My Compulsive Gambling Story

Thinking about my compulsive gambling story really makes me sad. I should clarify that my story is about learning that my husband has had a gambling problem after 20 years of marriage. It’s almost unbelievable to think that it was only in the last year that I began to pick up on some clues that my husband had a problem with gambling. I guess I come from a more traditional background where the man takes care of the finances. And while I have worked for most of our marriage, I never looked at our finances. I just handed over my checks and let him deal with the bills, which I personally never liked having to think about and organize. Life was good for most of those years, financially speaking. There were no clues that we were in any kind of trouble, and he never asked me to co-sign loans or sign any other types of suspicious documentation. It was only after about 20 years when I started to notice odd phone calls, which I ultimately figured out were collectors. We also seemed to always be cashed-strapped even though we both make a good living, and we have no kids. How is it that we could possibly have money problems?

Looking back on those years, I wonder how it is that I didn’t see the signs much earlier. Even more than the financial issues, I feel so stupid (to be perfectly blunt) that I didn’t pick up on things years and years ago. What kind of half-intelligent person can be so blind to such things for so long? Needless to say, it’s an awful feeling.

My husband never did go to GA, and I’ve never been to Gam-Anon. As the years went by following my discovery of the gambling, we sold our home, and some other assets to get the debt under control. Now I control the family finances, and we live within our means such that my salary (and soon-to-be retirement) will be more than enough to keep afloat. My husband convinced me that even though he still gambles, I’m now more aware of it, so it shouldn’t feel deceitful, and any extra money that we would have been saving if he didn’t gamble at all would just go to waste. In other words, we still have money to travel, and why bother dying with a ton of money in the bank? To some extend this makes sense to me, and now that he’s more open with me about it, I suppose that we’ve found a certain rhythm and sense of peace about it.

I still never really know whether he’s going to come home late (or at all) on a particular night, and generally have come to not rely or count on him for anything important when it comes to being somewhere at a certain time. But after all these years, I can’t imagine my life without him, and we’re happy. He’s still my best friend, and I love him, so I guess I’ve just found a way to live with it. And now that I’m in control financially, and don’t rely on his income, the financial strain isn’t there anymore. I don’t know if this should be considered advice for anyone, but that’s my compulsive gambling story.

Comments for My Compulsive Gambling Story

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Jun 12, 2015
Good post NEW
by: Will Cremin

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Jan 09, 2012
Don't be too hard on yourself!
by: Mark

Thank you for sharing your compulsive gambling story; it's much appreciated! First, I have to say that you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. It's said that compulsive gamblers generally have higher than average IQs, and tend to have excellent people and sales skills. So, if your husband didn't want you to find out, and you've never experienced deceitful behavior in past relationships, there wouldn't be any reason for you to be on high alert to notice the small things that in retrospect were probably there. There are certainly a lot of really smart people who have been duped by problem gamblers in their lives.

Before making my next comment, I have to remind readers that I am not a professional on any topic relating to problem gambling or addictions, nor do I have any medical or psychological accreditation or experience whatsoever. However, it is my understanding that people become problem gamblers due to underlying challenges or issues that they face, or have faced growing up. In other words, it's not OK or healthy to think of excessive gambling as a hobby or activity that someone just happens to have chosen as their preferred activity.

To brush it off in this way is ignoring that there's some kind of underlying pain that drives them to gamble. So while you may have found a routine or some kind of peace with your situation, your husband is struggling with something (that likely has nothing to do with you or your relationship, although things you do may be triggers for them) for which getting some kind of help or treatment would help tremendously.

I'm not going to even try to contemplate what could be going on with him, but I just wanted to share that it may not be a healthy way to live for either of you in the long run. Problem gambling is not a hobby, activity, or pass-time, and no one should "get used to it." At least that's my understanding of the problem of compulsive gambling. All the best to you and your husband!

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