Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family I separated from my escape gambler, should we get back together?

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  • #7035
    Patient _man
    Participant

    Get ready, this is complicated…
    My wife came to my country in 2009. In 2011 I brought her to Las Vegas and she was drawn to the penny slots. I thought… vacation/penny slots, sure we can budget it. I brought her to a cruise. With everything else about a first time cruise, the casino on board drew her in frequently. I again thought… vacation/penny slots. So any time we repeated Vegas or cruises I thought this. I consciously did not tell her there was a casino just outside of the city we lived at. Eventually she found it around 2012. Penny slots for a few hours, sure ok. We didn’t return frequently to our city’s casino but at some point 5 and 10 cent slots were tried. I get very bored in casinos and playing slots. I don’t losing money like that. So one day, rather than just sitting and watching her play, I suggested we leave earlier. She had me come back and get her at midnight. Here’s the thing she said she won most of the time… and I believed her. We had been really good communicators up until then so I believed her.

    In 2013/14 she studied and when stressed disappeared for hours playing slots, I learned near the end of the 2nd year. Up until then it had seemingly been just a fun time activity. I thought… well she’s getting really good grades and she’s either winning or just losing a bit each time she plays, so ok. I didn’t approve though. She worked a job through co-op but discovered that she really hated that line of work and they didn’t keep her anyway. So suddenly a housewife again with free time in 2015, she increased the number of days she played. Twice she won $1000 and happily gave me it towards mortgage and expenses. I put it in the joint account. Other than that i paid for everything. Maybe 6 months later I just happened to notice strange $100 amounts coming out from an ATM, in a bank statement. Many withdrawals. I traced it to the casino. I asked her and she said… that she had given me the money to put in the joint account so why couldn’t she take it. By this point she would prepare my dinner and go to the casino at 7:30pm and often return at 3am, maybe up to 3 times a week. I could tell by her behavior and habits and sometimes the look in her eyes which evening she would go to the casino and by preparation of certain meals (would be leftovers for the next day) when she was also planning to go to the casino the following day too.

    I think it was in 2015 or 2016, she was not home at 8am and I worried. She arrived home at 9am. And that was the beginning of the 8pm until 8/9am casino days. But at worst, according to her, she only lost a bit and still won more. Looking back I remember her being upset that she had little of her own money but I thought it to be just a complaint in general and did not connect that maybe she had been using up her account, the joint had not been touched anymore. I paid for the mortgage, expenses, many vacations, bought her things she wanted, etc. I couldn’t also give to her account. Yeah… I know she should work. She was happy overall and that was important to me. And, gullible, I still believed was doing ok at the casino. I’m piecing things together in reflection. By this point she played 40 cent machines. Sitting beside her I watched her win money. But truthfully I don’t know if she lost more to get the wins. She would use casino points to get us free casino buffets. Afterwards, I’d go home, practice karaoke, and return around 1am to get her. Buffet night meant this pattern where I came back to get her. I actually began to look forward to practicing karaoke alone. Other days, she would just take the car and return at 8:30am to drive me to work. She was happy and not losing much, if any according to her. She was happy… right… or was she?

    It was around 2016 that the medication I took for Parkinson’s started making side-effects such as Dyskinesia and Dystonia difficult. Also the fatigue had grown so that I napped every lunch hour at work and immediately after getting home and eating dinner. I had felt tremendous guilt for having married her, bringing her to my country, and then finding out in 2011 that I had Parkinson’s. Now side-effects and fatigue in particular were making it increasingly difficult for me to go out on weeknights. I felt she should enjoy casino time… and she said she was doing well at it. My organization tried to force me out on disability, I fought back through the union, switched jobs (forcing me to learn all over again at a time when Parkinson’s had me nearly at stage 3). She said she did not want to work so I had fought to keep working. She had developed bad moods now and then and a strong dislike of my family, my mom in particular. The only people who would help us and who had helped us. My mom liked her. My wife also was no longer wanting to do activities we used to do. She was not spending time with others. The casino was where she wanted to be… but she was not losing much if anything and a small loss was price of entertainment, right? In November 2017, she got into a car accident driving home from the casino at 3am. Car totaled. I fought through fatigue and rushed to buy a new car within two weeks. She used the rental to keep go to the casino after our evening car dealership visits and continued with the car. I still felt guilty about Parkinson’s.

    On a cruise in early 2018, she continued disappearing to go to the casino on board. This is when I knew I was stage 3 Parkinson’s, I began slow walking even while on meds onboard the ship. I knew I was in trouble and within weeks of returning to work, I went on disability. To my surprise my wife started a job. Not to my surprise she hated it. My mom and I thought the job would slow down her casino time and at least she’d make money to use at the casino. The hatred of the job made her moods unpredictable, fueling more casino. One time she actually worked 3pm until 11pm went straight to the casino playing through the night then straight to work for an 11am to 7pm shift. I think she blamed my mom and me for her job, and anger began turning into rages that could last hours of repetitive things, the topic of my mom especially, that bothered her, everything seemingly blown way out of proportion things twisted, etc. I focused on calming her even as Parkinson’s had me increasingly disabled. I knew her anger was actually coming from her own weakness. And I felt guilty. I was trying to pay down the house so she would have it after I was dead. I felt bad that I could not entertain her how I used to. I felt bad that she had to watch PD disable me, that her future was in doubt because I was sick. I realize now she was really tiring herself sitting so long at the slots which was stressing her body. Also the losses must have been stressing her some days making her mood foul. I think she blamed my family and me for her situation and losses, and depression.

    I could not discuss the gambling with her because it was one of many topics that would send her into a long rage. Sometimes I felt she would start topics that would get herself into a rage, knowing that rages forced her to need to recover at the casino. I began writing her emails asking carefully if she felt she might be addicted to the casino. They went unanswered. One of her rages lead to dents in the bathroom wall, my father helped me patch it up as Parkinson’s made me need help. My parents only showed up when she was out, and I tried to do it secretly because the mere mention of my family got her angry… and I always had to try to calm her. They drove an hour to come and help. In the midst of this there were many normal days, I mean where her mood was good. Good days still meant the casino. Good, bad, bored, hadn’t been to the casino for a week, all were reasons for her to go to the casino. This left me home alone facing worsening Parkinson’s by myself while she was at a job that had her in foul moods or at the casino. I broke down often, lonely, suffering, hurt by the things she said in her rages. My parent’s encouraged me to close the joint account. Instead, I moved all but $2000 out of it. The next morning she was in a rage about my having done this. She threw a vase across the room into the kitchen, it shattered into hundreds of pieces. She then watched a slow moving, tremoring me go and start picking up pieces then left. Soon, my family came to try to address the gambling and the level of care-giving (offering to help). Mistake. She was angry when they arrived, later told me she might call the police if they came over again like that. After they left, she went straight to the casino and stayed more than 12 hours before returning around 2am, and raging. Actually she went to the casino 6 out of the next 8 days (while working full-time).

    I admit the rages and loneliness had affected how close I was to her. Parkinson’s also made me increasingly focused on my symptoms, I was frequently handicapped. She continued her moodiness. Mistakenly I mentioned to the specialists the situation at home. To do well if you get Deep Brain Stimulation surgery (for Parkinson’s) you need a calm caring environment and support system. When I told her I needed a calm environment she raged. In the end they told me no surgery unless I changed my support system. You could say that her gambling and rages cost me getting life changing surgery. When I told her I got told no, she raged for hours. I had just gotten the worst news of my life (except for Parkinson’s diagnosis) and I was the one trying to calm her. I don’t remember if she went to the casino after. There would be a 2nd chance at surgery qualification if we separated so we sold the house and legally separated. When told her this the person I knew years earlier returned and she said lets do what is necessary for me to get surgery. We separated on good terms.

    Gradually she saw just how much I provided her and protected her, we stayed in contact, her calm moods returned as we believe fear for her future began to grow. Though I can rarely drive, I did drive a few times an hour from my parents home to the casino to check and found her car (that I gave her on separation) in the casino parking lot. I mentioned this to her by email. She had finally been able to discuss topics like about my family without getting angry, had regained the nice tone of voice but still after all this had kept going to play slots. Finally she agreed to see a gambling counselor and went twice, but refused to go to Gambler’s Anonymous. She wants to reunite and move in with me at my parents’ home… who she had been so angry at. She had at one point yelled that she would rather live in the streets than speak to my mother… she rents a room from someone now, is not working (she quit her job after our house was sold), and is living off her half of the house money. I see the nice side of her again. I think she is not gambling anymore. She wants to be my caregiver and I can afford it if she doesn’t gamble. My mom is against this. I don’t know how many more years I will be able to still walk due to my illness. But while I’m alive I want not to be lonely, want calmness. I also want my money to go to someone with health and a future but not to the casino. She used up all her wages from 18 months work at the casino and some of her previous savings. Basically over the years she lost around $30,000 at slot machines. She had returned to her country for a month (when she quit work) and her friends told her she was wrong about many things and should stop going to the casino. It was after she told me this and that she would quit that I had caught her car there one more time.

    I should mention that over the last two years of the casino, she began claiming every gift the casino gave her, things we didn’t need, things I could not even sell at huge discounts, brought back pastries and soft drinks paid for by her points. This was also an excuse to go to the casino. The Kleenex tissues in the bathroom at the casino were good according to her and she began pulling many out and bringing them home. She also began selling most of her old clothes because they were old or didn’t fit. She was pretty much the same size.

    I was in love with her, wanted so badly to set her up with a paid off house, had really great times and vacations before Parkinson’s hit stage 3 and the casino interfered. Can she recover? Or will my worsening health drive her back to the casino? I want to fund her secure future not her casino playing. Actually I don’t care that she lost her own money, I cared about all the loneliness I felt while she abandoned me for the casino. I didn’t like the moodiness, very hard on me. I needed more companionship.

    What should I do? Will gambling always be a risk to her? She’s not working and I worry about her future especially now that the nice her seems to be back.

    #7036
    Dunc
    Keymaster

    Hello

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    #7037
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi Patient Man

    I have read your post a few times and every time, one sentence you wrote made me feel more and more concerned for you and that is “But while I’m alive I want not to be lonely, want calmness. I also want my money to go to someone with health and a future but not to the casino”.

    With the best will in the world Patient Man I cannot tell you what to do – I have a dear friend with advanced Parkinson’s and I know what I would say to him but you are not he – I don’t know you. What I do know is that you are a vulnerable man married to a woman who owns a manipulative addiction and your Parkinson’s will make it even more difficult for you to be strong.

    If her nice self is truly back, then she will understand your reticence about allowing her back into your home. Give yourself time and I mean a lot of time before you make any decision that could be detrimental towards your physical and mental health. You deserve peace and comfort; you do not deserve to be on eggshells wondering what is going to happen next.

    If she really wants you to believe that she has taken control of her addiction then maybe she could contact our Helpline or our ‘Gambler Only’ groups and ask them if she is being unreasonable when she asks you to take her back.. In my opinion she needs to show her niceness in actions because words and promises are meaningless to an active addict. I have never heard of anyone controlling their addiction without the right support and your wife has not actively sought that help.

    Love can make fools of us all. It is more important that you love yourself too.

    Keep posting. I wish you well

    Velvet

    #7038
    gvralls
    Participant

    Hi Patient Man. I read everything you wrote. Unfortunately I can’t give you a lot of advice, but perhaps by sharing stories we can engage in some therapy of our own.

    I can relate to the way you brought her over from another country. My first wife (mother of my kids) I married overseas as a student in her country. Perhaps 5 times in 20 years we celebrated a family birthday at a local casino because of their wonderful buffet, and I’d step out alone with a $20 bill for the slots. That was it.

    Almost exactly three years ago I met Nguyen (Vietnamese, I’m guessing your wife is not Vietnamese by the way, based on a few things you mentioned).

    Nguyen can spend 12 or 18 hours in a casino no problem, exactly like your wife. 3 or 4 days a week? Yes she’d love that too. She’s a raging gambling addict, and she plays cards. She literally never wins because if she gets ahead she just keeps playing until her money is all gone.

    Like you, I enabled her to gamble because I’d go there too. Just like you describe, I’d sit there and get really bored.

    Something you described is what I’ve predicted could happen to me. With regard to your Parkinsons (which I know people can live good lives with Parkinsons for years and years, and I’m optimistic for you too), what you describe is very cruel. In the moment of your deepest need, she throws things and walks away as you clean it up. She’s walking all over you. Her number one love is gambling and she will not likely quit.

    The only thing that helped Nguyen is that casinos allow people to voluntarily ban themselves. You can likely get her to do that for one year. Nguyen did it. They know exactly who your wife is and won’t let her in, provided she signs a paper and agrees to it. The risk is that she will find another casino, but maybe not.

    I would like to know why your wife hates your family so much. I am guessing they didn’t do much of anything wrong. Nguyen is just like that. It took me awhile to recognize it. Anytime I talk to my mom or deal with my lovely daughter, Nguyen changes tone and has to hold herself back. I can see she despises the fact that I have family that cares about me, because they can get in the way of her access to what I own, and she feels my time belongs to her.

    Nguyen is a really good cook, among other things that I like about her. We constantly fight though, it’s always things she says. Nguyen doesn’t ‘Rage’ however. Can you tell me why you use the term ‘Rage’ and what sets your wife off? Nguyen was born at the height of the Vietnam war, and she grew up listening to guns all night. Lost family members in the war. I believe she suffers from mental trauma of that tragedy in her life, and that is a big reason why she is drawn to casinos.

    I hope this helps in some way. Thank you for posting here. It means a lot to me to hear what you’re going through.

    #7039
    Patient _man
    Participant

    Thanks for responses.  I appreciate being heard by someone outside of my parents.
    They both always liked my wife.  At that the same time they also know several families whose finances got ruined by one spouse’s gambling.

    “But while I’m alive I want not to be lonely, want calmness. I also want my money to go to someone with health and a future but not to the casino”.  I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago, one year after marriage. My first finger twitch, was 14 years ago.  I have felt guilt over marrying,  I didn’t know I had PD when we married.  I was determined to work as long as I could and pay off the house so when I’m gone she would have it to choose to keep or sell and return to her country.  I am disabled by PD much of the time now.  So I can’t vacation or go out like I used to.  Few expenses.  So I feel that someone healthy with a possible good future would benefit more.  If I live with her again, I’m able to help her financially, but I don’t want to fund the casinos through her. 
     
    If in a relationship, I don’t want to be left alone in the house like she did.  Currently I stay with my parents (and I’m 52).  They are in and out of the house throughout the day but I have social times with them, usually watching tv and talking which is nice and better than being lonely while my wife was at the casino.

    I actually offered to pay for counseling for her gambling in summer 2019, she didn’t want it.  She said she would stop on her own.  At that point I was staying at my parents’ home.  I had become good at reading her gambling habit in person.  At that point I only had emails to go by.  I did feel through timing of emails (she didn’t have a cell phone at that point) and what she wrote that she was still going.  Eventually I did long drives to check.  Her car was in the casino parking lot.  I mentioned, again she said she would stop gambling in her own way.  Again I found the car there.  She said she would stop.  I said that at this point she should self ban herself and join GA. She self-banned and sent me a copy of the paperwork.  But there is another casino about 40 minutes away and she chose not to self-ban from that one because she said she never goes there.  It is a bigger casino with a much more complicated parking lot that makes checking difficult.  She refused GA.

    I realize that I was enabling her for a while.  Innocently, I thought she was doing breakeven or just a little less than that.  It was only in 2018 that I began reading up on gambling addiction because I saw that having a full-time job didn’t seem to reduce her hours per week at the casino.  I realized I had helped things get to this point (enabling).

    My mom can sometimes say things in such a way that there is another meaning behind what she says.  My wife experienced it sometimes.  Sometimes with others present the conversation went to work related things, leaving my unworking wife out of the conversation.  This got to her.  She is very sensitive to what is or what she perseves to be passive aggressive messages.  Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.  She finally took a job just when I went onto disability.  She absolutely hated it.  Was angry nearly every day she got home.  I stopped asking how her day was because this made her mood fouler, I started asking about the drive and other things.  I think she blamed my mother and my family for her job and feeling the need to work.  Work made her mood bad so she probably felt the need to de-stress at the casino.  This probably exhausted her more and the losses kept building up, and the blame likely went to my family, especially my mom, and to me.  This is my interpretation and I’ve asked exactly this but my wife won’t confirm or deny.  Since retirement my mom has volunteered and been runnning a charity gift shop for a local hospital.

    By rage I mean she gets so angry, just standing there, muscles tensed, face bright red, angrily repeating things that bothered her over the years.  Not only repeating things that she said in the last rage but things she said 10 minutes earlier.  This could go on for hours, not always at full intensity.  Then things would calm a bit into more of an intense discussion, then any wrong thing said by me or her and she’d rage and ramble on about the same things again.  If I try to explain how she may be misinterpreting things then I’m not on her side.  If I try to just calm her then I’m not listening.  If I try saying nothing, she keeps herself going working her anger up by herself.  Irrational things, twisting things that were spoken to her in the past or things I say in an all out honest effort to calm her.  I totally don’t know her when this happens and can’t get through to the person I loved so much.  Sometimes I felt she raged on purpose as an excuse to go to the casino, now I also think it also was pressure from losses.  But I’m guessing, because in her current calm state she won’t discuss.  In September 2018, my parents and brother showed up to try an intervention, that day became part of future anger topics.  As PD, Dyskinesia, and Dystonia got stronger it became hard for me to fix things.  Like in 2017 my parents came to fix the fence and porch.  My wife had actually made great effort and did a good job and I said so but we needed more help and tools.  Everything seemed fine but afterwards whenever she was upset at them (for no actual current reason) and if I mentioned that they were good to us and were trying to help as I got sicker and how they helped with the fence and porch, it was always taken as an insult to her work on the porch.  I was still working at that point, and PD as disabling me.  It bothered me that I was becoming useless.  My parents did things like that, drove an hour, brought food, fixed things, then left.  And somehow this started bothering her.  It was very infrequent.

    There are many things that I like about my wife, she is the best friend of my life, I feel.  We did much traveling together.  We had mostly great years.  She did not adapt well once Parkinson’s progressed and began limiting me.  Her gambling addiction had already been in place by then.  I wish I had known more about gambling addiction at that point.

    Now she struggles to find work.  She’s calm, sad, worried about her future, swears she’s learned and wants to be a better person.  Parkinson’s has limited me, stage 3, I rarely go outside.  Except for advising her on jobs and gambling treatment, the only way I can help her is to risk living with her because I am on medical retirement pay and can support her if she doesn’t find a job.  I feel bad for her, she’s in good health.  I’m the one without much of a future, stage 4 will be terrible and as far as I go with Parkinson’s.  But I also don’t want to go through that chaos again.

    #7040
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi PM
    Although living with your parents is probably not how you want to see your life, it seems to me it is better than being lonely in a one-sided stressful, relationship.
    You say that living with her is a ‘risk’ and that word, in itself, suggests everything that you should be avoiding. I have seen stress hasten my friend’s downhill slide with Parkinson’s disease giving him severe, unpleasant physical reactions. I am pleased to report that I have been instrumental, in a small way, in removing a lot of his stress and those particular unpleasant reactions have disappeared.
    Your parents sound great and I am glad they are there for you – you deserve all the support you can get.
    Put all feelings of guilt behind you, you have nothing to feel guilty about – no man or woman would choose to have Parkinsons in their lives. You have offered your wife counselling and she has refused it, you have supported her and received little or no thanks – surely this, more than any other time in your life, is the time for you to look after yourself. You cannot change your diagnosis but your wife can change her behaviour. If she wants to share your life completely again, she should accept her addiction and actively seek support because words are not enough – the change is surely down to her.
    I have yet to meet any compulsive gambler who has taken control of his/her addiction without support which makes me very sceptical about your wife’s belief that she is not gambling
    Having said all of the above PM, I cannot tell you what to do, I can only listen and feel for you. Whatever you decide to do I will understand. Your unique situation has no simple answer apart from, in my opinion, – you should do whatever you feel is right for you and never mind what anybody else thinks.
    I wish you well and I hope you will keep posting
    Velvet

    #7041
    Patient _man
    Participant

    Thank you Velmet. You’ve been so helpful. And thank you gvalls.

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