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  • How to stay married when your husband gambles?

    Is someone you care about experiencing issues with gambling? Come in here to discuss your concerns, connect, and get some helpful tips.
    Chilli Heeler
    Junior Member
    Posts: 2
    Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:17 am

    How to stay married when your husband gambles?

    Fri Nov 26, 2021 2:17 pm

    Hello. I found out my husband was a gambling addict when our first daughter was 3 months old. This was almost 3 years ago now. We have since had another baby and have bought a house together. I haven't spoken to anyone about it; no friends, family or a counselor. I feel ashamed that I decided to buy a house and have a second child despite knowing of his addiction. I thought things were getting better and that he had stopped gambling. I have since started reading and learning more about addictions and understand it's not that simple.

    Has anyone managed to have a healthy relationship with a partner who has a gambling addiction? My husband is an incredibly loving and supportive partner and father. We have a very happy family and live in a very calm home together. Somehow the gambling runs parallel to this. In the 3 years I have known about it he has relapsed twice. I struggle to understand that this man who loves and cares for his two daughters so much can throw our money away rather that put it towards things that could better our family. I feel a lot of shame and can't bring myself to talk to anyone about it.
    2 x
    AGHS
    Member
    Posts: 66
    Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:43 am

    Re: How to stay married when your husband gambles?

    Fri Nov 26, 2021 2:57 pm

    Hi, its great that you have reached out to this forum. There are may people experiencing the same issues as you with a partner gambling and I am sure that they will offer you some excellent advice. The shame you speak of is very common, not only by the spouse but he will also be 'shamed' that he has a gambling problem. Have you tried to talk to him about it or even write him a letter. We often put our head in the sand and don't broach the elephant in the room. You have a right to better understand his gambling and how it is impacting on you personally and financially and he owes it to you and your children to fess up. You're worrying about this will not be good for your health and wellbeing and it will be inevitable that there will be a flow on affect to your children. You may need to start opening up to family/friends as gambling is a very hidden addiction and if it isn't put out there then he will just keep gambling. It may also help you to speak to a counsellor (1800 858 858) to support you how best to approach your husband and to support you with how you are feeling. I wish you the best with your journey.
    3 x
    Printemps
    Moderator
    Posts: 528
    Joined: Tue May 04, 2021 8:12 am

    Re: How to stay married when your husband gambles?

    Fri Nov 26, 2021 2:59 pm

    hey @Chilli Heeler Thank you for sharing your story, it sounds like your partner's gambling is bringing up a lot of negative emotions for you at the moment.

    Shame is a really common feeling for people when it comes to addiction, we worry so much about what others will think or how our partner and relationship will be perceived. It's really great you've reached out. it takes a lot of strength.

    One thing I will say at that moment is to look after yourself and your well being. It can be very difficult supporting a loved one who is struggling, remember, we can't pour from an empty cup. Do you have a self-care plan in place?

    I'm going to tag some forum members who are currently going through similar experiences as they may have some advice.
    @Jimap @Resilient @CaffinatedCathy

    We're all here for you :);
    1 x
    Rigs
    Junior Member
    Posts: 2
    Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:30 pm

    Re: How to stay married when your husband gambles?

    Sat Nov 27, 2021 1:54 am

    Hi Chilli,

    Firstly I’m coming up to two years free of gambling (gambled for 10 years) so I’ve been in the same position as your husband is now and my wife was in the same position you are in now.

    I gambled on and off before we had kids but it wasn’t a full blown addiction until kids and then my gambling intensified once our first child came along for a few reasons. I lost my mother to cancer at the age of seven and was raised by my father who was completely fine (no abuse) but emotionally was completely void. I had an argument and subsequently a major fall out with him at 24 and didn’t speak to him for 10 years so we had a terrible father son relationship. The reason I’m bring up my family situation is I learned I wasn’t gambling for money, I was gambling to escape childhood neglect and the lack of connection through no family or terrible family in my case. Having kids brought up my childhood memories and I think subconsciously I feared I would fail them even though I was/am a great dad and the stresses of kids in general.

    It’s very easy to see someone wasting money and ask why is he doing that when that money could be spent on the family but he is clearly suffering from past trauma of some sort and using the gambling as an escape mechanism. The only way I was free from gambling was to admit I had a lot of childhood trauma and I was lucky my wife was amazing and helped me get through it with many nights of complete honesty about my life and all the worst aspects of my gambling.

    The hard part and the truth is if you don’t want to stop gambling (and I never thought I would) then you won’t until you really hit rock bottom. You have to truly want to stop but in stopping you have to address why you gambled in the first place and my opinion is you aren’t addicted to gambling you are addicted to the escape and dopamine hit it gives you. You may find he has anxiety like I did/have and sometimes I would drink to escape or calm down or over eat. It’s never just gambling.

    Anyway that’s just my two cents as I feel for your family, especially the kids but the best advice I can give is address the gambling but it’s the hidden past trauma you need to find and really address or he’ll never be free from gambling.

    -Rigs
    3 x
    Chilli Heeler
    Junior Member
    Posts: 2
    Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:17 am

    Re: How to stay married when your husband gambles?

    Sat Nov 27, 2021 4:32 pm

    Thank you all for your messages. It's nice to not feel so alone with it all.

    @Printemps yes, I do but I find it hard to keep up with self care when I'm struggling, which is of course when I need it most. But it's quite a vague plan so perhaps I could aim to have some more concrete things to aim for each week.

    Thank you @Rigs yes, definitely trauma from his childhood that I naively thought he had developed healthy coping strategies for. We have spoken about it but not much detail. Have you been able to speak to your friends about your gambling? I want him to talk to his friends about it.. he has a great support network and incredible friends. I feel like if he told some of them they could help keep him on track. I unfortunately do not have close friends like he does and I certainly could not tell my family - they would see the issue as very black and white and do everything they could to make me to leave him.

    Thank you @AGHS I will call that number.

    I have reached out to a financial counselor for advice to try to safeguard money for myself and my girls. Any advice or experiences/stories from anyone in about this are very welcome.

    Thank you again for your supportive messages.
    1 x
    Rigs
    Junior Member
    Posts: 2
    Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2020 10:30 pm

    Re: How to stay married when your husband gambles?

    Sat Nov 27, 2021 8:23 pm

    Hey Chilli,

    “Thank you @Rigs yes, definitely trauma from his childhood that I naively thought he had developed healthy coping strategies for. We have spoken about it but not much detail. Have you been able to speak to your friends about your gambling? I want him to talk to his friends about it.. he has a great support network and incredible friends. I feel like if he told some of them they could help keep him on track. I unfortunately do not have close friends like he does and I certainly could not tell my family - they would see the issue as very black and white and do everything they could to make me to leave him.”

    The truth is I listened to a lot of podcasts and gambling help suggestions and they all said tell as many people as possible to make you accountable but personally for me a didn’t tell anyone I know, (friends or family) and still to this day no one knows except my wife. I can only answer from my personal experience but I’m so glad I never told anyone that knew me as the stigma of gambling would never leave me and I don’t want the gambling to define or for people to judge me when I’m not the same person I was two years ago. Also I ‘borrowed’ thousands from family and friends telling every lie under the sun to get that money so to come out now and tell them I used it for gambling would be hurtful to them, shameful for me and I worry in general the ones closest to me would never trust me again. If I or my wife told her mother that everytime I asked for money it was really for gambling she absolutely would not understand and think I was a complete idiot and probably a complete loser.

    I did go to GA (gamblers anonymous) and it was absolutely nerve racking but telling a group of strangers that had the same addictions with gambling was completely freeing for me and that really helped me as for the first time I was openly admitting to people I had a problem and needed help. For me I highly recommend GA because you can tell and hear everyone’s stories and experiences and there’s some bad ones so you know that you’re not alone with the gambling behaviours. So for me I got everything out through GA not family and friends but everyone is different.

    Feel free to ask anything you want as I don’t have urges to go back to gambling (I actually despise it now and feel extremely bad for anyone going through it) and not once did I relapse and my life is amazing now. Not sure how your husband chooses to gamble (casino, pokies, online poker, horse racing or sports betting) but I won’t lie it’s a long road to recovery but my wife wanted to leave me many many times but because I got the help I needed and I changed she’s so glad she didn’t and we have an amazing marriage today probably even better than before I started gambling.
    1 x
    Jimap
    Member
    Posts: 72
    Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2021 2:17 pm

    Re: How to stay married when your husband gambles?

    Sun Nov 28, 2021 9:18 am

    Hi @Chilli Heeler i have been in your position as a partner. 2 young children and a house and dealing with my now ex partners gambling addiction. Unfortunately our relationship did not last as my ex partner would not seek help and gambled thousands of dollars over the 15 yrs we were together.
    I also did not tell many family or friends about the gambling for fear of them telling me to leave. It’s easy for others to say get out but when you are emotionally invested and attached to someone it’s not that easy. Obviously he has a lot of great qualities about him as did my ex partner. For me the longer the gambling went on untreated the more damage it did to my feelings for him and the more it made me anxious, physically and emotionally unwell, resentful, angry, distant and eventually there was a loss of respect.
    It’s hard to financially protect yourself when you own joint assets. I also had my own bank account that he could not access however for you if he accumulates debt behind your back then this impacts also on you financially. Limiting his access to cash will help if he agrees.
    I don’t believe that a relationship can be healthy if someone is in active addiction. Yes if someone is committed to recovery then this may change but it will also involve you getting help for yourself to stop any patterns of enabling. You may not realise you are enabling the addiction but most of the time people around addicts are doing it. I was doing it all the time thinking that I was helping but I now know it actually was making it easy for my ex to continue to gamble.
    If his trauma is linked to his gambling then this is a battle he must face or the gambling will most likely continue. No matter how much love you give him you can not fix or rescue him from his childhood pain.
    As for telling his friends..if his friends also gamble then this could be difficult. Socially gambling is so acceptable and encouraged that it can make it hard for someone with a problem to speak up. He may be worried about how his friends may perceive him or that they may treat him differently especially if they like to punt.
    The most important thing to remember is that this is not your fault. You and your children must come first no matter what. Make your self care super important. Seek advice about your finances and if you can see your doctor for a referral to a psychologist who deals with addiction and codependency.
    Take care❤️❤️
    1 x

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