A Spouse’s Concerns

Paul is becoming increasingly unpredictable, and his wife, Lynne, suspects that his behaviour may be related to gambling. For example, Lynne has noticed that Paul is away from home more and more; when he is home, he is tired, moody and withdrawn. Lynne is starting to feel like a single parent.

Paul has always enjoyed gambling, and in the past he always told Lynne about his wins and loses. A few years ago, after the birth of their second child, Lynne raised some concerns about whether gambling was entertainment they could still afford. Paul told her not to worry, as he could control how much he spends.

Now, Lynne doesn’t know what to think because Paul seems to keep his current gambling life a secret. When he comes home several hours late for dinner, she fears that he has stopped by the casino, but he tells her that he was working late. She is often left wondering how much of Paul’s time and money is put towards gambling. When she tries to find out, Paul gets angry and avoids answering.

Lynne wants to believe Paul’s assurances that he has everything under control, but over the last year she has found herself covering more and more of the family expenses. Paul always has many reasons why he is falling behind financially, and Lynne has tried to be understanding. But Paul has become very secretive with his banking information, so Lynne only has his word to rely on. Recently, she used credit and borrowed from family members to meet the last bills Paul was unable to pay. She doesn’t tell people that she feels certain that Paul’s gambling is becoming a large problem.

Lynne’s concern about the financial situation, coupled with Paul’s unreliability, is keeping her up at night. When she is tired and worried about Paul’s whereabouts in the evenings, she struggles to parent her young children. More and more, she uses the television to entertain them, then feels guilty about rarely playing with them like she used to. Lynne feels like she has no one to talk to about her concerns. She wonders if she should ask Paul’s business partner to confirm some of Paul’s stories about overtime and his fluctuating paycheque. Sometimes she thinks about calling a Helpline number she has seen, but she’s not even sure that her stress is related to gambling.

When we are emotionally involved in a situation, it is sometimes hard to make clear judgments. Lynne may not see that she is isolated with her concerns because she chooses not to talk about it with anyone. Lynne may find it harder and harder to trust Paul as she becomes increasingly suspicious that he sometimes lies to her. Lynne’s anxiety will grow as the financial stress continues, despite Paul’s assurances that all is fine. Lynne’s responsibilities will increase as Paul becomes less reliable, creating emotional and physical stress for Lynne. Lynne is starting to feel more motivated to look into her concerns about Paul’s gambling as she realizes that her situation is impacting her ability to parent well.

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