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Financial control - the practicalities and emotions

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#1 Posted on:
Sat, 30/09/2017 - 14:47

Cc2017

Joined:
2017-09-30

Hi All,

This is my first actual post to the board, although, I've visited and read the stories of others in my time of living with my partner who is a problem gambler.  Just a bit of background, we've been in a relationship for 11 years and have two children.  It's become apparent that my partner has had a problem with gambling for what would seem to be the majority of our time together... sustained by my trust/niavity and the huge amount of deceit that's been involved to cover up her tracks.  I found out that she had gambled to the tune of around £20,000 between years 2-3 of being together.  I thought it had stopped - but actually it had pretty much continued.  In essense, somewhere around £70k has likely been gambled away over the years.

It's been really hard to unpick, as before now and after each uncovering of the problem in the past I've gone on to place my trust in her time after time, not realising that the problem wouldn't be resolved without help.  We've always had separate bank counts and split the bills, but essentially what she was doing was overstating what she had to pay, only paying the essentials and siphering off the majority of her salary to gamble with.  Not only that, she was topping up her capacity to feed her addition by using credit cards which I only discovered a year ago.  Where are we now? a financial mess to be honest.  We're lucky in that we both earn reasonably good salaries above the average - but we're laiden with debts of around £20,000 between us and any dreams of getting a mortgage etc are put on hold for a few years - something I had to get my head round.

So, that's the background.... I guess I really need help with the now.  After discovering the last run of gambling in August, I said that I couldn't continue in the relationship unless there was big change and urged her to seek some help.  Which she has done, she got in touch with Gamcare and has arranged some conselling sessions.  I also said that for her help, after reading the forum boards and taking advice, that a common approach is for me to take over financial control - which I have done.

Now both wages are paid into my bank account, I've taken over control of her bank account too and she doesn't have access.  I provide her with a £50 pool of money that she can spend if she needs to go to the shops for food or for the kids etc.  But otherwise, it's down to me to make sure all of the bills are paid, credit cards paid back etc.  That's been happening for two months now.  I had asked her to open a basic bank account so that she can have access to online banking - which she hasn't done for icusome reason.

It's difficult though.  She believes that she should be able to see and have access to the accounts, which I don't want her to have.  She has asked if we can have a joint bank account.  I'm accused of the situation being unfair, because she feels that I can go out to spend whenever I want, but she only has a limited fund and has to ask for top ups.  I try to explain we can talk about the money, she can make purchases etc... but yes, that does mean that it has to go through me and I'm not willing to take a backwards step.  

I don't think she appreciates how difficult it is, it's not exactly an ideal situation for me either, but since removing her access to the wage I've felt better, the gambling has pretty much stopped (saw a £20 transaction from the other day however).  I don't know what others have done around the practicalities - it feels to  me like I need to stick to the plan:

I keep the set up to ensure financial control sits with me for the timebeing, to have open conversations about the money so she is kept in the loop, she needs to open a new bank account so that she can have access to online banking and the conveniences that offers.  Not sure what your thoughts are, it would be useful to know if anyone has any other ideas.  Bearing in mind, it's only been two months on and she's only had 3 conselling sessions - we've seen some good improvements but I think it's way too early to start rolling back on some of the changes.

Thanks

Posted on:
Sat, 30/09/2017 - 15:28

Amom

Joined:
2014-10-09

You are absolutely doing the right thing. IMHO (and 10 years experience with a CG) CG have an extremely short memory. They tend to very quickly forget the problem and damage and feel they have this under control and you should be trusting them again. No, No, No!!

Your wife has put you in debt to the tune of 20,000 and is a compulsive gambler. You are now responsible for yourself and your kids. It is great that she is getting counselling but 3 sessions/2 months is nowhere near enough for any real recovery. It doesn't just go away that easily.

You have to be prepared for anger and pushback. Addiction HATES to be challenged and will use every trick in the book to get you to back down.

Cathyx

 

Posted on:
Sat, 30/09/2017 - 17:47

Lethe

Joined:
2016-12-10

If you've seen gambling transactions she hasn't stopped. How is she making them if you have full financial control? How is her allowance paid? Do you see receipts for everything she spends? It's necessary to move to a whole new level of vigilance when there's a CG in the house. 

Her reactions should be ringing alarm bells. If she wanted to stop she would welcome anything that helps her do just that and not being able to access any of the accounts falls under that category. A joint account creates a financial connection that can affect your own credit applications if her rating is trashed.  Why does she need her own bank account if her salary goes direct to you and  you're handling things? Are you going to be monitoring it? She lost the right to financial privacy when she ran up tens of thousands in debt behind your back.

Going to counselling isn't enough. A CG who doesn't want to stop will tell us everything we want to hear and go right back at it without batting an eye. You can't trust her so don't. Put your own and the children's interests first without fail. Time will tell if she means what she says but as Cathy says two months is nowhere near long enough to tell.

Posted on:
Sat, 30/09/2017 - 19:22

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

Hi cc, I'm with Cathy and Lethe. Def no online account that is acces to loans etc. Nothing joint. My cg receipts only. No access to any accounts, doesn't see anything. We go to gamanon and GA. He also carried on after I took control of salary and bills. Own account used loans to continue. When I found out again this year I took his passport and driving license. Be on your guard. I read on here the other day someone had 3 sessions of counselling and that was it. Unfortunately this is lifelong and total commitment is needed. You can't control whether she gambles or not, but you must make sure you have control of money. You can have counselling, call gamcare and go to gamanon where you will learn invaluable information and gain support for you. Good luck!

Posted on:
Sat, 30/09/2017 - 19:25

Joydivider

Joined:
2015-03-11

Hi CC2017.

A true feeling of wanting to stop is I was prepared to lose the trust for a lifetime if needs be to get the help I needed. I take the lead now in reporting what I do with my money and how things are going.

Im afraid there is no room for half measures. I know its not easy for you and you must protect all of the money for crucial bills.

This is not about treating her like a baby but she doesnt seem to understand that its extremely important to build trust again and you are calling the decisions. You need to be checking credit files, monitoring and shutting down any access to loans for her...its a difficult situation if you are thinking of a future mortgage though....a very awkward situation as it can put a massive marker over your head as well. You may well need serious financial advice.

There is no shame in admitting she has had a gambling addiction but you probably dont want to tell the whole financial world at this stage. That is your decision and it is an addiction which can be controlled and cured with the right blocks

Its a deadly addiction which can spring up out of the blue and you both have to treat it with the fear and respect it deserves. I know this is difficult for you as you didnt cause this.

So my view is this is not the time for your partner to be talking about the rights of another online bank account. This is about saving your quality of life and your relationship.

The addiction is an illness and it takes time for the mind to heal. It does get better but you also have to realise that there is no room for complacency and it can reside in the gambler to some extent.

Its often based on stress, depression and feeling lost in life so Its good to talk and get a health checkup. You may need some therapy over this.

Best wishes from everyone on the forum

 

Posted on:
Sat, 30/09/2017 - 20:53

Cc2017

Joined:
2017-09-30

Thank you all. 

It's making me reflect on where I currently am within myself and whether I have given it the full respect it needs.   That's hard to say, as I know how deeply it hurts each and every time this monster of an addiction has reared it's head and the amount of damage it's done to our short / medium term financial health, and just how hard we're going to have to work to get out of this hole.

She gambled via her mobile phone - even though I put a safety blocker on it to stop gambling sites etc on it she managed to get hold of a SMS premium service app where it charges to the mobile phone.  I only discovered this today by the way... so I'm looking to get a better blocker - or get her a new phone (which I'm sure will go down well).

I realise I need to get some help for myself from all of your comments.  I need to find more strength and to be more assertive with what I need to feel safe in this relationship.  And that's probably going to be the hardest part for me as it's a shifting mindset and my natural tendencies.  I got to get tougher dealing with the push back and the anger as said, because I the alternative can feel bad.

I only heard about Gamanon today so thanks, as before now I've been focused on her dealing with things... I need to stay closer to what I need to do in order to deal with this situation .  I can appreciate how going to meetings and speaking to others will help me to tackle this and also to keep the energy and focus alive.  Up until now I've said I don't need conselling for myself, but I'm now thinking I should explore that too so atleast I can be better at articulating my needs / feelings etc around this particular issue.. as I've probably been guilty myself of trying to move on too quickly too soon.  Got to be honest, I do feel a bit stupid and overwhelmed also as I probably sound like I don't have clue.   But I know you've all probably have been at a similar place at somepoint?    

Alarm bells were ringing, and I am even more worried about just how committed my partner is right now.  Guess like you say, I can't necessarily affect whether she is going to gamble, but I can stay fast in making sure me and the kiddies are protected and to do all that I can within my control to stop it.

Thank you x

CC

 

Posted on:
Sat, 30/09/2017 - 21:16

Lethe

Joined:
2016-12-10

If you can't block the phone effectively, consider a downgrade to a non internet enabled brick. Mr L has a brick for personal use but a smartphone for work which gives me the itch but it is monitored by his employer which I have to hope is enough to forestall any problems. That said he has no access to anything but the joint account I operate and monitor on a very, very regular basis (neither of us have any plans to access credit now or in the future so I'm happy to accomodate this). Every other device is password protected and I have K9 blocker on the PC and laptop in addition.

Along with investigating GamAnon I'd also advise reading anything and everything you can about the addiction and what you are up against. Has she looked into GA? She will find support and understanding there along with tools to maintain recovery long term. In addition to mechanical blocks she will need to identify and address whatever it is that's driving the compulsion.

Posted on:
Sat, 30/09/2017 - 23:32

Amom

Joined:
2014-10-09

Please don't feel stupid... hindsight is 20/20! You are just on a forum with a group of people that have had many many years collectively dealing with this.

As individual as everybody's situation is it is incredible how similar they are. We have all heard every lie you have, we have been faced with the CG in our life starting recovery and all the trials that go with that. How do I know if they are really going to meetings, how do I know if they are really trying or just trying to get me off their back, they are angry cuz you don't trust them yet, you are angry as you feel like you are looking after a child.... the list goes on.

Just remember everything you are going through and feeling is normal and don't let her addiction tell you any different.

Cathyx

Posted on:
Sun, 01/10/2017 - 09:09

Cynical wife

Joined:
2015-06-23

Hi,

My experience was that first time round I got denial / minimisation ("spread betting is investing not gambling but if you insist, I'll stop"); blame ("we need the money because you're so extravagant"); manipulation ("my bank accounts are private and none of your business" or "how can we stay married if you invade my privacy this way?" or "you think that everything is your business when it isn't". All classic lines but I didn't realise it at the time.

This time round, I got unconditional cooperation with barriers. Blockers, a non internet mobile handset, credit reports, access to email and bank accounts, self exclusion. He hasn't gambled since that I know of but it's still very difficult two years on. And the financial barriers are there to protect family money, their purpose is not to prevent gambling. Because the only thing that prevents gambling is the gambler's commitment not to place the first bet. No one can stop for someone else and a determined gambler will hand over cards then order new ones or open secret accounts or obtain credit, main stream and less main stream.

The way forward is to start to change your responses, which takes practice and support. Protect yourself financially (I also find managing the money by myself a burden but it's better than allowing it to haemorrhage). Mainly, take the help and support that's out there, in particular GamAnon meetings, where you meet others in the same situation. Have a non-confrontational but non-apologetic attitude that conveys the message that you have to do these things because of the gambling. Such an attitude undermines denial.

It's very easy for us F&F to get caught up in the chaos, to persist in futile attempts to awaken the addict, to keep on doing what doesn't work. There are no easy recipes for awakening the addict but we certainly can improve our own lives. Keep the focus on you, on looking after yourself and on learning how to manage the situation that you're in and how to make the best decisions for you. 

CW