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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and have lived in and around Palo Alto since 1969. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background i...  (More)

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Why does She Keep Interrupting Me?

Uploaded: May 6, 2014
Interruption, or Bid for Connection?

Are you busy, working away, or engrossed in some project and your wife tends to come in and "interrupt" you with a detail that seems unimportant to you? She's probably actually trying to connect with you.

Remember that we are wired for connection (I know, I keep saying this). Connection is being seen, heard, and cared for.

It's so easy to get wound up in what we're doing that we might not have connected with our beloved when we came home. Maybe the kids were hungry or needed attention; maybe the dog needed a walk; maybe there are just one or two things left from work and we're just going to go finish that before we engage with her. Maybe we just need a minute to breathe and get home before everyone descends on us.

Experiment with greetings and partings – eye contact, a hug and kiss, a few kind words. See if that changes the pattern of "interruptions."

Next, on to the moments of "interruption." There are two goals here: One is about learning to be explicit, and two is learning to say, Yes, No, or Later.

1) Being Explicit

If you are the one coming to your partner, experiment with being explicit and saying, "This is a bid for connection." If you are the one being tapped, and she doesn't say what the "interruption" is, experiment with asking, "Is this a bid for connection?"

As the engrossed one, you can say, "Okay, let's connect," or "Give me ten minutes and I'll come find you and we can connect," or "Let me give you a quick hug and I'll come find you in an hour." If you postpone, YOU must be the one to come later (on schedule most of the time) and connect.

2) Yes, No, or Later

It can be difficult to say or be told "No" or "Later" so we need to practice saying and hearing it. I can guarantee though, that most people would rather have your genuine answer with follow-up than a brush off.

Rather than get annoyed with interruptions, try taking the stance that these are bids for connection, and that the issue or question she has may not be the underlying request.

While this might seem to take more time up front, it will save time in the long run. You both need to put effort into your relationship, even at potentially inconvenient times. And, both of you need to have integrity about it.

Let me know how these experiments go.

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