Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family Introduction & feedback requested

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  • #5496
    CD Husband US
    Participant

    Hi All

    I’ve read through a lot of the posts in this section, and wanted to share my own story and introduce myself to request feedback from those that have been through this before.

    In brief, my husband is the CG – I am a thirty-something gay man residing in New York State, US. I myself am in – and have been – in recovery for Alcohol and Drug Addiction for 10+ years, with 2 years of continuous sobriety. I had a few 1-2 day long slips during 2014.

    His ‘game of choice’ if you will is online gaming – not casino-style, or even sports betting … gaming where you pay actual $ for credits, abilities, etc to increase your ‘status’ in the game. While it’s not gambling, per se – the behaviors are all the same, and our couples counselor (also his 1:1 counselor) has recommended GA as a solution and has advised us that CG is the best lens through which to understand his behavior, so here we are.

    I will try to divide the rest of this post into “Facts and Circumstances” and “How I feel about things.” Bottom line is, I am not sure if I should stay in this marriage or if I should leave. We have a 16 year old foster son, and have been (until this exploded) planning to move forward with finalizing his adoption in the next few months. I am committed to finalizing the adoption, even if I have to do so alone.

    FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES

    We have been together about 9 years, and I have always known he isn’t “good with money.” We had an issue with the US Tax system due to his dishonesty about whether he had paid his taxes or not, he has ever been able to save more than a week or so worth of pay, he received a check to repair his care but never did, etc. I always chalked this up to being a bit of a creative, free spirit type. I now understand there’s a heavy dose of denial under there on my part.

    He is a self-employed hair stylist, so receives unpredictable income in the form of CCs, cash and checks. We have always had a system whereby he transfers money from his business bank account into our joint bank account, from which I pay all of the household bills. The agreement was always that he would transfer whatever he made, after expenses, minus an “allowance” for pocket money. This (seemed to) work fine for the most part. About 2 years ago, my income started to rise considerably due to promotions, and his started to decline. I would ask him about his reduced transfers from time to time, and he would always have an answer: slow week at work, our son needed something he paid for, etc. Because my income was rising (and I am prone to codependent denial), I didn’t think much of it – we could pay the bills, so why start a fight? However, after 18 months, his transfers had declined almost to $0. I eventually bit the bullet and requested to see the activity in his business bank account. He refused to share it with me. We entered a 4 day standoff that ended when he went to counseling at my urging, and we struck an agreement that I didn’t need complete unfettered access to his account, but that he would come clean with evidence of how much he had spent on online gaming. The total was $32,000 USD at the time. I was floored, but relieved that we had gotten to the bottom of something. I began the process of starting to forgive him, he continued counseling and we continued couples counseling. This was the fall of 2016. While I thought things were getting better in the CG department, there were still other problems plaguing out relationship. Described below.

    Over the last 5 years, we have grown increasingly distant. He has previously said it’s because I don’t like the same things he does … I like hiking, yoga, working out, running … he says my hobbies are all “too active.” When pressed for alternatives we could do together, he has struggled to come up with much beyond “watch TV”

    Over the last 6 years, our sex life has dwindled to a few times per year, always at my urging and especially when I have threatened the safety of the relationship. He has chalked this up to the fact that my sexual tastes are too “porn star sex” for him, and that he prefers more romantic interaction. Again, trying anything different hasn’t really produced much in the way of change.

    2 Weeks ago, I became suspicious he was still gaming due to activity in our accounts. He denied it. I requested to see the OLD bank account, which he was no longer supposed to be using. e again refused, and accused me of not being trusting, of refusing to forget the past, etc. Another 3 day standoff ensued, until a couples counseling session where he admitted that he had been using the old accounts, that my suspicion was accurate, and that he was in fact laundering checks and cash from his business through an account I couldn’t see to support his habit.

    HOW I FEEL ABOUT THINGS

    The first time he got busted was one thing – people make mistakes, I understand addiction personally, we’ll get through this together. This second time, however, feels different. I am now looking back 6,7,8 years into our relationship with different eyes, and seeing things I never saw before. Problems with intimacy, problems with differing interests … all go back to the amount of time he spends on his iPad playing games. When I personally relapsed on alcohol and also cheated (random drunken one night stand) 2+ year ago, we went through a lot of therapy and he made the decision to move forward and trust me again – something I have always been grateful for, and that lately he LOVES to remind me of. Before I learned what I now know, I felt honored that he had found it in me to forgive. Now, I question even that – looked at from the perspective of an addict, he was NEVER going to leave – who else would have paid the bills and continued to enable him ?

    Between the guilt endured over my own relapse and infidelity, the shame at being told that I am “too perverted”, and a number of other excuses he has used to distract from the real problem (his CG), I am unsure what to trust over the last nearly ten years, and default to trusting almost nothing.

    I am looking hard at my part in this – I am an addict myself, an adult child of addicts, and therefore PAINFULLY codependent – I ignored the signs way to long.

    From reading all of the other posts, I guess I am hoping someone else can share their experience with a situation like mine. The part that is causing me the most difficulty is that while many people say “I want the person back BEFORE they had a problem”, I am now understanding that if there is a person before this problem, I may never have met him … I may be in a relationship with someone who has ALWAYS been driven primarily by CG, and therefore not sure if there’s even anything to save.

    Any help or advice is much appreciated.

    #5497
    velvet
    Moderator

    <

    Hello CD

    Thanks for starting a thread in the Gambling Therapy friends and family forum. This forum will provide you with warmth and understanding from your peers.

    Feel free to use the friends and family group, you’ll find the times for these if you click on the “Group times” box on our Home page. Now that you have introduced yourself you’ll find that many of the people you meet here have already read your initial introduction and they’ll welcome you in like an old friend 🙂

    If you’re the friend or family member of someone who is either in, or has been through, the GMA residential programme please take extra care to make sure that nothing you say in groups, or on our forums, inadvertently identifies that person. Even if your loved one isn’t connected with GMA, please don’t identify them either directly or indirectly just in case they decide to use the site themselves.

    You’ll find a lot of advice on this site, some of which you’ll follow, some you won’t…but that’s ok because only you fully understand your
    situation and what’s best for you and the people you love. So, take the support you need and leave the advice you don’t because it all comes from a caring, nurturing place 🙂

    We look forward to hearing all about you!

    Take care

    The Gambling Therapy Team

    PS: Let me just remind you to take a look at our
    privacy policy and terms and conditions so you know how it all works!

    #5498
    lily
    Participant

    Hi CD, I come from a relationship with a CG who I knew was a CG when I met him so found your question about whether or not you really knew your husband an interesting one. I don’t know what he was like when you met him but chances are as you say he already had an underlying addiction problem. It may be that being in a relationship has made him feel more guilt and shame about the addiction which starts a chain of gambling (or in your case gaming) to hide away from those unpleasant feelings. Gambling addiction isn’t always a straight path down, different things provoke the addiction to worsen in different people, its all down to what drove them there in the first place.

    For me I was able to see the person behind the gambler although that didn’t make it any easier to live with, and am fortunate many years on I can finally see him fully. Sex drive is affected by gambling, gamblers will often put down a partner to keep them from asking too many questions so these aspects may well be down to the gambling. As for who he really is ask yourself what you fell in love with as I am guessing it wasn’t either of those things or the fact he is ‘bad with money’, if there are real tangable things there then underneath is a person worth loving. The real questions however are how do you take care of you and protect yourself from this addiction? Is there enough there for you to want to continue the relationship through the challenges of his addiction?

    I have to go but I hope I have helped a bit and do keep posting. Lily x

    #5499
    CD Husband US
    Participant

    Thanks Lily

    You hit the nail on the head in terms of what my questions are at this point .. “is there enough to hold onto” … “is a relationship with him when he is NOT actively gambling something I even want” … “am I willing to take the risks associated with the roller coaster that may precede long-term recovery, if it ever comes?”.

    I think one thing I am becoming aware of is that despite my denial over the last several years, on some level I was definitely aware. I have a decent amount of experience in recovery and al-anon myself, and I think that, subconsciously, I have already been detaching for awhile. I’ve developed my own coping strategies that don’t involve him, that get me out of the house, and may tend towards the obsessive in their own right. For instance, spending 90-120 minutes at the gym daily. Is it a healthy habit ? Sure. Can I take it a bit too far ? Absolutely, I’m an addict myself.

    So I think what I am now faced with is coming to accept the very real possibility that a part of me already started the process of getting over him, since he was actively absorbed in gaming/gambling 8+ hours per day to begin with.

    So now the question is more ” do we want to re-start a relationship” than “if the gambling stops, everything will go back”

    Does that resonate with anyone ?

    #5500
    White Tara
    Participant

    Hi CD Husband,

    you know in 2000 I was studying at university and during my research I came across a website that was for the widows (wives) of gamers playing an online game called Everquest. These gamer’s were hard core..wouldn’t even leave the game to go to the toilet (they’d pee in a bottle!!). I’m not sure how much money is involved however the chemical reactions in the brain are the same as any other addiction. Here’s a web address for you, it may help regarding the gaming aspect too.

    http://www.olganon.org/forum/i-need-help-spousessignificant-others-open-forum/everquest-widows-site

    My relationship with my CG was co-dependent too as I have attachment issues. We spent our last night together a month ago today. We were together for 11 years. I started dissociating almost 3 years ago and last summer I spent a significant amount of time away from him. During that time I felt like I was de-toxing and withdrawing from him on all levels. The scene in the bedroom was dead for many years. Because of his gambling and associated behaviours (some of which happened outside of a gambling cycle) I ended up living in my bedroom!! However I digress, I too started to carve a life outside of the home for myself. I had to do something or I’d go mad. So for a few months there were no requests for money. It was a joy to spend my money on my self and treat myself to simple pleasures that I’d not enjoyed for many years. I thought perhaps he wasn’t gambling. I never asked him about his gambling because I didn’t want to get involved even though at the same time I was enabling him (he coerced money out of me). When I came home, I didn’t see him gamble (online ) for about 6/7 weeks and I thought things were turning a corner, I started to relax a bit but then the ‘demands/asks’ started again…..RELAPSE time. I made the decision to end the relationship. It was crucifying me to know that I had a part to play in his illness and at the same time, I was not protecting myself. I had to seek an external intervention and when the end came it wasn’t a pretty ending and it didn’t happen the way I wanted it too.. Everything that happened in our gambling relationship over 11 years ie all the ways he got money or I got for him through loans etc, happened over a 6 week period, so I truly hit my rock bottom (for the umpteenth time !!! ) I was at crisis point and had to take direct positive action for both him and I. I’ve felt pretty numb for the last month but have cried everyday. I did and probably still do love him but I love my self too and I deserve to live my life not just to exist as somebody else’s whipping post or personal ATM!! I’m starting to thaw now but am going through a grieving process for the relationship. But everyday I thaw, I have to be careful not spending too much time feeling sorry for him…I bring myself back to centre to remind myself why we can’t be in each others lives and what it would be like if he was to come back. When I cry they are tears of release not longing. I’ve cried every day and still have some crying left to do. Still it’s a full moon in Leo Friday/Saturday. I will perform a forgiveness and gratitude ceremony. My CG (May God protect him and guide him back to the right path) will be on the top of the list, but he will also be top of my Gratitude list. It is a magical full moon, full of new beginnings, so I’m taking time to reflect what new experiences/activities/routines do I want in my life.

    It sounds to me like you know what your decision is, it’s just doing it, planning it, …I don’t know if you have abuse in your relationship but if there is, the most dangerous time in a relationship is when you leave it!!

    I found the activities I started in September are sustaining me through this period.

    Whatever you decide, it has to be right for you and you alone.
    Good luck.x

    #5501
    lily
    Participant

    Hi again CD, I think personally the question for you really ‘is do I want to continue the way things are?’ For me my partner and i were best friends as well as lovers so it was me he came to when things went horribly wrong with the gambling. I knew I wanted the relationship with him more than anything, I felt powerless because to me the only thing wrong with our relationship was the gambling but he couldn’t/wouldn’t stop even after I basically marched him in to therapy. I had to walk away for my own sanity because I knew I couldn’t live my life never knowing if he was blowing the rent money, coming home or lying to me about where he had been. I wanted a relationship that was built on trust and there could be none with the gambling in our lives. I ended things when he gambled while in residential treatment and lied about it.

    I had to accept it was over in order for us both to move forward and it has taken him 7 years to get the CGing under control. We are dating again and the relationship is everything I knew it could be but I had to let go and accept it wasn’t what I needed or wanted first in order to get to the point things are now.

    I believe if you take a step back then you will know your answers, but I don’t believe you can build and grow a relationship on the foundations of an unmanaged addiction personally and for him while things are all ticking along and he can have you and his addiction why would he want to change? I hope this makes sense. Lily x

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