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help for an enabler

I'm completely new to this forum and come to ask for help not as a gambler, but as the partner (maybe ex partner) of a gambler. I also want to say that I don't understand the need to gamble - I'm hoping I can learn more by reading through this site. I don't even buy lottery tickets, I prefer to save my pound for a guaranteed high such as chocolate <!-- sSmile --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt="Smile" title="Smile" /><!-- sSmile -->

We have been together for 7 years. Last year we split because of his increased cannabis smoking, his constant lack of money and always being in debt due to online gambling. I went to see a counsellor and learnt all about 'enablers' (Anyone read the book called 'Women who love too much"? - I identified myself in that book).

He also went to see a counsellor and managed to kick the weed habit and told me he'd kicked the gambling habit, so many months later we made a fresh start (with the warnings of my counsellor in my head that "him having just 6 weeks in one to one counselling would not stop his gambling forever", and me knowing how my 'enabling' behaviour had helped him to maintain his habits previously).

The fresh start was going well, though he started to smoke legal highs with tobacco. I didn't mind this because it didn't put him onto a 'zone' the way cannabis had, it was much milder. We moved in together last July though I have never tied my finances to his and insisted he had his own tenancy agreement (easy in a 'shared' flat as this one is). I have helped him with his continued debts , though tried not to be an 'enabler' by insisting he pays me back.. which he does but quite haphazardly. Its not helpful that he's paid different amounts of cash on a weekly basis and he has suggested previously that he turns over all his cash to me and I then take out what's needed for rent/bills/repayments etc and give him an allowance each week but I am reluctant to undertake this 'Mother/prison guard' role.

However he's slowly become more obsessed with smoking the legal highs and is spending about X amount on them (his disposable income which is for food and petrol etc is only just over this amount). We argued about it and I warned that he was going back to his old ways and that there was no future for us if he did.

Yesterday I found his bank statement which shows he's spent X amount over 2 weeks on online gambling. I also know he's spent X amount on scratchcards in 1 week and when added to the X amount legal highs he buys then he's living way beyond his means...And once again I've been subconciously enabling him! (I earn more than he does so I buy more food/petrol, I have lent him my car which he's used when his van has run out of fuel etc etc etc).

So now I'm torn!! We have argued and I eneded the relationship last night. I did also say that I would be happy to consider ways of working through this - but what they are I have no idea - so we're in a kinda limbo today where neither of us knows whether the relationship is over or not. I feel like an idiot not being able to stick to my threat - but where the heart is concerned I'm spineless! He is angry that he was "caught", he also says he now feels small and contrite and that I'm the one with all the cards so all he can do is wait for me to make a decision.

He claims his problem with gambling is controllable and his counsellor told him he wasn't as bad as other people - he seems to use that as a benchmark by which to continue. He says I'm unreasonable, - but then see's my point that I am not saying NO to gambling full stop, but I am saying NO to him not paying his way whilst he gambles. .. Am I fool? Is it like alcohol in that alcoholics should never have another drink again once they've recovered?

My head now says I need to use tough love with this guy and get out of the relationship, so he realises what gambling and smoking have cost him (i.e me and our relationship). My heart of course is screaming out for another solution, - this is the guy I still love and adore with all my heart. We get on in so many ways I have never had a connection like that with anyone, and I know he feels the same about me... I hope that HE will suggest attending GA meetings in an attempt to salvage 'us' (it won't be the same if I suggest it and then he agrees. I will feel he is doing that to appease me and not confront his problems).

So my question really is to the gamblers (and others) out there "Am I making sense?" Is it possible to allow my heart to rule on this one or am I ignoring huge warning signs? I'm certainly willing to take myself off to counselling again if necessary - I don't want to fall into my old 'rescuer' patterns again.

To those who have been through it, did your partner have to leave you before you changed your ways? How did they deal with it?

Thanks in advance for any replies.
Hi Cat my name is Lorraine and I'm in a similar situation only it's my 24 year old Son that has the problem and he is in denial. He seems to think that his problem is just money management despite the fact that gambling has lost him thousands of pounds, his job and soon the home he is renting. I live a long way from him, he's in Manchester, I'm in the USA which makes it all the harder for me to have much influence in his life. You on the other hand are right there every day dealing with this. I honestly believe that if he doesn't suggest going to seek help at GA then you can tell him that you are going, to get help for yourself because you just don't know how to deal with the whole situation, maybe that will shake him up a little, there is help for family members at <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->
There you will find a helpline where YOU can talk to someone and find out about a meeting YOU can go to. Tell him that if he doesn't want to take care of himself then you can't do anything about that but you DO want to take care of yourself and you are going to do something about it. If he sees how serious you are, remember actions speak louder than words then he may begin to get an understanding of how serious it is. Right now it seems to me that he knows you very well, he knows how much you love him and he feels secure that your 'threats' are empty. Don't make any more threats, take some action. Take pride in yourself Cat, love yourself, take care of yourself and hopefully there will be a chance for him to begin to see you and the relationship in a different light. Just my humble opinion, I hope the best for you.
Lorraine, Thank you SO much for your thoughtful and truthful reply. Before I read your post, I had already looked up the date and time of a Gam-anom meeting and there is one tomorrow night. I was debating whether to go or not,.. but your post has helped me decide that I must go. I have also completed the questionnaire about living with a compulsive gamber. I scored 5 yes's so it appears to be borderline....but it is a problem to me.

I have no idea what to expect tomorrow night but I am going. Thanks again to both Lorraine and Big Dave.
That's really wonderful Cat, let us know how it went and how you feel after going. I'm sure it's a bit scary but you have already proven to be a really strong woman by all that you have gone through so far, this will probably turn out much easier than you expected. Good luck dear.
Hi guys,

thanks for your reply, - I ended up stupidly busy at work yesterday and had to stay late so I missed the meeting.Today I am annoyed with myself as I put work before me. I hadn't originally told my partner about attending the meeting - I was going to just go. However this morning I told him and he wasn't at all happy.

He misinterpreted something I said and became moody which led to us rowing. I read out my answers to the "are you living with a compulsive gambler" questionnaire from the gam anon site (I was going to take these with me to the meeting last night). As I only answered yes to 6 of the quesitons I was unsure (I still AM unsure) as to whether he is a compulsive gambler or not, - but that aside his lying and spending money he doesn't have on betting and why I accept that behaviour from him is something I want to sort out.

He claims he has no problem with gambling and that I am blowing this all out of proportion, he also claimed some of my answers to the questionnaire were wrong.

Whatever he thinks I know as an enabler I have to work on me and that I can only deal with me and my issues, I cannot force him to deal with his. - So who knows where we're going now, I WILL get to the next meeting come hell or high water. Plus he knows I'm attending so I'm not hiding anything from him. I guess this'll make him even angrier and I'll have to put up with being ignored interspersed with big moods for the week but this is about bettering myself and not being taken for a fool by loving someone too much. The counselling I went to last year helped me see this, - but putting the thoughts into actions is a whole lot harder.

We may well split up over this, and that's gonna be damn hard! BUT the alternative of me taking full financial responsibility and never trusting anything he says whilst he maintains he's in control of the situation is an even worse prospect in my mind.

I've jsut read this back and it may read as though I'm a strong women, - but you can't seethe tears in my eyes as I type this, and the battle between head (saying leave him) and heart (saying love him) is raging along inside me.

Anyhow will let you know how I get on, I really appreciate the feedback and supoprt. Thanks again.
Just because we cry it doesn't mean we aren't strong Cat. I find it so inspirational that you've stuck by this man through thick and thin, I maybe mistaken but you don't seem to have children or be married so you could have walked away long ago. He is angry and that's ok, most addicts are angry when you confront them with it, just as an alcoholic or a junkie is. You are doing the right thing by concentrating on yourself right now. It reminds me of the saying 'happy wife, happy life' I know it sounds stupid but if you aren't happy then nothing will work out because you won't be able to share that happiness with him and that could be a push to him making a change and if it doesn't go that way you will always be able to look back and say that you did your best in the relationship and who could ask for more than that. Hope to hear from you when you've been to the meeting. I'm old, 50 now so if I seem like a know-it-all I don't mean to come off that way, I've just had a lot of life experience lol Take care.
I was with a gambler for almost 5 years. I have also read the book you mention /women who love too much. This book became my bible to sanity when i finished the relationship 3.5 years ago, its ripped, highlighted and scribbled on with pages dropping out and I still occasionally refer to it today - because its exactly right. Since then i have moved on through the relationship, bought my own home and in my 2nd year qualifying as a psychiatric nurse. I tell you, i spent a year almost in bed with depression and was emotionally at the bottom of my life from loving a person with a gambling problem. I know that place.

In my view, coming from the other side where my feelings are no longer emeshed in all of it, i believe the relationship will not work. (its a hard truth, im sorry) I have not found there are many people who remain together. It would be a nice thought though. The psychological and emotional impact on family members, partners or friends is way too much to cope with and an extremly high price to pay with your life, and sadly most of us get torn and addicted (to the relationship) in the same way the gambler is to the gambling.

People can advise, but in your heart there is only you who can make that decision with your own coping factors. Its fine for those who have gambled saying stick by him, and those who've also 'suffered' imesurable to show you how they've managed. The question is, can you do the same. I couldnt and didnt want to any more, not at any price. I had to to save my own sanity. I wish you well

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