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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have just discovered that my wife of 35 years has been gambling heavily for several years. Nearly $8,000 has been withdrawn at the casinos from our account and hers in the last nine months.

I am a saver; she has been a spender for the duration of our marriage. We could live very well in our retirement if we are prudent now.

She says it's her life and she will do what she wants; it's her money and she'll spend it any way she wants. She does work, but are these fair statements? Will she ever quit gambling? -- HOPEFUL IN KENTUCKY

DEAR HOPEFUL: Unless your wife is willing to admit that her gambling has become a problem she's unable to control, she will continue to gamble. Most couples pool their finances and decide together how the money should be spent. Her argument that it is her life and she'll do anything she wants, etc. is defensive, selfish and irrational.

You can lead a horse (player) to water, but you can't make her drink. Unless she's willing to get help for her gambling addiction, your wife could literally spend you out of house and home. Consult a lawyer about separating your finances before she goes through all the money. Please don't wait.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Valerie Gibson of Cheyenne, Wyo." regarding the kindness of strangers reminded me of a similar act of kindness bestowed on my husband and me earlier this year. We are both in our late 60s.

My husband considers himself an excellent driver, but actually drives like someone watching a tennis match. He constantly gazes at landmarks, left and right, instead of keeping his eyes on the road.

We were traveling along I-75 from Atlanta to Biloxi, Miss., in our motor home when I noticed a piece of metal lying in the road. I thought my husband had seen it too. By the time I yelled, it was too late. He ran over the piece of metal, and it embedded itself under the vehicle.

As we continued driving, we could hear the metal scraping the pavement but did not know what damage it had done. We stopped at a restaurant, and my husband surveyed the damage. The piece of metal had embedded itself in our septic tank, which was a relief to us, as we had feared it had penetrated the gas tank.

My husband worked furiously for about 10 minutes, but couldn't free the metal object, nor could he bend it to stop scraping the roadway. Just when we had given up, several people left the restaurant and noticed our dilemma. One young man left the group and came to our aid, but was unable to dislodge the metal either. He said he lived only a short distance away, and would go home to get a hacksaw.

Within 30 minutes, he was back as promised. He crawled under the vehicle and spent the better part of 15 minutes sawing away at the metal. He finally was able to saw off enough to stop the scraping. Although I offered, he would not accept a cent for his help. He said he hoped if his parents were ever in a similar predicament, someone would assist them.

Even more remarkable about this young man helping us is that he is white and we are black and this is still "the deep South." -- MRS. V.W. BROWN, ATLANTA

DEAR MRS. BROWN: Contrary to what some may believe, there are many young people in the South -- and elsewhere -- who have been raised to see people first, not their race. Still, it's nice to see a testimonial to that fact.

Thank you for sharing your act of kindness. I consider it an antidote to some of the things we see on the evening news. Perhaps it will stimulate others to be Good Samaritans should they happen upon someone in need of help.

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