The Spouse and Gambling Addiction
Relationships are affected by addiction including social relationships, work relationships, and family relationships. The spouse of an addict also experiences the effect of addiction. Gambling addiction is a disorder where participation in gambling activities becomes necessary and the individual cannot stop. A person gambles despite negative consequences including increasing debt, loss of a job, or engaging in behavior such as cheating or dishonesty.
The spouse of a gambling addict experiences many of these same negative consequences; however, they are unsure what to do. For months, even years, the spouse of the gambling addict watches the addict plummet into financial ruin and become increasingly irritable, depressed, and out of control. The spouse may need to take charge of the home finances to ensure that bills are paid and there is a roof over their heads. The spouse may limit access to credit and debit cards, which angers the addict, as they do not have the resources to participate in their addiction. The addict may resort to other ways of securing funds through cheating, dishonesty, and possibly even illegal activity.
The addict may start to borrow money from co-workers, friends, or family members and ask that they not mention the loan to the spouse. The addict becomes quite good at hiding their behaviors and will often lie to the spouse to cover up where they have been or what they have been doing. Arguments will ensue where the addict blames the spouse for not understanding that he or she does not have a problem with gambling and they need to deal with it. The addict will minimize gambling activity and state that they were only playing bingo with friends. The addict will spend hours away from home sometimes even entire days or weekends. If the addict has a job, they run the risk of losing the job as lunch breaks are taken at a local casino and hours go by before the addict returns to work.
The spouse of an addict often feels out of control and uncertain about what to do. The spouse may decide to leave the addict or the spouse will continue to suffer in silence. If the spouse decides to leave, then the addict may make promises that cannot be kept to keep the relationship together. If the spouse decides to stay in the relationship, they hold on to the hope that things will get better. If the addict decides to stop gambling, the spouse will usually help the addict develop a program of recovery. The spouse may even participate in Gam Anon meetings to learn more about the addiction and how they can support the spouse, which can help the relationship post-addiction.