Each year, hundreds of people take their own lives because of a gambling addiction. That’s a shocking statistic.

When I think of addiction, my mind usually goes straight to wondering what life must be like for the person directly affected, but I don’t always think about those around them. And actually, their lives are completely turned upside down as well.

As this anonymous writer shares, all trust was lost in her relationship, and she had no idea what to do or how she would cope. She chose to stick around but where was the help for her?

  • My names’s Beckie and my husband is a recovering gambler.

  • Don’t worry it’s not that cliché. But with news reports about how two people a day will take their lives due to a gambling problem, that people in the UK have been gambling more online since lockdown, that 60 per cent of the profits from the gambling industry came from 5 per cent of people (makes me feel a bit sick) and Scarlett Moffatt telling her and her mum’s story, I finally felt brave enough to tell my story.

  • You often hear from the addicts themselves, and that’s wonderful, powerful stuff. But what about those who it affected, those who chose to leave or stick around?

  • How can you cope? What should you do?

  • I chose to stick around but, believe me, it wasn’t (and sometimes still isn’t) easy.

  • First and foremost you are not to blame – like any addiction, this a disease, something that cannot be helped – you did nothing wrong. It took me years to realise this.

  • Try not to be angry about the social stigma attached. In my opinion, it’s going to be a long time before gambling is seen the same as drug dependency or alcoholism, perhaps because there’s no ‘substance’ to abuse or maybe it doesn’t feel like a prolific issue. Despite that two suicides a day statistic.

  • So the story… I met my husband when I was 15, we started dating when I was 17 (we are now 39 and 38 – how to make a teenage romance last will be my next list!).

  • About three weekends into dating, he told me he couldn’t come and see me (we lived 30 miles away from each other) as he’d spent his weekly wages. He was cagey about it. Something didn’t ring true but I was an infatuated 17-year-old.

  • It happened a lot and, eventually, when I decided to break it off (thinking he didn’t want to see me or had another girlfriend) he told me he kept losing it on fruit machines. Some weeks he’d win big and we’d do things, some weeks he wouldn’t have enough petrol to get to me and couldn’t afford any more.

  • I’ve mentioned the infatuation and also the fact we were so young and didn’t really know how to deal with these things.

  • Fast forward three years and we live together. Money disappears out of our joint account but then comes back. After a heated argument (with me accusing him of cheating – the signs are very similar) he confesses he owes tens of thousands of pounds.

  • This time we have to involve his mum and she helps him (us) but we owe her money now.

  • This happens again a few years later when he is unemployed and on the computer all day (because now fruit machines come to your house).

  • This time he seeks help – Gamblers Anonymous.

  • I think we’re sorted and a couple of years later, in 2010, we get married.

  • Then on 18th December 2012 after me texting him asking why there’s no money in our joint account, I receive an email confessing he’s done it again and he owes over £40,000.

  • It started when he felt insecure about turning 30 (in 2011) and I realise my dream 30th birthday in Florida was a lie, was he on his phone gambling the whole time? He turns 40 this year and in the back of my mind there’s a niggle that he’ll find this age tough too. He swears not and I have to trust that.

  • Back to 2012 – How can I have a future with this man, how can I trust him with our future children’s inheritance?

  • I kick him out – I feel like I’ve been a sucker for 12 years. But I love him and he is my absolute world. And what if he becomes one of those two a week?

  • This time feels different, he’s more open, he wants more than anything to do something about it. I finally feel like he’s admitted he is an addict – I know that’s odd considering the history, but I just knew.

  • He gets private hypnotherapy and he’s a new person. Believe me I was sceptical but it really worked! It was the key for us but it’s not cheap… but to this day it still has an effect on him – he is unable to physically set foot in a bookies, he has to look away when a betting advert comes on the TV and it made him a more ambitious person.

  • You need someone to talk to as well. I chose one friend who I trusted and knew wouldn’t judge him. She literally came to my rescue that third time, as I was stranded at work with no car and I can’t thank her enough. She never judged him, nor did her boyfriend (now husband) and we are all still great friends.

  • The night I kicked him out I went to dinner with friends because I’d promised to and because I needed to talk about anything but him. It felt a bit surreal but I needed that and you might too and that’s ok – it doesn’t mean you care any less. I remember news reports of Kit Harrington checking into rehab and the press berating his wife for continuing her life. In my opinion you should, you must, as only then can you decide if that life should still include them.

  • I also wish I had also sought professional help, maybe some therapy. I was very lost. It was months before I trusted him and even longer for intimacy to come back. But that’s ok, he hurt me and betrayed me and only we could work out how to come back from that.

  • Eight years ‘sober’ and two children later, taking the time to understand and forgive him was the best decision I ever made. You know I’m not even sure ‘forgive’ is the right word, it’s an illness and not one you can help, you can only ‘seek’ help for it.

  • We are one of the most open couples I know when it comes to money but it’s taken eight years for me to trust him to have his own bank account.

  • Only his mum, brothers and three of my friends know. We choose to tell people who will understand. Case in point, when my brother-in-law places the odd bet, his delightful wife says: ‘I don’t want you ending up like your brother.’ Nice. And this is why I feel Scarlett was so brave to talk about her mum. There is still such a stigma attached to an addiction that doesn’t involve a substance.

  • And this is also the reason this list is anonymous. My husband now runs a very successful business with high end clients and I know if this got back to him it could cause a lot of issues. This seems unfair and unjust, and I would really like nothing more than to be able to help someone who is reading this.

  • It’s such a cliché but someone can only be helped when they want help – and only you can decide if you can stick around for that. And if you can’t, that’s ok too. This is your life.

  • Relapses are, in my opinion, inevitable… again you need to decide what you will tolerate. The third time was my breaking point, I made him move out and that was the making of us – almost like we had to hit rock bottom for us to both realise what it was we wanted.

  • Am I naive enough to think it will never happen again? No. Do I hope that if he does he comes to me first? Yes.

  • That he would come to me before becoming one of those two a week? Yes. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking he might not.

  • Do I know a relapse now there are children involved will be very different? Of course. But we will deal with it if it happens.

  • And I worry every single day that it’s in the DNA. That it will be an issue for one of our children. That one day I’ll be the mum sitting and crying with my son/daughter-in-law as I’m both terrified of them going down a lonely path and that the person they’ve chosen to spend their life with will choose not to walk it with them. Or worse, they will become one of the two a week. I can almost not write it.

  • For obvious reasons there’ll be no pier amusements, family bingo or scratch cards for us. When the children are older, we’ll tell them why. This post might be a secret but why we choose not to do something as a family never will. And I want them to be as proud of their dad as I am, and, I hope, proud of me for staying.

  • You’ll find yourself getting angry at betting ads. They are so glamorous now as well, full of well-known celebs encouraging a little flutter. I was once outraged when a programme about gambling addiction showed betting adverts in the break! I complained to Ofcom and got a crap response… I can’t see a bottle of gin being advertised in a documentary about alcoholism.

  • You might not ever fully trust your other half again with money. And when they show the ‘signs’ (in our case, withdrawal, not listening, cagey about where he is going) you need to confront them there and then.

  • And they need to be ok with that. I know it upsets him when I do but that’s something he needs to accept will always happen. It’s never a feeling that just goes away. And I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t confront him and he needed help.

  • Having said that I still check his phone and computer history – stupid as everyone knows how to wipe it/private browse but it makes me feel better.

  • But when he walked in one evening and said he’d just called his employee out for having a suspected gambling problem and now he’s helping him get the support he needs, I was nothing but proud. Though I did cry as it brought back all painful memories.

  • It’s not your fault and it, like any addiction, is a very difficult thing to manage. I hope some of the new rules for online gambling will go some way to help those people who need it. But in my humble opinion as someone who’s lived through it, it’s not nearly enough.

  • My name’s Beckie and my husband is a recovering gambling addict. I just hope he’s always recovering.




** “But why… don’t I feel happy all the time?” is one of the many tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to preorder now  and also on audiobook.**


Fancy some more?

Read Eleanor Ryan’s powerful list on being the Child of an Alcoholic (COA), which also asks some tough questions about the drinking culture in the UK.

Read this anonymous list from a woman whose partner is addicted to cannabis and the repercussions it has had on her life.

Listen to author Bryony Gordon on But Why? as she discusses her recovery journey and why sobriety feels like such a gift.

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