My recent ex-boyfriend is a gambling addict. When I was 16, I remember reading an article about a convict who had done some terrible thing and his wife standing by him and asking my aunt, "What is wrong with her? How could she stand by him after what he did?" My aunt told me, "Anyone will stand by you when you are right. Only someone who truly loves you will stand by you when you are wrong." A beautiful sentiment which I took to heart, but which caused me many years of heartache because my aunt failed to point out that the time to STOP standing by someone is when he is dragging you down with him. So, I thought I was doing the right thing by standing by my ex for so many years, but all it did is allow him to drag me down.
I began raising a family when I was very young and was a single mom for most of my life. My dream for many years was that, once I raised my children, I would move into a townhouse by the beach and begin writing more and gradually shift into a freelance writing career. After years of hard work and a lot of effort, I made my dream come true. After I got my youngest settled in at college, I sold my house and rented the absolute perfect dream townhouse with an upstairs deck looking out over the ocean. I was still working full-time and had made a good profit on the sale of my home, so was able to put away a lot of money and began plans to start submitting work with the hope of eventually being able to freelance full-time.
At first, my ex-bf was always borrowing money for some emergency or other, usually something I would have difficulty saying no to, like being short on his rent or his mom's car broke down and he wanted to be able to help her. At the time I was doing well financially and didn't really miss the money and felt it would be selfish not to loan it to him when he really needed it and I had it. Also, I truly didn't even KNOW he was gambling for the first several years of our relationship. He would always have a plan to pay me back, but in the end, would have a story about something else that happened that caused him not to be able to pay me back, or would pay me back a small fraction of what I'd "loaned" him and string me along for the rest. I never bugged him about it. I hate the idea of letting money hurt a friendship or any relationship, so I'd just think to myself, let it go, he needed it more than you do.
I started to figure out what was going on about the time I moved into my dream beach apartment. At that point in our relationship, with my kids grown, my ex-boyfriend and I decided it was time to move in together. For a couple of months life was perfect. But then things began to get much worse and, living with him day-to-day, I began to see there were serious problems. By the time I figured it out, it was too late. His gambling addiction had been progressing all this time, and by the time I started to realize what was really going on, he had gone through all of my substantial savings, always with a huge crisis and big promises of paying me back. He even began to use his gambling problems to get me to "loan" him more money, by telling me that he owed money to loan sharks who would physically hurt him or kill him if he didn't repay them, or by telling me that he was going to go stay with his family in another state to get away from the situation and straighten up, but needed money for the trip. He eventually turned to selling off my belongings. Within about six months, I was out of an apartment, had no car, no job, no place to live, no belongings. I know that even losing my job was related to my ex-bf, who was getting a bad reputation in town and began getting into trouble, drinking more, gambling more. My firm began to be embarrassed by my association with him and soon let me go, giving me of course another excuse for doing so. Six months after moving into the place I'd dreamed of for years, my ex took money out of my account, causing my rent check to bounce, and my landlady, a very nice woman, but who understandably became concerned over things, politely asked me to vacate the premises.
Now, a year later, I am just beginning to put my life back together. My credit is shot. I was finally able today to put $100 away to start rebuilding a savings of some sort, with a goal of getting back into an apartment and having my savings rebuilt by the end of this year. I still have a lot of anger, especially because all of the work at getting my life back has been completely on me. When the going got rougher and rougher, that's when I began to notice things about my ex-bf that I hadn't before, things like laziness, manipulation, selfishness, always looking for a fast buck or an easy way out, failure to take responsibility. Even after he caused us to lose our home, I stuck by him, and it got me nowhere, believe me. He has never taken full responsibility for what he did to destroy the life we had, and now he is not even working. He has not done a single thing to try to repair the damage he has done. Also, he always worried more about paying other people back than he did about me. He took me for granted because I stood by him all the time. It was a big mistake. People like him do not appreciate loyalty, they feed off it and use it.
One of the things I learned from this is as the previous poster mentioned. There are often problems underneath, besides the addiction to alcohol or, in my ex-bf's case, gambling. There are not always, but often, other issues, such as a refusal to deal with problems or situations or to take responsibility for things. I know now that, even if my ex stopped gambling, I could not have a life with him because of some things which I have come to view as defects in his character, things that may underly his addiction, but which would exist even in the absence of the addiction. I understand that he has a problem, and I have done enough research to know that gambling is a disease that is as highly addictive as drugs or alcohol. But there are others with those problems who take responsibility for addressing them and seek help. My ex-bf hasn't done a thing to try to help himself, and frankly, my being there for him wasn't doing him any favors. I feel partially responsible for enabling him and allowing the situation to get where it did. Had I required him to stand up and be responsible for himself instead of bailing him out time after time, we'd probably both be a lot better off.
I have tried to find a silver lining to all this and here it is: A few days ago, I stumbled on a journal entry from a year and 1/2 ago, before the huge downhill slide. I wrote in my journal that, now that I had my dream place to live, I wanted to start making plans to freelance full-time and eventually quit my day job. I wrote out a 10-step plan for making that transition. With a little help from the ex, that transition came sooner than expected. I took advantage of the loss of my day job to start freelancing in my day profession. I also took advantage of the fact that I had more time on my hands to start writing regulary. Out of my anger and frustration, I wrote my first piece, part humor, part opinion and part fact, on some gambling issues that were on the ballot. I submitted it to a local paper and it was published. That motivated me to start writing and submitting regularly, and I've had some things published online, am working on other projects, and now am really and truly a freelance writer. It wasn't the route I'd planned to take, but here I am anyway. :wink:
Anyway, my purpose here (besides venting obviously) is to tell you with all love and compassion to take care of yourself and your children first and foremost. Take a good look at your own particular situation, whether your husband is someone who is generally a good human being, a good provider, a stand-up guy, someone really and truly trying to get help for his problems and take responsibility for them. However, I sense by what you asked that your husband is more likely to drag you down than to take responsibility for his own problems. You aren't doing him any favors by giving him more opportunities to hurt you, perhaps your children and even himself. Take care of yourself and let him be responsible for his own issues.