Marriage is strained by MIL’s gambling addiction

Published 8:37 am Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been happily married for 28 years. We rarely have a problem we can’t settle, but I’m stymied over this issue. His 72-year-old mother took up gambling several years back, and it has become an issue. Over the past year, she has been asking us for “loans” of $300 to $500 to cover her gambling losses. More than once, she has told us for weeks on end not to cash the check she gave us to repay us. We were late paying our insurance because she has yet to repay us. This is stressing me out.
We have financial responsibilities of our own. We both work, but we are not wealthy. We have medical bills, as well as car and house payments. We have children attending college. I tell my husband that we are not a loan institution for his family. I feel he is enabling his mother by lending her money. I think she needs to suffer the consequences of her behavior. I’m willing to pay a bill for her, but giving her an open-ended loan is not, in my opinion, the right thing to do. Why can’t he tell her no? I don’t want her to come between us. It has already affected my feelings toward her. I know she’s an addict, but she doesn’t seem to want to stop. I work too hard for my money to throw it away. What should we do? — NOT A BANK IN INDIANA

DEAR NOT A BANK: If you continue down the path your husband has put you both on, it will eventually damage your credit score and possibly your marriage. His mother may, indeed, be addicted to the rush she derives when she gambles. This is why, even when she runs out of money, she’s unable to call it quits. For everyone’s sake, it’s imperative that you stop being her enablers. A support group for families of gambling addicts could be helpful for you and your spouse. If there isn’t one nearby, find another 12-step group for family members of addicts and attend the meetings. They may help your husband understand the importance of no longer allowing his mother to make her problem yours.
DEAR ABBY: I need help. For 10 years I have worked in the deli department at a grocery store and try my very best to get things done. My problem is my boss. She nitpicks and criticizes me to the point that I get so frustrated and angry I can’t focus on work. Abby, I have Asperger’s syndrome, so it’s tough to socialize with customers I don’t know. Half the time when she starts in on me, I become so rattled I can’t finish my task. She accuses me of wearing clothes that aren’t clean even though I wash them every day. I don’t want to do anything I’m going to regret later. Any advice you can give me will be appreciated. – LOSING IT IN HAWAII

DEAR LOSING IT: Because you feel you are being discriminated against by the person who heads your department, make an appointment to talk privately with the store manager to discuss what’s going on. If, after that, you continue to be picked on, contact Legal Aid at Work. (Go to or call their helpline: 877-350-5441 and talk to someone there.) I wish you luck.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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