Firstly, thank you for taking the time in reading this post, my first post.
My story is very familiar to many others out there. Here is a very brief history;
I'm 51, married with 2 daughters, one in first year of Uni and the other just finished her GCSE's. Great job, nice income, good quality of life other than my secret gambling addiction.
Started gambling (on line Poker) in 2009 that my wife was aware of, small amounts to begin with but it quickly got out of hand. Within 2 years we had remortgaged for other reasons but I quickly gambled most of that away probably something like £40k. I came clean in December 2011 and after a very rocky few months my wife forgave me and I agreed never to do it again. Its discussed very rarely now but nobody else (friends, family, colleagues) knows what went on then. She works part-time and we have always relied on my income to get along but we are very much a team and I rely on her as much as she relies on me to get through life's struggles which come along now and again.
After a couple of gambling free years I started again in 2015 and to be honest I'm not sure why. My job at the time was not great and its possible I thought gambling was a way out (you know how it goes, just one big win!) but regardless I started again and Ive been gambling in secret ever since. I've run up £25k of debt on credit cards, taken a loan out with £15k left to pay on that and gambled £40k of savings. We now have very little savings left and my wife doesn't know any of this.
I'm not sure whether she thinks something is up but she has mentioned wanting to look at the accounts a couple of times recently but this is more to do with doing something with the savings (that we no longer have) than suspecting anything I think.
The point has come where I need to come clean again but I'm terrified. The news will just crush her. She often says I am the only one she can trust so this news could be so damaging for her well-being. I'm really worried for her to be honest and don't care about the consequences for me. I deserve everything I get.
I've been considering when and how best to tell her. We are due to go on holiday at the end of June so was planning to do it after then. My eldest daughter will be back from Uni then although I'm not sure my wife would tell her the problem as she does whatever she can to protect our girls from bad/negative stuff.
I know this may sound ridiculous to some but I know that after telling her I will be able to stop. I've been gambling large amounts to recover my losses so that I don't have to tell her but I know that if I hand over all my finances to her and she has enough love left for me to stay with me I will be able to stop.
I would be very grateful for anyone out there (gamblers and other people affected) who could provide advice on how best to approach coming clean. I would also like to receive feedback from partners of gamblers who may have found themselves in a very similar situation.
Thanks again for reading.
Good Evening Jumble and welcome to the GamCare forum.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us and I hope that you find the forum useful in getting some support and advice from our other forum members.
Opening up to loved ones really can help and we can help with some advice on how you could do this.
Please do give us a call on our helpline if you would like to speak with one of our advisors who will be able to assist you. You can call us on 0808 802 0133 or contact us on our Netline at https://www.gamcare.org.uk/get-support/talk-to-us-now/ . Our lines are open 24 hours a day.
Welcome to the Forums. You are in the right place. As you'll have read, many of the stories and experiences will resonate with you. But here you are today, quite rightly, wanting some advice.
Phoning Gamcare in the first instance is a very good idea. They are specially trained and will really reflect your thoughts and give you practical strategies ahead. You can phone them as much as you want; you are after clarity of thought and this make take a little time.
Looking at the situation, what do you have? You have, for the moment, control. You know that things will come to a head, but always better if you can steer this rather than have it taken out of your hands. As you rightly rationalise: you are where you are, so how best to enact damage limitation.
You've said that after this you'll definitely stop gambling, because this would be such an emotionally draining experience that how could you ever go back. But - and I've been here - "never say never". Gambling is a strange, bizarre beast, and it needs to be tamed. Let's hold this thought for now.
What does everyone love? Those that help themselves. You are in a situation, ill with this addiction and ill with the thought of the possibility of disruption to all that you hold hear. That's very stressful, too. With the debts - manageable for now, but just - looming, this is the one big chance to get things right. For you, and your family.
Taking the initiative, I would seriously consider putting into a place a strategy of booking counselling (free, through Gamcare), using Gamstop to stop online gambling, and planning to hand over financial control *permanently* to your wife. This is not emasculation, nor desperation, but practical steps that will tell her, at the moment you tell her, that - yes - you've gambled and have gotten into debt - but also that you are doing something about it. Something substantial and life changing. Something serious, because you don't want to lose what you have, what *really* matters.
Expect tears, expect real anger and the rest of it. What counts is *what you are going to do about it* and - better - *what ARE you doing about it?" It is worth coming mostly clean (e.g. leave that credit card out..?). No, it really has to be belt and braces. Because this is about trust and breach it and ... things could be a whole lot worse. Don't do dribs and drabs - just do the lot. Why elongate the pain and take more risks; no point.
It's not a pleasant situation this; you know this Jumble. But careful management and *helping yourself* to stop this - because you (and I for that matter) are s****t at gambling and so it's a waste of time anyway.
Keep writing and keep talking ... we're here to help. We're frank here, at times but, as a fellow (recovering) problem gambler, and others here, we 'get' you!
My husband is a gambling addict and our situation is similar to your own. We are a similar age with 2 children in their early 20s.
I discovered last year that he had been gambling for years without me knowing, losing tens of thousands of pounds over time. I was devastated as I had no idea. Now that I know, so many things have slotted into place and make sense.
We had a few rocky months but once I'd come to terms with things I realised that I wanted to stand by him and support him. He is a good man and so far has managed to abstain for 9 or 10 months.
I would advise you to tell her. I found out by chance which made it all so much harder. I would have found it all easier to accept if he had sat me down and told me. Could you put it all into a letter or would she respond better to you telling her face to face? You have to do what works best for the two of you.
It is very tough on loved ones. Like you, we don't talk about it as much as we did initially, and I don't think my husband realises how much this has hurt me and changed my outlook on life. But I have learnt a lot about the addiction and I understand how it has affected him. I want us to overcome it and make a better life.
I really hope you can both get through this. It sounds like you have a strong relationship. I think there is access to counselling for loved ones through here. That may help your wife. There are friends and family chat rooms too.
I wish you both all the very best.
You'll get some great advice on here. I won't bombard you an endless list but once you've told your wife you need to give the control of all finances to her. Register with Gamstop ASAP and seek out support from GA or online support groups. It's a long slog but if you're dedicated you can get things back on track. All the best
Thanks for your advice. I am so grateful for everyone who has already responded and hearing about your experience as a wife impacted by your husband's addiction is really helpful. I'm very sorry that you have had to experience such a catastrophic event in your life but congratulations for being so strong and supportive.
I can count on one hand the amount of times my wife and I have had a disagreement or cross words in 31 years of being together; and I guess this is the main reason why I really don't know how this terrible news will impact her and more importantly her well-being.
You mentioned that you found out rather than be told which made it so much worse, so I'm determined to make sure that doesn't happen with us. It may seem a coward's approach but I think a letter may be for the best as I mentioned we very rarely have a cross word and her reading the terrible news will allow her to digest it more without me blubbering all over her which is what happened in 2011. I occasionally work away (1 night only) even during the pandemic so if I were to leave a letter for her on the day I'll be stopping away it will give her some space. Of course she can always call me if she wants. What do you think of this approach?
As a final point I would very much welcome feedback to my proposed letter as although you know very little about us you may point out things I should or shouldn't be writing; or things you would have wanted to know. Would that be acceptable to you and is it possible to send you a direct message on this forum?
Thank you for your reply and your kind words.
I'm not sure if there is a way to message directly through the forum, but I'd have no problem with that if there is.
I think a letter would give you the chance to put down everything that you want to say. Often when we say things in conversation, we cut each other short and don't get chance to explain things properly. With a letter, your wife could re-read it over time. I'm not sure about leaving it for her while you are away over night. It would give her chance to read and process everything, but then she would have a night alone, probably feeling upset or angry or confused. As you say, she could call you. It's a difficult one really. You will know best how she would react.
As for the content of the letter, I can only say what I would have liked to have known.
Initially I was fixed on wanting to know how much had been lost and how long had it been going on for. I spent hours going through bank statements, torturing myself thinking of better things that the money could have been spent on. Then in time I moved on to deeper questions...Why did he do it? Was he unhappy in the marriage? Why didn't he care about us enough to stop?
I took me a while to realise that it is a very real addiction and that he never meant to hurt me. He talked to me about what he felt his triggers were and that helped me to understand.
I think it's important to reassure her that you love her and you are totally committed to stopping. You could tell her the hard, cold facts about money lost. Bite the bullet and get it over with in one go. I kept uncovering more and more over the first couple of weeks which again was hard.
It's important to show her that you are fully committed to stopping by for example installing Gamstop, excluding yourself from local betting shops, handing her control of finances. Maybe set out in the letter the steps you will take or have taken.
It will be hard and she will be hurt and angry. Trust will be lost for a while. You will have to weather the storm. Hopefully though you will get through it. Although I wish it had never happened to us, I think we are closer now than we have been in years. We both realised we wanted our marriage to survive.
Good luck with everything. I really hope things work out for you both.
Thanks for your further words of support and advice.
I’m going to consider my options for a week or so and take the plunge. I have though, decided to confide in my sister who has had her own issues with a husband who is a heavy drinker and 2 children of a similar age to ours.
My biggest concern at the moment is that money has always been the biggest hang up for my wife. She often looks at what others have and we don’t (despite us having plenty) and wishes for more. Don’t get me wrong this problem has not been caused by her but knowing her mindset this news will be devastating and I guess this is always why I’ve kept it a secret for so long and try to win back what I’ve lost.
Anyway thanks again
It will help you to have someone to talk to and your sister will also know more about how your wife is likely to feel and react.
I can imagine how difficult it must be trying to choose the right moment and anticipating the outcome. Good luck with everything. I wish you both all the best.
I'm not a gambler but I *was* the loved one. We are now separated.
I personally, would rather know NOW then after a holiday, as a woman. Of course, it's your decision but its hanging over your head at the moment. If she is told after the holiday she will say things, I expect like "we were having such a nice time and all along you were hiding this". etc etc.
Honesty is key. I know the truth is painful.
It doesn't make anyone less of a person to hand over their financial control while they seek help and support. It doesn't make you a child, but you do need help and support. This is perfectly ok. You can rebuild. You can only begin to rebuild after she knows its all fallen down.
She will be hurt, she will be upset. Let her have her human emotions and then you do everything within your power to help you to stop. The fear of the unknown is one of the biggest causes of stress and anxiety.
There are various places with professional help and support, various options and choices.
You can do this; for yourself and for them.
Thanks again J
Your thoughtful responses are very much appreciated.
We have just had a lovely day with some friends we have known for 30 years. Days like today makes it even more heartbreaking of what I have done and jeopardised going forward.
The big problem is my wife and I have lovely days most days so the big question is what day/time do I choose? The more I think about telling her the more anxious I feel. My sister is currently away on holiday so I’m not going to be able to speak to her for a while to get her opinion.
I’m not sure I could take breaking her heart plus I’m not sure she would accept my addiction as an illness.
Anyway............ thanks again.
Hi Anon Angel
Thanks for your advice. It’s very much appreciated.
I’ve been gambling for years so a few more days is not going to make any difference.
As I’ve mentioned to Jess27 we have very few cross words and I’m concerned about my wife’s well being once she finds out I’ve gambled our savings.
I often joke that I’m worth a lot more dead than alive so I won’t lie in saying I’ve considered that option and indeed it’s not one I’ve totally discounted. I’d rather be dead if she wasn’t going to allow me to stay in the family home and support her and my daughters. In saying that I would totally understand if she didn’t want me in the family home.
What a mess I’ve created.
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