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Partner being gambling - how do I react?  


Hi all,

Been with my other half for over ten years now and thought I knew her through and through. 

After noticing some suspicious withdrawals yesterday on the joint account I questioned them but just assumed it was to pay a few bills and she hasn't been working much. 

After delving a bit deeper I found out she is over 10k in debt through online gambling trying to recover losses.

I'm still in shock, I barely slept last night and had to force myself through work today. If I'm honest, the money is bad but it's fixable, I have saving and we can look at repayment plans. 

What I can't figure and let go is the trust. I always thought I was kind and trustworthy, that she could come to me with anything. I'm not sure she would have told me if I hadn't noticed the suspicious activity. On top of that, she has been treated badly before and I thought that having felt that, she would never think about doing it to another person. 

I love her to bits, we have an amazing 18 month son and I have no intention of losing that, but I can't get over the anger and shock that sits with me.

I know time is the best healer, and this is fixable. I know deep down she needs me and will do for a long time to recover, I just hope I can get over the shock soon. 

Any words welcome. 

Posted : 24th September 2020 6:04 pm

Hi Polo,

First off welcome but I’m sure you’d rather not been on here.

There is no right or wrong way to react. Shock and the feeling of deceit are probably common and anger, disappointment. Gamblers, certainly problem ones as I am, are great at hiding their gambling as generally there s geat shame in the addiction.

I’d perhaps ask your other half about her gambling and explain you are their to help and support if she has a problem.

There is so much help, support and good advice out there for both gamblers and those affected by gambling such as yourself. The biggest step is owing up to having a problem which I think is common with all addictions.

Sadly compulsive gambling is an illness but the good news is it can be managed and things can and will get better.

I first sought help 3 and half years ago and thankfully my wife really supported me as she could see I was determined to address the addiction. Admittedly I have relapsed but the support is a huge help and trying to fight the addiction.

Good luck and I hope my ramblings have helpled.

Posted : 24th September 2020 10:56 pm

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. 

We spoke last night in great depth and she assures me it hasn't happened for a few months now. Whilst I would like to trust her unfortunately after what has happened I can't. We agreed that to move forward she needs to get help as, just as you mentioned, I don't think it's something she can just stop on her own. She has agreed to call the helpline today as a start. 

I feel better today our chat but still obviously in some shock and hurt. I know it will take time. 

Posted : 25th September 2020 8:20 am

Welcome Polo and thanks for posting here.

I would not blame your wife for the deceit. Yes she hid it from you, but as a gambler myself who also has a partner, I am pretty sure she did not hide it from you from a negative reason, other than the fact that sanpablo said, which is being ashamed of her actions.

As a gambler (who has now quit) I felt horrible and disgusted with myself for gambling behind my girlfriends back but what I can see now, now I have my head and thoughts straight, is that I could not stop. As a gambler you chase the losses and it spirals out of control. You lose the sense of control and then you hide things, you keep quiet because you want to try and fix the problems you have created  but many gamblers try and fix those problems by gambling more, and I can tell you from looking at my success record and my bank account.... it does not work 😉

I am very happy to be out of gambling now and your wife is in a good position now as she has a husband (you) who now knows about the problem, who loves her (still, I hope), and can help support her to get through these problems.

Knowing what I do today about gambling, if in the future I have a wife or partner who I found out has been gambling, I would know what to do. In your position I totally understand the frustration and anger for what has happened, but as you said, money can be fixed, it is always replaceable. Support your wife (which I am sure you will do from the sound of your post) and help her get through this. Time is a healer. She is going to feel so much better for herself and in her life in general when she is not gambling anymore.

Wish you both the best of luck and do feel free to post on here whenever you have questions or want to get any thoughts off your mind - there are people here with a lot of experience, more so than me 🙂

Have a great day and weekend.


Posted : 25th September 2020 8:29 am

Thanks, M. 

I don't blame her, I understand why she did it and why she hid it as well. We have taken small steps today to get moving forward and hopefully put it behind us. 

Thanks for taking the time to write back, really does mean a lot. 


Posted : 25th September 2020 10:59 am

I've not read any of the other replies so this is straight from the heart. I can tell just from the post it really comes through that you are a kind, genuine, loving and caring family man. Your feelings of anger etc are perfectly natural and you will need time to digest this.

On the trust side, there are several ways of looking at it. I can understand why anyone who does something so destructive and in a way unnatural to most would keep it a secret. It's like not telling someone something as it's either so embarrassing or would hurt that person so much that they feel they cannot tell and keep it to themselves. It sounds like your partner has felt this way about gambling. The positive thing is if this is the first time you have found out about it and it's the first time it's come to a head with your partners gambling then there is hope.

I myself have gambled lots of money on 3 seperate occassions and only a couple of close friends have known about it, I have taken full responsibility and beaten myself up about it. There are gamblers who will break down when it comes out, are ashamed and feel so bad about how it has affected others and these are all good reactions to hope for a good shot at recovery and a better future. There are other gamblers who are selfish and make false promises and when things come out in the wash give little thought or care to the others it has affected, I have often advised people on here to leave partners like that. 

Your role in this will be to discuss openly with your partner her thoughts and feeling and your own, there is nothing worse than just a little being said. If you can understand why she kept it a secret and tell her you understand why, despite the deceit and can explain to her how this has caused bigger problems down the line. You can be part of her recovery but she will need to talk to people on here who understand why she done it and can relate. 

Her best shot at recovery is having your support, opening up about everything she has gambled, describing how she feels even if it was I didnt care while I was doing it and prepared to be shocked by that and her engaing in conversation and her setting up a recovery plan and her getting back to a normal life with regular interventions like picking up the phone to gamcare etc.


I'm going on a bit now, hope this make sense and helps a little. Good Luck.

Posted : 25th September 2020 12:22 pm

She's lying. Sorry mate but she, like me, is a gambling addict and I don't believe for a second that she hasn't gambled for the last few months. Its what I used to say....I haven't done it for weeks....for months.  Its all lies.

Please don't get angry at my comments but you need to ensure she really wants to stop and use all the exclusions and apps you can so she can't do it.  Look at her credit record and ensure you have uncovered the full extent of her debt....then you will really know.

If she does  all that to stop then you have a chance - but you have to forgive her but never forget it as it can sneak back sooooo easily when you are addicted.  If you don't forgive her it could eat away at your relationship.....I know.  

Posted : 26th September 2020 9:25 pm

It is normal for you to feel anger, that is natural. Your mind will go through the full spectrum of emotions as you think how much money and time she spent gambling. Also its very rare for a compulsive gambler to give full disclosure as we always keep something hidden that will allow us to gamble in the future, remember this is an addiction so trust has to go out the door I'm afraid.

If you partner is serious about getting help then you both need to sit down and start tackling the problem, saying I will do this or that is no use given their is a family involved. Again this is not about getting angry or pointing fingers, its accepting they have a problem and need help and support to deal with it. They may get defensive but it's needed. Ask to see how she was gambling, can you see heer bank account? credit card spending? paypal or other methods to deposit money on gambling sites? DO you know how often and how much she has actually gambled or have you taken her word for it?

She needs help and support to change her behaviour, I recommend GA and the 12 step recovery program, the reason this is a good option as you meet other compulsive gamblers who are on the same journey. If she goes and is totally open and honest and makes it part of her life then she can change. 

If she is serious then she needs to hand over full financial control to you, you should also have access to her emails, credit score (these sites will show any debt in her name). She should register with GamStop which will self exclude her from all the online sites. These barriers are a huge help to prevent addicts accessing their fix.

You also have done the right thing coming on here as you also need support in this battle. Keep posting.

Posted : 28th September 2020 9:09 am

Dear Polo53,

Welcome to the forum, I am a partner of a compulsive gambler and i really find the forums really useful and I hope it will be useful to you as well.   When my partner confessed to me , it was like an out of body experience I couldn't believe what i was hearing. I felt shocked, sad, tearful, betrayed - the lot.  It's very difficult for loved ones and partners so I hope you are getting the support you need and you're looking after yourself.  

There is hope if your partner is fully committed to quitting gambling.  You can only support her, she needs to lead on her abstinence/recovery.  I echo what was said above about full financial control and transparency (check her credit report for undeclared loans and secret bank accounts, get access to her bank accounts, etc). Self exclude via gamstop, SENSE and also from betting shops (yes even though she only gambles online).  My partner switched to Monzo banking with gambling block on.  I have the app installed on my second phone so I get notified if he receives or spends money from his bank. 

I also agree with the post above that she may possibly be lying that she hasn't gambled in months especially if you found out about the gambling because she was caught.  You can check her bank accounts to verify this.

Even if your partner whole-heartedly wants to quit gambling, it is an addiction so she can be triggered by something and may crave for it again and she may relapse.  This is not because she doesn't love you, this is because it's an addiction.  Therefore measures like what was mentioned should be in place permanently to make it very difficult for her to gamble even when she has strong triggers.  GA meetings also helped my partner a LOT that I will forever be grateful to the GA fellowship. 

Regarding the trust issue, this was the major thing with us as well.  However, I have come to terms that I cannot blindly trust my partner anymore about money matters - for life.  I trust him about everything else except for finances.  And i have accepted this.  My mantra regarding anything that involves money and my partner is 'trust but verify'.  I simply cannot take his word for it, he knows it and respects this.  

You sound like a very supportive and loving partner which is exactly what she needs.  I wish you both the strength and commitment and I hope you both come out stronger from this.

Posted : 28th September 2020 1:30 pm

Hi polo53 out of all the replies you have had all supportive and informative, the above one from pep is really good from someone who has lived and is living in your shoes. You will not get better advice. Also well done pep you are very supportive with your advice I'm sure it still hurts but you are a very together person, I hope you are taking your own advice and taking care of yourself. Best wishes to both polo and pep

Posted : 28th September 2020 1:45 pm

Thank you so much @charlieboy

Posted : 29th September 2020 7:43 pm
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