4 January 2013 at 4:56 am #2048mayatemmabParticipant
Family Background – I am currently on a child-rearing leave of absence, from being a middle school science and math teacher, with my two daughters, 4.5 years old and 6 months old. My spouse is a television producer for a highly reputable company and we live in the North East.
How gambling affects my family and I When I first got to know my husband and his family, 13 years ago, I was introduced to the world of gambling. They went to the casino, played lotto and participated in sports betting. This was all foreign to me and for many years, everyone seemed to be in control. We bought our house in 04, got married in 05 and had our first daughter in 08. My first inkling that something was just not right was WHEN he would gamble. After our first daughter was born, he often would go to the casino on weekday nights, very late and I didnt know what time he actually got home. I though this was a little strange but he said he was going with friends and their work schedules are so non-traditional that I didnt really think too much of it. Also, this was a time when he would give me some winnings. I dont remember the next incident exactly but I think it was when the tax return went missing. This was the first time that I can remember confronting him about a loss of money. He told me he gambled it but neither of us, at that time, realized it was an actual problem. Then about 2 years ago, the collection calls started coming and bills started to not get paid. At the time, we each had a separate account and a joint account. We split paying bills. He called both my mom and his mom to borrow money and thats when the %$*# really hit the fan. At that point, he recognized that he did indeed have a problem and started to come clean about the true gravity of the situation. Turned out he had racked up quite an extensive list of credit card debt, took out a loan from his credit union and had borrowed money from his aunt and one of his friends. From what I was told and have been able to calculate it was a total of about $50,000. Needless to say, it was quite a shocking experience and was very hard for me to grasp. He pretty much immediately started going to GA, met with a credit counseling service and came clean to the people that money had been borrowed from. During the next about 14 months, he continued to go to GA (I tried going to Gam-Anon but didnt like it), we met with our lawyer to make sure we were making smart choices, closed all joint accounts, I took over paying all bills, part of his paycheck was/is direct deposited to me, the debt consolidators take money out of his paycheck every month and he has paid back 2 out of the 4 people. Progress was made and we were even able to save money for me to stay home again for another school year when we successfully got pregnant and gave birth to our second daughter. Then, it happened again. Right after our second daughter was born, things seemed to be off and I started to sense something was up. After opening the mail one day, I confronted him again and he admitted that from Aug to Nov of this year, he relapsed. He claims that he stopped going to GA because he thought he was better and then it all started spiraling out of control from there. I couldnt believe it was happening again and especially after we had just had our second child and I was not going to be getting paid for another year. I told both of our mothers immediately and everyone was very upset. I contacted a family attorney (someone I know personally) and discussed my options with her. I also contacted many real estate agents and had three come to assess my house and chances of moving. After finding out from two mortgage lenders, the real estate agents and the banks that selling our current house and getting a new place was not an option at this time, I had to re-evaluate the situation. Instead of yelling, getting angry, being depressed, etc. I decided to keep all lines of communication open and I told him what I was thinking and tried being rational and just deal with the situation. I found a therapist who specializes in compulsive gambling and we have started going there. He continues to go to GA and claims he has not gambled since this all came out. He continues to divulge more and more and has come clean that this recent relapse totals about another $10,000. While I am trying to accept that he has an illness and is trying to get help for it, I cant help feel that our family doesnt deserve it. We can not move and live in a city with very bad schools. We have had to look into other schools for our daughter that will start K this fall. When I am working, we make pretty good money and you would never know it. I am not a materialistic person at all, but it bothers me that there is such a discrepancy between how much money he makes and how much of his paycheck goes to pay off debts (over $1000 a month) that could go to our family. I try and stay positive and accept the situation instead of looking back but I will admit I pretty much staying in the marriage, for now, because I want our children to have a steady and stable childhood.
Look forward to hear your opinions. I am hoping to hear success stories and get support from people who are similar situations. Feel free to ask me any questions.4 January 2013 at 2:53 pm #2049stan’s girlParticipant
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I must say that reading the posts from family members of compulsive gamblers helps me so very much. I am a compulsive gambler and stopped when my boyfriend had enough. He’s such a strong person and holds me completely accountable.
I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, only what my boyfriend did for us and what works and doesn’t work.
The first thing he did was tell me that either I stop and give him all control or I pack my bags and get out. I knew he was serious.
Then he took over every single penny of our money. I have no funds whatsoever that he doesn’t know about. He’s closed off absolutely every single option for me. My entire pay cheque goes to him, he has my credit and debit cards. I have only one account that’s joint with him so he can see everything I do. If I take out cash, I’m to supply him with a receipt that accounts for all of it.
Then he told me to ban myself from the casinos and provide him with written proof. He didn’t go with me. He said this was my responsibility. I did it. I am now banned for one year.
He also said that I was to get help for myself (GA isn’t for me so I chose individual counselling and online support)
What helped me is that he made it perfectly clear what I was to do and what the consequences would be if I didn’t.
All of this allowed me to focus on recovering. I no longer had access to money or the casino. For me, this works.
Just know that no matter what you decide to do, the best thing you can do is protect yourself (your money) and your children (their well being). Whether he stops gambling or not is completely up to him.
I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I know from the other side what this feels like. It’s completely consuming.
Please feel free to ask any questions as well. I’m here if you need support.
CrystalLife isn't that difficult…people make it difficult. It's simple, let go and move on OR hold on and stay stuck.5 January 2013 at 2:07 am #2050nomore 56Participant
Hi there, I read your post and was thinking, wow, she really got everything sorted out before it actually got to a point of no return. You mentioned that you pretty much controlled the money after you found out about your hb’s gambling. Are you still doing it or did he have access to significant funds after the first incident? You did the right thing looking for a gambling counselor. Was it your idea or his and how does he feel about it? Do you think he is willing and ready to deal with his addiction? Attending GA is also very important and as to his assumption that he got “better”, the addiction does not really get better. It can be ******** and held at bay but is always there. Recovery is a work in progress and requires a lifelong commitment. I am diabetic and the disease will not go away ever. The insulin shots will always be necessary. Same goes for any addiction (as you can see, I love to talk in pictures, lol.) You said in your post that you feel obligated to hold the marriage together for the children. I can absolutely follow your train of thought. On the other hand, the decision what to do about your marriage is not really something to worry about right now imho. The best you can do in this ‘”state of emergency” is to take care of yourself and your babies. I also had problems with the first GamAnon group I attended. Even though the program is basically the same, the groups do have different dynamics and the same goes for GA. I absolutely understand your determination not give anything up, e.g. moving to a bad school district. Maybe you can come up with a plan, nail down the priorities right now as far as financials go? If your hb can be part of it, all the better but you can also do this for yourself. Just like you, I had never had anything to do with gambling and was completely overwhelmed and shocked when I found out about this. I cannot give you any advice of course but think it would be a good idea to make sure your hb has no access to any money right now. Other than for gas and lunch and always ask for the receipts. Since he seems to make good money, it would also be good to pull his credit report so you know if there is anything else lurking somewhere. It is great that you have access to legal advice because in states with community property your position might be more difficult than in others. And no, you don’t deserve this, neither do your kids or your husband for that matter. Nobody deserves this nightmare, the insanity of it, the hurt and everything else that comes with it. Most gamblers suffer greatly, just as we do, only in another way. I wish you tons of luck!!!!! It is possible to battle this addiction, there are many success stories out there. At this point in time, not all is lost for you and your hb.7 January 2013 at 3:39 am #2051mayatemmabParticipant
Stan’s girl – Thanks for your response. I am glad that us expressing our stories can help you (and hopefully others). We just did another “pressure relief” meeting and went over all finances and how they were to be handled. I am fortunate that, like you, he wants get better and we are working together to try and do the best for our family.
NoMore 56 – Good to hear from you. For the past few years I have been paying all the bills and we no longer had joint accounts, etc. During this last relapse, he gained access to money through obtaining a new credit card, taking out another loan and using some of his overtime. It sickens me that credit card companies and loan sharks take advantage of people like him but “it is, what it is”. He said he paid the loan off with his x-mas bonus and the new credit card has been added to his monthly restitutions. The counselor was a mutual decision. He knew I was pretty serious this time about leaving the marriage and said he would be willing to do pretty much anything to keep our family intact. I feel better after our last counseling session and after we re-evaluated the current financial situation. I appreciate your kind words of support and glad I have a “place” to go since Gam-Anon isn’t really working for me right now.7 January 2013 at 6:50 pm #2052nomore 56Participant
Hi Mayatemmab, it is a good start to address the financial issues head on. I mentioned the community property issue just because the spouse in theses states is responsible for any debt the other one accumulates, whether one knows about it or not. Do you know what your hb’s credit report looks like? You probably do because you have a credit counselor involved, which is a good thing. You said that your hb is willing to do anything to keep the family intact. Again, a good first step on his part. Keep in mind that his first and foremost priority in this should be to stop gambling and work on his recovery, no matter if you are with him or not. While everything you guys have put in motion is really great and will hopefully work for you, for him and your family his motivation is a crucial factor when it comes to recovery. I’m just saying this because of my own experience. The best way to support him is for you to be in a place where you feel safe and secure. To know that you have the right safety measures in place will put your mind at ease a great deal so you can focus on other things besides being afraid that the bills are paid. As for GamAnon, I understand what you mean. It is a great place to find support but the program is not for everyone. The groups are also very differently structured and it depends greatly on the people you find there as well. I met some very nice people there and it was a place for me where I could vent, cry, scream and let out my frustration in the beginning without being judged. I got some very useful advice as well but overall it was not for me. Whatever works best for YOU is what you need to do. You go girl!!!!8 January 2013 at 6:35 pm #2053
Welcome to Gambling Therapy. Sorry the welcome took so long in coming but I have been unwell and trying to write when one’s brain is not in gear is not a good idea.
You wanted to hear success stories and I am privileged to say I have heard and seen many. My CG has been in recovery for years and going from strength to strength so I ‘know’ the addiction to gamble can be controlled or I would not be writing to you.
Gamanon didn’t suit you but the fact that you tried it shows openness on your part to understand and that is important. Knowledge of the addiction to gamble helps us cope with it.
You have already achieved a lot by keeping the lines of communication open and learning not to shout. You certainly don’t deserve to have the addiction to gamble in your life but then nor does your husband. What seemed an innocent pastime to him and his family has turned into a nightmare for you all – which is typical of this secretive, corrosive addiction.
I accept that you say that you are staying in the marriage to give the children a stable childhood. Maybe you might like to look in our F&F topic forum (the next forum down) where we focus on issues, one of which is called ‘What can I Tell my Children?’ Three mothers who love CGs have made entries and maybe they will help. if you pose any thoughts there I will answer you on your thread.
I’m afraid the steady drip of information on debts is typical of the addiction. The CG believes the non-CG will take smaller pieces and deal with them gradually and easier as they are afraid of the reaction, whereas the non-CG would rather know the whole picture so that they can make informed decisions. I hope your husband’s therapist has got him to tell you everything now.
Gamanons vary – they are made up of people and people vary from one week to the next. It is good to get physical support but I do know that many F&F members have found their recovery just using this site.
Your husband believed he was cured. Hopefully, he knows now that he cannot be cured but he can control his addiction and he can live a wonderful life – often more special because of the terrible experience he has had to the courage to face. He can turn the terrible experience into something good – I have seen it and heard it happen many *****.
Likewise I believe that those who love CGs can turn their lives around and live better lives for experiencing this addiction. It does take courage but it can be done.
In this forum we offer support without judgement and whatever you decide you will be understood. We have Friends and Family Groups that are private, where we communicate in real time – nothing said in a group appears on the forum. You will be very welcome to join us – the ***** are in the top right hand box of this forum page.
You seem a positive person and you are looking after your finances. The greatest damage, however is to our self-esteem and confidence so it is important in our recovery to find the strength to do the best we can for ourselves. As victims of the addiction we are powerless but with knowledge we can learn to care about ourselves which is the best thing for children and ultimately for the CG. The greater the wreckage created by the addiction the harder it is for the CG to come to terms with and take responsibility for)what his behaviour has caused. Whatever your outcome, it will be better for you all if your husband stays gamble-free and seeing you coping will help him do that. The greatest revenge you can have on the addiction to gamble is to be happy.
I look forward to hearing from you again but will leave it there for now
Well done on starting a thread
Velvet8 January 2013 at 9:23 pm #2054bella234Participant
Wow May, reading your story was like reading my own.I went through a similar time when my girls were born, we are 16 years on now…my husband stopped going to GA, was cured, not to be im afraid. My children caught him this time after he borrowed £2000 of my eldest daughters inheritence, they delved into online history and all they found were gambling and loan sites. We now find ourselves in indescribable debt,but worse than that my rock is a small pile of sand, I have battled depression over the last 6 years and my husband has always the person I have lent on…now hes gone. We are together right now for the girls but I am experiencing the anger phase of this process. Hes back at GA and getting support from me and our family, but giving me nothing on return…is that selfish? GA is essential to their recovery, I just wish me and my girls were enough to help him recover…..so would love to offer my support to you as we travel this awful road..8 January 2013 at 11:17 pm #2055
The post that you have written is indeed a sad one and I can understand why this thread resonates with you but we are all different here and we all need to hear different things at different *****. I think we need to focus on the positives here and our main positive on this thread is the support we offer to each other.
I do of course wish you well
Velvet– 09/01/2013 17:18:00: post edited by Velvet.9 January 2013 at 8:36 pm #2056bella234Participant
Sorry that i was unable to post a positive response, but the reality for me right now is somewhat lacking in the positive. Will refrian from posting until I can say something positive??9 January 2013 at 11:27 pm #2057
Please keep writing and saying it just as it is for you. Unfortunately Gambling Therapy does not cover the UK but gamcare.co.uk does. Write you story and don’t hold back. You are a unique and special person who has been hit over and over again by a debilitating and terrible addiction that you do not deserve.
If your husband is attending GA he should be giving you something in return for your support. Recovery for a CG is really hard and the only way is often very selfish but if he is giving you nothing then I think he is not listening in his meetings.
If there is a Gamanon, please join it. You are in need of support and physically holding the hand of another who understands can be so therapeutic. Writing is therapeutic – you have had the courage to write on this site and I am so sorry that I am unable to support you as I would like to. Gather your courage up again one more time and write again.
Your husband has not deliberately hurt you – you are not to blame in any way. Neither of you asked for or wanted the addiction to gamble.
Your husband should not be directing anger at you if he is working his recovery – maybe you could ask him to talk to his meeting about ‘your’ feelings and his behaviour towards you.
The support he is getting should not include any settling of his gambling debts. Part of his recovery should be taking responsibility for his debts.
If he really does want to stop gambling maybe he could approach the Gordon Moody Association rehab – you can find details lower down on this forum page. This site is funded to offer support to those who go through the GMA programme and also their families.
You can get through this Bella – your children need you to be strong. Knowledge of the addiction to gamble will give you power over it. I appeciate you felt you could depend on your husband but you have always been the stronger without realising it. He is controlled by an addiction and is therefore weaker.
Don’t give up seeking help – it is there for you. You are understood, you are not alone. You are not being rejected, you are being redirected and you will find support.
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