Gambled Her Future
Q: I had a wonderful relationship with a man a little younger than me. We worked our differences out in a nice way for the benefit of our relationship and his two younger kids, and we talked happily about marriage. Then I discovered he is a gambler and has used check advance cashing several times. I broke off the relationship because I am terrified. I have worked hard all my life to be able to enjoy good things. Now the biggest problem is the kids. They adore me to death, especially the youngest who has even gone to the extent of pretend playing that she shares my DNA. What is the best way of walking away from the kids? I don't want to hurt them any more than they have been with their parents' divorce and being shuffled between two households. Sometimes I feel that I just came into their lives to make it worse, but I don't want to stay and be unhappy for their sake. -- Maria, 45
Dr. Susan: You've found yourself in a heartbreaking situation for which there may be no perfect resolution. Gambling is an addiction, and like all addictions, not easy to give up. The fact that your partner hid his gambling from you tells me he may not be ready or willing to work on the problem, even to save your future together. I respect your fear of continuing with him as he is. I'll assume you've tried counseling or that he isn't interested in going that route. The fact is that the children will be very distressed to lose you from their lives. Perhaps you might treat it as a kind of divorce, explaining to them as gently as possible that you and their father will not be together anymore, but you would still like to see or talk to them sometimes. I don't know if that's possible or practical in this instance. Still, a cold and final "walking away" from them is bound to be the most hurtful and confusing. Talk it over with their dad. They will get over it, but there will certainly be pain.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.