Where to start:
Partner of 23 years is a compulsive gambler. Not always been an issue but addictive personality generally that has had its moments in other ways. Several yrs ago he broke down and told me what was happening, we got over that episode and it was fine for a few years. He didn’t receive professional help and every time he’s given up a ‘vice’ he substitutes it with another. Cue where we are now.
He left an office job to work from home (very) part-time 3 yrs ago. It fit our home life but provided the perfect opportunity to start gambling again - and he has in earnest. We have separate finances so I can’t see it and because I earn enough to cover everything, it’s justification as we ‘don’t need the money’ and why do I need to know about his finances. Great partnership eh. He’s stopped contributing financially, emotionally, and being physically present in every sense a while ago. The mood swings, the lying, the disinterest in family life is truly saddening and I can see it in the pupils of his eyes.
In my frustration and loneliness I will admit to getting angry sometimes and challenging him, which he now uses as the reason for all his unhappiness - everything is my fault and i’m terrible human being who makes him miserable. Doesn’t seem to get the correlation between his moods and mine being affected.
The cycle is i acquiesce for a few months/weeks, we pretend and there are moments he can be nice. I then get upset or angry about it as the behaviour slips and he doesn’t talk to me (literally) for weeks as ‘punishment’ and because that way you don’t have to answer questions or admit what’s happening.
I’ve reached the end of my tether but can’t seem to leave. In a moment of calmness this evening that took every part of me to remain composed, I got him to say he is gambling ‘a bit’ and ‘maybe one day’ he’d talk to someone. He knows I know what’s happening. He quickly started projecting on to me i’m messy or make him miserable etc.
I don’t need to write anymore as it’s all textbook and you’ve read it before. If you met me in real life you’d be shocked at the contrast in my professional life and what I put up with at home. Like most of us I guess I have 2 lives and have never told any friends or family what goes on. I pretend for him and am v good at creating the illusion. Says a lot about me.
I love and hate him equally I think but also blame myself for enabling it and tolerating it for so long. Why can’t I leave and how does anyone? It will break my daughters heart, but I know i’m mentally being broken. I get the odd glimmer that it’s salvageable and I know he’s embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, not ready to stop etc. Why do I think I can fix this when I also know an ultimatum wouldn’t work either and he’s not the rational person I once met - there is nothing I can do. Just angry at myself really and very very sad.
Youth is wasted on the young. What advice i’d give my younger self.
It sounds like you're feeling stuck with your problems and finding it hard to see ways of improving your experience. Please call us on our freephone 0808 8020 133 for emotional support or if you'd like us to help you access free therapy locally or online- there is also support for family members and loved ones of problem gamblers like yourself. It is good that you're sharing peer support on the forum, Well done for reaching out for support and talking about your struggle. Please continue to do so in whatever way you feel comfortable doing.
Hi agios My name's Alan and I'm a Compulsive gambler .
I feel your pain coming through the word's you write and am sorry your having to go through this .
I can't comment on if you should stay or leave as I know nothing of your long term relationship other than what's been said tonight and if or not you feel this is worth fighting for or saving .
What I can tell you from a Compulsive gambler point of view who's so deep in addiction is that unfortunately you'll never change him until he's ready for change , him deflecting questions and turning thing's around until they point back towards you as being the reason for him gambling and being unhappy because it's you that make him that way are all the main traits of a gambler that's so deep in denial that a problem even exits and be assured he'll continue along this path simply because it allows him to continue life in his gambling bubble .
He's shown no remorse , he contributes nothing to household bills ,which allows him to fund his habit without question , he'll not seek help nor admit a problem and saying " He'll get help and maybe talk to someone one day ? that's just for your benefit and clinging to the hope that again one day he'll change but for him it means he can carry on at least until the next round of questions means coming up with another excuse .
He's actually got the life that most gamblers would dream of " what a perfect enviroment you've allowed him to have " ?.
I can't tell you to leave but I can tell you that you need to start thinking about yourself , if you give him an ultimatum ? kick him out ? and he seeks proper help , contributes and offers you complete transparency then you have a fighting chance of change but if the same ultimatum brings you nothing ........we'll your questions answered really ? .
" Nothing changes if nothing changes "
I wish you well x
It’s not too late to change your life but no white knight is going to step in and do it for you. As they say in AlAnon, if you don’t want to be a doormat, get up off the floor.
The choice isn’t about staying or leaving, maybe long term but certainly not yet. But you could choose to change how you respond to his abuse, you could start learning how to look after yourself, you could start learning resilience. You could decide to stop making everything about him and when he’ll cop on (he won’t) and start learning how to your own decisions about how you want to live your own life.
The starting point is regular meetings for you, both GamAnon and CoDA. There’s also a lot of literature out there, the CoDA booklets, Robin Norwood “Women who Love Too Much”, Pia Mellody, Melodie Beatty.
Change starts with you and your choices are your own.
You've covered most of the standard points in your post and come to your own conclusions.
He has no incentive to stop all the time you pay the bills, cover for him with others and shield him from any consequences to what he's doing. Staying in the relationship for your daughter diverts from the real issues you need to consider one of which is that she's living in a toxic environment now. He's not going to change until he wants to which could be tomorrow, could be never.
How do you want life to be?
I feel every bit of what you're going through. The patterns and the behaviour are all too familiar. Staying or leaving is a choice only you can make but try and start talking. It took me a long time to start talking but once I did I was amazed by how supportive everyone was and still is. It really helped me overcome the embarrasment I felt in the past. If you feel you can't talk to friends or family, go to a Gamanon meeting. There are lots all over the UK but they do an online meet on Sunday evenings as well. You've been there for your husband through all these years, now you need to be there for you and your daughter(s). Xx
I know - I need to find ways to take back control for myself/family in the immediate, whilst building resilience to plan for the longer term. Just feeling trapped in terms of how I can start doing that. Do I just stop paying for the internet for example, seems petty but maybe these are small things that start to make a statement about boundaries.
With the deepest of respect I say that " The ladies of this forum who have all suffered as a result of what having a compulsive gambler as a partner have voiced their opinion" .
I'm one of those just like your husband who has caused the carnage throughout my life and although I've not been an active gambler for a few years I would just like to say again that nothing will change until you make that change or he decides for himself that he's had enough .
He has the perfect breeding ground for his addiction so why would he want anything different ? , he'll lie manipulate ,cheat, borrow and steal to fund his life in a bubble and whilst you may feel it would never come to that , I know from experience of what I and many others on these pages would do to continue gambling .
You ask where to begin ? ..... issue the ultimatum of what you want from him and exactly how it's going to be managed . The first step will always be the toughest and if you feel not paying the internet bill will suffice then that's the place to start but I would question " Why do I alone pay the internet bill " He's using it , he's supposed to be an adult and supporting a family home and a child right ?
My anger was due to my pains not healed, my fears not faced, my frustrations due to my unreasonable expectations of people life and situations.
I use to think that being angry was healthy, not today being angry is not healthy in any way for me today.
I use to think that I was the only person in our marriage who had emotional baggage.
Sadly both of us had suffered pains we did not talk about.
When I went to the addictions and obsessions were a way of me escaping in my fears from people life and situations I could not cope with emotionally.
When I walked in to recovery program I did not know how unhealthy I was.
Sadly healing and my recovery could not occur if I was not admitting my pains and my fears to myself.
Before my recovery I could not admit to myself I had huge fears of emotional intimacy.
Before my recovery I could not admit to myself I was emotionally vulnerable.
Before my recovery I could not be honest and accountable to myself.
My physical age and emotional age did not match at all.
This was due to pains and trauma in my life that were not healed or resolved.
Sadly due to painful child hood trauma I built walls of fear to protect my hurt inner child.
Later in my life I would identify that that high wall built on fears was going to stop me having intimate relationships with other people.
Because of my work in my recovery I am no longer the victim, I am no longer the perpetrator, I am no longer the rescuer.
As our fears fade our trust grows, once we heal that hurt inner child our inner child comes out to play.
As our fears fade when we no longer fear rejection or abandonment, we no longer fear failure, we no longer fear being our self.
As I heal and mature I am able to identify what is healthy what is unhealthy.
The more I escaped indicated how much fear was inhibiting me from having a healthy intimate life with myself and with other people.
My addiction and obsessions was a form of escape from people life and situations when I was emotionally vulnerable.
Being accountable to myself helped me be honest with myself.
I want to be free of all fears today.I want to be able to trust myself once more.
Love and peace to every one.
Dave of Beckenham
Thanks - i’ve been reflecting on all the feedback (which has been very helpful) and think I just need to go for it. I want demonstrable actions that show he is trying to help himself (self exclusions, handing over finances as he has in the past, and importantly professional help via meetings and counselling etc). If he does those I will try and support. If he starts skirting around the issue and projecting blame - basically anything but full commitment to his recovery he is on his own and the full weight of consequences that entails for him. I have been reluctant to do that as perhaps wasn’t strong enough but also thought ultimatums we’re somehow ‘bad’. I need to see the reaction as then I have my answer.
Truly grateful for all your help. It’s a weight lifted just having this as an outlet with people who understand.
Ok i’ve done it and now terrified but also weirdly numb. Decidedly to go for a carefully worded but very direct ultimatum email so the meaning and intent was clear without it escalating into a fight that might have happened if we tried to talk.
Worried about dealing with the fallout and coping with it 🙁
Ultimatums are not bad at all unless you don't follow through.
I don't think there needs to be a rush to leave (unless of course you or kids are in danger). There needs to be a rush to make sure finances are buttoned down so you can pay bills etc.
After finances are looked after you can look at the relationship etc and decide what you want SO hard!