Connie describes the moment she found out her partner had a gambling addiction and the top tips and resources she’s found helpful.
It was the same as any other Tuesday evening in lockdown. I was out for a walk just before my partner arrived home when I got a text message to ask, “Shall I start cooking dinner?” I replied saying, “Whatever you feel like doing.” Judging from my reply he would know that I was fed up, without having to explicitly say this.
The past few months had been tricky financially. This included December, the most expensive time of the year. Between us we have three children. 2020 was to be our first Christmas Eve and Christmas Day morning as a patchwork family of five. Things hadn’t been great between us at home. The children, however, were none the wiser as there was never a bad word said or any negative behaviour shown in front of the children, or even in the house when any of our children were home. Unfortunately though, this meant that on the days our children weren’t here, emotions were high. He was starting to get more distant and more angry at things that most would consider to be small things.
Looking back now, I cannot believe I was so naive in believing the stories. My partner is a self-employed builder, so invoices fortnightly and gets paid fortnightly. The money stopped coming in December. He said something to me about having to borrow some money because December was an expensive month and he had to pay maintenance, and I accepted it. I was frustrated but I accepted it. Then January came and went, and pay days came with a story, “I haven’t been paid yet,” or, “There is an issue with payroll, it will be Monday.” I started to ask questions, which only caused more arguments.
Then, this cold, wet, dark Tuesday evening in February arrived. I came home. Dinner was cooked and sitting in a pot on the side. (It smelled delicious, however I had no appetite.) My partner messaged me 15 minutes before I got back to say he was going for a walk. I did what I do best when there are no children at home - I put on some music, poured a glass of wine and cleaned. When he arrived home he looked so deflated, exhausted and broken. He asked me how my day was, I didn’t answer. I was really struggling with the fact he had been so guarded about things, especially when he had previously been so open - or so I thought. We were standing in the kitchen when he looked me in the eyes and said the words, “I have been gambling. I have gambled it all.”
My entire life came crashing down. Our relationship was built on trust, honesty and openness. I had been living a lie. Everything that I thought was real, wasn’t. I broke down in tears. It wasn’t for very long in reality, but it felt as though the world had stopped. Everything was still, except my tears and my heartbeat. I could barely breathe.
After what felt like an eternity, but was in fact only about 10 minutes, I calmed myself down. My partner was still just standing there, in the kitchen, with his head in his hands. I managed to muster the words, “How, when, how long for?” I then said, and I remember this so clearly, “No, no, no. Before you answer those, thank you for being brave and telling me. Thank you for your honesty.”
My mind instantly went to how he must be feeling, what happened for him to start gambling? Then it flipped back to what we were going to do. Do my children need protecting? How long has this been going on for? I didn’t sleep much that night. 6am Wednesday morning I was up, sitting in front of my laptop reading, researching and learning about everything and anything to do with gambling addiction. What support is out there? And the answer - an incredible amount. However, as everyone knows, the help is only truly worthwhile if the person needing it is willing to accept it.
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