Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I love my husband. He’s a great provider and a good father. He works
very long hours in a stressful sales job, and pulls in mid six-figures
including bonuses. We are finally living in our dream house and have
three beautiful children (2, 5, 8). The problem is that I do a lot of solo
parenting because of his crazy work schedule. And (the big AND), that
in addition to working late and entertaining clients after, he has a
weekly Friday nigh poker game that he says he needs to unwind. I
knew he bet on sports when we married but I think his gambling has
crossed some kind of line. His moods seem very variable. He’s
generous about telling me to hire housekeeping and kindercare help,
and understands I need yoga classes to stay sane. But this isn’t how I
thought things would be.
Not Anteed Up
Dear Not Anteed Up:
You’re describing a situation that’d sound familiar to many mothers
married to successful professionals. Certainly such dilemmas with net
positive bank accounts are better than those in the red. But yours has
the potential to go across the line without some intervention.
Gambling, like any other addition, is not self-limiting. Your husband is
trying to buy your complicity with a blank check to do what you need.
Money can be spent only once. If he loses it at poker tables or a bad
game, you’ll have bigger problems than how to pay for yoga classes.
If you’re hoping for a solution that doesn’t include a discussion about
gambling with your husband, you’re out of luck. You can prepare for it,
but you cannot avoid it forever. Just like there are support groups for
the families of alcoholics, there are support groups to cope with
gambling. Go online and look for local networks and meetings. Go and
ask how to have this conversation. If you have a rabbi or other
confidential counselor, do the same. Be cautious about confiding in
relatives if you hope to have control over the timing of the
conversation. Think about everything from direct deposit of his
paycheck and bonuses to who controls the checkbook. Hardworking
hubbies should have an allowance for their fun. But it shouldn’t be in
ways that could cost them the roof over their family’s head or the love
and respect of their wife and children. This is scary and you’ll want to
delay. Start by educating yourself and enlist help along the way.