What do you do if you are married to someone who is caught up into gambling (and might even be going down the downhill slope of gambling away your marriage, family relationship, your home and everything you own and treasure)?
What if YOU are the gambler who is caught up in this type of behavior?
These are two questions we’d like to address in this article that we pray can help you in some way. We know this is a tall order and that we can only scratch the surface of the subject. But because of the seriousness of this problem, we know it’s important to do what we can to help those who are overwhelmed by it all.
We don’t want to approach this subject as if we are the experts here at Marriage Missions advising you, because frankly, we have very little experience in this area of marriage even though we personally know of several couples that have/are dealing with this issue. Instead, we will facilitate within this article, the opportunity for others who are more experienced to share what they have learned.
First, lets look at gambling in general to give you information that you might find helpful. We’d then like to address the person who is married to the gambler (and other family members and friends) and the gambler as well.
One of the “truths” concerning gambling that we didn’t know was brought up in an article titled, “Gambling’s Impact on Families” put together by Ronald A. Reno. He wrote:
“A University of Nebraska Medical Center study concluded that problem gambling is as much a risk factor for domestic violence as alcohol abuse. Domestic violence murders in at least 11 states have been traced to gambling problems since 1996.”
Another article written by Ronald Reno (and posted on the Beliefnet.com web site) brings out the scriptural reasons why gambling isn’t something we should indulge in. He brings out the point:
“Jesus commanded, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself‘ (Mark 12:31). Gambling, meanwhile, is predicated on the losses, pain, and suffering of others. For one to win at gambling, others must lose. For many, the ramifications attributable to their gambling losses are profound. Families touched by a gambling addiction are at greatly increased risk for such negative outcomes as divorce, bankruptcy, child abuse, domestic violence, crime, and suicide.”
Besides that point, the article brings out others as well, with scriptures to support them. To find out more, please click onto the link below to read:
After you recognize that there is a gambling problem going on within your family and that gambling can grow in its negative impact, what can the family do about it? Marriageuncensored.com had an interesting article posted on their web site that brings out the important point:
“There’s the failure of the non-addicted spouse and other family members to respond appropriately and helpfully to the situation. Now, don’t get me wrong on this. I understand that the person with the addiction is the one who must ultimately take responsibility and make the changes to get healthy. If you are the supportive spouse, I am not suggesting that you are responsible for the addiction or the havoc it’s wreaking in your home.
“I am suggesting, however, that the way in which you respond can either create an environment that will help your spouse beat their addiction, or it can contribute to and compound the problem. As the partner who is one step removed from the addiction, you will have a huge impact on how this will turn out —for better or worse.
“The tendency of many in this situation is to tiptoe around the addict and their habit. But while letting sleeping dogs lie may get you through the day, it will not bring about the results you desire long-term.”
In this web site article, “Tiptoeing Around Addictions” Dr. Dave Currie, with Glen Hoos, made the point that “DENIAL” is one of the “unhealthy ways that “people respond to their spouse’s addiction.” They make the point that the addict tries to deny that there is a problem, but:
“Their spouse, family and friends often get hooked into it as well. The spouse in particular may deny the extent of the problem. They may try to convince themselves that their marriage is strong enough to bear up under this pressure, and that the issue is better left alone.
“You’ve got to be willing to let go of the security of that fantasy, and face reality. The first (and often hardest) step is admitting you have a problem. The issue is there whether you admit it or not; accepting the truth puts you on the road to recovery. If you deny the depth of the problem, your spouse will have no compelling reason to face it either, in which case your situation is never going to improve.”
And then there is, “ENABLEMENT,” which is “denial taken a step further.” As Dave Currie and Glen Hoos write:
“It’s covering for the addict, protecting them from the natural consequences of their actions. Some examples:
• “The boss calls and asks the woman why her husband isn’t at work today. ‘He’s in bed, sick,’ she answers… neglecting to mention that the sickness is due to a killer hangover incurred the night before.
• “The wife’s gambling addiction has strained the family finances to the point where the bills can no longer be paid. Instead of facing the real issue, the husband arranges to skip a mortgage payment and opens yet another line of credit.”
It’s tempting to do this because it seems easier to do this than to face the truth. However, as it’s pointed out:
“What you’re doing when you cover for the person is removing their motivation to change. Maybe he needs to get fired to wake him up. Maybe she needs to go to the store and have her credit card rejected when she’s trying to buy groceries to realize there’s a problem here.”
“Instead of enabling, you’ve got to intervene. Whether that’s a one-on-one confrontation or some kind of a group intervention depends on what you’re facing. But you need to come to the point where you sit down and say, ‘Okay, we have a problem here. What are we going to do about it?'”
Another way that a spouse and family may tiptoe around addiction is that they turn to “ABANDONMENT” as a way to cope. They:
“Cover for the addict one too many times and have come to the point where they say, ‘You know what? You got yourself into this mess… now get yourself out of it!’ They wash their hands of the situation and leave their spouse to deal with the problem alone.
“It’s understandable that some people get to this point. After all, it’s their spouse who chose this road, and paying for their bad behavior gets old very fast. Nevertheless, if you’re in this position you’ve got to ask yourself how you want this to play out? Do you really want your spouse to get cleaned up and get your marriage back on track? Because if that’s what you want, you’re not going to get it by leaving your husband or wife to fend for themselves. They’re going to need your support and encouragement every step of the way.
“Somehow, you’ve got to suppress the urge to cast blame and point fingers. Instead of putting the problem between you, you’ve got to stand side-to-side with the problem in front of you and say, ‘We have a problem. It happens to be your addiction, but it’s our problem, and we’re going to solve it together.’ What a world of difference from the, ‘It’s your problem… deal with it!’ approach.
“This is undeniably tough, especially if your spouse is not showing a willingness to do the hard work of recovery. However, don’t mistake support for softness. Supporting your spouse may mean confronting them, refusing to cover for them, and perhaps even separating for a period of time while they work through it. But it’s got to be done in a context of love and encouragement, and an attitude that says, ‘We will do whatever it takes to get you healthy and to put our marriage back on solid ground.'”
Now, it’s true that you may have been there and done that, but it’s important not to keep allowing this addiction to keep going on in your home, because it will continue to erode your marital relationship until eventually your marriage will be totally destroyed. There is no doubt that help is needed —desperately!
“FLYING SOLO” is another temptation facing you in all of this. Dave and Glen write further:
“As in many other areas of life, pride can be crippling when it comes to dealing with addiction. Pride causes you to say, ‘We don’t need help; we can handle this on our own.’
“Most addicts require outside help to fully conquer their habits —and fortunately, help is widely available. Whether it’s Gamblers Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous —name the addiction, and there is likely a group to help people through it. And if there aren’t any groups for it, there are counselors, pastors, friends to walk alongside you and helpful resources that can really make a difference.
“You’d be wise if you reached out for help at this time, and not just for the one with the addiction. There are also support groups for spouses, friends and family of addicts. Talking with others that are on a similar journey can bring you strength in difficult times.”
So, in our search for help for those who are being impacted by the negative effects of gambling upon their lives, we found the following to be something that you may want to research and possibly use in some way. The authors wrote:
“Because of the involvement of a family member, our hearts have been drawn to the Christian Recovery of Compulsive Gambling and Gambling Addiction. After doing considerable research on the internet on compulsive gambling and participating in the Recovery Process (Gambler’s Anonymous) with a loved one in a Support Group (Gamanon), we would like to share what we have found with all who visit this web site.”
To take advantage of what they offer, whether you are a family member, friend or someone who is dealing with your own gambling issues, please click onto the following web site link:
Something that would be good for the gambler to consider is written by Gregory L. Jantz. Please click onto the link below to read:
And if you think that it’s only those who are younger that are having problems in this area of life, think again. The ministry of Focus on the Family put together a great series of articles aimed to help those who are living out the years of “Midlife and Beyond” —those who are betting their life savings away hoping to obtain more to live on in their growing years. To read the first of the series and then continue on to the other articles they offer on this subject, please click onto the link below to read:
We hope you have found this article to be helpful. We encourage you to “Join the Discussion” below if you have further insights, prayer requests concerning this issue, and encouraging help for those who need it.
This article was compiled by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.