Spouses with Addictions: Video Gambling
Marriage is built on trust. But when that trust is broken, it can weigh heavily on your marriage and affect your whole family. When it comes to addiction, it can also place a huge burden on your mental health and your finances.
If your spouse is addicted to video gambling, how do you know, and what can you do about it?
Signs of online gambling addiction
The effects of any addiction on a marriage can be devastating. But unlike an addiction to alcohol or drugs, a gambling addiction, particularly an online one, may be difficult to detect at first.
Your spouse isn’t physically impaired. They may not even be away from home. They may be using their computer in your house, often in plain sight. Or they may be hanging out in places innocuously called “arcades.”
Addicts are unusually adept at masking their addictions. You may not even know about a video gambling addiction until you find money missing from your bank accounts or strange charges on your monthly credit card bills. But sometimes, their behaviors can give them away.
- Is your spouse secretive about what they’re doing online?
- Have you or others caught them in lies about their behaviors?
- Does your spouse quickly close down a website or their computer monitor when you come into the room?
- Are new credit card bills coming to your home?
- Do mysterious calls begin to come in on your spouse’s phone that they “have to take” in another room?
A video gambling addict will find money to feed their compulsion wherever necessary, including from your joint accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, and even accounts set up for your children’s education. By the time you figure this out, you could be missing a significant amount of money.
How you may be feeling
If you’ve discovered that your spouse has an online gambling problem, your emotions will be all over the place. You’ll feel betrayed by the lies, angry about the abuse of your trust, and then fearful. How much does your spouse owe? Is your financial life in jeopardy? Are there other debts you don’t even know about yet?
Self-blame? Helplessness? Expect to feel these things, too.
You know that addiction is a disease, but how do you overcome your anger and fear long enough to help your spouse?
How to help a spouse with a gambling addiction
Your spouse’s gambling addiction isn’t only their problem. It’s your problem, too. You want to be understanding, but when your financial life and marital assets are in peril, it’s time to confront the problem head-on.
- Try to confront them in a non-blaming way. If you begin by accusingly pointing fingers, you may quickly lose your moment to make a real impact.
- Discuss boundaries and limits. Explain how they’ve overstepped them.
- Be clear that you’re serious. Don’t make hollow threats that you’re not prepared to enforce.
- Be clear that you can’t or won’t bail them out. This is theirs to remedy.
- Don’t enable them by making excuses for their behaviors.
- Keep the focus on the immediate behavior. This is not the time to bring up non-related past behaviors and grievances.
- Take action and immediately separate your finances.
- Suggest they get professional help and support.
While you want to help a spouse with a video gambling addiction, the bottom line is that they need to help themselves first. If you see no indication that their gambling is abating, you will need to take care of yourself.
Can your marriage survive?
Marriages throughout history have successfully weathered the storm of addiction. But will yours?
Throwing all your effort, understanding, and resources at it can help. So can getting professional help and counseling. But there comes a time when it’s okay to acknowledge that enough is enough. Only you will know when that time comes.
Protecting your finances
When you have shared finances, your spouse’s debt becomes your debt.
If your spouse has a gambling addiction, your first move should be to collect all your financial information and understand the addiction’s financial impact. Then, stop the bleeding by canceling all shared accounts. Open credit cards and bank accounts in your name only. Change passwords for any online accounts. Take control of the family’s finances until you can get a handle on their problem.
But keep in mind that, despite your best efforts, recovery may never come. You may want to consult with an attorney and discuss the possibility of preparing a postnuptial agreement so you are legally protected from your spouse’s debt in the event of a divorce.
Protecting your health
Addiction in the family can cause overwhelming stress, and your physical and emotional well-being is vital.
Get some stress-relieving exercise, and don’t skimp on your nutrition and sleep. Surround yourself with understanding and supportive friends and family. Remember, addiction doesn’t only affect the addicted person. It affects everyone around them. It’s okay to seek some professional guidance for yourself, too.
If children are involved
If you have kids, they may not fully understand what’s happening, but they will sense the tension. Have honest, age-appropriate conversations with your children. They may also benefit from counseling so they can understand what is happening and learn strategies to deal with it.
Bottom line, the only way your family can move beyond your spouse’s video gambling addiction is if they admit they have a problem and commit to getting better. You can’t do this for them. Many marriages have met their demise at the hands of an addiction. Yours may, too.
If you decide that divorce is the only practical solution, you’ll want to advise your divorce attorney about your spouse’s gambling habit immediately so you can take steps to protect your own financial future.
At Hello Divorce, we are here to support you through this. If you’re looking for a way to get divorced online, we invite you to learn about our flat-rate divorce plans. We also provide flat rates for our services so clients know exactly what to expect.
We’re here to help, and we invite you to schedule a free 15-minute phone call with one of our friendly account coordinators. You don’t have to do this alone.