What do you do if you are married to someone who is caught up into gambling? He or she 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 caught up in this type of behavior?
These are issues we’re addressing in this article. We pray can help you in some way.
When Gambling is Destroying Marriages
We know this is a tall order and that we can only scratch the surface of the subject. But, 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. That is because frankly, we have very little experience in this area of marriage. We do, however, personally know of several couples that have/are dealing with this issue. But that is more of a distant view, rather than an up close and personal one. So we will facilitate within this article, the opportunity for others who are more experienced to share what they have learned.
Lets look at gambling in general to give you information 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 then we’ll address 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.” It is 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:
What Can You Do?
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.”
Gambling and the Denial Factor
In a 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. If this is the 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.”
Facing the Truth
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.
Suppress the Urge to Blame
“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. That is 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 there are helpful resources available 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.”
Gambling Addiction Info
So, in our search for help for those who are being impacted by the negative effects of gambling, we found the following to be something to use. 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:
• IS GAMBLING A PROBLEM? Gambling Addiction Information
Gregory L. Jantz wrote something that can be helpful for gamblers to consider. Please read:
• 14 QUESTIONS EVERY GAMBLER SHOULD ASK
And younger spouses aren’t the only ones having gambling problems. The ministry of Focus on the Family put together a great series of articles. They are aimed to help those who are living out the years of “Midlife and Beyond” who are betting their life savings away. Ultimately, they are hoping to obtain more to live on in their older years.
We encourage you to read the first of the series they offer. But then continue on to the other articles they offer on this subject. There’s a lot to learn!
We hope this article is helpful. We encourage you to “Join the Discussion” below if you have further help for those who need it.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Assorted Marriage Issues
53 responses to “Gambling is Destroying Our Marriage and Family Life”
I don’t want a divorce, but he has become cruel now that I have recognized the problem. I thought it was another woman and that’s something that came after gambling. I can’t see us coming back from this cruel addiction. Also if there are other things in your life like drinking, drugs – legal or not, he will use it as a throw back. We both have and shared our weaknesses and they were managed through the years. Not good, I’m sure; but we maintained our home, our boat and all the things we wanted. But this gambling is like overnight out of control.
We live on a trust fund provided by his mother who is a well known writer that has no idea what is going on. Now, instead of living our dreams and all the promises, he has shut me out. We are losing everything fast. Worst of all he/we have lost passion, respect and love for each other. He preys on my faith and hope and takes advantage of them, then I feel like he blames me for not recognizing the problem or sharing the problem or saving him from himself. I’m not sure which, he is angry and won’t let me close. I’m afraid of this man that I don’t know. 7 years together, I trusted him now I don’t know who he is or what he is capable of. Thanks for letting me share. I don’t feel exposure is productive at this time. I’m lost.
My wife and I are newlywed Seniors, having both been previously married and coming from divorce (her) and death of a spouse (me). In the past year, she has convinced me to go with her to the casino 3 times. On today, I told here that I would never go again. The facts are this: (1) Each casino visit has cost us hundreds of dollars in transportation and hotel costs not to mention gambling losses. (2) The physical atmosphere inside the casinos is like being in Hell because of cigarette smoke and the like.. The dangers of second hand smoke are well known.
On today, I told her that I love her very much but that I would not ever set foot in a casino again for as long as I live. She has been obviously saddened by my decision. She may continue to go without me but I believe God will solve this for us .
Hope to be back with a positive report.
I am a born again Christian. My husband is 15 years younger than I [from a muslim background] and is a gambler. He hid this for years but now when I look back at all the times he said he had to send money to his family or he lost money etc etc he was gambling all that time. He works hard but has nothing to show for it. He borrows from me from month to month. He has to pay car insurance etc. Through his bank he takes the money out to gamble, then I have to put it back some months. This happens twice or more. He owes me thousands. I struggle to pay a mortgage and all the bills. He gives me very little money. I get some money monthly because I am not well from the government. My health is bad. I have a lot of things wrong with me. I can’t take much more.
There are a lot of arguments over him pleading for money and the lies are just totally unbelievable. None of my family knows of this. My son and daughter would go mad if they knew how he is treating me. I haven’t told anyone at church. I am a private person. I even find it hard to pray about this. I married an unsaved person. I know now how wrong this was. When first married it was good; we were happy. I feel I am suffering more than him because I am the one who pays the bills etc. If it was left to him we would be on the street. I threaten him by saying I am going to tell his family where he is from [Israel] about the gambling. He gets mad as he says it will kill his sick uncle who brought him up.
He has gambled off and on since a young age. I’m sure the family knows I am so unhappy. If I wasn’t a Christian I don’t know how I would have coped till now. But it’s all getting to be too much. I told him to go back to Israel so I can have peace. He says he believes he has a curse on him. I told him to turn to God to help him. Please advise me. I can’t take anymore. I live in Ireland. Thank you.
In the case of my (previous) marriage, I believe I did respond appropriately when I recognized problems. That’s not to say that I was completely right; marriage (and life) can throw problems at a person that sometimes can’t be anticipated. And unfortunately for me and our children, the first problem I recognized WASN’T a “gambling problem”. Why would I? Gambling has never interested me as “entertainment”. I was reading some of the other comments here and wanted to add some information.
First, check into (prescription) medications. Certain Parkinson’s medications (Mirapex, Levodopa and Carbidopa), as well as Abilify, Aristada (an antipsychotic, also prescribed to help antidepressants work better) and medications for RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome): Mirapex (again) and Ropinirole (Requip) are noted to be implicated in some “compulsive behaviors”, of which gambling is one (eating, sex, shopping are others). Since the behavior disappears once the offending drug is stopped, it’s become clear the drugs ARE implicated.
A person with a gambling “problem” may lie or minimize “what’s going on” and that is NOT just in reference to the gambling. Some gamblers have embezzled or stolen outrageous sums of money, only to throw it away on the gambling. Others raid the family finances. Many resources directed toward spouses recommend “taking control” of the family finances if there is a gambling problem. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you go through the finances and get the best grasp you can of where you are and review regularly.
I can’t make any recommendations in regard to treatment but even if the person isn’t interested, it’s probably helpful to look into “what’s out there.” I think it’s estimated that less than 10% of compulsive gamblers enter some form of treatment and obviously, less than that succeed in recovery (at least at first). There’s Gambler’s Anonymous and Gam-Anon (for family); I found a site called gamblingtherapy.org that is a UK site with forums for gamblers and friends/family, as well. Reading through some of the forums may be informative as well, whether you join or not. I only mention that site as it is the ONLY one I could find with a forum for spouses/family/etc. There may be others by now; if so, I’m just not aware of them.
The city I live in just opened a casino. I’m VERY disappointed that, having contacted all media, there are NO stories on identifying problem gambling (in friends or family members). At the same time, government is allowing expansion of gambling, though some of it (fantasy football) is “not” gambling, “legally speaking”. An article on governing.com (States have a gambling problem: Young people) woke me up to the fact that my children (and everyone else’s) are actively being targeted and studied, to make gambling more “appealing” to them than it is, in the forms most of us recognize it.
Another article on the same site (Gaming the budget), noted that “many states are betting on the legalization or expansion of gambling to boost their revenues.” Those types of articles are troubling on more than one front: on one hand, governments are supposed to work ON OUR BEHALF…but on the other, if you (and children/others) are being affected negatively, where do you turn? I actually called state legislators on MANY occasions, when I finally discovered my ex-husband’s long hidden and severe addiction. I’ve called the state “Problem Gambling Hotline” as well as other agencies purportedly interested in helping with the problem. Mostly, as with media, I’m “blown off” or ignored.
It’s hard not to let it get to me. I don’t think there are a lot of churches with a wealth of knowledge on the issue, either. When I did turn to the pastor, I was disappointed, to say the least, with the response I got. My husband had filed for divorce and run off with a married woman. When that happened, I did not know about the gambling; I found out a short time later and tried to encourage him to face it: with both of us “right with God” and with each other, I told him there was nothing that couldn’t be solved. He chose to continue down the same path …studies are indicating that casinos (and gambling in general) couldn’t survive, without the addicted gamblers (because of the amounts stolen, put on credit or otherwise wasted on what is proclaimed to be “entertainment”). So I would say, don’t be discouraged if you have a somewhat difficult time finding help, support or information.
I ended up coming out of the marriage with “less than nothing”. My credit, excellent when the divorce was filed, was wrecked by the time I was thrown out on the street …and I didn’t WANT to fight OR stay, when I knew my husband wad determined on divorce. Unfortunately, the attorney I was forced to hire wasn’t knowledgeable (??) and the orders in the decree were never carried out. Four years later, I’m having a hard time as I wasn’t given a chance to even get back on my feet and get a job when I started getting hit with (unlawful) creditor actions (and no money for help or bankruptcy, which I’d hoped to avoid). I’m again facing potential homelessness, not being able to pay my rent yet this month.
I trust that the Lord IS in control, but I do realize that He doesn’t always work things out the way we might hope or think. I still cry many times, trying to figure out “what I’m supposed to be getting from this.” My ex-husband and I were previously divorced and I had been able to rebuild a life without too much difficulty; I had lived successfully on my own years before we first married. I go without a lot …it hurts when things like not being able to afford even a card for my oldest daughter’s marriage hit me.
I will leave on this note: I still have faith and I think my faith in the Lord has grown. I’ve done extensive research on the issue of (problem) gambling and have reached out to numerous people, agencies and elected officials, to be left with the problems of government sponsored gambling … and someone else’s addiction … to be dumped firmly back into my life and told, “it’s YOUR problem.” It’s NOT; casino personnel see gamblers all the day and night long and claim … THEY CAN’T RECOGNIZE who is a problem gambler … but somehow, with no information and precious few resources, I (and anyone else) is EXPECTED to identify it and then, on the fly, “figure out how to deal with it”.
Please, take it seriously. DO protect yourself, legally and financially (particularly if you have children); it’s really hard to “be there” in spirit or person if you’re always scrambling to keep up with everything. If the person you love decides to get treatment, definitely get involved and informed! It WILL be hard but people DO recover. If you are both in there WITH God, I think you both will end up a lot wiser, spiritually mature and with a completely different perspective (on many aspects of this life). I hope something I’ve written here helps someone else.
This is superb! Thank you for sharing this painful experience with us. We pray that those who read what you wrote will take special note. You are so right about churches and so many people having their eyes closed to the ruin that this problem can bring upon the innocent. The information about this type of thing IS scarce. And the medications you mention do have great benefits to them, but there is also a double-edged sword waiting for others who take them. If you have any propensity towards OCD you have to especially beware and be aware. Their spouses have to be aware, as well, so this type of behavior can be nipped sooner, rather than later, if it’s possible because sometimes the other spouse goes underground for a time with their toxic behavior (as you pointed out).
We personally know a couple where their marriage and their finances were ruined because of the husband’s gambling addiction. It was quiet at first, but eventually the wife noticed severe financial problems and wondered what happened. It is then that his addiction came to the light. Unfortunately, like many addicts, he was in completed denial that it was an addiction. He felt he could handle it. But he couldn’t, and didn’t. Everything spiraled down from there.
Dawn, it’s so difficult to understand why God allows us to go down such horrible roads, or allows us to be victims to this degree, and more. But on the other hand, we live in a fallen world and innocent people suffer all the more because of the sin of others. On this side of Heaven, there is injustice that happens, but on the other side of Heaven…
I’m so glad that when you came up to this barrier of faith you held on and are continuing to hold on. As Asaph said in Psalm 73, “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.” He had a difficult time comprehending the injustice that happens in this world. But then later in the Psalm he said, “When I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” The story isn’t over until we’re standing before the Lord. I want to join you in hearing, “well done good and faithful servant.”
I encourage you to lean all the more into His love and grace and help. Don’t allow your faith to be dragged down because of the sins of others. I also encourage you to keep speaking out about this. You are a great spokesperson for the destruction that gambling can bring upon a marriage and household finances. We need more voices like yours speaking out. Yes, you will meet with much opposition, but lean all the more into Jesus and in His strength reach those you CAN reach. You are not held accountable for those that oppose you and won’t listen; but for those you can reach… Praise God! We thank you for your outreach to us and to others. May God give you strength and insight as you minister in this way.
I’ve have a problem going to bingo all the time and spending money and get mad at myself because I lose. Now I go to the casino’s and spend. My husband and I are having problems and now he’s calling me an addict and putting me down. I work two jobs; please help, I’m so depressed.
Betty, I don’t know if you are an all out addict or not but you do have a problem–a marriage one. Whenever any kind of activity or “recreation” causes division between you where one of you is upset with the other… it’s a serious problem. I believe one of the reasons you are depressed is because, not only is your husband upset with you, but you’re upset with you. You know it isn’t right to “lose” the money you have been, but your determination to do this even though your husband is upset shows you are hooked in some way. It has a hold on you in some way. You know you should stop, but you don’t.
Please reread the article along with the ones that are linked within it to get to the bottom line of this serious issue. We’ve seen marriages and lives destroyed because of the hold that gambling has on some spouses. Obviously, it has that hold on you. Other people can give it up with no problem, but don’t kid yourself–you aren’t one of them. Reach out for the help you need. Gamblers Anonymous is one of the places I recommend you reach out to (the link is provided in two of the articles), along with others. Don’t wait and allow things to get worse. Every day can be critical in being able to get to a healthier place in your marriage and your emotions. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get the help and relief now. I hope you will. I pray for the strength for you to do what it takes to find relief for you and for your marriage.
Hello everyone..lets all just call me Jane. I am 34 and i have 5 children which are all girls and we live here in the Philippines. My husband is addicted to gambling; he is the only one who provides for us but he doesnt have a job for about 2 years now. So all the money we have are from his accident money from his previous job.
I just wanna have an outlet to let all of my resentment and hurt I have suffered towards my husband’s addiction to gambling. He also is a womanizer. I caught him so many times chatting with his exes and other women. I do get sooo mad but I feel helpless because I dont have a job. When we got married I wanted to get a job but he strongly disagreed. He never supported any of my dreams, but now that we have 5 kids he wants me to work? I can’t imagine leaving all my children behind and leave to work as a caregiver (yes, that pays more so most filipinos prefer to work abroad even those who are educated) in some country because my youngest is just 8 mos old.
I think he enjoys being here and not working and gambling away most of his money. The worst part for me is that when I try to nag him about it he would be ten times more angry and tells me to go home at my mothers house! It really hurts me because the way he treats me is like I am just somebody who takes care of our children and our household. He is so thrifty towards family expenses and does not give me money. If he does, maybe just $2 at most for a day before he leaves home…but really he doesnt give me money. He is being thrifty so he has money to gamble.
I feel bad for myself that I am just like his robot or something or his maid. the words he says whenever we fight is breaking my heart and he makes me feel worthless. I always pray to God that he would change his ways and let us have a happy family. But I think he lost his way and he doesn’t even wanna go to church. He doesn’t say sorry or anything, like that after we fight. He always tells me that I should leave our house. I think he wants us to separate but I don’t want that to happen because of our kids! And for sure he won’t give any money to support his children! He would be a very lucky gambler if we will leave him right? My kids are all girls so I’m really hoping and praying thay he could find his way back into God and our love. Thanks for reading.
I’m a believing Christian. My hubby is supposed to be one also. He asked me to go gambling. I said its wrong and a sin. He says no it isn’t. So to prevent fighting I went with him. I say I’ll bring my knitting but eventually I’m playing. I feel guilty afterwards. Our entertainment is that or eating out. He has gotten fast cash loans to use it for gambling. That’s why he’s out big on 3 loans for his addictions. I knew he had this before I married him.
My husband is a PASTOR of a church. I’ve tried to help him. But he says he will quit. But still goes back.
Dear Rebecca, please make your husband listen the song, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” If he decided to follow Jesus, doesn’t this mean that wanted to quit, seams like a divorce? May God give him strength to serve Him and may God give you the power to sustain him as helper given by Him to your rib mate! Halleluyah Amen and Amen, I give thanks and praises in advance.
Help….. I can’t stop . Why? I don’t want to do this anymore. My husband is angry and I feel like our relationship is over.
Tammi, I encourage you to reach out (and lean upon and keep reaching out) to the Lord to help you turn your life around. And then read through this article again, and all the linked articles within it. Ask the Lord to show you, as you read, what you should use here as healthy stepping stones to break this addiction. It will be a hard journey; but it IS possible to get victory over gambling. Please don’t let this ruin your life and your marriage. There are a lot of links to ministries and organizations contained within this article that can help you, as well. Please take advantage of them. I hope you will and pray for you as you do.