My story

My husband’s (Tim) gambling problem extends well over 10 years. A few friends mentioned to me, when I first started seeing him over 5 years ago, that he ‘liked the pokies’. To be honest, whether I wanted to ignore the comment because I was excited about the new relationship or I was naive to anything like this, I barely paid attention. It didn’t take long before I realised there really was a problem.

In the years that followed, I endured some of the most painful times of my life. I dealt with things I would never have normally allowed myself to put up with. I became a person I never wanted to be. I was cheated, lied to, betrayed, humiliated, broke and broken. I listened to the endless stories and promises and every single time I hoped beyond hope that this time would be different. It never was.

Soon enough I learnt his pattern of behaviour. How he acted when he had gambled.  I was constantly amazed at how, when approached, he would still lie. He knew that I knew he had gambled but he would still create the most incredible stories about where the money had disappeared to this time. Most of the time I felt the lies he told were worse than the act itself.

He would tell me he had a problem but he never actually believed it. He was very good at telling me what he thought I wanted to hear. I think the first breaking point came when we decided to get engaged which looking back, was a ridiculous idea at the time, perhaps I thought it would fix things? We saved $600 for a deposit on a beautiful ring but he never made it to the jeweller. I was so sure that he wouldn’t gamble the money and I distinctly remember saying to myself over and over “he wouldn’t do it this time. He wouldn’t spend THIS money, this is too important for him to ruin”.  But he did and I kicked him out. He left but called later threatening suicide. I felt awful and told him to come home and the cycle continued.

I then started looking for help for him. I guess I thought if I did all the leg work he wouldn’t mind participating. We tried hypnotherapy, books, CD’s, DVD’s, numerous attempts at counselling with several different counsellors and organisations and Gamblers Anonymous. None of these worked for Tim. This is in no way to say that they don’t work, because I believe in these organisations, but Tim just wasn’t being honest with himself so it was pointless. What’s that saying? “You can’t help someone who won’t help themselves”…. so true.

By this stage, this had completely fallen apart. Tim had lost his job, his friends and almost his family. I was lying to my friends and family because I just couldn’t say the truth out loud. I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want the looks that would come with the pity and bagging Tim wasn’t going to help me either. A lot of people (and I mean A LOT) asked me why on earth I stuck around. Looking back I knew, deep down, that Tim was a beautiful person, a kind soul, he was just making stupid mistakes.

After much discussion, fighting and in the end, threats, Tim signed himself up for a 9 month stay in a Salvation Army rehabilitation facility. I will never forget the look on his face when I dropped him off. This man, so full of bravado, was petrified. He was about to change his whole life and he had to do it alone, without me.

Long story short, he stayed and he graduated and he came home a different person. Now to be honest, it didn’t “cure” his gambling problems. He gambled a few months after he came home. What it did do was change his way of thinking and how he viewed things. It forced him to look deeper and face his problems head on.

Before Tim graduated from rehab we found out I was pregnant (good timing huh!). It was not an ideal situation but a welcomed one. I had assumed that after 9 months of rehab he would be ok. When he gambled again I was floored. I couldn’t believe he would do this again, after everything. He said he had wanted to ‘test’ himself. I told him he failed.

In a state of total desperation (remember, I was expecting a child with this man), I searched the internet for anything I could find on help for gamblers. I remember scrolling through the internet for hours in tears and begging repeatedly for something to help. I was lucky enough to find information on a trial being conducted by a local university on the benefits of counselling on just the gambler or the gambler with their partner. We were selected to participate and together, received the counselling. I truly believe with every ounce of my being, that going through the counselling together instead of Tim going to everything on his own (rehab, meetings, etc) was the difference for us. It was a place for the two of us to discuss things and for me to understand, or try to, what he was doing and thinking.

I will still never 100% understand what went through Tim’s mind. I would always say to him “why are I/we important enough for you to stop and think of before you gamble?”.

I have a bit more of an understanding now and things are looking good. It’s still a day by day thing and I do occasionally jump to the odd suspicious thought every now and then (force of habit) but we’re working on it every day. I still control the money but I’m learning to let go a little.

It’s tough and there were/are days when I want to run screaming from the house but I promise you, things will get better.

Kate x

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  1. Hi Kate, i just read your story and it is very similar to mine. I met my partner almost 7 years ago and not long after that we moved in together. Six months later i fell pregnant i already had 3 children to a previous marriage but when i met him it was really special. I knew quickly that he liked to gamble on horses and pokies but i really didn’t know to what extent. He was normally good but when we would have a fight or disagreement he would go and gamble and not just $20 it would be whatever he had left his account and if there were no funds there he would withdraw cash on his GE card at 30% interest. Over the years we have separated a few times and he has since lost his house and is trying to get himself back on track but still he hasn’t gone to get professional help so i know it won’t last. He is very good at looking at me in the eye and saying he won’t gamble again and promises the world but it never lasts very long. Like you said “you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped”. Over the last couple of weeks we haven’t been getting on and he has been going to the pub for a few beers and of course to gamble and even today he has gone to the races and without a doubt will either come home with some winnings or empty pockets. I love him to bits but when he is in this frame of mind i don’t like him very much at all. Is there a light at the end of our tunnel…..

    • Please note I had replied to this post privately by email.

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