10 February 2013 at 4:25 am #2007readytowalkawayParticipant
I have been struggling with an internal battle between my head and my heart. I love my husband so much and don’t know what to do.
I was a 40 year old widow with two teenagers when I met my husband. I was financially independent, owned my home and had (still have) a great job. We married and moved into a new home, but kept the mortgage and deed solely in my name as he had some small debts and terrible credit. He enjoyed going to the casino, as did I and we went a few times, but none of those evenings led me to believe he had a serious problem and he may not have until the last couple of years. A few years into our marriage an unexpected pregnancy ended in miscarriage and I became depressed over the loss, probably a little relieved as well as guilty over my relief. Anyway, my husband had foot surgery about that same time and was not able to work while he recovered. His surgeon (in my opinion) over-prescribed the pain killers and six months after his surgery he was still taking them every 4-6 hours and was obviously addicted, sleeping all day long and playing computer games all night long. The perfect storm was brewing in our marriage and an argument led me to ask him to leave the home. He went to his mother’s and I got into therapy to deal with my depression. While he was moved out of our home he was spending large amounts of money with no explanation and I decided to close our joint checking account and open one in my name alone, which I did. We did not have any joint credit cards. After about six rocky months apart, we reconciled and he moved home. Shortly afterwards I learned that he had taken an early withdrawal from a pension account and a loan against an IRA. He had a small monthly income that was short term disability and was spending all of that money on his computer games and running to the casino while I was at work. When we filed our taxes that year, I opted to file separate from him, knowing he would have serious IRS debt due to his early withdrawal and failure to pay taxes or penalties on both that and his defaulted loan. Now it didn’t seem like it should be MY problem since it was HIS debt so while I spoke up to deter him from going to the casinos, I didn’t protest as if it was having an impact on my income or my finances and even joined him for a weekend getaway to gamble. As luck would have it (no pun intended) he won a new car in a slot game, opted for the cash payout and left on Sunday broke. Yes…he gave it all back. I had already left for home before the weekend ended from watching his behavior morph into someone I did not know. For the next year I paid all the household expenses, he had little or NO income and when he did it went promptly to the slots. Things in the home were getting bad again and I was crying myself to sleep every night, begging him to get some counselling, try to get off the pain meds, try to go back to work, try to quit going to the casinos. Last September he moved three states away to go to work. After his first month back to work I was starting to recognize my husband in our conversations and our first two weekend reunions in October and November were amazing and I was so grateful that I did not give up on our marriage in those rough years. Everything has changed in the last three months. He came home for Christmas…broke. I found an end of year paystub and was FLOORED at how much money he had made since September and had not one penny saved or paid towards his debt. I sold my home after learning that the IRS can put a lien against it based on his "dower" rights to the property since we are married. I am living in an apartment and meeting with an attorney next week to figure out what I should do. I have begged him to let me help him manage his finances but he says he does not need my help that he knows he has a problem and will beat it. I love him very much and I believe that he loves me but my head tells me that I need to protect myself and all that I have worked for all my life and file for divorce. My heart tells me that he is my husband and I need to stand by him during this "illness". After all, I did not walk away from my former husband during his battle against cancer. I keep telling myself that we can resume our relationship as if nothing has changed, just outside the legalities of marriage…BUT….how long will I be able to convince myself that I am happy? He is all consumed with the gambling and does not see what this is doing to me. Should I just make a clean break and walk away? If I do…how do I not go back?10 February 2013 at 9:35 am #2008moniqueParticipant
Hi ReadytoWalkaway. I have just read your post and hear a strong, intelligent woman, facing an agonizing problem and difficult decision. I know you have already been thinking through these issues for a long time, but we are often advised not to do anything whilst we are still unsure of the path to choose. The right choice will often make itself clear when we are concentrating on other things. But I do note that your head is telling you clearly to protect yourself – that is definitely true in the case of the addiction of a loved one. You have already taken action in that sphere and no doubt will continue to do so. You then wonder how to respond to your ‘heart’ which says you should support your husband. I would just offer these thoughts….. I think an addiction illness is a different kind of illness (and some thinking refers to it as a ‘learned behaviour’ needing to be ‘unlearned’) from cancer or other physical diseases. Recovery in the context of addiction probably involves much more in the way of a mental and emotional ‘turning around’ or ‘choosing’, which can only be done by the addict himself. The loved one can be of support in this, but ***** to be able to draw the fine line between support and ‘enabling the addiction to continue’ and also the fine line between supporting the addict and fully looking after herself and her own recovery – yes, we family members need to enter our own recovery from the effects of the addiction on us. In this some degree of space between or separation is often actually helpful. We can sometimes feel guilty and ashamed and act on these feelings, but it is important to recognize these feelings for what they are and continue not to let them motivate us. It is very interesting that you ask ‘how long can I convince myself that I am happy?’ Our first duty is to our own well-being and ultimately that will be the best inspiration for the addicted one, if he is indeed ready to be inspired towards recovery. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it has often been proven to be the case – we cannot help if we get sucked into the addict’s mad world. As I said at the beginning of this post, you have already taken a very thoughtful and sensible approach. If you exchange more posts with people here, attend the Family and Friends live group time (if possible) and/or use the Advice Helpline, you will get ideas and support to help you stay strong and separate from the addiction. I have no experience of being the partner of a gambler, but I have an adult son who started gambling whilst a student at university and became seriously addicted. I love him very much, but have to be careful about the way we now relate. He does not live with me now, but visits from time to time. I hope this is of some use and that you will use this site in the days to come to inform yourself more and to help you practically and emotionally. With very best wishes, Monique.Keep hope alive.– 10/02/2013 09:36:46: post edited by monique.10 February 2013 at 6:25 pm #2009looby looParticipant
Hi Ready and welcome to GT. You have had a wonderful response from Monique, and like her, I am also the mum of a CG who has been gambling since his teens and am therefore unable to imagine how I would feel if it were my partner. You will receive no judgement here Ready, just support and advice from those who understand you, you are no longer alone.
We cannot tell you what do Ready and in the fullness of time, when you have walked a little further down your road, things will become clearer. Support, but not enabling your partner will be paramount, but the lead to his recovery will definitely have to come from him. Its definitelya good idea to ensure your money and belongings are safe from any consequences of his gambling.
Our hearts and heads become very mixed when we are dealing with such an addiction. All I will say is don’t make any idle threats, if you say you are going to do something, then ensure you stick to it. If not, the addiction sees us as weak and gives our CG’s carte blanche to continue its destruction.
You have done well thus far Ready, and although you perhaps dont feel it now, you will be fine. The road you walk will have bumps and twists and turns, but you are an intelligent lady and you will soon learn to take each day as it comes and choose the right path for you.
Just wanted you to know that I have read and am listening. Much love xEveryone has a destiny, it's up to us whether we choose to follow it though !Looby Loo10 February 2013 at 6:25 pm #2010looby looParticipant
— 10/02/2013 18:25:57: post edited by Looby Loo.
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