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Hi James
Welcome to Gambling Therapy – I see you have heard from the lovely Ell who is doing so well in her recovery.
You say you are part of the problem but you are not responsibly for your wife’s addiction. You ‘may’ be stalling her desire to change but you cannot stop your wife gambling.

What you can do is look after yourself. It may seem a rather disappointing answer to your worries but it does make a massive difference. If your wife wanted to change her life and remain gamble-free, she would have to deal with all the damage her addiction has wrought. If you are part of the wreckage that inevitably surrounds this addiction it will be harder for her to change her life. It is difficult, I know, for the loved one not to remind the CG (compulsive gambler) that their addiction has indeed caused endless suffering when they are fed up, depressed, confused and angry. The more knowledge you get of the addiction to gamble, an addiction that your wife didn’t ask for, or want any more than you, the better you will cope. The addiction to gamble turned me into a pathetic blob unable to function on any level – my CG did nothing to help and to all intents and purposes didn’t care whether I suffered or not. Allowing myself to be brought down by his addiction fed that addiction and changed nothing.

I think we can blame hormone imbalance for many things and it may be contributory but I think it is better to treat the addiction for what it is – a controlling and destructive addiction that will take you both down as far as it can, ‘if it is fed’.

Although it is not recognized professionally the following is a coping method that many of us have used at the beginning of our recovery to help us cope.

Imagine your wife’s addiction as a slavering beast in the corner of the room. As long as you keep your cool and don’t threaten that addiction it stays quiet, although it never sleeps. Threatening her with divorce or separation, unless you mean to carry it through, will not worry the addiction but will give her another excuse to let her addiction run amok because she can blame you. If you don’t go through with the threat then the addiction sees a weakness and will exploit it.

Your wife is controlled by addiction but you are not. When you threaten that addiction, it comes between you and controls the conversation or argument. It is the master of threats and manipulation and you are not. Once it is between you, you will only hear the addiction speak and because it only knows lies and deceit, it will seek to make you feel blame and demoralize you. When you speak the addiction distorts your words and your wife cannot comprehend your meaning.

My CG explained it to me by saying that when I told him (for instance) that if he didn’t lie but lived honestly he would be happy, his addiction, however, was distorting his mind convincing him that I was lying because he truly believed that he was unlovable, worthless and a failure – he was lost and fought back because he didn’t have any other coping mechanism. The addiction is all about failure for the CG which has no love for the addict or those who love them. However much your wife convinces you that she is in control – she is not.

It is enabling the addiction when the loved one clears gambling debts but I am aware how difficult this is when you are dealing with joint expenses in the home. I think it is important that you protect your finances and that she doesn’t have any access to them.

CGs often blame their loved ones for being controlling – it is another excuse for them to gamble. Gambling to a CG has nothing to do with money – it is purely the gamble that excites.

I would never ask you to leave or stay with your wife. All I ask is that you stick with this forum and this site, there is so much to learn, until you are ready to make your own informed decision.

Your wife is definitely not trying to drive you crazy with her addiction – the fact that living with the addiction does drives you crazy is not the desire of the CG. Furthermore it is my belief that we can allow the addiction to drive us crazy or we can change and look after ourselves.

You say you are both introverted but you do have some friends. Has your wife got any friends and if so can you connect to their husbands? What things interest both of you? What did you like doing together before the addiction drove its wedge between you?

It is very easy to allow the addiction to take over our minds 24 hours of every day and in doing so we help nobody. Make sure that every day you do something just for you, something that pleases you and while you are doing it, do not allow the addiction to enter your mind. Talk to you wife about things you would like to do. It is so easy, when the addiction is at the forefront of your mind, to talk about little else other than their gambling .

It seems from the fact your wife begged you to return that she does want your marriage to succeed. Maybe you could encourage her to come on this site – there is a terrific thread in ‘My Journal’ called ‘Believe’ by Kathryn. Kathryn is living in control of her addiction. She will reply if your wife writes on her thread.

I would not be writing to you now if I did not ‘know’ that the addiction to gamble can be controlled and wonderful lives lived as a result. Many CGs who live gamble-free talk about the addiction being a spring-board, giving them richer, fuller lives because they have had to do so much soul searching. I believe that it is important for both F&F and CG to turn this addiction around – to make something good out of something bad or we have suffered for nothing.

I have brought up my thread ‘The F&F Cycle’ for you. I hope it will give you some insight and also let you know that you are among those who understand.

Well done on starting your thread. I look forward to hearing from you again and perhaps meeting you in an F&F group.