Dear Abby:

"Frank" and I have been married for three years, but we have known each other since 1994. When we first met, we both drank and partied a lot, but neither of us has had a drink in about seven years.

Three years ago, Frank started gambling. We used to do it for entertainment, but now he takes off for hours and won't answer his phone when he's at the casino. He has won thousands of dollars and lost more.

I have threatened Frank with divorce. I have told him to get out (but he won't leave), threatened to leave him (but I never have), and I have wept, begged, and even tried to ignore it.

I stay because I love him and want to help him with his problem, but I don't want to wind up living in a tent. Please help.

Losing Big in Tucson

Your concerns are legitimate. It's no coincidence that your husband got hooked on gambling after he stopped drinking. It appears he traded one addiction for another.

A group that might help you is Gam-Anon Family Groups, a 12-step fellowship for husbands, wives, relatives and friends of compulsive gamblers -- people whose lives have been affected by their loved ones' problem. The phone number is 718-352-1671 and the Web site is www.gam-anon.org.

Dear Abby:

I have a son who is 32. He says he'll never leave my house or "me" until he's 40. He moved out twice, for no longer than two months each time. Then he came back, saying it was lonely and expensive.

I have talked to him about getting his own place, but he insists he wants to stay here. I can't seem to get him out. He's always wanting to get his laundry done -- by me. He says he can't do it himself. Help!

Can't Cut the Apron Strings

What makes you think your son will be willing to leave at the age of 40? He has room, board and maid service in your cozy nest.

Yes, living on one's own is expensive, and it can also sometimes be lonely. But learning to deal with life's tribulations is a part of growing up. You'll be doing your son a favor if you give him a deadline to move and insist he abide by it. And next time the laundry basket gets full, take him to a Laundromat and show him what to do.

P.S. He may need psychiatric counseling, so be prepared!

Dear Abby:

My daughter, "Melanie," and her fiance, "Tom, expect their first child next month. Tom's mother, "Shirley," currently has no home of her own and is living with relatives. Shirley plans to attend Melanie's baby shower three weeks before the baby is due, and remain indefinitely with them in their apartment. The apartment is big enough for Tom, Melanie and the baby, but certainly no more.

Tom can't bring himself to say "No" to Shirley, and Melanie is distraught over this. She doesn't like having people around her 24/7, and she's physically sick to her stomach about it. Shirley was not invited. She simply informed my daughter when she would arrive and where she would be sleeping.

Should I get involved, or should I let the children work this out themselves? Please advise.

Anxious Mother in Massachusetts

I advise you to stay out of the fray. Offer your daughter emotional support, but do not fight this battle for her. As much as you might like to help, it is time for your daughter to strengthen her backbone and learn to assert herself. It would be nice if her fiance had matured enough to tell his mother to back off at some point, but it appears he hasn't.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate