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DH is addicted to gambling. Going to Gamcare. Will it stop?

(50 Posts)
OiMissus Thu 25-Jul-13 10:15:23

Will he always be addicted to gambling? Will I always have to check and double check and control our finances?
I've caught him 4 times in a two year period. First time: I found out after the wedding that for the 6 mths leading up to the wedding that he was gambling his wage, online, every month. I didn't recognise the man I married. We didn't deal with the problem properly, so a few months later he was doing it again, when we should have been saving for the baby (I was now pg) and the new house, still online up to £1k a month. I took his card off him, gave him spends for a couple of months. It was hard work, and miserable.
Then he lost his job, just after we moved into our new big house with big mortgage, and he dealt with this by gambling again. This time in betting shops, probably threw away about £800 over an 8 week period.
Each time he has been remorseful, upset, ...but still not quite completely honest. Each time I said that I'd chuck him out, that I would not have him destroy everything.
A few months ago I caught him again, I noticed about £200 disappear from our account over a 4 day period.

As much as I wanted to, I didn't kick him out.
He's remorseful. He is so upset that our marriage is seriously on the rocks. (We are now going to Relate).
He's now getting counselling from Gamcare - he's had two sessions so far, and likes the counsellor.
We have a joint account. At the moment, he shows me his finances and expenditure every day (rather than me take his card off him and dole out cash when he needs it). I hate this.
The house is in my name, and it's mine. If I kicked him out, I think I could afford to stay here. We have a wonderful son of 19 months.
Leaving our crumbling marriage to one side, because I don't believe that gambling is our only issue, ahat I need from ye wise women of mumsnet, is to know if he will ever get over the gambling. What is your experience?
BTW: He says that apart from the odd bet before, the gambling addiction - and wreckless gambling started only after we started a serious relationship. He says that he gets no joy/excitement/thrill at all from gambling. Quite the opposite, he feels despicable, but felt compelled - couldn't fight the urge.

CarpeVinum Thu 25-Jul-13 10:25:05

My brother was treated for GA at 14.

Complete recovery.

Or so we thought ..until he plunged his family into bankrupsey some 20 years later.

Obviously it's very close to home with a very negative outcome for me, but connecting your life to a gambler is... a gamble. And I've lost all desire to play a game where people's happiness and wellbeing are the chips.

I think the house being yours and in your name is a very good thing. Not sure I'd be comfortable with a joint account. Or any form of joint finances at all.

I know I sound jaded and pessimstic. But when they lose (both the fight against the addiction and the bets) so does everybody else. And the bigger their problem the bigger the losses for all others concerned.

OiMissus Thu 25-Jul-13 10:33:15

I need to see the "jaded and pessimistic" to understand what I'm dealing with, or indeed what could hit me years from now. Thanks for your post.
(I've woken up to the need to split the finances again...)

CVSFootPowder Thu 25-Jul-13 10:46:48

I have a friend who stopped gambling 6 years ago. He and his DW came close to divorce over it.
His DW just started to ease off questioning him, checking finances etc at Christmas 2012.
Two months ago she discovered that he's now got an expensive Ebay habit. He denies that buying at auction on Ebay is gambling.

I do think this is something you will live with forever and very likely revisit many times if you stay with him. There's temptation to gamble everywhere now, especially with online betting, poker etc.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 25-Jul-13 10:49:09

I don't think you can afford to take the risk that it won't work. You have to assume it's going to fail. So take immediate practical steps to protect you and yours as top priority, regardless of any treatment he gets. Separate your finances, make sure his debts are his and not yours and you have to do something about the house. It may be in your name but, the longer you stay married, the bigger the claim he has on it. If he goes bankrupt, his share of the property will go to paying off the debts. Please see a solicitor about this urgently.

CarpeVinum Thu 25-Jul-13 10:57:03

I think you may want to consider placing a higher premium on you and your child than his recovery. I have found it almost manipulative, the emphasis on disease and the need to support the person with the problem over and above the freedom from Unexpected Bombs they can make, that rock the foundations of the lives of the people surrounding the addicted person.

It is not easy to resist emotional appeals to one's better nature, with the persistant priority being pulled back to the person requiring help.

Well you need help too. You have a problem that needs fixing too. It just happens to be in the form of another human being that you have jack shit control over, cannot rely upon to be even vaugely honest, not even when at their most piteous, pleading and "so so sorry".

The thing is, while he may or may not be savable, (short, medium or long term... cos there may never be a time when you can staop being watchful and alert, which is an exhusting way to live) you and your kid are. Via distance and a seperation of assets and income at the very least. Emotional distance is also a help.

It's no fun watching from outisde the minefield. But being out of range of the shrapnel is a massive advanatage.

I'm not a knee jerk LTBer. If anything I lean towards making a priority of keeping the unit intact for the childrens' sake, even if this means some parental wants go by the wayside in the name of children's needs being met. But ....were I in your shoes, armed with having been through the wringer as just a sister thanks to gambling, I'd take my child and build a life outside the danger zone. Now.

It is a gamble (ironically one you are forced into by gambling). He could respond well to treatment and come through without relapse and be a great husband and father til the day he dies. Or it could be a slow road to recovery, and by the time he gets to a better and sustainable lack of falling back into the habit, you may have no love, respect or trust left to offer him as a wife or a co-parent. Or he might never recover at all and you only find out when the problem is mountain rather than molehill sized.

If it doesn't go well in a sustained fashion, the price you and your son (particularly as he grows and becomes more aware of the cause of the tensions, issues and crisies) may not be of the type that leaves an easily healed wound.

I am so sorry love. I know how painful this can be as just a sibling, let alone as a spouse with a child.

Twinklestein Thu 25-Jul-13 10:57:26

Whether anyone manages to kick an addiction is entirely down to them, and is unknowable.

It takes a lot of strength & commitment, and some people aren't able/willing to summon up the effort.

I know that AA/NA/GA addicts have to treat themselves as having an addiction for the rest of their lives - and will always need to make an effort not to fall off the wagon.

I wouldn't consider someone 'cured' until they'd been free of the behaviour completely for several years, and I'd still be aware they could fall back into the old pattern at any point.

OiMissus Thu 25-Jul-13 11:10:10

Ugh! Not what I wanted to hear. Time to wake up and smell the coffee, I guess...

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 25-Jul-13 11:15:13

Protect yourself and what's yours.

CarpeVinum Thu 25-Jul-13 11:30:31

Not what I wanted to hear

I'm so sorry love. It must feel awful to read what is being said and having hope of a "very soon" and definitive end in sight ... squashed.

Do you have a realtionship with his family ? If so, it might be worth questioning this idea that there was no habit before he got involved with you.

It might be true

On the other hand my brother rewrote history to SIL.

Perhaps he thought we had forgotten about his past habit?

If I were you I'd go see a solicetor before talking to him. Get your ducks in a row. Know how to protect yourself finatially and get that ball rolling in that direction before he has a chance to let things get out of control, blaming you for his slip back.

And you may want to prepare yourself for the possible eventuality of either paying debts created falsely in your name, or having to report him for falsifying loan applications.

Which may not be on the cards. It's not manadatory.

But it does happen. With depressing freqency.

OiMissus Thu 25-Jul-13 11:40:40

It's all so horrid, isn't it? I feel like i'm kicking him when he's down.
I'll make the appointment with the bank to separate the accounts. I believe that he won't have any claim on the house really (legally) until we've been married 4 years (is that true?) - In which case, we've got another 16 months.
The more we go through this, the more I think our marriage is over. It's not great now - lost love, trust, respect - but to have the fear of this hanging over us, it doesn't give me the optimism to push on and try to save it.
Shit.
Really, really shit.
Bloody stupid idiot men, making us believe in fairytales and then fucking everything up.
I'll be fine. Me n DS will be fine.
DH will be heartbroken. It will affect him really badly.
And the disappointment from everyone else - hardly bears thinking about. (I'll probably be seen as the evil witch, because we won't want everyone to know about the GA.) Ugh!

OiMissus Thu 25-Jul-13 11:46:59

(cross post carpe)
I don't think it'll go any further. I can't imagine him letting things get out of control. I'm sure seeing a solicitor is the wise thing to do, but I don't think it will be necessary. (naive, perhaps.)

ImperialBlether Thu 25-Jul-13 11:50:51

You say there are other problems, too. What are they?

I think it is so much harder nowadays since he can gamble online. In the past, once the betting shops and the pubs were shut, he couldn't gamble, but now he can do it in the middle of the night, lying in bed next to you as you sleep.

I couldn't live with it. Alcoholism would be preferable as you can at least look at them and know if they've had a drink. You could look at him all day and you'd never know that he'd gambled your car or your money or your belongings away.

Surely a happy life for you is a secure life? This kind of life is about as insecure as you can get.

ImperialBlether Thu 25-Jul-13 11:51:49

I'm sorry but you are absolutely fooling yourself if you think he won't let things get out of control. Those are probably the most famous last words of anyone living with a gambler.

CarpeVinum Thu 25-Jul-13 11:55:39

I feel like i'm kicking him when he's down

You're not love.

If a person you love puts/has lead wieghts in their pockets and jumps in the water it's instinctive to leap in after them and try to keep their head above water. But .... unless they empty their pockets of the lead, the most likely outcome is everybody who tries to rescue goes under with them.

And in so many cases it's like the lead is woven into the fabric of who they are, so they can't jettison it for the sake of everybody's survival.

If it were just you two, then I guess that both spouses going under is a choice some people will consider to be a valid one. But when you have kids in the water too.... there is nothing else to be done other than to let go of the person dragging everybody down with them, doggy paddle over to the child and get them back on terrafirma.

You didn't create this choice of having to pick your son's welfare (which requires you to prioritise your welfare, becuase you are the one parent he can depend upon to put him first above all else) over that of your husband.

You are unfortunatly the one who has been lumbered with having to do it as part of the clean up process and protecting against worse dunkings in the future. Becuase you are the single reliable adult in the partnership.

And it's not fair. It just, is what it is.

I know if you could take the lead put of his pockets and rush him to the surface you wpuld.

But you can't.

Only he can do that. And until he hits rock bottom, he may not feel all that motivated to geniunly face this head on rather than go through the motions until your guard goes back down.

It's so hard. And it's not fair you have been limbered with horrible choices. So please don't beat yourself up for the act of choosing. Becuase this is not of your doing.

CarpeVinum Thu 25-Jul-13 11:59:28

naive, perhaps

No perhaps about it love.

Pick being over cautious rather than optimistic every. single. time.

Becuase if you don't what you feel right now cpuld be child's p,ay compared to what you feel like a few months down the line.

You need specific to you professional and detailed advice. Which gets taken. Before he knows you need it.

This is your child's best shot of you being sheilded for worse knocks. And ypur child needs ypu as unbruised as possible. Becuase you have enpugh hard stuff to face as it is, and you are the one rational, cautious, risk adverse and realiable parent he has got.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 25-Jul-13 12:02:25

" believe that he won't have any claim on the house really (legally) until we've been married 4 years (is that true?)"

I don't think it is. He may not be able to claim 50% of your assets immediately if the property was owned prior to the marriage, but I'm pretty sure that when you said 'all my worldly goods' and put a ring on his finger, the assumption of joint ownership began. But I'm not a solicitor.

Have you run a credit check recently? That should show up if he's been taking on cards or other credit using your name or address.

Yes see a solicitor get all your facts straight, before talking to him.

Don't lie about why you are divorcing/separating. It is not your fault and it may protect other family members being taken in by him and risking their financial safety.

Of course he doesn't want people to now he has a gambling problem it would be the same if he an issue with drink or drugs. He only wants to be seem as a good person.

FWIW my DH gambles not all the time but when he does he has a separate wallet which is completely separate from the household finances. If he wins a large amount then that money is spent on the house or family he does not keep it to himself.

CarpeVinum Thu 25-Jul-13 12:20:42

He possibly could enter a Notice of Home Rights against the property with the Land Registry and make it impossible for you to sell it until such a time as the courts settled how assets could be divided.

This is why you need to see a solicetor, who upon knowing all the specific details of your marriage and your assets, can inform you of the best way to proceed before you share the potential of a split with your husband.

What happened to other people, it's all second hand, possibly inaccurate, out of date or not relevant to your case. You need accurate, first hand, relevant and personalised advice from a professional.

Going to see a solicetor is not an act of making a definitive decsion abput your marriage. It is an avt getting a "info check up", so you can find out if what you think you know is correct. So if and when you do make a decision you are doing it on the basis of being inofrmed rather than guessing.

tribpot Thu 25-Jul-13 12:26:19

Alcoholism would be preferable as you can at least look at them and know if they've had a drink

Er, not really. Alcoholics are incredibly skilled at hiding their drinking.

It doesn't really matter - addiction is addiction. He will never be cured. He might be able to enter stable recovery and stay there, but I warn you that will never happen whilst he hides his addiction from those around him. It will never happen whilst you make statements like 'we didn't deal with the problem properly' - you don't deal with it. He does.

Put bluntly, you don't know anything about addiction, OP. How could you? Whatever happens next in your marriage, you need to educate yourself with other people who've been where you are. This is not about 'bloody men making you believe in fairytales' (I don't even know what that means). It's about an addict and the incredibly destructive nature of addiction. Addiction thrives on secrecy, and shame. If you truly want to help, stop making empty threats to leave and start telling the truth.

I can't imagine him letting things get out of control

When you married him you couldn't imagine him gambling away his pay cheque. Or gambling when he was out of work and you had a big mortgage to pay. Addiction is not rational behaviour, it doesn't play by any rules.

^ I'm sure seeing a solicitor is the wise thing to do, but I don't think it will be necessary. (naive, perhaps.)^

Even though you don't know how to protect your house from his debts?

Your DH is trying to take steps to address his problem. He has a lot of work to do. You are not in this together, it simply isn't possible. I would start doing your work as the spouse of an addict. I normally recommend this book for the spouses of alcoholics. Much of it will be applicable, although I'm sure there are more relevant books for the spouses of gambling addicts. Good luck.

CarpeVinum Thu 25-Jul-13 12:28:39

Incidentally, a Notice of Home Rights is how I managed to get some money back for my mother after my brother gambled her house from under her. It was initially repossed. But I heard via other family members recently that the courts, based on the Notice that supoorted her claim, insisted the (repossessing) bank return a lump sum to her.

I aslo heard that that was when my brother popped back put of the woodwork and it would appear he has gone through said lump sum like a dose of salts.

Which is depressing. But from a safe distance from the people still splashing around in choppy waters with lead lined pockets, it is dealable with, in a "che sarà, sarà" manner. With extra added effort not to let myself brood over what I have fuck all power to control, improve or eliminate.

ImperialBlether Thu 25-Jul-13 12:34:16

I couldn't stand to live with an alcoholic either, tribpot, and understand what you mean about them being highly skilled in deceit, but I think there's more risk of losing everything you have with a gambler.

JuliaScurr Thu 25-Jul-13 12:40:09

www.gamanon.org.uk/

www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/

from experience of addiction - you didn't cause it, you can't cure it, you can't control it
Gam-anon might help you detach and lead your own life
good luck smile

OiMissus Thu 25-Jul-13 12:40:36

OK. Thanks for helping me see things with a lot more perspective. You're absolutely right. I'm walking into this with my eyes closed.
I'll look into seeing a solicitor today.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 25-Jul-13 12:41:56

Assume the worst and hope for the best...

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