Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Wife's Gambling Spinning Out of Control

DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife has a gambling problem. She has a great job, so thus far we haven’t lost that much, but she’s getting out of control. Last week, she went to a local casino, got drunk, spent whatever money she had and was discovered in the parking lot by a security guard. I was then called to come get her.

I don’t know what’s going on that’s making her go off the deep end even more. What’s worse is that I don’t know how to help her. Whenever I bring it up, she shrugs it off like she’s just having some fun. I’m afraid she will get hurt or lose her job if she gets any more reckless. How can I reel her in? -- Out of Control, Pittsburgh

DEAR OUT OF CONTROL: When people are living in a state of addiction, it is often impossible for them to hear the voice of reason. This does not mean that you should stop trying to be heard. With compassion, tell your wife during a sober moment how her drinking and gambling are hurting you and your marriage. Give her specific examples of how her behavior has embarrassed you, cost you money and impacted your bond. Do not chastise her for her actions. Speak in an even, clear tone so she is able to hear you. Tell her how disappointed you are that she continues to make choices that hurt the family. Ask her to get help to stop. For more ideas on staging an intervention, visit

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband is super healthy, and I have always been kind of sickly. Whenever I have a health issue, he is quick to tell me what vitamins I should be taking and what I have been doing wrong. Because of how he acts, I haven’t told him that I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I take medicine daily, and it is under control, but I didn’t inform him because I didn’t want to get another lecture about what I’m doing wrong.

This became an issue earlier this summer when we rented a house with friends and one of them commented on my medicine in the medicine cabinet. It was innocent enough. The friend asked who was taking this particular med because he was taking it too. That set my husband off on a rant that embarrassed me terribly. Now he is accusing me of keeping things from him. How can I defuse this situation? -- Hidden Meds, Tallahassee, Florida

DEAR HIDDEN MEDS: Have a serious sit-down with your husband where you explain that the reason you did not tell him about your condition is that you are tired of him criticizing you about your health. Tell him you wish he would be your partner and support you as you deal with whatever challenges come your way, but that you are unwilling to fill him in on the details of your health if the guaranteed reaction is judgment on his part. It’s his choice.