Hi, I’ve just joined here as I’m seriously in need of some advice. I feel I’m actually going mad.
I knew my partner gambled a bit and enjoyed it - the odd casino nights, a fruit machine, sports bets etc but I never knew to what extent. At the beginning of our relationship I witnessed him feed his Christmas bonus into a machine in the bookies, he had no control over what he was doing, he lost it all. I felt sick watching him so ended up leaving and sitting in the car waiting for him. He came back and he begged me to help him, begged me to never ‘let him’ do it again. I thought I helped him. In 2018 after we had our first baby together he came clean to me about how bad it had for, he had been lying for 4 years, he had used his full wages and lost it all when we needed to pay rent. He had borrowed a large sum from his parents which I knew about and was told it was for something for me but it was a surprise (I had guessed an engagement ring) and we were paying her back quite a chunk each week. When he came clean to me he informed me that for the several months we’d been making these payments he hadn’t actually paid his parents he had been gambling it. I was devastated to hear all of this but he showed remorse, he told me I should leave him but begged me not to, he swore he would get help which he did and he promised he wouldn’t go back to gambling. The counselling helped him talk but it definitely didn’t stop the gambling. He pulled the wool over my eyes and convinced me he was ok now, he had it under control and he wanted to get his ‘fix’ each week with a set amount to do on bets. He doesn’t believe anymore that he’s an addict, he did when he begged my forgiveness. I stupidly agreed because I believed him. Since this lockdown he hasn’t been able to do sports bets so he’s gone back to online gambling (through an account made in my name with our joint account card so I can see it all). He assured me it was under control but he’s recently gambled a large sum, won and then gambled the winnings but withdrew the original sum. But then he keeps saying he wants to do more, he wanted another £200 the day after to place on horse racing. I said no. It ended in arguments. He says I’m controlling which hurts me because I’m not I’m trying to help him. He’s forgotten how bad it was, the fact he lost my trust and how much it hurt me. He isn’t remorseful now and he isn’t going to stop. He doesn’t get into debt with creditors, he doesn’t use credit cards or overdrafts I can see everything he does (for now) but I’m living on edge all the time. It’s ruining our relationship and I’m terrified. I’ve never been with an addict before I don’t know how to handle it but I do know he genuinely thinks he’s good at it, he believes he’s ‘due a win’ all the time. He even says he plays it with the mindset that he knows he will lose the money - why play it then?! We don’t own a home, we need a new car, we have two baby’s together and two older children from a previous relationship. I’m on in my early thirties but I feel stuck, trapped, insecure. I really don’t know what to do and I’m reaching out because I feel I’m going to walk away from this relationship but I need to know I’ve done everything I can first to keep our family together.
Sorry to hear of your plight, its an all to common one Im afraid of a partner who is unaware of the true nature of the addiction and ends up facilitating the habit. Its was similar for me, I convinced my partner the the debt I caused was a blip and I could sort it out but insisted that I could still gamble to a strict budget. I did this for a while but it was not long before I was back lying, borrowing, hiding debt from her so I could feed my habit.
GamAnon is a support group for family and friends of fellow compulsive gamblers, you will get great support and advice there. My ultimate advice is to leave him if he is not willing to change, if he is serious about sorting his addiction out he will put all his efforts into it and give you full control that you need to support him in his recovery. Its not an easy path but a necessary one as otherwise you will end up back here.
Here is some advice i gave to another thread about the same issue, these are steps that need to be taken if you are to stay:
1. Full disclosure - you need to sit down together and go through his accounts so you know the scale of the problem, this can be pretty jaw dropping in fairness and not an easy of pleasant thing to do for either party but its essential. I know your firey but you also need to try and remain calm (even though your entitled to be angry) so these things dont just desend into arguments which will get you both no where. This way you can both see clearly the damage that has been done from a financial point of view by seeing what debt has gone into his accounts and the ocean of deposits that have gone to gambling companies.
2. Total access - Now the trust id damaged it will take a long time to repair, in the meantime you will need access to everything so you can see what is going on and he cannot lie or hide things from you. First up on pay day he can move his wages over to your account. You should have access to his bank account, his emails, his credit report (so you can see all debt he has in his name). I know its not nice to have to monitor him this way but it is essential. As compulsive gamblers we will resist this.
3. Self exclusion - As a compulsive gambler we will continue to feed our addiction if we are allowed, we will leave avenues open to get money etc which can be hard to monitor or stop, but there are Self exclusion schemes which prevent us from opening up new accounts online, playing on current accounts and gambling in betting shops. For online betting, GamStop is a service that will self exclude you from all online gambling sites that operate in the UK once you register with them ( I cannot recommend GamStop enough). You can also self exclude from the shops by signing up in each shop. He should do this with you to ensure it is done. Self exclusion is a vital barrier.
4. Recovery - All the above is a great help to prevent future harm but unless we take a good look at our behaviour and how to change, then we will inevitably fail. GA has a 12 step program which helps us do exactly that. Again its no quick fix and takes lots of time and effort but it does help and you will notice the changes over time, less irritable and argumentative to start with. Your partner could stop gambling for months or years but if he does not take an honest look at himself and how he can improve then you are going no where.
I know none of this is easy but remember he is in the grip of this addiction which has taken over. There is help and support ou there for him, and you can give him these ultimatums but recovery is in his hands, you can only control your own actions and have sought help, so well done for that. I wish you both well in this journey.
Thank you for your reply.
I’ve been referred to breakeven who are going to call me next week to discuss how this has all made me feel etc. So I’m happy with that.
I told my partner that I had reached out for support because I’m worried about his gambling habits and it did not go well. We’ve spent today talking it all through but I don’t think it’s really sunk in with him. I’ve also been advised to seek relationship counselling as a means to help us.
Thank you again