I am really struggling to know what to do next...
Nearly 4 years ago after months of erratic behaviour from my then boyfriend I finally managed to get him to open up to me and he told me of gambling debt of 10k. I always knew he liked a flutter and occasionally had a football bet or similar but that was the extent of it. Turns out he had been on machines in bookies at lunch and after work. I was 30 weeks pregnant with our second child. He had consolidated the debt and swore on our kids lives that was it. I didn't want my family broken or to have baby alone and ultimately I love him so forgave him and moved on. Fast forward nearly 4 years we have 2 children and have got married, all the while I thought he had been true to his word. I made him promise no more credit cards, he pays the household bills and I manage all other money for food etc. A few weeks ago our daughter emptied his wallet and I saw 5 credit cards...all in date. I asked him about it, he refused to discuss it and said he was dealing with it and cut them all up in front of me. Two nights ago I couldn't keep it in anymore and challenged him about it. Initially he refused to talk about it, after a break he admitted there was a balance on each card and he has slipped back in to gambling last 6-12 months but this time online. He still won't tell me the balances and wants to sort the debt himself but ultimately this will still affect the family. He has been very honest open other than balance of what he owes. He has already closed accounts and blocked himself off websites, although I don't really understand if that covers every place?? I am struggling to live with the lies and deceit, cannot believe he has been so stupid. I don't want to break the family up, I love him, he is a great dad and the kids adore him BUT I am scared. These are things that could jeopardise all of our futures and if I just let it go am I complicit in allowing that? I feel like I am watching his every move and suspicious an I hate it. I'm wondering what I need to do next? Do I insist on counselling? How do I break this cycle, stress will always be there so how does he stop that being a trigger? Is it best to keep trying and back him again for one last time or is that as nieve as it sounds?
I am sorry to hear your troubles and can understand your concerns over your husband. Ideally the best actions he can take immediately is to tell you everything which includes what he owes on the credit cards, place stops on all online sites where he has been tempted to gamble and preferably get in contact with Gamcare to seek some support and advice. However you can lead a horse to water but can’t force it to drink. Ultimately if your husband has a gambling problem then he needs to take the first step by being honest and admitting it. He can’t possibly begin to fix himself until he is honest with himself.
As to what should happen with your relationship, I certainly wouldn’t want to give any advice as every individual and every couple are different. One advantage you have is that at least you know he has been gambling. You may have found out by accident but you did find out and he has opened up to a degree by admitting it although he is yet to find the strength to tell you the most recent financial damage. You potentially have the advantage of both being able to work through this latest set back together if you both wish to do so. If your husband continues to insist he will deal with this alone and not include you in either what has happened or his plans to pay off the debt, then you do have the problem of having no idea if this will happen again and adversely affect your whole family. I wish you luck and hope your husband will swallow his pride and be completely honest with you.
Hi , sadly no easy answer to any of it. I'm the recovering gambler and if it helps I'll tell you what I've done 1 installed blocking software... Gamstop I use. Stops me accessing websites I signed up for 5years 2 I don't have access to bank accounts, cards etc. My husband gives me money I provide receipts. More as a backup for me really. 3 I post on here daily keep a diary and read a lot of people's posts . 4 I had 8 counselling sessions that Gamcare referred me for really helped as well. 5 now I'm attending GA meetings. All this has allowed me to now be 80 days gamble free.....and I gambled daily for about 2years run up credit card debt, overdraft, spent savings....all in all my behaviour was awful lying all the time, covering my tracks , deceit was dreadful and I hated myself for it. I don't know whether my husband will ever fully trust me again, but he knows I'm sorry accepts that it's an addiction, and knows that I will do everything I can to stay gamble free. Willpower is not enough your husband will have to block access to websites and you will both have to accept that this is a lifelong addiction/ recovery. I'm so sorry you are going through this , above all you need to know that you and your children are safe and secure financially. Phone Gamcare they can give you advice and also try your best to persuade your husband to get help for himself, he has to do it you can support him but you can't fix him. Healing has to come from inside him. Good luck with whatever you choose to do but remember put the needs of you and the children first . Best wishes
I'm sorry to hear your story but firstly he hasn't been stupid. It sounds like he has a gambling problem and therefore an addiction. It's extremely hard to stay away from gambling without support, i.e depend just on willpower, and to call him stupid makes it sound like he made a clear choice. One could argue he had the choice to place his first bet after you found things out your years ago but this addiction is greater than a promise or a few tears.
Secondly I admire your want to help him but there's a lot of I in there. What do I do, do I insist on counselling, I am watching his every move. It's really difficult but this is his problem. He needs to want to get help, not you do it for him. Nothing wrong with helping him but you can't do it for him or fix him. A good start would be to find a GA meeting or speak to a Gamcare counsellor. I would also suggest that he is completely honest with you, no secrets, nothing kept from you in case it upsets you, just get everything out to help him stop carrying this burden around with him.
I can tell you that there is hope for him and for you both but he needs to be honest, open minded and willing.
Good luck to you both.
Its not your fault so dont be too hard on yourself.
You must now learn about the power of a gambling addiction which is actually a drug addiction. That will make you realise that you should have taken proactive steps the first time you noticed the problem
Im not saying he is inherently bad but he is an addict and he needs to admit to the problem and hand control of all money to you.
You need to protect yourself and the children financially. A gambling addiction ruins families and you can never be complacent about what he is up to again.
You can not let your love be a blind love and you need to tell him that the gambling is over and even a sniff that he has been gambling will have serious consequences for the relationship. If he loves his family and knows whats important he will seek help.
He needs ultimatums and he needs to be living on a sandwich allowance. If he cant stop or isnt ready you will have no security in a relationship and therefore not a relationship you deserve
He seeks the serenity of building pride during a full recovery
Again its not your fault but you need to be showing some tough love. You also have a recovery journey and a job on so you may need family support and counselling.
The decision to help him is yours. you have work to do if he is ready to stop...his credit report must be monitored and no more credit cards.
It can be done but you can both never be complacent again...all his wages need to come to you. This isnt about treating him like a baby. Its about saving his life and any quality of life you have.
Compulsive gambling is an illness. When he decides to stop, his mind will heal with the right blocking measures love, professional help and moral support.
Take him to a GA meeting and push him gently through the door
Best wishes from everyone on the forum
Self-exclude immediately both bookies and on-line. Its takes a few minutes and you are blocked on-line immediately. I've been through this and am an addict. Don't be surprised that he's lied about still gambling - that's what we do. Its shameful but that's what we do. Don't nag him even though its hard not to. Tell him that you will support him - you need to know when he gambles i.e. which days and times......there is usually a pattern and when you know the pattern try and find something to include him in; take the kids to the swings; play a game...anything. He will resent you and blame you but be strong. Get the habit changed and it will help him to stop. If you are unsure if he has stopped, he probably hasn't - trust me, we can be very convincing liars. First step be with him when he self-excludes on-line. Go to the bookies and be there on the phone when he self-excludes from shops. He will always find an excuse for not doing it so be there! Good luck as it will save you both lots of misery.
I was in a very similar position to you when I first found out. It’s a repetitive cycle. The best advice I can give you is to start getting help for yourself.
look at gamanon website, call gamcare, as said before research compulsive gambling. We play our part by thinking ‘this will go away’, ‘he promised never again’, ‘ i have his cards, how can he gamble?’
You can control finances if he’s willing, that means credit reports, no access to accounts, cash and receipts. If he has debts they come last, stepchange are a debt charity, they give free advice, all confidential.
remember if you take financial control and he gets cards and more debt, that is his debt, his problem, not yours. It took me forever to realise this. Don’t pay their debts. The more debt you pay the more credit they can get.
In my opinion you shouldn’t have joint accounts either, but that’s up to you.
You can offer him emotional support, but you can’t fix this, it’s up to him. He can sign up to gamstop, download gamban, self exclude.
In my opinion, this is a mental health issue. Gambling for long periods of time damages you. As said above there needs to be a replacement of that time spent gambling. New hobbies, things to do, more communication. This is a tough road and a hard addiction to beat.
First and foremost look after yourself, secure finances, credit reports, get help.