Sore Loser Husband

Q: My husband is newly obsessed with board games. Yeah, like Clue and Risk and Stratego. We started playing them with our children, and when it's a family affair he's fine. But when the kids go down, it's a different story. He insists we "play for real," sometimes many times until he wins. When he loses, he gets angry. And when he wins, he just berates me for not trying. He's a healthier person when he has an outlet for his competitive nature, but I don't want that outlet to be me! If I tell him how I feel, I'll be taking away something he really enjoys. And even worse, I'm worried he'd stop playing with the kids, who love playing with us. — Beth, 41

Dr. Susan: All games have rules, including the game of playing board games with one's mate. So, first rule: No anger allowed. It's a game, after all! I understand that your husband is unusually competitive, but getting angry when he loses take the fun out of it for you, and you really must let him know that. It's nice that you care about fulfilling his need for outlets for his competitive nature. So expect him to fulfill your need for emotional safety in your own home. Tell him, but not during a game when his testosterone is already high. Another rule to keep things a bit more reasonable would be to set a time limit. One hour per evening, say. Whatever you can take without losing the fun entirely. And take heart, he will probably move on to some other obsession eventually.

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