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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were both married previously. We have been together for seven years.

When we first started dating, we would sometimes go to one of the casinos after dinner as a fun outing. We never spent much money and went only occasionally. Our game of choice was the slot machine.

Over the last few years, it seems like the casino has taken over our lives. We go there to the exclusion of almost everything else and spend money we can't afford to lose. We both have the mentality that the "big win" is right around the corner.

How can we break this habit? It's causing unbearable financial and emotional stress in our marriage. I'm afraid it won't last another year. -- IN OVER MY HEAD IN NEW YORK

DEAR IN OVER YOUR HEAD: In case you are not aware, there is a name for the habit you and your husband have acquired. It's "compulsive gambling," and it's an addiction in much the same way as the abuse of alcohol or drugs. Fortunately, you have finally reached a point where you have realized this "fun outing" is out of control.

Gamblers Anonymous can help you break this destructive cycle. It's a 12-step program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Its members support one another by sharing their strength and experiences with one another. The website is

Many people have experienced what you're going through, and this well-established organization has helped them. To locate a meeting near you, visit the website or check your telephone directory.

Read more in: Addiction | Money | Marriage & Divorce

DEAR ABBY: My mom and stepfather are divorcing. They were married for 25 years. He was always a great father figure to me and has been a very active grandfather to my children. The reason for the divorce is his infidelity and the disrespect he has shown my mother.

We are his only family, and he wants to be involved with us as if nothing is different, even showing up at family gatherings. I want to be loyal to my mother -- and I do feel he betrayed us -- but I still recognize that he has also been good to me and the kids. He doesn't deserve to be cut out of our lives. How does one handle a situation like this? -- SEEING THE BIG PICTURE

DEAR SEEING: Your stepdad may want to pretend that nothing is different, but something IS different. He hurt your mother so badly they will no longer be married.

If you want to be loyal to your mother and still have a relationship with him, then you need to have a talk with him. Explain that because he is no longer married to your mother, he will no longer be invited to family gatherings where your mother will be present. Be sure to tell him you regard him with affection, but will be seeing him separately for the foreseeable future.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Family & Parenting | Holidays & Celebrations

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