Just want to introduce myself. My wife and I have been married for 30 years, and she has gambled pretty much from the beginning, but managed to hide or control it for about the first 8 years. Ever since, we have fought over it. Lucky for me, I make pretty good money, and she also works, so we are not in debt as a couple, but she has a lot of hidden debt, mostly on credit cards, and she hits me up for money monthly to pay off her credit cards. I put her on a budget for years, and at least up until the last four years, she mostly kept to it, although she had a couple big slips. About 18 years ago, she blew through a $50,000 tax refund I got for selling some stock options that had prepaid tax, but we got it back. She also took out $26,000 from her 401K retirement fund, which I had to pay taxes and penalties that year.
Over the years, I would estimate she lost over $200,000 outside of her budget. Her budget is currently $1900/mo, and she is only responsible for groceries and gas for her car, maybe the occasional cosmetics. I even agreed to pay for her clothing out of the general budget. I estimate she only spends around $500/mo for groceries/household items and maybe $200/mo for gas, so that leaves a lot of extra spending money, and I think it is generous. She also gets an extra $5000 every Christmas. Lately, she has been asking for extra every month, which in just the last year added up to $50,000. She has been increasing her activity at the local Indian casinos. There are at least 5 Indian casinos within 35 miles of our house, and she goes to them all.
Every once in awhile, we will have a big fight over this, threaten divorce, and then she will promise, this is the last time, and she will stop, but then will start again the following month. I told her if she limited it to no more than a couple times a month, and under $200/mo (although I prefer her stop 100%), I could live with that, and she agreed, but then she secretly sneaks out during the day while I'm at work. She also works the night shift, so we only see each other in the evening and on weekdays.
Often she would leave work early and run to the casino before coming home
One of the problems is both her parents also gamble and all her 4 brothers and 1 of her 5 sisters also gamble, so it is hard to get anyone to back me up to stop her. She feels she doesn't have a problem, and since she has me as a safety net, she won't hit rock bottom. She says she likes to gamble because it is a stress reliever for her. She complains that I'm cheap and won't spend money as an excuse, and says I'm letting money control me. She says she will die soon, so doesn't care about the future. She is 62 years old, I'm 60, and her father is 87 years old, so I don't believe she is in danger of dying anytime soon. I'm ready to retire, but scared to stop working as long as she keeps wasting money. I have a good amount saved for retirement, but fear she won't be able to control herself, and slowly drain off all I have built up over the years.
One thing I also noticed in reading this forum, the vast majority of gamblers are men, with fretting female spouses. Is there difference in confronting a female gambler? I have seen many confessions from men, but not so many from women. I wonder if women have a harder time seeking help for gambling addiction, or even admitting to it. Since I make the most money, she feels it is my duty to support her as the wife, and as long as all the bills are paid, and there is a bank balance, she is okay. After fights, she will admits she gambles to much and will quit, but I think she is just trying to get me off her back, and doesn't really believe what she is saying. I think she is just manipulating me to keep it going. She told me her brother and dad both told her to stop gambling, yet they continue to go to the casino almost every day, so this just doesn't send a good message to my wife.
What if anything can I do?
At your age, you could possibly give all your money to your children or your own relatives instead. Let the money go to someone you love because I don't feel your wife has any intention to stop. You shouldn't feel the burden at your age to support your wife. You deserve to retire without any strings attached.
She sounds selfish, manipulating, lying, all the bad stuff. Ask yourself, do you really love her enough to make more of an effort? If you do, then you should try to support to help her gambling problem, book her sessions to get help and that, then get her whole family to go. Don't give her money, give her the help she needs and if she takes it, then she is willing to change. If not, then you can put up with it until you die or be ready to pack your bags.
Do the maths on addiction. You need more of the same to get on with the high. She is making the runway longer and longer. Sometimes gamblers need anchors so they don't drift down the wrong way too far. It does not sound to me that the behavior is not about to stop anytime soon. If I were you I would become a hawk on the economy as you seem to be the one doing that. Try and secure that hidden debt does not become hidden death. And if she comes to a self-insight that she would like to give the casinos a miss then tell her about this place. There are other things to do with your time than gambling away but she needs to find that out for herself so you make sure that you protect yourself because that is all you can do atm.
She doesn't feel she needs help, and can quit anytime. In my state, if I were to divorce or legal separation, we have to split everything 50/50, and the higher earner has to pay the lower earner spouse alimony. That is a bitter pill to swallow for me, since we have a substantial amount of both property and retirement savings. I could survive on my half, but I would have to scale back on my retirement a bit to make it work.
I think my wife still loves me a little, and I feel some for her, but it is hard sometimes to deal with her nonsense. Outside of the gambling we get along very well. We also have one daughter that is starting college in a week.
I've heard of interventions, but for an intervention to work, you need a couple of trusted family or close friends to be involved, to convince the addict they need help. Since most of her brothers and sisters have the same addiction, that's hard to do. They all tell her to stop, but still continue to do the same, so it is do as I say, not what I do. Most of her family that gambles limit their losses to what they have in their pocket, but don't borrow money, as far as I know, and they all have good paying careers, but my wife borrows by making cash advances on credit cards. So they do have some limits, but she doesn't. She also makes a lot less than her brothers, but tries to keep up with them. She also has a couple brothers that have mental illness, so can't work, and she feels she has to care of them, and give them money, even though they have government assistance.
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