Gamble on your gut and talk to a lawyer
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.