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Dr. Yael,

I am writing about my husband who is an obsessive gambler – he plays the stock market. He buys penny stocks, margin options and very high-risk stocks. He has been doing this for more than 30 years, and at times, made a great parnassah. However, he has also lost over $1,000,000.

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He is always promising to “pay me back” which he never does. He says that I don’t believe in him. Well, how can I believe him when he loses money? How many times can I hear, “Any day now things will turn around”?

I have to work very hard and have invested wisely so that we were able to pay for our children’s weddings and help them buy houses. My husband never has money to help our children. He is also very cheap with himself and me. We never go on vacations and he has barely bought me any jewelry in the 30 years we have been married.

In addition, he is very secretive and hides the money that he does make. All this makes me angry and insecure.

I told him that I am willing to go for help with him. However, he denies that he has a problem. He says he doesn’t gamble; he just doesn’t have mazal. The stress of living with him is getting to me. I feel abused and unappreciated. Please help me.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Gambling is an addiction.

Unfortunately many addicts deny their problem, which makes the situation worse. In fact, most addicts will not go for help unless he or she hits rock bottom. So, you should. You will learn how to be stronger, how to stand up to him better, how to catch his lies and how to control your financial situation as much as possible. You already have taken many steps in the right direction as you mentioned keeping your money separate from him.

Gam-Anon is a support group that can help you deal with this challenging situation. Gamblers are generally insecure people who seek the thrill of winning. They don’t stop when they make money, but continue to gamble until they lose everything and even incur debts. They can ruin their own credit rating as well as their spouse’s. They can incur debts in their own name as well as in their spouse’s.

Here are some signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling:

People who are always planning how to get more money in order to gamble – they seem to need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill.

Gamblers have difficulty stopping themselves from gambling. They may try to control, cut back, or stop gambling, but generally will not be successful.

Gamblers actually feel restless or irritable when they try to limit or cut down their gambling.

Gambling is often an escape from problems and an attempt to lessen feelings of helplessness, anxiety, guilt, or depression.

Gamblers generally feel a thrill of trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses).

Gamblers often lie to family members or others to hide the extent of their gambling.

Gamblers will jeopardize or lose important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling.

Gamblers, like other addicts, will resort to theft or fraud to get gambling money.

Gamblers will ask others to bail them out of financial trouble because they gambled their money away. Sometimes gamblers will become involved with shady characters to support their addiction. They can even become involved in situations where their life is threatened.

If any of these sound like situations your husband has gotten into or ways in which he has acted, then he may be a gambler or at least have some gambling tendencies.

As I said, please reach out for emotional support as quickly as possible and make sure you have done all you can to protect yourself and your credit rating.

LifeLock is a service that can alert you to any attempts he or others make to jeopardize your credit rating or incur debt in your name.

Seeking help will empower you in this difficult situation. Hatzlocha.

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.
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