Monday, February 8, 2016

Marriage Rx for the Wife of a Gambler

Question: It's a bit hard for me to ask but I see that you have such a wonderful relationship between the Lord and your home life. My loving husband has a big ugly issue with gambling. I have tried numerous things like therapy, church study, Gamblers Anonymous, anti-depressants, you name it. But I learned that if the gambler doesn't want to change he won't. What about the families that stay with a person with that illness? Any advice? God bless. - Gambler's Wife

Anwer: Our sympathies go out to you in this difficult situation. An estimated six to eight million people struggle with a gambling problem, and it's a difficult cross for their families to bear. Many of the strategies for dealing with addiction are the same, whether it's to gambling or to alcohol. So, try these three.

1. Work it until it works. This saying is popular in Alcoholics Anonymous. It basically means that many strategies can help an addict if he just perseveres in them. You mentioned that you and your husband tried therapy, faith-based solutions, Gamblers Anonymous, and anti-depressants. It's good that your husband was willing to try these strategies. They all have the potential to help. Return to what seemed to work best, even in the short-term, and recommit to it.

2. Expect relapses. With a disease like addiction, the aim is recovery, not cure. Relapses can be a common part of the process of healing. But one relapse, or even several, does not equate to failure. As they say, it's not how many times you fall, but how many times you get up again. Or, in the words of Scripture, even a righteous man -- a saint! -- falls seven times, but then he rises again (Prv 24:16).

3. Get help for yourself. Gamblers Anonymous has an outreach program for the family and friends of compulsive gamblers. The program is called Gam-Anon, and it seeks to improve the lives of people who are suffering emotionally or financially because of a loved one's gambling habit. If Gam-Anon is not available in your area, you might want to join a group like Al-Anon, which provides similar outreach to families of alcoholics. You would at least be able to get compassionate support and information about behaviors common to most addicts.

May God bless you and your marriage!

Have you ever struggled with the issue of gambling? What strategies worked best for you? Please comment below. And if you have questions or ideas for a future column, please contact us at!
Note: Nothing in this column is meant to provide psychological or medical diagnosis, treatment or opinion.

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