Gam­ble on your gut and talk to a lawyer

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - MAU­REEN SCURFIELD

DEAR MISS LONE­LY­HEARTS: My hus­band plays poker with his gam­bling bud­dies all the time, and he gives me the win­nings, some­times as much as $500. Other nights he wins $100, or noth­ing, but he al­ways gives me what he wins. The thing is I don’t know how much he loses! He makes all the money and con­trols the house fi­nances, and I stay home with our young kids. I feel in­se­cure fi­nan­cially, although no one could ever say my hus­band isn’t gen­er­ous. Should I be hid­ing this gam­bling money away in a sock or have a se­cret bank ac­count or what? What if he bets some­thing crazy and loses a ve­hi­cle or the house? Am I crazy to think of these things? He gam­bles at least ev­ery sec­ond night now and he’s gone late. It’s get­ting aw­ful scary the last three months. — Wor­ried Sick Wife, North End

Dear Wor­ried Sick: He’s buy­ing you off when he wins, and sti­fling your ques­tions as to where all the money goes. So, go with your gut, and qui­etly see a lawyer for help. The lawyer will ad­vise you on pro­tect­ing the house and ve­hi­cles and the “win­nings” you get. It’s time you sought spe­cific “prob­lem gam­bling” ser­vices for your­self (and for your hus­band, if he’ll go). Gam­bling is a complicated ad­dic­tion, but there’s help. Here’s the best start for you, as the mate of a gam­bler. Ad­dic­tions Foun­da­tion of Win­nipeg (AFM) of­fers a “gam­bling ori­en­ta­tion” meet­ing Thurs­day morn­ings, 9 -11:30 a.m. at 1031 Portage Ave. for both gam­blers and those af­fected by gam­bling. In­di­vid­ual coun­selling ses­sions are avail­able af­ter the ori­en­ta­tion. Call the 1-800-463-1554 prob­lem gam­bling line, op­er­at­ing 24/7, to say you’re at­tend­ing. Pre­sen­ters at ori­en­ta­tion meet­ings also en­cour­age peo­ple to bring a sup­port per­son, if they can. When peo­ple are over­whelmed, they of­ten don’t hear ev­ery­thing, or be­come emo­tional and need the sup­port of a friend. The Gam­blers Anony­mous hot­line 204-582-4823 an­nounces daily 12-step meet­ing times at dif­fer­ent places around the city and in­for­ma­tion on coun­selling for your hus­band. And the AFM gen­eral line is 944-6368.

Dear Miss Lone­ly­hearts: I have a brother who has three beau­ti­ful chil­dren un­der the age of five. I don’t know much about them be­cause my brother and his wife com­pletely cut our fam­ily out of their lives. We haven’t been given any rea­son. They refuse to an­swer an email (or) the phone, and my brother re­fuses to talk to our mom when she drops in to his work to say hi. She’s dev­as­tated, and her house is start­ing to look like a fu­neral shrine. There are pic­tures of the first two kids, given to her by an­other fam­ily mem­ber, now du­pli­cated and spread around her house. It looks like a death in the fam­ily. We don’t want to make trou­ble, but we want to see these chil­dren and get to know them, so they know we love them. What can I do? I’d make a great aunty. I’m a good per­son with a lot of love to give. I don’t want my brother and sis­ter-in-law to hate me and my mom. Even if they do, is there any way to get to know these chil­dren be­fore they’re fed emo­tional poi­son and turned against us for­ever? — Sad Aunty, Win­nipeg

Dear Sad Aunty: Some­thing is miss­ing from this story. Is your brother on the outs with your mom? If not, why is he al­low­ing this to go on? Some­times a daugh­ter-in-law dis­tances her­self from the mother-in-law in a fam­ily, but usu­ally the son con­tin­ues to see his mom and take the grand­chil­dren over for vis­its. You need to find out what’s up with him. Find an out­side pipe­line to this in­for­ma­tion be­cause it is cru­cial to fix­ing this prob­lem. Could you find out through other branches of your fam­ily or your brother’s friends? Don’t blame ev­ery­thing on your sis­ter-in-law. Clearly your brother is in col­lu­sion, or he’s scared of her. If he broke up with his wife, do you think he’d ever see his kids again? As for your mom, she needs pro­fes­sional coun­selling, as she’s start­ing to act strangely. Get as­sis­tance lined up, os­ten­si­bly for the both of you, and go to­gether and apart to dif­fer­ent ses­sions. A good coun­sel­lor can work won­ders in dif­fi­cult fam­ily sit­u­a­tions. They are very good at get­ting the whole story out if they can see peo­ple alone. You can bet there are things your mom isn’t telling even you.

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