What is the right thing to do to support a gambler?

by Mel

Married for thirteen years. Have run the gamut of emotions and so called solutions. I have been reading a bunch of gamblers stories and many that are in recovery have a common theme. Spouse takes over all the finances. I have no problem taking over my finances, but when does the gambler need to become responsible?

I don't want to be his accountant; I want to be his wife. He slowly kills all of our dreams and goals. Short term paying the bills. Even when we have enough money he puts off paying them for I believe a gambling cushion. Long term we don't get any younger.

Will there be anything for retirement? What about our plans for the future? I put him out of the house and a lot of what he talks about is how much he is spending on the hotel. He is thinking about it all though and has gone to a GA meeting and is hopefully going to get counseling. His parents want him to stay with them.

He is my best friend and a very good man. I just need the madness to stop. I feel like the time alone to think is doing him some good. Not having someone be it folks or me to pick up his pieces for him. I want him to be successful with recovery but I know he can't just do what he thinks I want him to do. That is not the answer. Any thoughts?

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Oct 24, 2017
You Disgust Me! NEW
by: Mark

I was going to simply delete the comment below, which is an ad for an online casino website. However, I decided to leave it and remove the company name so they don't get any free advertising.

This is a perfect example of how disgusting the casino industry is. They come to a website designed to HELP problem gamblers, and post an ad to online gambling. How much lower can they get!

Dealing with a gambling addiction was hard enough before online gambling. I'll have to research what tools exist to help avoid the temptation/vice of online gambling.

That said, if a gambler doesn't enter the recovery process, it's well known that they'll ultimately find ways to gamble. Whether easy access makes it worse is still unknown. I suspect it does make it worse, though maybe only marginally.

Online gambling is bad enough, however, people like this who proactively prey on gamblers are the lowest of the lowest lifeforms. I hope their website is doing poorly, and they go out of business!

Oct 23, 2017
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May 11, 2017
by: Mark

Thank you for sharing your experience Mel. I understand how frustrating, infuriating, and hopeless it can all feel. The easier part first. It may be a reality that he can never fully take back the daily financial responsibilities. The question for you then becomes, are you OK with that? My therapist asked me this question. Your spouse will also have to ask himself the correlated question; would he be OK with indefinitely relinquishing financial control to you?

If the rest of your relationship is good, or even great (after he enters recovery), can both of you live with such a situation if that's what it takes to minimize the impact of future relapses? It's difficult for a gambler to relinquish control like that, and it's also difficult for the spouse to have not be able to trust their spouse with finances.

Note that you taking the lead on this doesn't absolve him from taking financial responsibility; it just helps everyone sleep at night knowing that a relapse won't financially wipe you out, and put additional strain on the entire situation/relationship.

I expect that if you can both accept the situation, you'll come to some level of comfort that you can both live with. Even if he has his own bank account that has enough money in it that he can buy what he wants without feeling like he's broke, but if he were to relapse and lose it gambling, it wouldn't cripple your family.

So the more difficult part is the recovery process. I believe that in order to start recovering, he'll need to get professional therapy. He can also try GA, however, only a therapist will be able to dig into the root causes that results in his gambling addiction.

I'm no expert, however, it's my belief that no amount of time alone or personal reflection will result in any material or long lasting change. Digging into root causes is a painful process, and not something you can do with a spouse, friend, family, or fellow gambler.

If you have health insurance, I recommend checking your therapy coverage. He could also explore out-patient addiction rehab, or he may even have coverage for in-patient rehab.

If you don't have coverage, some States will cover a fixed number of free therapy sessions (ex. 6). In addition, some colleges or other institutions may have gambling studies programs, and may accept him as part of their study.

Outside of his therapy, I would also recommend doing your own one-one-one therapy with someone who has experience with gambling addiction. In addition, couples therapy could also be very valuable. Note that none of these therapist (his, yours, and couples) can be the same person; they need to be different to avoid conflicts of interest, or inferred bias by either of you.

Lastly, I recommend checking out some of the books I have listed in the Resources section.

Best of luck, and please circle back to let me know how things are going.

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