Ask Wendy

How Do I Stop My Husband From Interrupting?

Friday, June 29, 2018
upset couple at kitchen table
Hey Wendy,

I’ve been married for a long time, and I’m struggling with a problem and would like your advice on how to talk to my husband about it.

There are times in my day when I’m focused on doing something like looking at my online calendar and preparing for the day; or getting ready to go out by doing my hair; or when I have my head deep in a project. What happens is my husband pops in and asks me important questions that would need my consideration, focus, dialogue, and decisions. He does this at times when I can't hear him or remember what he said. It’s distracting, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings or cause him to feel like I’m putting him off or making him wrong. What should I do?

Heather F. – Reno, NV

Hey Heather,

It’s maddening, right? When a partner breaks our focus or blocks the flow of our transition between tasks it’s like getting pulled into another world – their world. They don’t mean to do it on purpose; they just don’t notice they’re doing it. You sound like a nice person who picked a good person who means well, so I appreciate your sensitivity around this subject.

A crystal-clear example of someone alerting their partner to their need for space and quiet time comes from our old friend, Carrie Bradshaw. Go ahead, take the two minutes to watch the genius of Carrie setting a boundary with Aidan with clarity and a ton of love.


It’s not exactly the same as your situation but it’s close – it lives in the same family – and the spirit is exactly the same.

You don’t need to be this bold, Heather. You could be a lot gentler and say, “Hey. Giving you my attention is important to me because I value what you say, and often the questions you have for me are important and need my full attention. {pause} Sometimes you ask me things when I can’t give you my full attention, like when I’m in the middle of sorting out my morning on the Google calendar – I just can’t hear you. Can we make a deal? Can I just raise my index finger high in the air (demo it) indicating a pause and tell you the number of minutes it will take before I can turn my attention fully over to you?”

If he says, “Sure!” ask him, “Is there anything else I need to put around those words so ‘5 minutes’ doesn’t feel too abrupt or rude to you?”

He might need a please or thank you or something like that. Or he might not because chances are, he understands exactly what you’re talking about. This is something you do too — we all do this to our beloved from time to time.

Speaking of which, let him know this new life-hack goes both ways. Even though it looks like all he’s doing is reading Lord of the Rings (again) on his Kindle, consider him “busy.”

Now you might be wondering when is the best time to have this conversation? You could have it almost anytime – like over lunch. Or on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Probably not right before or after sex. Definitely not when he’s clearly focused on something else… My personal favorite time to have conversations like this is smack in the middle of a full moon ritual.

What’s a full moon ritual? you ask.

It’s the monthly meeting where you both get on the same page about your partnership. Because have you noticed there’s never a good time to talk about uncomfortable things (like this!)? And often we don’t have the opportunity to ask for things we need at a time where everyone is focused, listening, and serious about what’s being said.

You can do a monthly full moon ritual with your partner any time of the month. I happen to do it with mine right around the full moon. And it has a handy side benefit; it eradicates the word “nag” from households that use it. Many women worry about feeling like a nag, and I think that naggy cycle happens because we ask for things when we don’t have their focus. This meeting fixes that.

So once a month you simply ask each other a set of 15 questions. The questions never change.

Example: #4 “Is there anything you’re not speaking up about to maintain the current situation?”

Your predicament would slide in nicely there, yes?

If you’d like the context on how to set one up and get all 15 questions, you can fetch them for free here.

Good luck!

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