Dear Ann Cannon • I love my in-laws, and we ordinarily have a good relationship. The COVID-19 virus has thrown us for a loop. They want to come over, they don’t seem to understand social distancing, and thus make us frantic. How can we talk to them about this without ruining our relationship or hurting their feelings?
— Not Sure What to Do
Dear Not Sure • Gah! This is a tricky one. As hard as it is, I do think you need to be kindly frank with your in-laws — tell them that you love them and that because you do, you’re giving it your best effort to follow the CDC guidelines (which include social distancing) for their sake, as well as for your own. Then make it a real point to reach out to your in-laws in other ways. Call them regularly. Text. Whatever works. I can’t promise their feelings won’t be hurt, especially at first. But staying in touch with your in-laws will go a long way to keeping your good relationship intact.
Dear Ann Cannon • What do you do with that person in your life who just monologues rather than engages in an actual conversation? For example, I have a friend who if I mention that I liked a certain movie, she’s suddenly listing all the movies she’s liked and why she liked them for the next 20 minutes without coming up for air. There’s no back and forth between us at that point — just a steady stream of her opinions and thoughts. She’s a good person and I don’t really want to cut her out of my life, but still. It gets both frustrating and tiresome to be around her. Any suggestions?
Dear Weary • I think we all have someone in our lives who does this. Hopefully, we’re not that person ourselves, although it probably doesn’t hurt to take a look inside now and then to see if we’re doing the same thing. So, why do people monologue anyway? The reasons vary, I’m sure, but for some people it’s a strategy (although an ill-advised one) for connecting with others.
So, what can you do when your friend starts up? You can stop her by asking if she’d like to know what you think. Or you can listen for a while, then make up an excuse and beat a hasty retreat. Or you can listen until she’s done. Or you can just avoid her altogether. The choice is yours.
Dear Ann Cannon • My husband likes to take our dog on long walks. Last week he went on a couple of very steep and quite scary hikes in the foothills. Yesterday when he got the leash out to go walking the dog ran to me and refused to go with him. I guess he freaked our dog out. Any ideas?
— Owner of a Reluctant Dog
Dear Owner • May I just say that this e-mail made me smile? Thanks for that.
OK. So, I’m not really a dog whisperer. I’m more of a dog shouter. But I never met a canine who didn’t love his snacks. So, I’m guessing if your husband fills his pockets with the treats your dog is especially fond of, he will eventually come around.
P.S. You might also encourage your husband to take your dog on easier walks for a little while.