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Gambling is a huge problem across the country. Addicts love the adrenaline rush, and for compulsive gamblers, the lure of the high is tremendous. Unfortunately, many families, educators, and even law-enforcement agencies turn the other cheek, not believing that the problem is real or here to stay. In situations where one spouse gambles the family's money away the couple must rebuild their marriage from the foundation up. Here's how Joanne Gaffney-Bennett, R.N., L.C.S.W., a marital therapist in Brookline, Massachusetts, suggests you start:Understand what's behind the addiction.
Anyone growing up in a family with addictions, especially if the addiction is not addressed, is at high risk for developing their own addiction. It's not uncommon for children of addicted parents to tap into a quick, feel-good mechanism--anything to help them make sense of an unpredictable world. Rather than learn the skills needed to deal with stress, addicts use gambling or alcohol or sex to camouflage their inadequacies and give them a false sense of power and control.Join a support group.
Insist that the spouse with the addiction join an organization such as Gambler's Anonymous. Just like a recovering alcoholic can never have one drink, a recovering gambler can never place one bet. Groups like Gam-Anon, which offers support to the families of compulsive gamblers, can be helpful as well.Put the past behind you.
Although it's not easy to do, especially if you were the spouse betrayed by the gambling addiction, it's crucial to live in the present and let go of what happened in the past.Don't fall into the blame-game trap.
It doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong. You need to listen to each other and empathize. A great tool for doing this is the Dialogue, developed by psychotherapist Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. The technique can be especially helpful for couples dealing with addiction problems. In such cases, you and your partner may have different needs, but you need to talk calmly to each other. Here's how the dialogue works:Mirror, validate, empathize