Morning friend, Thanks for your prayers for my trip with my granddaughter to Paris. We had an amazing time and created precious memories together. I’m so glad I had this opportunity to be with her and get to know her heart more.
Our CONQUER membership for Christian women in destructive marriages will be opening April 13, and we invite you to come to a free LIVE webinar talking about: How Long do I Keep Trying? And how will I know the changes I see are real? You must sign up in order to attend, and I would love to see you there. If you know any women who might need this, could you please forward them the link to register? It’s at the bottom of this blog post.
Question: Three days after giving birth to our first child, I found out my husband had acquired a gambling addiction while I was pregnant. He hid it from me the entire 9 months and it became severe. So severe, he lost our house, his 401k, and all our savings and put us in a huge credit card debt hold. I stayed by him and tried to get him help. Forgave him and moved in with his parents all while taking care of a newborn and picking up extra shifts in the hospital to increase our saving to rent a house.
To my knowledge, he has not gambled since January. He is finally in therapy and admits he has a problem. When I tried to help him in the past he would only “work the system” to go to therapy to get me off his back. However, now he is going. He is finally open to friends and family about his problems and seems to want to get better.
Here is my problem now… my husband wants me to move back in with him and his parents because he “needs us”. He loves and misses us but I have zero trust for him. I’m afraid if I move back in, I’ll be right back in a situation of loss, financial crisis, and emotional devastation. I want to protect my daughter, but I also want to not have her parents be divorced and have her constantly shifted from home to home between the two of us. Especially with the distance of the two homes. Just this last visit, he has seemed more of the man I married… but still blames me for leaving and seems to blame his actions and hurts he caused in the addiction and not taking full responsibility for the pain it caused me. I’m at a loss. Please help!
Answer: Wow, I’m so sorry. You’ve been through a lot of loss and heartache, and I’m not surprised you have trouble trusting your husband again. He’s been a good liar through the years of his gambling addiction. Your question how to move forward, or even whether you can move forward is causing you anxiety.
Your preference is to repair your marriage and have a stable, loving home to raise your daughter. I’m with you on that. We’d all like that. Whether or not that is possible, time will tell.
Let me help you by starting here: Name the things you need from him to rebuild your broken trust. You mentioned that he needs you to move home because he’s lonely and misses you, but what do you need? Have you given that thought? Has he asked you what you need to begin to trust him again?
One of the things that must shift going forward if you are to have a healthy marriage is that your needs matter too. And if they do not matter to him, it would be important for you to know that now.
Based on what you wrote, one thing you seem to need is for him to validate and show care about the pain he has caused you with his addiction and deception. He’s not done that and seems to still blame his addiction and you for his choices. Another thing you need is for him to stop blaming you (or others) for what he did and take full responsibility for his own choices.
Despite his counseling and whatever good changes you do see, you haven’t seen him take that responsibility. You also need him to be proactive in earning back your trust. Therefore, what kinds of things would you like to see him do? For example, maybe you need him to offer you full access to all financial transactions, credit card statements, and cash spent without any hesitation, guilt trips or excuse-making. What else? Make a list of what you need to feel safe, and to begin to trust him again. Do not make a list of what he has to do. He gets to decide whether he is willing to work hard to meet your needs. If he is unwilling, that gives you important information going forward.
You also said that since he’s been getting some therapy, he seems more of the man you married. Who was that man? Charming, fun, romantic? Reliable, caring, responsible and trustworthy? Did he show care for you? Your feelings and needs? Were there times that he wasn’t honest or trustworthy in any other areas of your relationship besides this gambling problem? It’s easy to confuse charm with character. Your husband needs to develop godly character if he is to win back your trust and have a successful long-term marriage. Charm may make you feel hopeful, but charm is short-lived and shallow.
There are no easy answers but I have given you some starting points to evaluate more clearly if trust can be rebuilt, where your husband is in his own healing journey, and if it is wise to move back together at this time. I believe if you take the steps I’ve outlined and communicate in a non-critical, non-judgmental tone what you need to feel safe and start to trust again, you will get information pretty quickly whether or not your husband has done sufficient work on himself to begin to rebuild trust in your marriage.
Friend, when you’ve desired reconciliation with someone who has shattered your trust, what were some of your needs to feel safe and start to trust again?
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Sadly, while he is still blaming you, and not taking full responsibility, he has not changed enough for you to be safe. https://carolineabbott.com/2019/02/steps-to-true-reconciliation/
I am sorry for the position he has put you in. And being a new mother. A Double Wammy! Rarely does a man change his spots (but its possible, IF they do the work). My husband had a sex addiction. He didn’t exactly blame me for the addiction, but blamed me because I could no longer be emotionally or even physically close to him. The blame game your husband is still holding onto is not taking full and personal responsibility. As I have learned, if he is a God believer, only God can change the heart, which changes thoughts and behaviors. It’s a hard and lonely road, believe me. But stay true to your instincts, focus on you and your child and get emotional support, like I am doing also, through these amazing resources. God bless you. You deserve a happy and secure life.
I wonder if you are allowing his misplaced blame to rest on you. If you are, you will be more susceptible to taking the focus off of what he needs to do to rebuild your trust in him, and you will over-function in your relationship.
I am so sorry to hear. I learned about my late husband’s gambling when my 2nd child was 2 months old. I felt so vulnerable. I thought that if my husband admitted he had a problem, he would recover. Even after 1 outpatient and 3 inpatient rehabs, he did not. I learned that while the goal is abstinence, the risk of relapse is so high that it’s important to have harm reduction strategies in place. I learned the hard way that if a bank account with a $0 balance has overdraft protection, my husband could go the ATM and still withdraw funds – which I was liable for since it was a joint account. I went to Celebrate Recovery for years, and that was so helpful. I was grateful to be around others who understood and could hug me when I needed it. There was even a physician in my step study who helped me grasp my husband’s condition during his last hospitalization before he died. I had friends from CR whose husbands did recover and their journey is amazing. I have had a different journey. I heard God tell me that he loved me and he would take care of me financially – and he did. I will be praying for your journey.
Please get Henry Cloud’s brand new book called TRUST. It gives you step-by-step instructions on how to know if there is a chance to rebuild trust and how to do it. This may be his best book yet.
This is what HE wants. Getting a little lonely he knows he has to throw u bread crumbs.
For me I noticed every person in my life who half wants to blame me really isn’t taking responsibility for all they caused
Its manipulation to get what they want.
Like Leslie says several times change is “I know longer like the man I am” “I know longer like the father I have been”
I know I caused this ruined us and I am going to fix it change me and earn your trust back as long as it takes.
I want you to hold me accountable”
If I had that addiction I would want u to take over all the financial stuff and have no money access at all for years.
Just like a alcoholic.
You can’t leave a beer set on the table.
I would be concerned can he ruin u more financially?
Cause if you say no punishment comes at time and they don’t care and go back to old ways.
This is something that really helps me to detach to look at what I NEED.
I tell myself he is not my business and I can’t control him
Then I do as Leslie says what can I do?
What can’t I do?
This is settling a boundarie line on what’s safe and you can trust.
Be kind to you
Acknowledge what you need
Acknowledge your right to your thought. Your feelings.
So your not making decisions from a state of shame
which always tries to tell u I am not a good person if I don’t do….this
Not from what I should or could do from guilt state of mind
What is healthy for you and your daughter that you CAN Trust that is safe?
One other thing that helps is stand back like a third person looking in the window of you and your husband w no thought emotions attached.
Observe all he does says when he says it how he reacts to what u say all of it.
Write it down each time
Usually they have 3 to 5 patterns to try to hook u that triggers you to guilt shame anger.( I am hearing shame)
He says something . You say no not comfortable w that . Then what does he say?
Write it all down like a reporter or investigator outside the window in whit jacket(image)
Right now I am seeing he is trying to rope u in to take 1/2 blame. Convince you you had a part.
That’s a lie and manipulation.
I would call him on it in a kind way.
Test his response and write his response
In a month to 3 months you will no exactly his patterns so you will never be blindsided.
“Oh there he goes again! Same pattern”
You want to get to a point of” Observe don’t absorb”
Where u know your apponants every move and pattern before he does it. So your in control of u detached from him during your investigation time
This keeps us out of over hypervigilance …after the 3 months… out of fight flight fear fawn.
In reality so you can make a decision because u know all his reactive patterns by then
In this situation what I do is he shows some improvement.
Throw him a small bone back to say” I see u working
But not..” I will move back in” “you proved your a good changed man.” He hasnt” This is If your wanting to maybe stay.
But pay attention when u say NO to him.
Usually there true self rears the ugly head of where there really at behind the love bombing and bring u flowers schmooze they use to get what they want.
The word NO is the word that gets a control freak to go wild if you use it a few times I find.
I did this all and I know my apponant. Know his patterns. There always the same. It’s simple
I choose to stay now but I have trained myself to immediately detach and remove myself if he plays his games to protect and keep me safe.
No I don’t trust him but I can be nice and kind when he is and enjoy him now. He knows I am wakking away if he isn’t cause I stand strong in my boundarie so he knows he can’t control me. Any weakness they will use if its still a trigger so fake it if u have to to not show weakness
Trying to do my work and stay healthy and safe. Works well ..until I let the trigger and fear get bigger.
When he acts like Jeckle and Hyde. I walk away and say “Not dealing w you today Hyde so it’s very clear to him what I will and won’t do