their daughters that they think are fine that their daughters think are horrible, or at best aggravating, and the thing to do is to find out what those are and to stop saying them.

      Where it gets weird is that they are highly resistant to this. Instead they start coming up with reasons why they should get to say whatever they want and their daughter(s) should just find them wonderful anyway.

      And I say, yup, that is exactly that attitude that has me not speaking to mine. Good luck with that.

  126. My girlfriend and I have this problem. She monologues because she needs to distract herself from stuff (pain, anxiety, PTSD, etc.), but words happening too fast at me is a PTSD trigger for me, so we had to approach this situation as one of competing access needs.

    The solution we’ve happened on is that we haven’t spoken aloud to each other in over 2 years and communicate only in text, but we have dedicated time everyday where we talk in text for a couple hours. Text is easier because I can talk back, and it’s harder to talk over me because I can type while she’s talking. I do still get overwhelmed if there’s a lot of text at once but I’m working on not reading it if there are too many words, and it’s easier to switch away from text (I have notifications off.)

    It’s working really great for us and we’re pretty happy together. I don’t think we’d still be together if we were still trying to speak out loud to each other, but with this solution we both feel like we could be happy together forever if nothing changed.

    I don’t know if it will work for you or not. I think the fact that we’re both neurodivergent is part of why it works for us.

  127. “If you lose your temper a little or express how actually angry and frustrated you are, that doesn’t make you the asshole.” Oh my god, I need to print this out and frame it. My husband acts like he is the only one who is allowed to be angry, annoyed, fed up, etc etc. If I ever show any of that, then I’m a huge jerk.

  128. I monologue really badly sometimes, especially in bed when I’ve had a big day, so this post was a little painful. My GF will let me ramble for a little while as long as it isn’t actually making her want to kill me, and then politely ask “was that your nightly bibble-babble?” She’s very good at going “OK, we need to sleep now, are you done?” and that helps a lot, but you have to be willing to say yes and shut up (and I am). When she’s doing an introvert-activity and I get the urge to turn around and tell her something, I actively ask myself how long it’s been since the last time, and try to give her some more time. I try my other avenues of stimulation first if possible. (I am also a serial reader-of-things-out-loud. Trying to make it go both ways and Read The Room effectively so I know when to shut up.)

    Also, OP’s husband REALLY needs a blog or a group chat where he can post Funny Internet Stuff and receive reactions to it, because that’s honestly all he’s looking for. It’s no excuse for him to trample his partner’s boundaries until she just desperately wants him to BE QUIET for ONE MINUTE, but I think it’s a large component of why he feels so desperate to share. Get a Tumblr, get a screenshotting app (Apple comes with one, Windows users should grab ShareX or something) and post your favorite comments for the world to see. Get likes, receive dopamine, be nice to your wife.

    1. Ooooo, blog & group chat sound like great ideas! Maybe some of the talkative would do well with making YouTube videos? Hmmm, now that I think about it, that seems to describe the sole purpose of a number of YouTube channels….

  129. I feel your pain, LW. My mother is like this. She could talk for 10 hours straight and say nothing of any interest or value, and when someone is talking to her, you can actually see her moving her mouth as she gets ready to start talking. She’s not actually listening, she’s just waiting for the chance to take over and start yattering incessantly. Someone else said above that these people don’t talk TO someone, they talk AT them, and that is 100% accurate.

    It’s really frustrating because I’ve got to the point where I mostly tune her out now, and as a result I sometimes don’t hear when she asks a question or says something that actually needs a response, so of course then I get screamed at for ignoring her (she has a lot of behavioural issues and abusive tendancies, many worse than the non-stop talking, but those would fill up a thread on their own so I won’t go into them here). During her monologues she will also often half-turn to someone (usually me) and throw in a “doesn’t it” or “wasn’t it?” as if expecting others to agree with her, and she’ll get angry when no response is forthcoming. (she’ll claim she’s trying to ‘include me in the conversation’, even though I’ve told her numerous times that adding the odd “doesn’t/wasn’t it” to a non-stop monologue isn’t actually inclusion, and if it is, I’d rather not be included)

    People often say “Use your words” to communicate with people and get them to stop doing something that is upsetting/annoying/hurting you. I can explicitly say, “I need to concentrate on XYZ, I can’t have a conversation right now” and she will keep talking at me anyway. I can say it over and over, and I can stop responding to her and turn away from her and she’ll keep talking. I can do everything but put up a billboard next to my desk saying “STOP TALKING!” and she will KEEP. TALKING. to the point where I lose my temper and yell at her. It’s probably exacerbated by the fact I’m not a naturally talkative person and can happily sit in comfortable silence with someone. She often tells me I’m rude but I’ve started saying to her, “I asked you to stop doing something and you went out of your way to keep doing it even more. *I’M* not the one who’s rude in this scenario.”

    Unfortunately there’s not much helpful advice I can offer as in my experience, non-stop talkers (I know a few other than my mother, but she’s by far the worst) will either just ignore your requests for silence and keep talking, or they will hear them and get offended and play the victim… And then keep talking. Or, they’ll sulk and refuse to talk to you at all for several days (which I was quite happy with in my case, but can be stressful/upsetting to some).

  130. There was a commenter on a previous post who made the excellent point that if you were raised in a family dynamic where talking = power and you were low in the dominance rankings and not allowed to talk, you can find yourself in a bizarre RELEASE THE WORD KRAAKEN state that surprises even you when you have a willing listener.

    I’ve been there.

    A while back I was talking to someone who has this pattern of chasing after her husband who throws emo fits and then withdraws and sulks a lot, and he in his turn chases after his mother who throws emo fits and then withdraws and sulks a lot. She was insisting she was making sure to teach her children not to do this.

    I was trying to get her to understand that what she is teaching her children was very different from what she thought she was teaching them.

    What the kids are learning was that the people most loved and valued get coddled and supplicated when they throw dramatic emotional fits and chased after with love and more supplication when they then go off and sulk. They’re learning that this is what love looks like. This is how you know you are valued — you get to throw fits and sulk and the person who truly loves you will chase after you with infinite love and care and pleading and coddles.

    Sure, the kids are learning they’re not allowed to do that, but they’re not learning that it’s bad, just that they aren’t valued enough in their current family dynamics to receive this gold standard of “love”. Guess what they’re going to go looking for when they’re old enough for romantic relationships?

    There’s family dynamics in a lot of the logorrhea as well — kids saw growing up that those most “loved” or at least most dominant got to be listened to no matter how stupid and repetitive and voluminous the word vomit. So guess what they try to extract from those who love them?

    I mostly don’t do the word vomit thing, but do have to check myself once in a while when the right switch from my upbringing gets triggered. I make sure I do, because one thing I refuse to stand for in personal relationships is people who don’t listen to what I tell them. But the flip side of that is you have to tell them whatever it is clearly, and, importantly, not bury it in a pile of drivel.

    I remember visiting my eldest sister and her family one time, and I got really annoyed that her husband was obviously tuning her out a lot when she spoke to him, which I absolutely loathe. Then I witnessed what happened when he came home from work — hours of nonstop drivel from her. He listened patiently and with attention for 20 minutes, then got on with things that needed doing. She followed him around and kept on with the word vomit, but also kept doing the thing of getting further and further from him while she got things done and expected him still to follow her and listen or something. Worst of all, things that actually needed to be communicated were buried in the drivel with NOTHING to mark them out — no change of tone, no attempt to make it clear she was saying something that mattered amidst all the “and then I noticed that the carpet in the commercial was more beige than tan” or something equally useless and torturous.

    Maybe we should hire her out for interrogations. Vogon poetry has got nothing on her in drivel mode. In the space of an hour I went from annoyed at him and thinking there was good reason for her to dump him to plotting to assist him should he decide to divorce her.

    Anyhow, if the person is deeply programmed that this is all wrapped up with love and dominance and how you know you matter, there is no stopping it unless they choose to fix themselves. I don’t have “sister time” with her anymore, because to her, “sister time” means I am supposed to sit silently with an expression of delight on my face while she lectures me in an authoritative tone about some topic about which she knows nothing, but wants to ‘splain at me anyway as a dominance thing, which means she comes up with ~10 utterly useless and content-free talking points and then repeats them in a list over and over.

    If the person chooses not to get whatever help they need to process their upbringing and move on to a healthier notion of love and being loved, it’s on them, not anyone else.

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