Edge of divorce and not sure it's going to get better...

My husband is a compulsive gambler. This is my family's horrible secret life we've been living for 9 months. I'd like to share my story and see if anyone's maybe been in this situation and if there's any hope to salvage our life.

I can remember the day his problem came to light like yesterday. It was my daughter's birthday party and when I went to swipe my card to pay for the party it was declined. My account was overdrawn. When I checked online I learned my husband had spent my paycheck at the local casino. I remember how relieved I was that he just "got carried away" at the casino and wasn't on drugs. How naive I was! If never even heard of a gambling addiction. It spiraled from there. He lost different jobs as soon as he got them. He spent more money than he made. We are very much a paycheck to paycheck family. We have a very modest income. I'm a licensed nurse who makes not much more than $30k a year. He is a plumber who has made 70-80k in the past, but hasn't worked much this last year. We are struggling. We don't have a dime to spare and have 3 kids. (But I digress...)

It just got worse and worse. He borrowed money from my parents every time I turned around. Borrowed from his parents, borrowed from friends, borrowed from employers (until he was once again fired). He stole my debit card time after time. He spent my entire paycheck. He spent food money, diaper money, everything. When we got an income tax return he lied and stole it all. He's went through thousands. I remember a week where I got cash from my check and hid it. He found it and spent it. I had no gas and no food. He went to a food bank. I bounced a check for gas to get to work. Another few times he found a book of checks I'd hid between my daughter's mattresses. He wrote over $1000 and cashed them at his bank. I only had about $40 in the bank and it took my whole paycheck for the next month to cover that and my bank fees. I've managed to keep the power on and water on but barely.
You have to know, we were a normal family for 13 years. Our kids were in all kinds of sports, we had a lovely home, he went to work everyday and always put us first. Maybe that's why this is so hard.

We had been to the casinos a few times together. I usually stopped him when he got crazy, but we always went home with what we came with. I had no idea he was even going to the casino alone until it was too late. He'd found a friend (or several) with gambling problems.

The lies he's told are huge and horrendous. He's stolen money from our children. He's stolen from me, and from family and friends. He's stolen things and pawned them. He's pawned things from our home. I can no longer believe a word he says.
I thought he'd hit rock bottom at one point. I'd decided to leave. I packed all our things and went to my dad's. He cried, threatened suicide, and said he was ready to face his problem. He called a therapist and GA. We came home.

He never went to a meeting. He seemed better though. I controlled all the money and he went to work. We were getting back on track, slowly. He was clean from gambling almost 2 months. Then it came back.

I'd started to trust him again. He was making great money. I gave him my PIN number when he needed it one day. Things were still good. I let my guard down. Then last week when he left to go to work (he works out of town 5 days a week) he stole my card on his way out. He went to the casino. He spent every dine plus some (I was negative about $700). He missed work Monday. I said ok, I've read everything out there. Setbacks happen. We will make it. We talked. He worked all week and weekend. Then Sunday he was supposed to be on his way to his dads and was supposed to make a $500 bank deposit for me in the ATM. He didn't. He went to the casino. Blew the $500 and everything else again. Another $1000 or so. He left me with no money to buy food or gas or pay for daycare. I borrowed a little from my 13 year old she saved babysitting so we could live.

I also wanted to share that at least twice he's stole my car and money and left in the middle of the night. I had to call someone from work to take me to work once and leave my daughter home with the little one until he got home and another time I had to call in.

I just don't know if it's going to get better. I love hom, but am I fooling myself? Cheating my children? Is it worth it???? So torn. And I truly care about him. He threatens suicide every time. He called a counselor again but I don't know if he will stick with it I have no trust left. I don't believe anything he says. He's hurt me so many times I'm almost numb. I just need advice. Thank you for reading this long story. It was therapeutic just writing it.

prokopton's picture

His threatening to suicide

His threatening to suicide may be a leverage he has over those around him. He'll use it to get what he wants. You need to take care of yourself and children. People will do what they want and there's little you can do to stop them. If you continue to cave in and lend him money, what are you doing? You're enabling him to gamble, enabling his destruction. Giving money to a gambler is like giving alcohol to an alcoholic, or drug to a drug addict. Any time you give a gambler money, you are directly responsible for his demise. Stop contributing to his problem, what he does is his choice. You are not responsible for another person's action.

He hasn't reached bottom because people continue to enable him by lending him money. Tell those who lend him money to stop immediately. If they ask why, tell them directly, "He has a gambling addiction problem. I would appreciate it if you stop contributing to his problem."

Don't mince words with compulsive gamblers. Be direct. "You're a gambling addict. I have to take care of myself and the children. I love you and I want you to get better, so I will no longer give you access to any more money. It is your responsibility what you do."

Never trust a gambler with your money. Create separate accounts and cut off his access to your accounts forever. The more access to money he has, the greater the temptation. Why keep putting yourself on the misery treadmill?

He seems to have a sense of entitlement.

Try to work out what the root cause of his gambling addiction.

Take care of yourself and your children first.

Stop access to your accounts.

This is such good advice.Seperate accounts help.

It's a tough call but please try not to give in to any emotional blackmail however bad it makes you feel.Your husbands future has to be his responsibility now

As you still love him,in any confrontation redirect him back towards therapy.Compusive gambling is believed to be a disease.

Keep strong and my very best wishes.