My husband is addicted to gambling

Thursday May 23 2019


By Joan Salmon

Dear Heart to Heart, My husband and I have been married for three years. The only problem is that he is addicted to gambling and he squanders his entire pay on online gambling without informing me. Sometimes, he even takes loans from different banks to finance his addiction. When the banks call asking for their money, he apologises to me saying he will not do it again but unfortunately, he cannot resist. How should I deal with this situation? Anonymous


David Mukasa. In my view, the first thing to do is talk with him in a very direct manner about the negative impact of his behaviour. Be calm and clear and explain exactly how it affects you. Make sure that whenever you communicate with him, it does not include blaming and pinpointing words as you may have conflicting emotions when you speak to him. This does not mean that you give in to what he says, but check your temper in the process as he can also be undergoing a lot of stress. I can understand that you might be hurt but you want to protect him and the family as well.

Rose Nabanakulya. I can imagine how his frequent ways of assuring that he will leave gambling but still continuing the same habit can add to the distrust between you both. With this, I suggest that you show your support so that he sees himself in new light and you both together can do something to save money. This will give him the space to open up and also help you see the situation from his perspective.

David woods. You enable your partner’s addiction when you remove or lessen the negative consequences of his actions. For example, in the case of gambling, you might supply your husband with the cash to pay off debtors. When you begin enabling, you might have your husband’s best interests at heart. However, over time your husband may put in less effort to quit gambling, and you may find yourself putting in more effort to enable him.

Desire Agnes. As your husband is now unreliable with cash, it is up to you to take control of family finances. Take measures to ensure your own finances are safe from your husband’s gambling. For example, create a separate bank account, if you haven’t already. If your husband is willing to accept help, work together to restrict the amount of access he has to the family’s money.


Elijah Max. From the stress of managing finances to the daily pressure of denying your husband’s requests, you might have a lot on your shoulders. However, you do not have to handle all of these responsibilities alone. Schedule therapy sessions to keep yourself in good mental health.

Elas Jason. Try to talk to him and suggest ways he can invest that money he stakes on online beating to start up a family business and how it is affecting your family and your financial status. If he refuses, know you married someone whose brain cannot think beyond gambling.

Mulungi Daniels Hanks. It takes spiritual warfare to overcome such a spirit that is driving him. It is a spirit of poverty that is following both of you though your husband cannot imagine it because he is blindfolded. So, please pray for him as you also find anyone who can stand with you both in prayer and counselling.

Phoebe Miriam. Do some investigation and make sure your house has not been used as collateral. You may be shocked when a money lender comes by to evict you. Sit him down and talk to him before you are thrown out. If he cannot change, you may need to go back to the drawing board.

Bukomba Ronald Dennis. Addiction to betting is a result of despair or a sign of idleness. Try to occupy your husband and give him hope that he can get money without betting.

Michael Bintu. He is chasing his losses. He cannot stop after losing so much. He hopes to have at least one major win to settle his losses but the cycle keeps going on. You need to ask him to be honest with you. With how much he has lost and you start from there.

Lydia Kagoya. You must remember that just like alcohol and drugs, gambling addiction is a disease. Many partners blame themselves for the addiction, believing that if they had been a better husband or wife, this never would have happened but things are rarely as simple as that. Sometimes figuring things out and getting them in perspective can be much easier if you’ve got a little help. Look for a counsellor and ask your husband to go with you.

Lydia Rose. What I am worried about in all this are the children. Sometimes it is easy to not pay attention thinking that they do not understand what is happening. Try as much as possible to protect them from all this.

Counsellor’s say
Evelyn Kharono Lufafa, Talk Therapy Uganda

Do not enable his behaviour

Gambling can become addictive just like someone who is addicted to alcohol or any other mood altering drug. This is because it excites a certain part of the brain which is responsible for happiness. If the person feels the urge to gamble to the extent of selling their valuables or in this case take a loan or generally speaking, there is need for more and more money to achieve the desired level of gambling enjoyment, then it can be concluded the person is addicted.

To begin with, you need to accept this is now a problem in which your spouse needs treatment because it has turned into compulsive behaviour. Secondly, try not to enable the problem by funding his gambling or taking on his problems with loans. Just show support but remember it is him with the problem not you. Currently, you can assertively tell him how you feel about his problem and if he accepts to get treatment then he will be on the way to working on his own problem.

He also needs to face his own consequences as this enables him to reflect upon his problem. All in all, the gambler needs to accept and get both medical and psychological treatment and this still is not your role as you cannot force him but talk him into finding help or involve significant people whom he listens to talk to him about treatment.

Compiled by Joan Salmon