"My Husband is a Compulsive Gambler"

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Her Turn, continued

"This became a pattern. Things would be fine for a while, then I'd notice that money I was sure I had deposited in our joint account was gone. When I asked Nick about it, he always had a ready answer. And, like I said, if I even hinted that I thought he was gambling, he'd deny it vehemently. My daughter told me, just recently, in fact, that Nick used to ask to borrow money she'd earned from her after-school baby-sitting job. See, she was covering up for him, too."

"I never thought of Nick's gambling as an illness. I just thought there must be something wrong with me, something I wasn't doing or giving him. I fooled myself into believing that each time was really the last time. If I ever mentioned anything about gambling, he'd accuse me of blaming him for one mistake for the rest of our lives.

"But I found a bank statement stuffed in the drawer that proved he'd squandered the money we had gotten from a home equity loan -- money earmarked for Kelly's college education. I told him he had to go to Gambler's Anonymous to get some help. He refused, but the children and I started going anyway once a week to Gam-Anon, a support group for families of compulsive gamblers.

"Those meetings opened my eyes. I can't describe how relieved I felt to hear the stories of all these other people whose problems were so much like mine. I realized that compulsive gamblers always have a ready answer or excuse for what they do. They can charm a dog off a meat truck. And I realized I was actually encouraging his addiction by denying it. These people gave me the strength to do what I should have done a long time ago: Give Nick an ultimatum--get some help or leave.

"It hasn't been easy, but I've managed. At this point, I don't know how I feel. How can I ever be sure this won't happen again? I told him that the only way I'd even consider getting back together was if we first went for marriage counseling so we could at least learn to speak to each other like human beings. I love him but I don't know if I can live with him. Is there any hope for us?"

Continued on page 3:  His Turn


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