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Hi Janel
He is saying the right things and hopefully the right actions will follow.
‘If’ you want to be nice to him then I think you should be so. I fully understand why you are keeping your distance – it is second nature when you are expecting more hurt on top of all the previous pain BUT – from the point of view of a person wanting to change, if the non-CG remains cold and distant there is a natural tendency, I think, to feel ‘what’s the point?’
A method that many of have used successfully to help us cope, although not recognised by professionals, is to imagine when you speak to your husband that his addiction is a monster spitting bile in the corner of the room. As long as you don’t threaten it, the monster will stay in the corner although it is always watching. The monster that controls your husband is the master of threats and manipulation but never forget that however much that monster wants to control you, it can only do it – if you allow it.
When you are nice to your husband, the monster has nothing to bare its teeth for but when you threaten it with demands, it will come between you and that’s when you find yourself in the middle of arguments that you didn’t ask for. The addiction to gamble will have destroyed your husband’s self-esteem and confidence, replacing them with never-ending feelings of failure – once it is between you it will seek to control by distorting your words. My CG, who controls his addiction, told me that when I was pleading, crying, shouting for him to change his life because I loved him – threatening him with dangers to him that I saw as real, telling him how good life would be if he was honest, his addiction was distorting all I said. He ‘believed’ completely that he was a worthless failure. He therefore, did not/could not, believe that I could possibly love him and so I had to be lying – lies after all are the tools of the addiction. Believing himself to be without worth, your husband’s addiction will fight back using deception, distortion and blame because it has no other coping mechanism.
In my opinion, it is better for your sanity ‘not’ to raise your hopes that this is your husband’s turning point because in doing so you will become receptive to his addiction but of course nobody can ever know, including your husband,, when a true recovery starts – I can only tell you that I know they do start. In my opinion, being kind but firm and strong is the best way forward. Stand back and listen to what he is saying – hopefully it will make it easier to stay out of an argument that has no point apart from making you feel less in control. Once you begin to try and put your side, the addiction has something to get its teeth into.
I know this all sounds quite negative but the positive side is that it removes you from the centre of the addiction giving you time and energy to look after you.
I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to look after yourself first and that by doing so, you will become stronger, you will reclaim your own life and be able to cope with this addiction. It is also the best thing you can do for your husband because he will not have deliberately hurt you and it is easier to him to change if you are not part of the wreckage from his addiction.
I hope to ‘meet’ you tonight. I cannot tell you what to do – because all decisions you make have to be ‘yours’ but I will answer your questions honestly.
You are at the beginning of a really difficult learning curve but you can do it and so can your husband. The more support you can give each other the better.
Speak soon