Dear Dr. Yael,
I read the letter from the woman who wrote about gambling addiction (October 11), and am writing because my husband is an addict as well.
I wanted to add something to what you suggested. At the top of your list was Gam-Anon, which is obviously important for the gambler. However, you failed to mention the importance of the spouse attending a twelve-step support group as well. Also, I do not think Life Lock, or any service for that matter, can actually prevent a spouse from destroying the couple’s credit rating.
My husband was able to open a number of cards under my name and rack up debt. He is not a bad person; he is just in denial about his addiction. He says his “gambling” is his was of supporting our family. He makes risky investments and says he has no mazal.
He loves our children and professes to love me. He works, pays the bills (though sometimes late), and seems to care about our family.
The support groups I have joined helped me understand his addictions and how I can best deal with them. I highly recommend this course of action for any person married to a gambling addict.
Thank you for writing. We did suggest that spouses join a support group, however, technical issues kept it off the page.
We did some additional research and you are correct about Life Lock; in fact, there is no service that can protect one half of the couple from the other half.
Addictions are one of the most difficult conditions to treat, however, there can be success if the addict is determined to achieve sobriety. Attending a 12-step program is a big part of that determination.
As your husband is able to work and still pay bills, even though he does pay late at times, it demonstrates a certain level of responsibility and caring. However, breaking your trust by taking out credit cards in your name and damaging your credit rating must have made you feel unsafe. Trust is crucial to the development of a healthy marriage and we are sure that it is very frightening to feel that you can’t trust your spouse. Marriages like yours can end up simulating a parent-child situation and that is very hard to live with.
Does your husband listen to daas Torah? Does he have a rav who can be helpful? Over the years, we have seen situations like yours take a turn for the better when there is a rav both people respect and are willing to consult with. While a therapist must be careful to not direct a person’s actions, a rav can give a psak halacha to be abided by.
I do not know your husband, however, addictions are often a reaction to one’s childhood. Possibly one of your husband’s parents had an addiction or maybe a wish to be rich was ingrained in your husband. He might be too insecure to admit that he needs help. It takes a certain confidence to admit that one has a problem and actually try to make changes.
Thank you for caring about others and stressing that readers seek a support group if they are married to an addict. Life is challenging, but it sounds like you are trying to make lemons into lemonade. Yasher koach and hatzlocha in your journey!