Don’t Tell Your Grandmother

My grandparents slept in separate beds.

My grandfather spent his retirement betting on horses. By which I mean he was fairly pro and managed to both fill up his day and make some kind of consistent income from his gambling. One day while on vacation I was actually with him as he collected his winnings at the TAB and he must have had a very good weekend as I shit you not they gave him a wad of money like a prop for a gangster movie. I must have been ten years old or something and my eyes just bugged out. He looked at me and said those immortal words…

“Don’t tell your grandmother.”

I never told. I never told anyone until now. Granddad has been gone for eighteen years so I think the statue of limitations has finally run out.

I knew if I told, Grandma would have simply swooped in and dispossessed grandad of the majority of his winnings. He would have simply handed it over too. He would have complained, but there would have been something to spend it on unrelated to his wants. Now before anyone paints my grandmother as a gold digging whore, these were people of modest means. My father lived in a tent in the backyard for several years as a teenager when my great-grandmother took ill and had to move in with my grandparents. So as I said, modest means. Maybe she was a used-copper digging whore. I dunno.

But grandad always had to hide his really good winnings from grandma. Otherwise he would lose.

Now of course, I know he was failing a Fitness Test for almost fifty years. Almost fifty. We had the big party for their forteth incase one of them died before they hit fifty years together. Forty-nine-and-a-half. Nowadays of course I’d tell him to tell grandma to keep her hands out of his pockets unless she was trying to feel his dick. But then grandma was the one supplying the cookies, so maybe I’d not mention it even if I knew what to say.

So anyway…

The takeaway is that if you’re hiding something perfectly fine from your wife for fear of her wrath… you’re living in fear and failing a Fitness Test that never stops.


  1. Not quite that bad, but after 37 years I still can’t get her to come to bed with me.
    I got tired of asking so it’s nothing unless she gets horny. Once a quarter ain’t much.
    Just venting.

  2. pdwalker says:

    Nowadays of course I’d tell him to tell grandma to keep her hands out of his pockets unless she was trying to feel his dick.

    That would have gotten me swatted to hell and back. It’s a funny thought though.

  3. Flipper says:

    There is nothing perfectly fine about hiding a gambling addiction. I mean how is it different than closet drinking or pot smoking? You seem to straddle the line between “perfectly fine” and “functional.” I remember you telling people earlier that your relationship has to be structurally sound or something to that effect. Doesn’t sound like Grandpa had all of his structure in the relationship up to code.

  4. Trimegistus says:

    Flipper: Nowhere was there any evidence of a “gambling addiction.” You’re buying into the modern attitude that medicalizes behavior. Back in the Sixties (and on up to today) going to the track was just a recreational activity. You’d bet a little money, sometimes you’d win, sometimes you wouldn’t, you’d watch some horses doing what they do best, maybe have a drink, and go home content.
    The problem Athol describes is not “Grampa’s gambling problem” because it wasn’t a problem. The problem was “Grampa hiding the money he won gambling because Gramma would take it away from him.” If your harmless recreational activities have to be hidden, something is wrong with the relationship.
    To be fair to Gramma, she may not have cared or minded nearly as much as Grampa assumed she would.

  5. Patrick says:

    Who said anything about an addiction? Projecting much?

  6. Flipper… Not all people who gamble are addicted to gambling. I too had a grandfather who pretty much funded his retirement with poker and horse racing winnings. He had a system for both that provided modest but consistent returns (he taught me a very simple method for betting on horses that has been profitable every time I’ve used it, it just isn’t as much fun as trying to handicap your own races).

    I remember when I was about 12 years old I asked him to teach me how to play blackjack, he asked me why, and I said it looked like a fun game. His reply will stick with me forever: “If you want to have fun I’ll teach you how to play chess. If you are playing poker right it is the most boring thing in the world. If you are playing it wrong you are a fool.”

    However, I do agree hiding sources of income from your spouse is a problem, I just don’t think it is necessarily inicative of a gambling problem.

  7. PastorofMuppets says:

    So lessee here …. Gramps chooses the take family resources to the track and play the ponies, thereby exposing Gammy – involuntarily? – to the risks inherent in gambling. Fair enough. A man needs his hobbies.
    And yet if she were to have a reasonable expectation that she share in the potential rewards, having had the risk imposed upon her, she’s a “copper digging whore” enacting a shit test?
    Of course, if Gramps and Gammy had entirely separate financial arrangements, that’s another matter. But given their age and retirement status, I very much doubt that’s the case.

  8. alphaguy says:

    As a recovering Nice Guy I can tell you that lying on just about everything I did, mostly white lies but it was a bad habit and is one of characteristics of being a Nice Guy. It has been one of the hardest things to deal with and I still struggle with it after 1.5 years after taking the red pill. It has made a huge change in my relationship with my wife that I am honest on every level. Next time you think about lying to those around you, think twice!

  9. HeSedSheSed says:

    I am curious as to what your grandmother was spending the money on when she found his extra winnings. Did she spend it on herself or did she use it to purchase items that were in bad need of repair. I for one would be pissed if my husband had fun money on the side when things needed to be purchased at home. On top of this, these are the retirement years. Perhaps she was the more thrifty one that kept the mindset that they may live to 100 and not want to eat cat food while doing it. Otherwise, were they financially set or was this extra monies that could really have been used to supplement their no longer stable income?

    This would be the true decision on whether he should “Alpha” up and say, “Let my money be, woman.” or “Beta” up and support his family.

  10. Theresa says:

    Did anyone else hate The Flintstones for this reason, the same way I did? Even at the age of 10, I thought Wilma was a controlling, selfish bitch. Why couldn’t Fred, just once, go bowling with his buddies, or go to a meeting at the lodge? She get s a fur coat, but he can’t buy a bowling ball?

    Seems silly, but how many other girls my age grew up with this example of wedded bliss as the model for how married couples behave to each other? How may thought this kind of behavior was completely normal? These were our role models growing up, boys! it’s a bloody miracle you guys ever get to do anything ;)

  11. Sometimes, just avoiding female shrieking is best. Peace is best, so it may not always be as serious as passing a test.

    Like, grandma might not always tell gramps – or the grandkids – that the mushrooms in the home-cooked turkey dinner were a bit nasty.

    Knowledge is power.

  12. My wife hates baseball. She hates sports in general. But I love baseball. Love it. Have loved it my entire life. Am passionate about it. I follow the sport daily, even in the off-season.

    Old me used to downplay my love of the sport. I’d listen to games but with the sound down low. If I had gamecast or on my computer (read: I always have on my computer), I used to minimize it when she would walk by, in order to HIDE my love of the sport.

    MAP-version of me now cranks the volume on the radio, constantly leaves up and running at all times and have started ironing my clothes while watching the ’91 World Series on DVD.

    It’s a liberating feeling.

  13. @Flipper

    You’re right about a gambling addiction being a problem, but I don’t think Athol was saying his grandpa had a gambling addiction or even that he was hiding the activity from grandma…just the winnings.

    I’m basing that on the statement that “he was fairly pro and managed to both fill up his day and make some kind of consistent income from his gambling.”

    It’s kind of like the difference between someone who plays poker for a living and someone who looses their house because they can’t stop playing the slots. One has a job, the other has an addiction.

  14. Wanting to be a better wife says:

    Alphaguy, I’m so glad you said that. It explains something to me, the last outpost of what I didn’t understand about my husband (of just 1.5 yrs here, too). Why on earth would he tell me that he “lost his phone for a biy” at work and couldn’t txt back? I let it go, because I know where his heart is, but it hit that trigger caused by my ex-husband, who lied to cover up dealings with other women. The first time he did it, I flipped out inside, questioning if I had more of the same. But, after hearing of the ways he was treated previously, then seeing your comment, I understand it’s self-preservation. An unhealthy adaptation, but at least I know now it’s not malicious. We’re both very non-conflict, and I’ve been learning to coach him into more alpha behaviors. Now I know he’s so programmed to fail shit tests. It makes me feel awful. But, he is learning, and we’re both really,good at looking out for each other. I just gotta show him he can trust me to let him have stuff he wants. He,is more than generous with our kids, and very a very capable provider. Thanks for helping me see that!

  15. Can you imagine saying that to your grandparents? “Grandpa, Grandma shouldn’t be reaching into your pants, unless it’s to rub your dick” Too funny!

    In general yes being fearful of your wife’s wrath is a huge failure of a perpetual fitness test (you can use that term if you like) it’s the test that will never stop.

    My Brother in Law fails it daily. “Do you want to go golfing?” “Yeah sure, let me just check with the Mrs.”


    You can respect her and her time/daily activities without asking for permission. Sets the wrong framework.

    Goes both ways, I don’t my wife asking my permission to go out either.

  16. Wanting to be a better wife says:

    What’s a better way to put that answer to the golf question? I see him saying yes, but read in that he was just makung sure that she didn’t plan something already…

  17. Yep. Two days ago I decided to run a half marathon.

    Old me, “Hey sweeite, do you have anything on X date? I want to run this half marathon, if we’re free and you don’t have anything else planned.”

    New me (says nothing and registers for half marathon). Later, “Oh by the way, I signed myself up for this thing on X date.”

  18. Flipper says:

    I struggle with the same thing. The funny thing about it is that my wife isn’t nearly as overbearing as I made her out to be. I think a lot of it was in my head. Sure she has strong opinions about things like parenting and stuff like that but in regards to things such as me doing this or that, she’s much easier going if I just tell her what I am doing as opposed to asking.

  19. In this specific case where money is involved your Grandpa might have been trying to keep his winnings from being squandered away. Some people have trouble saving or in a general dealing with delayed gratification. Maybe by hiding the winnings Grandpa was helping Grandma with her problem.

  20. Annonymous says:

    “New me (says nothing and registers for half marathon). Later, “Oh by the way, I signed myself up for this thing on X date.”

    I just wanna share that since my hubby and I both got iphones, scheduling is such a breeze. It’s been truly such an awesome thing. So we each have our personal calendars and then we have another one that we share. So if a day is free either one schedules whatever without having to check in with the other, but the other can see it right away on the shared calendar. THe iphone makes this completely painless. Well my hubby is the more techie one, but I believe all he did was create a joint email address on google mail and that’s how we get to share that calendar. Highly recommend it!

  21. It helps if you have a history of listening on really important things and making good decisions. My college boyfriend was very Alpha about telling me he was going out drinking with his buddies, buying a motorcycle, that kind of thing, and it got me to accept a lot of stuff without a lot of protest (as long as he remained trustworthy). After about 3 years he got it in his head that he wanted to donate sperm for extra pocket money and when I objected (for various logical reasons) he gave me the runaround. I didn’t appreciate that and it was a big factor in the demise of the relationship.

  22. Regarding the issue of hiding money: women do this, too. Never hurts to run a credit check, since the wife might have opened up some credit cards or other lines of credit that hubby knows nothing about until the crediters come a’calling.

    Hiding money is just plain bad, but then so is a gold digging wife. One of the guys I work with has money directly deposited to a savings account in his name only, because if the wife found out, she’d immediately spend it. Ditto with his 401(k) and savings bonds and IRA. Not a lot of trust there.

  23. Just out of curiosity, how long were your grandparents married athol? It’s hard to say that something is a bad idea of if the relationship is ultimately working…

    In general though I obviously would be terrified if I found out that my husband wasn’t being honest about his expendatures and income. For me there is no greater fear than ending up poor. For Dave Ramsey fans, I’m the “nerd” and he’s the “free spirit” depspite the fact that he has zero history of making poor financial choices, he’s just less anal abou it than me and it totally scares me. I don’t really care if he spends money on fun things or eatting out or whatever, i just really really need to KNOW when he spends and what on. It’s part of the security part of the relationship and it’s part of feeling that he’s responsible enough to provide for our family…If I found out he’d lied about something to me, I’d just honestly have in the back of my mind “what else is he lying about” and I think i would have a tendancy to tighten the leash when it comes to money. That might include something like what you’re suggesting – a bank account in my own name, which I would be HONEST about the fact that it exsited and how much was in there, but then it wouldn’t let someone who was irresponsible wiht money have access without some kind of check system?? Personally i think money is the hardest part of marriage….

  24. Jacquie says:

    I remember hearing about my grandparents. About my grandfather and the racecar he would run at the local track. He and grandma had been married for many years, and only the youngest child was still living at home when he needed to have open heart surgery. It was while he was in the hospital when grandma found out just how popular grandpa was with the ladies at the track and indulged in the attentions of more than one. Before he came home she’d sold the race car, changed a few things then announced to him how things would be or she was leaving and filing for divorce. I don’t think there was much he could do. At the time medicine wasn’t what it is now and having that kind of surgery meant lifetime disability. He couldn’t work and she’d taken care of the finances while he was in the hospital. She stayed with grandpa and took care of him until the day she died, but she controlled everything in their lives and nothing was ever hidden from her again.

  25. For those wondering what Grandma would do with the money… I suspect she would just stash it in savings somewhere. They were children of the depression.

  26. AnonyHere says:

    “If you want to have fun I’ll teach you how to play chess. If you are playing poker right it is the most boring thing in the world. If you are playing it wrong you are a fool.”

    I love that. they just don’t make grandparents like they used to. But yeah, stashing money away is not cool! for either party.

  27. SamIam says:

    It’s “statute of limitations.”

  28. Wanting to be a better wife says:

    Flipper: yes! Just tell me what’s going on. I may have to make some adjustments, but that is sooo much better than the beta dance. “Which do you wanna do?” “oh, I dunno you decide.” “No, you.”

    Chip n Dale from Looney Tunes

  29. Over It says:


    “You can respect her and her time/daily activities without asking for permission. Sets the wrong framework.”

    Exactly. This is why I do that calendar thing I told you about. All it takes is double-checking that calendar to make sure we’re not already supposed to go someplace/do something. That way, if he schedules something when we already have plans, that’s HIS bad and I don’t look like a shrew.

  30. kryssie says:

    When you describe how modest their means were, I don’t understand why it would have been wrong for grandma to expect to share the winnings – at least in part. Especially considering women of her generation were not usually raised in a way to make entering the workplace easy. (Less likely to have a secondary education. Fewer jobs open to women in those days.)
    I don’t mean to paint your grandad as a bad guy. I don’t doubt he had many loveable qualities. But I think his lying was wrong for a different reason than you suggest.

  31. My grandmother would stash half of everything she made, in cash, in envelopes in dressers, under the bed, etc. because my grandfather had a drinking problem and she wanted to make sure she had money to cover the bills. We found enough to cover their funerals and pay off my grandfather’s hospital bills after he died (she’d died 6 years earlier). When my husband swiped my debit card and spent a little over $200 on pizza and fast food for his friends over a weekend while I was working full time+ and he was unemployed, causing the rent check to bounce, I started doing something similar. There’s definitely a fitness test that was failed that I didn’t even know I was running.

    Currently working the M.A.P. to see what we can make better.

  32. Fifty years ago it was possible to have a long lasting marriage without having to constantly demostrate strong Alpha behavior. Today, it doesn’t seem that way.

  33. Actually 50+ years ago men were generally more naturally Alpha. Today’s men have had a lot of their natural masculinity socialized out of them, especially during their school years, and so need the help of a blog like Athol’s to relearn how to be Alpha.

  34. In Athol’s story, there was no one starving or needing surgery at home. No one was drinking all the money so the bills couldn’t get paid. It sounds like Grandpa just needed some personal freedom and Grandma had tight hold of the reigns. Maybe if Grandma had been more submissive over the years and then asked nicely, he might have shared his winnings occasionally?
    I would feel awful if my husband thought he had to hide money from me to enjoy his hobby. Of course, my husband is kind of a tight-wad and I have to encourage him to spend money on himself!
    In fact, he just got a bonus and was going to spend the whole thing on home improvements/repairs and I had to convince him to get the surround speakers he’s been talking about!
    Great story. I love hearing about old-school couples and how they lived.

  35. anonymouse says:

    My grandparents are closing in on their 80’s. The only time I really remember grandpa showing grandma affection was when her dad died. Although I really only remember him being the one to give me a hug and let me cry it out when I was 13. He wasn’t a talker, but I remember the time spent with him
    Anyway, I remember my grandma telling me about early in their marriage, how she felt they needed some item that there really wasn’t money for… and of course, a fight ensued. It ended with her gaining control of the checkbook. My grandma is a very controlling woman (to the point where she won’t even “allow” my 50+ mother to drive the 12 hours to visit…), and grandpa hides in the garden or behind a newspaper. He has done that for as long back as I can remember. She is the one in control, and will be until her dying day, and no one can fight against it.

    It’s so hard to watch, especially now that I understand just how bad that situation is. It’s taken a lot of deprogramming to get away from that for me, because it’s what I grew up with. I really wish I could go back and give my grandpa a copy of your book, lol. A bit late now though :(

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