Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family Why I continue to tolerate my wife’s gambling habit?

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  • #2896
    jamesn
    Participant

    My wife has been gambling on and off for 10 years. There are periods when she was able to be clean for 2 to 3 years. But things like a miscarriage brought her back to gambling. After she was able to conceived through IVF I thought maybe her problem might finally ended. But no, she went on a gambling spree when she was 6 month pregnant and then stopped again. I tried to convince myself that it’s the hormonal imbalance that driven her to relapse. Now my daughter is 15 month old she suddenly has signs of gambling again.

    I have read enough to know that I am part of the problem. I sometimes helped to pay her debt and sometimes helped her to use her money to pay her debts. But it is really hard to separate her money and mine because when she pays her debts she is not helping with the expenses. She has lost over $200,000. Since we both make good salaries our financial situation is still stable as we are under 40 and have over $550,000 mostly in 401K and home equity but I am really angry on why she is wasting hard earned money like that.

    She agreed to let me control her finances. She only has a debit card with $300 max and no credit card, no checkbook.

    She told me that my controlling behaviors toward her made her mad and wanting to relapse. I left her to live with my brother 4 years ago for two months. But I relent after she begged and promised change.

    Is she really trying? Sometimes I think she did it just to drive me crazy. Today she left work and probably went straight to the casino. No attempt to hide it. She could have taken a day off and gamble and lie to me.

    I just threatened divorce. But I knew I made a mistake because it is just empty, for now. It is too hard when I have a 15 month old child. I am so lost. I don’t want my child to lose a mom but I also don’t want my child to live with a gambling mother.

    We are both Engineers and introvert people with few friends. While I am OK with it my wife seems to be bothered by it. I have some closed friends that I golf and fish with but when our families get together my wife seems not able to connect to my friends’ wives.

    Thanks for reading and please give me some advice,

    #2897
    ell
    Participant

    Hello James ,
    Welcome to GT site. You cannot imagine James how happy I am when someone in his own searching arrives here in the site.
    A warm welcome for me and from all the others members here. Here you will see that you will find true support with no judging. The addiction James is something that no one wants it in his life. If I ask your wife she doesn’t t want it either.
    The Gt on weekends are very quite. But on Monday you will see the difference. Here will find support groups and you can speak on real time with people who are in the same situation like you. You can read real stories from the journal (where a cg writes and from Friends and Family where a non GG writes)
    I can understand very well James your feelings, your disappointment, your fear your Unger your stress, your questions: why this happens in me? What I did wrong, what will happen to my baby, why so many many lies, fights etc etc etc . Believe me I can hear you very well even we are in different countries.
    You wrote on your post:
    “But it is really hard to separate her money and mine because when she pays her debts she is not helping with the expense””
    That was the same question I had the first day I came here. That was my first post, The Unger with all the other feelings. But on time you will see that things that are important for non cg are not so important for cg and the opposite.

    Here in GT you will meet velvet. She will find you or you can find her first on the support groups of F&f . She is giving her life to help all of us .Please go to her group you are more than welcome there.
    Please try to separate the addiction from your wife. There 2 different things. I know that is too hard to separate it that is why I’m saying please try. Give yourself all the knowledge that you need. Here you can find so many recourses . Your enemy is the addiction not your wife my friend, so please read and read as much you need and earn all the power against the addiction. Your recovery is very important James and your recovery is different from your Gg recovery.
    I’m ell I’m 37 years old with a baby girl 24 months like you and my hb is a cg in recovery .We are married 2 years now. I learn that he is a cg 1 year ago.
    It is an honor to meet you James. Please stay connect on GT every day and you will see the difference .

    Stay strong with all my love ell

    Please excuse me for my english are not very good .

    #2898
    velvet
    Moderator

    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.

    Velvet

    #2899
    monique
    Participant

    Hi James
    I have read your post and am glad you have had some great replies. I hope this is the start of lots of support for YOU and I hope your wife also finds the will to ‘turn around’ in her life with the appropriate help, too.
    I just want to say that when you are not sure what to do, it is often good not to do anything, but take time to think and arm yourself with good information and wisdom from people who have had to go through similar (though never the same) experiences. Your wife’s addiction and your being ‘drawn into its web’ have developed over years, so you both need time for your recoveries. And only your wife can make the decision to change her life.
    There are often all sorts of ‘reasons’ for someone to become addicted – lack of confidence, lack of satisfying interests and friendships (I note you think your wife is ‘bothered’ about not having many friends), grief and loss etc.. I think it is often almost impossible, though, to fully address those issues, whilst the addiction is still active. So, although, it can seem unempathic, it is usually important for the addict to determine to turn away from the gambling, recognizing it is NOT a useful way to deal with life’s problems, as a prerequisite; then other issues can be addressed gradually with a clear head.
    Mostly I wanted to welcome you and wish you and your wife well.
    Monique

    #2900
    jamesn
    Participant

    Thank you ell, velvet and monique for your kind words and wisdom. I am glad to see that others who were like me but are able to overcome the problems that I am facing. I cared too much and tried to fix things which I finally understood that I have no power over after 10 years. I have no regret coming back to my wife 4 years ago even though my family warned me that I should move on. I love my wife and thought that I could help her free from this evil. I thought I would never walk away from her if she had cancer and gambling seems to be more treatable at least from my own logic. It turned out to be more daunting than I ever thought it would be. I don’t know if I still love my wife any more because sometimes she is like a total stranger to me and none of what she says make sense. My beautiful daughter is the love of my life right now. I don’t know what is the best for her yet. I am trying mediation and guided relaxation so I can overcome my anxiety and it seems to help me clear my mind.

    My wife used to like to go out with me for dinner and movies or go hiking. She refused to to try them now. She has some friends but her relationships to them seems superficial. She never share with them her problems. She talks tough but is really fragile inside. I urged her to see a psychiatrist but she refuses. She attended GA for two months but then told me that seeing these people with gambling problems make her depress.

    Thank you for reading,
    James

    #2901
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi James
    When you don’t know what to do, I believe, it is best to stand still and do nothing until you know.

    You have learned things about your wife’s addiction that she is unable to tell you. Perhaps you could go to http://www.gamblersanonymous20questions.org and print off the questions. Tick the ones that you think she should say yes to and leave it for her to see.

    Many CGs are not aware that their addiction is recognisable and that they are not alone. In my opinion it is good that an active CG learns that their loved one is seeking help. CGs do not tend to understand that those around them need protection and support from the addiction that they own.

    I understand only too well that an active addiction can feel like it has destroyed love. It is good that you can feel safe enough to voice your concerns here that you are not sure if you love your wife anymore because there is never any judgement on this site and nobody would ever tell you to leave her.

    Active CGs do not make good friends – they want enablement and not willing to share or give.

    Keep posting, keep reading, perhaps you could contact our helpline or join our F&F groups.

    It is fairly common for CGs to find GA tough and to say that they do not have the same problem as the other members. I would imagine their problems brought home to her that they were also her problems but at that time she was not willing to hear.

    Anything that helps you overcome your anxiety must be good. You need a clear head to make your decisions and to support your wife.

    Whatever you do there will be no judgement her but I hope you will stick around a little longer so that you decisions will be informed.

    Velvet

    #2902
    madge456
    Participant

    James
    Bravo for having the courage to post on this site. I cried as I read your postings and responses – so similar to some of my own. My CG is an engineer also and I know all that brings with it – My CG likes the thrill of card counting at Blackjack bc he has such a brilliant mind he uses it to try and “beat the house” and feel superior at the same time. I also understand not knowing if you love your wife anymore – I have been with my CG for 20 years and I feel the same way. The children make it hard to leave of course, but beyond that it is hard to feel you love someone who has betrayed you, lied to you and makes you feel like you are wrong when it is them that is doing the harm. I hope this makes sense. I just wanted to say I hear you, I resonate with much that you said and that you have found a wonderful forum to get out many feelings you might have.
    I have found this site as a haven for me and many times it really has kept me going…just one more day. Im hardly in a position to give advice but many wise people here told me to look after myself and my kids. You can offer you CG the gambling literature, hotlines, GA etc but it is ultimately up to them to take advantage of these things. My CG also says that the people in GA don’t have anything in common with him and he is “not like them” (yeah, for 3 years he ditched work, and ran off to the casino during the day and weekends, lying to me, our families and kids the whole time) – yeah, he is nothing like other gamblers, right??
    I also agree with Velvet that if you don’t know what to do remain still until you feel like you have found the right decision – It sounds like you have been thru a lot of trauma in this relationship and being still and quieting your mind will hopefully help you see clearly what needs to happen. I hope I have been helpful. I will think of you and send good energy your way. Love that little baby of yours – time is precious and they grow up way too fast. Blessings,
    Madge

    #2903
    jamesn
    Participant

    Next week I will travel for two days to make product presentation to a few prospective customers. As I am ready to go, I am filled with anxiety again. The last time I traveled 3 years ago, she went gambling and it was also true the time before that. This time we have a daughter but I think she might ditch work and gamble. I should enjoy this opportunity to travel with colleagues and a chance to go out of the country but I am not.

    I have a nagging feeling that she is gambling sporadically the last few months. However, I have no evidence as her credit and bank account are untouched. I also contacted friends that she used to borrow money from and they confirmed that she has not borrowed any money lately. Previously anytime she gambled, she spiraled out and raking up debts quickly. I hope it is just my imagination. One small positive step that I have observed is that my wife is generally much more happy since my daughter was born and it has been about two years since I have concrete evidence of her gambling and if she is gambling, she is at a much reduced level.

    I am telling myself that I have tried my best and there is nothing else I could do to help and it has to come from her. My wife on average lost about half of her take home income to gambling the last several years. Sometimes I try to justify my current situation as marrying to a wife with half the income but I know it is not the same with all the lies, argument, and anxiety.

    Thanks for reading.

    #2904
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi James
    My feeling is that you should go and enjoy you time with colleagues because all the worrying you are doing will not make any difference.
    Nagging feelings are understandable but not proof and without proof it would be unwise to accuse your wife – if she isn’t gambling then she might feel ‘what’s the point, he doesn’t believe me anyway?’ The addiction doesn’t need much provocation to rear its head.

    I am trying to read between the lines and uncover what it is that is giving you the unsettled feelings. Has her behaviour changed? Are you finding yourself in the middle of arguments without knowing how you got there? Are you aware that she is telling lies about things that don’t matter?

    Are you feeling more anxious because you are going away and this is what is giving you concern? I can’t tell you what to do but if you are away for only 2 days and you have no concrete evidence that you wife is gambling, it seems to me your anxiety has gone into overdrive.

    What happened that has caused you to write this post because unless you have more than a gut instinct I cannot see why you cannot go and enjoy your trip which will surely do you good.

    Velvet

    #2905
    jamesn
    Participant

    Hi Velvet,

    I think just the fact that she gambled during my last two trips (3, and 4 years ago) unsettled me. For the same reason I excused myself on a few trips that my boss had wanted me to go and I asked a Junior Engineer to take my place.

    In the past couple of months my wife communicated to a gambler friend of hers and one time I overheard about repaying a loan but wasn’t sure from whom to whom. My wife said her friend is paying her back some money. I don’t want my wife to be in touch with these gambling friends so the fact that she is talking to them concerns me. Recently my wife also disappears for long periods of time at work which is also a red flag.

    Thank you very much Velvet. I know that my anxiety is unhealthy and I am trying to overcome it.

    #2906
    nomore 56
    Participant

    Hi James, I think that all F&Fs have had encounters with anxiety, some more, some less. It goes with the addiction. The lies, the uncertainty, the not knowing what the cg is doing, when and where. Everything you describe in your recent posts sounds like your wife is gambling. Missing work is a huge red flag. I just want to list some things you can do to get some kind of a picture re what is going on. Remove her name from all joint accounts and credit cards. No checks, no nothing. Check both your credit reports to see if she got any credit cards you know nothing about. Or payday loans, personal loans, anything like that. Make sure that YOU pay all the bills, each and everyone of them. You might want to sign up for a credit monitoring service so that you know if something is going on behind your back. She should provide receipts for everything she buys with her debit card. Everything you are going through sounds so terribly familiar to me. I was completely oblivious to what my hb did to get his hands on money and I wish someone had told me what to do to protect myself. I live in a community property state and ended up filing for bankruptcy for debts I knew nothing about. You guys are financially secure at this time but make no mistake, the money has no face and no name on it and goes faster than you can count it. My hb gambled away about 250 K in 18 months. Not to mention the house, the cars and everything in between. I DO NOT want to scare you but personally I think that it provides some peace of mind to know that your money is protected and there can be no terrible surprises for you. The addiction caused me to have huge problems at work as well. I was never able to concentrate, left early, came in late, constantly worried and on the phone etc. Eventually it ruined everything for me. I just want to share my experience with me because it does not have to come to this for you. There is still time to turn the table. Your wife will get angry if you take control of the money because the addiction is furious with you for trying to take away its’ resources. That is white noise, try not to listen to it. Your baby deserves a functional parent and at this time this seems to be you more than your wife. Please don’t let me scare you, that is not my intention. I have been down this road for 25 years before my hb finally turned his life around in 2009. I would hate to see anyone else having to go through all the pain and the suffering. Take good care of yourself! 🙂

    #2907
    jamesn
    Participant

    Hi Nomore,
    I am so glad that your husband is able to overcome his addiction. Hope he will be gambling free in the future.
    I am already doing many items that you suggested.
    I have credit monitoring for me and my wife. I have access and control to my wife’s bank account and I make sure that the balance doesn’t go above $400. She has no check book. All accounts are now separated. I pay all bills. I had long talks with friends and relatives who used to lend my wife money.
    I know that we are financially secure for now but I know it can be gone very quickly.

    Many thanks,

    #2908
    velvet
    Moderator

    Hi James
    Giving up pleasures because of living with the addiction to gamble gradually erodes the life of the non-CG. I cannot tell you what to do but with all the safeguards you have put in place and with all the information that Nomore has shared with you, I would feel you have enough knowledge to make an informed decision about what is right for you.

    Anxiety cripples us and sometimes it blinds us to what is right for us. Only you can know what you really want to do. If you decide to go please ensure you enjoy every minute and leave anxiety behind. Sadly if your wife is going to gamble she will find a way and no amount of anxiety on your part will make an iota of difference – living your life in constant expectation of a disaster is soul-destroying.

    I wish you well in whatever decision you make

    Velvet

    #2909
    madge456
    Participant

    ” living your life in constant expectation of a disaster is soul-destroying.”

    I couldn’t agree more – I just put a long post on my thread so I won’t bore you with more here – But wanted to say to James how right Velvet is – I am living it – it is horrible. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and try and let go of the anxiety. I fight it everyday but know it is killing me…Hang in there
    xx
    M

    #2910
    jamesn
    Participant

    I accidently saw a text message on my wife’s phone that reads “Please give it to me by end of the month, I need it” from someone and this of course drove me into another anxiety episode. My wife explained to me that was one of her coworker’s asking for a sample test for a certificate program at work. And my negative self interpreted it as someone asking for their money back. If you have read my past posts, I periodically have anxiety due to my wife’s gambling problem. Last time it was my travel to Mexico but it turned out uneventful. I am working on minimizing my anxiety problem with mindfulness, and hypnotherapy CDs and it seems to ease the problem but I can’t get rid of it entirely. Reading your posts also give me a lot of helpful insights. I just want to share my thoughts.

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