Everybody likes to try their hand at a game of chance at least once in a while, and a lot of people actually place bets or buy Lotto tickets or scratch cards on a regular basis.
In the UK the government itself encourages us to do so by endorsing gambling through the National Lottery. We're even brainwashed into believing that buying a Lotto or Euromillions ticket makes us good patriots as the National Lottery supports Team GB!
But we don't really need to be encouraged to gamble. Both sexes enjoy the thrill of rolling the dice, but there is one major difference: women in general are very timid gamblers and there's little chance of them skating on thin ice and risking breaking the metaphorical piggy bank.
Men, on the other hand, like playing with fire and the higher the risk, the greater their pleasure. So should the red lights start flashing if it turns out that your husband is a gambler? It all depends on how he gambles, how often and how much he puts at stake.
You actually have to analyse his relationship to gambling to establish whether it's a genuine danger or a virtually harmless leisure activity. Go through the following checklist of questions – preferably in his company – to find out: Is he open about his gambling? Does he gamble less than three times a week? Does he win more than he loses? Does he self-impose a cutting off point to avoid over-bidding?
Can he go without gambling when it conflicts with other engagements? The more yeses he gives, the better. If there are more than three noes, it's time he considered counselling, so you need to make him recognize that he has a problem of addiction.
Your greatest difficulty will be if your husband doesn't want to be honest with you about his gambling. Many wives actually don't realize that their husbands are gamblers as you no longer need to go to the nearest betting office or casino to pursue your passion. You can simply do it online and it's very easy to dissimulate what you are doing with your laptop or smartphone even if you're sitting in the same room.
Establishing an addiction to gambling will be even more complicated if you have separate bank accounts. Don't rock the boat unnecessarily! If you have no real reason to suspect your hubby of gambling, it should suffice to mention in passing that you heard or read about the dangers of gambling for men in particular to spark off a discussion. Tread lightly.
It may transpire that your husband is knowingly gambling online in an effort to reduce your mortgage instalments. You never know, maybe he has acquired a certain degree of skill at online poker and your mortgage loan is being reimbursed prematurely thanks to his gambling! So, if your partner's gambling has no negative impact on the household, there's no reason to encourage him to stop.
On the other hand, if your husband's gambling is compulsive and disruptive for both your relationship together and the running of the household, you need to get him to change his behaviour. But as with all addictions, it's easier said than done, and for it to work, it's essential that the addict himself recognizes his dependence and agrees to accept help. It's worth asking yourself why gambling appealed to your partner in the first place.
When it develops into an addiction, gambling generally dissimulates a lack of self-confidence, a depression, or even an illness. Instead of criticizing your husband and making him feel even more of a fool, you need to concentrate on helping him regain his self-esteem. The key is to offer him moral support and the opportunity to practise other activities to stimulate his enthusiasm and channel his energy.
If your household's financial situation is in dire straits, you also need to get your bank manager to draw up a long-term loan to give you breathing space. In your inner self, you will no doubt feel angry with your husband for not being able to cope and letting the side down. But love is about forgiving and about giving. Blaming someone who has lost their way won't help them find it again. Concentrate on rebuilding your relationship and your lives together without dwelling on who's to blame. Anyway, be honest. Life itself is a gamble, and we're all playing!