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Does anyone else live with a gambling addict?

(42 Posts)
Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 10:42:05

Dh is addicted to gambling. He plays roulette on the gaming machines aka crack machines.

The past two days he has put 5/6 thousand in. Over the months and years the thought of how much he has out in makes me feel sick.

He doesn't lie, he tells me exactly how much he's lost/won.

How do I react? Scream? Shout? Cry? No, I just look at him with wide eyed horror, I don't know how to react. It's gone.

I don't even know why I'm posting on here about it because no one can help, just wondering if anyone has had or has a partner who is a gambling addict. Have they ever beat it? What's rock bottom?

Oh, he doesn't want to go to gamblers anonymous, he just says he knows nothing they say will work. I've been on their website and forum but there doesn't seen much for the gamblers partner to look at.

Thinking about telling him if he doesn't try it he might as well leave. We have 2 children.

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 10:42:58

Sorry for typos

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Jun-14 10:48:40

Living with any kind of addict is a recipe for disaster. Whether it's alcohol, drugs, credit cards or gambling you didn't cause it, you can't fix it and it's not your fault. He doesn't see it as a problem and he doesn't want to do anything about it. The addiction will always come first and, once you accept that, there are very few routes available to you that will restore your self-respect and peace of mind.

If you haven't done so already I would suggest you go into self-preservation mode, see a solicitor, talk to CAB, separate your finances, work out an exit plan and then present him with a fait accompli. Then he can gamble as much as he likes and it won't drag you and the DCs down with him.

Quitelikely Mon 23-Jun-14 10:49:13

He will end up with absolutely nothing. Literally. He needs some sort of intervention. His money will run out.

Can you tell his family?

How do you react?.

He does not want any help from GA and seems to be in denial of his gambling problems. You cannot help him and he does not want your help anyway. Unless he wants to help his own self nothing, repeat nothing, will change. He could well lose everything and still gamble afterwards; hitting his own rock bottom is no guarantee that he will seek help even then.

You could easily end up with precisely nothing financially if you were to stay with him.

I would now start divorce proceedings. Its the only way forward for you now. He is and will only continue otherwise to drag you and by turn his children down with him.

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 11:16:22

Sorry for the short replies, I don't think I'm in the right frame of mind to dissect properly today.

He knows he has a problem, he hates himself for doing it but he's always chasing, chasing what he's lost.

We either have shot loads of money, booking holidays etc or we have nothing. He will come home one day and be 5 grand up and he's all jubilant with everything will be ok now . Then two days letter he will have put it back plus more.

His family knows to an extent. He's just gone round to his mums. God knows what he'll say to her.

Every other aspect of him is wonderful, we have a great relationship, never bicker , laugh, affectionate, we seem like the perfect family.

But yet I know we''ll never have anything.

We rent from his num, have no savings for a deposit for a house.

When he tells me, I literally can't say anything, no words form in my head. I just tell him I don't know what to say, because I don't. I ask him why he does it. Can't he just keep away?

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 11:16:52

Wasn't such a short reply after all

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 11:18:10

Excuse my terrible typos! Phone is cracked so can't really much of what in typing smile

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Mon 23-Jun-14 11:22:49

Would you want to try a situation where he has zero control over your finances? Wages into your account, and he gets pocket money?
I know someone who lives like this, but it only works because he wants it to work, iyswim?
However there is always the risk that he will take out a loan etc that you know nothing about.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Jun-14 11:25:15

It's not a great relationship if you're constantly wondering if today is a loads of money day or the bailiffs will be knocking. It's a stressful relationship and he's showing you no respect at all. if you never argue in the face of such irresponsible behaviour and lying, there's something very wrong indeed. You should be taking him to task, demanding change and setting ultimatums... not standing open mouthed and saying nothing.

You italicised 'having anything' as if it's something trivial but we all need a roof over our heads, food on the table and the security of having a few quid in the bank in case of emergencies. Especially when there are DCs to think of.

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 11:37:46

Sorry the anything in italics didn't come across properly. I agree is certainly not trivial, I was trying to stress that we will end up with nothing which is hugely distressing.

All bills etc get paid, and we have food. We have no savings and this worries me.

I'm going to read over the replies a few times and try to digest the information. I guess when you've lived with it for so long it just becomes the 'norm'

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Jun-14 12:11:47

I used to live with an addict but, in his case, it was alcohol with a side order of irresponsible spending. You do get used to the behaviour, it's true. Human beings are very adaptable and resilient. It's amazing what we can tolerate and it's amazing how easily we're willing to rationalise it with self-delusion like 'we have a great relationship', 'he loves me' and 'he's always sorry'.

It's only after you've parted ways and get chance to think back that you will find yourself remembering some incident, slapping yourself on the forehead and wondering 'why on earth did I let that go?!' It's been 20+ years since my exH walked out and, even now, I still get those moments.

seabream Mon 23-Jun-14 13:00:07

There is a family and friends section on the gamcare forum, people on there have been through exactly what you've been experiencing. It is very tough. Read some of what they've written and you will not feel so alone.
You will never have anything like a normal life, ever. You will have a normal-ish life if he acknowledges his problem and agrees to stop, gives you complete control of all the money and never gambles again. But that is beyond difficult for a compulsive gambler to do. They have to reach a type of rock bottom before that becomes even remotely possible. And then they go through hell and back trying to stop and dealing with the guilt and pain. And the withdrawal symptoms (real, physical symptoms, as their bodies are used to the dopamine caused by the constant stress of winning and losing) can be awful. But if you get through all that you have a chance of a life with him. But he has to want that first, you sadly can't force it. I'm sorry, it is so hard. I've been there and wouldn't wish it on anyone.
I control all our money now, and he carries a few coins max. He doesn't carry a bank card. But even so I know that if he wanted to, he could gamble. He has chosen not to, but I know that for him every gamble free day is a struggle, getting easier, but still a struggle.

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 13:20:24

Thank you seabream, I must have missed that section when I last looked.

I'm glad you and your partner have come through it, it's so exhausting, the ups and downs. Was there a point that made him suddenly realise and get help?

He's turning 30 on Thursday, I've tried asking that he's been doing this through his teens and twenties, does he really want to continue throughout his 30s onwards?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Jun-14 13:29:27

I can see you're still hoping for a miracle and searching for a form of words that will make him wake up and suddenly realise he's making a big mistake. I'm sorry if you're clinging onto that.

seabream Mon 23-Jun-14 13:41:12

I think everyone has their own "rock bottom". My partner thought that he could just gamble a little bit, in a way that I was aware of (I work in the racing industry so know about it!), but in reality, cutting down made the problem worse as he was thinking about it all the time and using the bets I knew about as a smokescreen for the ones I didn't. He realised that our relationship, and thus his comfortable life, home, holidays, car, social standing, even his job, were finished if he didn't do something. Knowing more about it now, i realise that it is massively unusual for a compulsive gambler to be this self-aware and to come to this decision without the complete destruction that usually accompanies "rock bottom". We were lucky, perhaps. He'd been gambling since he was 15 years old and had been through hundreds of thousands of pounds, been in debt and paid it off many times over. But he owned nothing, had nothing to show for 20 years of hard work and a good career.

The first few weeks were awful and nearly broke us, as he was struggling and I had no idea how to support him. I needed support myself to come to terms with some of the things I had found out (a few big lies he'd told about money, and how he had manipulated me to facilitate his gambling). I had to realise that he couldn't help me at all with that, and he had to realise that I couldn't help him, and this was very hard as we've always relied on each other. In retrospect, we both should have had counseling, but we didn't.

I'm not naive and I know that in this sense I've chosen a hard road - he'll always be a gambler and I can't escape gambling as I work with horses and I love my career. He's focused his obsession on other things, one of which is watching our savings account grow (which, I hasten to add, is in my name and he can't touch). His anger and shame are fading slowly but that will always be with him. And I'll always worry that if something bad happens, he will escape back into the familiar warmth of the betting shop. I've decided to give him the chance to make it right, but equally, I'm always ready to walk if it goes wrong. Not an easy way to live. And I know it will be for life.

greatdreams Mon 23-Jun-14 13:51:11

My DH has had a gambling addiction since he was a teenager. Before we met, he would also gamble in the 1000s and live in the euphoria of the ups and downs / famine and feast that it brings. He has told me that it is precisely this instability that feeds the thrill. And in his case, he has said the downs push him to succeed in his career. He is one to focus on earning more, instead of spending less. He is incredibly smart and knows exactly the consequences - both financially and emotionally - it imposes on us.

Once I found out the true extent of his addiction right before we married, we tried several that progressively got it under control (from 1000s to 100s to 10s to nothing for 3 months now). This has only been possible because of his real willingness to change. Yet he acknowledges that he will always will be a gambler, risk-taking is part of his personality and though some steps can be taken to minimise it, it is his "dark passenger" for life.

Here are a few things that he/we have done:

1- No more credit cards. The only credit cards we have are in my name; he has one which I keep in his name for emergencies and I am the account holder so get to see everything that is spent on it.

2- Joint account. His salary goes straight into it. I hold both debit cards, he does not carry his anymore. I subscribe to the bank's text alert messages, and even before DH relinquished the debit card I could always be on top of any spend. After trying him sticking to an agreed gambling budget and failing miserably for years, we have recently agreed take out cash and give him on a as needed basis for petrol, lunch, etc.

3- Pre-paid debit card. Before going for the cash-only solution, we tried a period where he had a pre-paid debit card. I would credit a set amount per week which was his gambling/entertainment budget, which we both agreed to.

4. Ban from betting shops. Also before the cash-only solution, he banned himself from the bookies around the area we live and near his work. This step in particular was a really big one, and only happened after several episodes that caused a lot of heartache for both of us. It took him a lot of courage to go through it, especially as he felt it was really humiliating to have to go through it. It was a final acknowledgment that he lacked any control over his behaviour.

The plus side of all of the above: we finally have financial stability, he has restored a sense of pride and self-respect and we have rebuilt our mutual trust. The downside: all the financial decisions and management are my responsibility which can be a big burden. It also removes a lot of spontaneity from his part- eg, he can't buy me a present by surprise without me knowing. Also, there is a big emotional impact - a feeling of dependance (him from me), a feeling of resentment from me (to have to make all big decisions and add one more thing on all things I do for our family...). I think in the short-term it also made him feel emasculated and this had a negative effect on our sex life. But after several years, two DC later I can honestly say we are stronger than ever, our mutual admiration has grown ten-fold, our love and sex life are great (well, as great as it can be with two under 5s) and we have definitely evolved as people and as a couple.

Sorry for the long post, I hope any of this is useful! thanks

Livvylongpants Mon 23-Jun-14 13:55:20

My partner has a gambling issue, I wouldn't say addiction as he can not gamble for ages, but when he has 1 bet and looses he'll keep going until there is no money left in the account.

I have taken all control of finances, his wages, my wages and any other money goes into my personal account which he has no access to, and I transfer him 'spending money'.

He still has a bet every now and again, but I will literally swap £20'into his account and say if you lose you get no more. Works ok for us smile

greatdreams Mon 23-Jun-14 14:05:47

sorry about the typos!

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 14:44:24

Cogito, your totally right, even though I know deep down there's nothing I can say that will flick the switch so to speak, but it doesn't stop me from trying.

Seabream and greatdreams thank you so much for telling me about your experiences. I'm so happy that you have both managed to work through it and come out happier.

My dh is such a strong character and to see him be completely weak at this part of himself makes me so disappointed in him.
He's also extremely clever.
His profession means he deals with mainly cash so he gives me money to put in my bank to pay the bills and then usually gambles the rest. We don't have credit cards.

I suppose the one good thing is that he doesn't lie about his gambling. I think he might tell me how much he has lost to punish himself.

I have been thinking of attending GA meetings myself, just to see what other peoples go through too.

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 14:44:43

You're I meant smile

mysticpizza Mon 23-Jun-14 17:23:15

Another who's married to a gambler albeit one now in recovery.

He ran up tens of thousands in debt behind my back but finally admitted it and got bailed out by me and my parents. I took over the finances and thought we were doing OK but found out last summer he'd gone back to it and funded it by conning the kids out of their savings and taking out more loans but changing logins and passwords so I couldn't see.

He became suicidal and went missing for a few days when it was all about to come to light. Quite a rock bottom.

I'd second pretty much all the advice above. I look after the finances. I handle his bank account and transfer his salary to my account as soon as it's in. I have access to his credit report and I check all accounts including the credit report on a daily basis so I would know immediately if he's done his login changing trick.

I have no financial association with him other than the joint account which has a £200 limit. Everything including the house is in my name. His credit rating is completely shot and he's on a DMP so thankfully I think he'd find it difficult to take out more loans anyway now.

He does go to GA and finds it really helpful. He's actually OK with the bank card for the joint account but carries no cash since he had a small relapse a few months back with the limited amount of change he had on him at the time. We also have a gambling blocker on the PC.

Sadly I think it sounds like your dh is in denial about the scale of his problem. Until he wants to give up and is prepared to live pretty much as outlined in this thread there is nothing at all you can do or say to stop him. Even if/when he does ask for help you and he need to be prepared for these to be permanent arrangements. I won't ever trust dh with money again as I don't believe a compulsion to gamble is ever cured just arrested. Given the right circumstances and a weak set of blocks a relapse could occur at any time. Don't underestimate what a desperate gambler is capable of either. They can look you in the eye and lie and manipulate without batting an eyelid.They can and do sink lower than you'd believe possible to fund this thing.

As a minimum and right now you need to protect your own interests. Get everything you can into your name and don't take out any debt on his behalf.

I truly hope he can arrest this destructive tendency before he loses everything.

Fcukfifa Mon 23-Jun-14 17:46:07

Mystic, thank you so much. It gives me a glimmer of hope to hear of maybe not recovered gamblers but ones who manage to curb the spending.

I know he's not at that point yet. The general gist of what he says after slotting however much is 'I got it to £2/3 thousand why didn't I take it out?' Or blames it on someone else talking to him when he's there! When he should be asking why did he go in in the first place?

He's going to a festival for his birthday so will have a talk about if he is ready to give me control of all the money. Or at least start attending GA, when he gets back.

Thank you again for your replies thanks

He has already told you that he does not want to go to GA so I doubt very much he will change his mind at your behest.

At the present time you are there, would you not consider leaving ultimately?.

HE has to want to solve his gambling addiction; you cannot do that.

This excerpt may help you as well:-
Start by helping yourself. You have a right to protect yourself emotionally and financially. Don’t blame yourself for the gambler’s problems. The right support can help you make positive choices for yourself, and balance encouraging your loved one to get help without losing yourself in the process.

It can feel so overwhelming coping with a loved one’s problem gambling that it may seem easier to rationalize their requests and problems “this one last time”. Or you might feel ashamed, feeling like you are the only one who has problems like this. Reaching out for support will make you realize that many families have struggled with this problem. Or you might consider therapy to help sort out the complicated feelings that arise from coping with a problem gambler.

If a loved one is serious about getting help for problem gambling, it may help if you take over the family finances to make sure the gambler stays accountable and to prevent relapse. However, this does not mean you are responsible for micromanaging the problem gamblers impulses to gamble. Your first responsibilities are to ensure that your own finances and credit are not at risk.

Consider how you will handle requests for money. Problem gamblers often become very good at asking for money, either directly or indirectly. They may use pleading, manipulation or even threats and blaming to get it. It takes time and practice to learn how you will respond to these requests to ensure you are not enabling the problem gambler and keeping your own dignity intact.

Do’s and Don'ts for Partners of Problem Gamblers

Do
◾Seek the support of others with similar problems; attend a self-help group for families (Gamcare)
◾ Explain problem gambling to the children.
◾ Recognize your partner’s good qualities.
◾ Remain calm when speaking to your partner about his or her gambling and its consequences.
◾ Let your partner know that you are seeking help for your own sake because of the way gambling affects you and the children.
◾ Understand the need for treatment of problem gambling despite the time it may involve.
◾ Take control of family finances; review bank and credit card statements.

Don’t
◾ Preach, lecture, or allow yourself to lose control of your anger.
◾ Make threats or issue ultimatums unless you intend to carry them out.
◾ Exclude the gambler from family life and activities.
◾ Expect immediate recovery, or that all problems will be resolved when the gambling stops.
◾ Bail out the gambler.
◾ Cover-up or deny the existence of the problem to yourself, the family, or others.

mysticpizza Mon 23-Jun-14 18:37:36

You're very welcome, Fcukfifa smile

Deflecting blame is very typical behaviour but the truth is only he is responsible for his actions. When he asks why he didn't walk away with his winnings the answer is he can't. When they're in action any winnings are just a means to keep them in action as long as possible. It's not about the money, it's about the buzz.

Basically a problem gambler can't win because they can't stop.

I'd recommend a look at the Gamcare forum. Gamcare also offer a free counselling service and phoneline help both for problem gamblers and for their families. Dh found the counselling very useful even though he wasn't able to complete all the sessions.

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