Partner and I were talking about his recovery. He opened up to me that he feels a bit worried because all the GA members he spoke to who made long term recovery have relapsed at some point. I didn’t know how to react or what to say. I did tell him that he is doing well and should just focus one day at a time. He shouldn’t see it as a curse that he will definitely relapse or that it’s a requirement to relapse before he can properly recover. Also, he did almost relapse a few months ago but thanks to gamstop he wasn’t able to place a bet. So in way he did test the blocks already at one point. I wanted to tell him that IF he did relapse, it will be fine, he will get back up and we just need to make changes on what we have in place so he wouldn't slip again. However, I thought that might encourage him to be tempted again?? So i didn't say that...
The other thing he mentioned was that he is hoping, not now, but maybe in 5 or 10 years’ time he will be able to have full control of his money back. He said he wants to be normal. He also said what if he wants to purchase something for me as a surprise, it’s not possible because I always get a notification of his spending on my phone. I was honest with him and said I don’t think I will ever be comfortable not having access to his bank account. It is for my mental health as well that I know what he is spending on. I said I don’t mind not having any surprise presents (I honestly feel like this was a weak excuse). I told him that all the blocks we have now will be in place for life. We need to respect and never under estimate this horrible addiction. He argued a little bit but saw my point and relented in the end saying ‘Okay whatever makes you happy’.
I'm grateful for honest conversations like this with him. But of course I also worry am I doing/saying the right thing?
Hi pep it's really good that you can talk to each other and it's not easy for both of you I can give you some info and advice. He is right when you sit in a room full of compulsive gamblers most of them seem to have a relapse at some stage however most of them did not have all the blocks in place, the thing most of them seem to neglect is the handover of finances. At the risk of upsetting people and I really don't want to....is it a male thing? Being the breadwinner steeped in tradition maybe ? The 2 guys I'm thinking of in GA didn't hand over control of finances until after relapse and both of them are now in prolonged period of abstinence. Also thinking you are ok therefore stopping going to GA , complacency that you have the addiction under control is another big factor. However the guy who chairs our group is over 40 years gamble free and has never relapsed !! A couple of weeks ago I too was very fixated on relapse ( I won't go into it it's all on my diary) suffice to say sharing at GA helped me thru it and now ive let it go. Someone else I'm sure will give you advice on what to say to him about relapses I really don't know and wouldnt want to say wrong thing. Only other thing I can add is what my husband has said , there is no compromise on finances he is in control end of .... And he is never going through this again... I too feel your hubby excuse was a little weak and why ask now about 5years in advance ....do the 5years then ask !!! You do what you feel is right you know him we dont.....me personally I'm willing to admit money in my hands is like a primed bomb. Good luck with this your handling things well
@pep1952 That is an interesting conversation to have. The giving over of money is obviously an important one in the beginning but it isn't really designed to be a long term deal, unless both parties are happy for it to continue.
The point of recovery is to get some part of normality back into your life but also be responsible. There's nothing wrong with having that thought that you can have it back, but when you both feel ready, and if you do and one of you is uncomfortable then change it back.
GA should be very good at helping him look at the now, not the future. The reason we say just for today is that looking or planning too far ahead can be unsettling.
The reason that a lot of members do relapse at some time or other is they aren't recovering. They are just abstaining from gambling and haven't changed anything about themselves. If nothing changes, nothing changes, and eventually a few weeks away from the meetings can cause that relapse to happen.
My advice for him, through experience, is to see if someone in the group has done the 12 steps program and see if they can help him through that. It is a recovery program. My group had the normal relapses that are part and parcel of GA meetings but a couple of years ago a few of us worked through the 12 steps and now I help others go through them, not one person who has done them or started them has relapsed. In fact, everyone has thrived and the language used in the room isn't so much about gambling but more feelings and emotions.
I have to look after my own money now and I have faced some unpleasant situations that prior to this time would have sent me back gambling, but with the "extra protection" of having worked the 12 steps as well as regular GA meetings and so on, I've managed to let the temptations go.
By changing myself, I've changed how I deal with life.
I hope that helps give him and you some hope for a normal life in the future.
@charlieboy thank you for responding and for sharing your experience. And wow thanks for sharing someone made it to 40 years without a relapse! I'll definitely mention this to him for inspiration. Thanks for your well wishes and good luck to you too.
Thank you Chris. I don't control his money but I have access to his Monzo bank with the gambling block on it switched on. Some people might say this is too lenient but this is what works for both of us at the moment.
He is actually doing the 12 steps programme and has an amazing sponsor. He did mention that those he met who have relapsed are those who admittedly have not embraced the programme to its core. Or because they got too busy at work and missed the meetings. In summary it's when these people were not fully committed to it. So this gives him some strength that if he is fully committed he will not relapse.
I cannot agree with you more regarding focusing on the NOW rather than looking too much ahead. Focus on one day at a time.
Thanks for continuously sharing your experience with us here in the forum and with the GA fellowship. I'm sure you have been an instrument into other people's healing and I wish you continuous strength in your journey.
Hi pep ty for kind words. And yes couldn't agree with you more I have had many people help me in my journey to date but Chris remains the one I find most inspirational and I trust his advice to always be with the best intentions for others. He is always open and honest about his successes and past failures. This is a difficult journey to go on, but so worthwhile when you start to reclaim your life. I can live with the money situation ! What I can't live with is the gambling...... On to better things !!
Several years down the line virtually everything is in my sole name. Mr L can look at the bank accounts any time he wants (he never asks) but will never have unscrutinised access to them again. He has a bank card on the joint account with limited funds and no overdraft and that's it. His salary is paid into a basic bank account I control. He fully accepts this as one of the consequences to the way he behaved.
The 'control' word getting bandied about is ringing alarm bells here. It's one I was hearing a few months before discovering the debt Mr L had been bailed out of was once more at the same level he'd started at.
Talking about other people's relapses as if it's inevitable sounds suspiciously like talking himself into one.
Be wary. It's entirely fine not to trust him around money. He shouldn't be asking you to now or at any time in the future. It's your decision to take in your own time.
Thanks @lethe. I don't think he's talking himself into a relapse but I appreciate the caution. I actually am grateful that he talks to me about this because he knows I will not judge him.
May i ask, if you don't mind, how your partner got into debt again without you knowing so I can learn from your experience? I access my partner's credit reports every day to pick up any searches, secret bank accounts etc. And I have full access to his sole bank account where I can see all of his transactions. He knows he can't withdraw cash unless absolutely necessary and receipts should be provided. Some people might find this very exhausting but i really don't mind and i actually feel like i do it for my own mental health as well.
It was a few years back now and there was only one free credit report service available (Noddle- now Credit Karma). It was only updated once a month and didn't offer alerts when anything changed. He knew the debt would be reported imminently and changed the log-in details then spun me a line about being in contact with them so the account could be 'unlocked'. Once I did get in I could see he'd opened a secret bank account to channel loans. Quite a lot more went on over the next few days and months but the upshot was I took over the lot immediately.
I think it's easier to keep tabs on things now. There are more credit reports available (I see the lot and set my own passwords) and there are free change alerts although I did subscribe to a service before that came in. I think he'd find it harder to pull wool over my eyes these days but I still don't take anything on trust.
Hi there are many people who have not relapsed. Before covid there were ‘open meetings’ where you could go and hear from GA members and gamanon members, talk about how the fellowship had changed their lives.
You have to want to change, you have to embrace the programme, it is not for everyone.
Reality is, you can never ‘control’ another person and their addiction. If your husband/partner chooses to gamble, they will. If you work the programme you will realise that it’s not about them, it’s about you.
I look after finances because my husband wants me to. He understands he cannot have money, he has a poor relationship with money. He has a card with limited funds. I cannot stop him if he chooses to gamble. I also cannot see what he buys just the shop and amount. Secret presents etc are excuses and manipulation.
Sometimes it’s very easy for a compulsive gambler to hand over responsibility, responsibility of finances, behaviour, decisions. . It’s when their behaviour and attitude changes that they have realised that their behaviour is their responsibility.
Complacency is talked about a lot. Don’t underestimate the power of addiction. Set your boundaries, protect yourself financially.
You may choose to give financial control to your partner but that’s a huge risk. He should not really question you if he’s taking responsibility for his addiction.
Some never hand over finances. It’s just what works for you. In my opinion it’s about attitude and behaviour that you can see the person getting ‘better’.
I also believe that partners of compulsive gamblers are enablers or codependent. It’s a complex situation and never black and white. It isn’t about just money.
@lethe thanks for sharing that and sorry you had to go through that. It’s a difficult situation to be in and traumatic as well for sure. But reading about experiences like yours help me never to underestimate this addiction so thank you!
Hi Merrygoround thanks for your response. Just to clarify my partner is happy with our current setup at the moment but he talked to me about the future 5-10yrs from now he was suggesting that i let him access his bank on his own if he continue to be well. When i explained how much it meant to me that i can see all his transactions he understood me so it wasn’t like he was forcing me. I personally think it’s good that we’re able to have an open dialogue about these things and come to an agreement after hearing what each other has to say. So it’s not like his finances are being monitored against his will.
Also completely agree about complacency. I believe it’s one of the biggest enemies of this illness. And of course cannot agree more that the gambler should genuinely want to stop and stay away from gambling. No one can stop a compulsive gambler from gambling if he doesn’t want to stop it himself. What loved ones can do is only in the supportive role.
Mr L knows if he ever did it again he'd have crossed my line in the sand. AFAIK he wanted to stop and has stayed stopped but I'm under no illusions that if he wanted to gamble again he would find a way. I'm also not prepared to be too understanding. It's not my job to understand and it leaves me open to manipulation. He gets his understanding from GA. I'm happy to support by freeing him of financial involvement and admin as that's in my best interests but that's it. The rest is his to deal with.
As a compulsive gambler myself I would simply reiterate what others have mentioned in that some of what you say raises alarms in my mind.
The first one is he was talking about other compulsive gamblers who relapses I get that he was having an honest conversation with you but I use to mention things like this to sound out my partners reaction and test the waters so to speak. The best advice I can give to a loved one is when a compulsive gambler opens a potential door to gambling you need to slam that door shut. If he relapsed would you continue in the relationship? If not that would be an ideal time to tell him.
The second alarm is the main one though, when I read you initial post you said "maybe in 5 or 10 years’ time he will be able to have full control of his money back. He said he wants to be normal." I assumed he had no access to his wages had you gave him spending money for absolute essentials but in the later post you say he has basically full control apart from the Gambling block with Monzo bank and you can see his account online. So what exactly does he mean by normal for you not to look and turn the gambling block off? Thats sounds very odd to me for a compulsive gambler, that sounds to me like someone is saying I know I have a gambling issue but in a few years time I will be fine we can go back to normal and I can go back to have a small flutter behind your back as I will be back in control. Again it sounds like he is testing the waters so he can tell himself he will bet again one day. The reality is we can never bet again but saying that seems like a huge mountain to climb so GA have the great mantra of One day at a time.
Its good you have access to his credit score so you can see debts in his name, you should also have access to his emails. Addiction loves secrecy and needs hiding places, you know this deep down that's why you having access to his back account helps your peace of mind as you don't trust him, nor should you.
Also the surprise gift nonsense, knock that on the head straight away. Let him know that he cannot do surprise gifts and you are ok with that, it's not important in the scheme of things. Again it sounds like a test the waters line.
It sounds like you could do with some support too, have you looked up GamAnon meetings?
hi Joe thank you so much for the response. I never rationed his money or gave him allowance because we found out about Monzo. I know it doesn’t work for others but it works for us at the moment. He keeps a limited money on his current account and when he gets paid he trasnfers a portion to his savings pot. I monitor this on my 2nd phone. If he turns off the gambling block, 48 hrs cooling period is required before it can be taken down. So i will see this on the app. He knows not to withdraw cash and to provide receipt if he did. I check his credit report daily for searches or secret bank accounts. I cannot see a loophole on this setup at the moment but of course very grateful for feedback. I do know though that if a compulsive gambler wants to gamble, they will find a way so these measures are just in place to make it difficult for him.
He knows he cannot gamble forever (he can’t even flip a coin) but i think you’re right he’s testing the waters if he can eventually fully control his money without me constantly looking. And i told him this is not acceptable to me. He respected this in the end.
If he relapses, i will stay by him only if he is willing to help himself. There must be changes made in the strategies to prevent another slip and he must lead on this. But if i only see excuses and no hard work, i leave.
So far so good although i did notice that recently he has been attending Ga virtual meetings a bit more. I asked if he is feeling low but he said he’s actually feeling high (he got promoted at work recently) and he learned from his sponsor that he needs to be careful around high points as well.
Gamanon seems like a really good support group so will check it out. I’m grateful to be surrounded by loving and supportive friends and family (both from mine and his side) and of course this forum has been truly amazing as well so thanks to all of you here.