Content Warning: Gambling addiction
We’ve all heard the saying that love is blind and that a person might turn the other cheek to ignore something the one they love most is doing.
Because sometimes the reality hurts too much, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, even if it was necessary to face it.
Redditor Confusion889 had concerns about his wife’s gambling activities with her mother, who was an addict, but it reached a point where he wondered if his wife was struggling with an addiction, too.
But when he attempted to talk to her about his concerns, and she threatened him with divorce, the Original Poster (OP) became more concerned than ever.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for putting a tracker in my wife’s car?”
The OP’s wife had a regular gambling activity with her mother.
“My wife and I have been together for 25+ years and she’s always done the BINGO thing with her Mom. I have no problems with that and they’ve been doing it for years and years. Maybe once or twice a month, again, no problem.”
“Her Mom has always been a gambling addict and it caused the divorce of her first husband and she wiped out her second husband’s bank account within a couple of years.”
“I’ve always been a bit leery on the whole gambling thing. I’ve seen it destroy families (her mom lives with us now).”
15 years prior, the gambling got out of hand.
“15 years ago, I worked out of town/state a lot so she’s always had control of our joint banking account. My checks were auto-deposited so I never really broke down our bills as I should have.”
“After I kept pressuring her to tell me where all our money was going, she broke down and told me she gambled it away at the casino. Slot machines. Big fight.”
“At that point, I got a separate checking account so at least the bills would be paid on time.”
“I make a bit more than she does but I pay most of the bills and am still able to save up money every month.”
“This has never been sustainable though since any surprise bills (we have two teen kids), it’s always me that pays for them. She is broke every month.”
Recently while preparing taxes, the OP realized gambling was still a problem.
“When we were going over our tax returns it turned out she owned 6,000 dollars in taxes all from the casino.”
“We went over the whole gambling / financial problems again and she shook my hand and promised that she would stop.”
The OP tried an experiment after buying a tracker for their cars.
“Fast forward a few months, I bought a tracker online. One that I could put on my tractor (I let friends borrow it and want to keep track of it in case it gets stolen) and the kids’ car. Since they’re turning 16 soon, I wanted to keep track of them.”
“I had the tracker for a few weeks and decided to try it out one day. I threw it in the console of my wife’s car just to see how the app works.”
“She took off with her mom before I could tell her and she texted me they were heading out shopping.”
“Well, they went straight to the casino instead. I wasn’t mad but was definitely concerned.”
The OP’s concern got the better of him.
“I felt guilty for ‘spying’ on my wife, so I took it out and never said anything. However, curiosity killed the cat and I threw it back in her car a few weeks later. This time on purpose and hidden.”
“It’s been a couple of months and they’ve been at the casino at least twice a week. Not the BINGO hall but the actual casino.”
“I confronted her again today when she asked for money for kids’ gymnastics. I asked her how her gambling issue was going and she denied she was back to gambling.”
“I gave her many outs and she wouldn’t admit it. So I told her about the tracker.”
“Now she’s furious that I tracked her and threw out the D-word (Divorce).”
“Sorry, this post is all over the place and I’m super nervous. We’ve been together for 25+ years and I’m freaking out.”
In a comment, the OP also added the following details:
“To clear up some info.”
“My wife and two daughters already track each other on their iPhones. They always know where everyone is except for me since my phone is a s**tty Android that doesn’t connect with their phones. I work construction so my phones don’t last long. I just replaced it because it’s cheap and I don’t need anything fancy.”
“The tracker I bought was just for tracking the vehicle(s) if they were stolen or if something bad happened and my wife couldn’t contact them through their phones. And yes, I would have told them it was in there.”
“Yes, I should have confronted her about it the day I was testing out the tracker. HUGE mistake and it led me to be a ‘creeper.’ I can’t deny that part. I think I was just hoping it was a one-off white lie and not a normal thing.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some felt that this was one of those situations where tracking was okay.
“Why are you feeling bad? You basically work your @ss off every day just so your dishonest wife and her worse mother can lose large sums of it at a casino. You might as well just rip up every other paycheck. Call her bluff. She can’t afford the casino without you. NTA.” – Littleballoffur22
“The OP said, ‘She threw out the D-word (Divorce).'”
“And I say pick it up, run with it, and slam dunk it. How are you going to build a life for your kids and then retire if she’s gambling away all your money?”
“Those kids will have college to pay for. You’ll want to stop working one day. Are you on track to do either if your wife keeps gambling? What if you wait to divorce her until she starts racking up debts you don’t know about that you’ll be legally responsible for?”
“Addiction is simple, if not easy, to deal with in a partner. Either they get serious about help and monitoring or you leave. Trying to save an addict who doesn’t want to change is a fast track to self-destruction. NTA.” – SpaceJesusIsHere
“OP, at this point, it really doesn’t matter whether you were wrong for putting that tracker in her car. Your wife needs to get into a rehab program of some kind for her gambling addiction. She does not have the ability to stop herself (no matter how convincingly she may argue otherwise).”
“Before she continues to further damage your family’s financial and emotional well-being something drastic has to change, or history will continue to repeat itself.”
“On top of the good advice others have given (check your and your kids’ credit, talk with a divorce attorney, etc), I urge you to look into Gam-Anon Family Groups (or Al-Anon, if there aren’t any Gam-Anon chapters near you) for yourself and your kids. The damage addiction does to families is deep and pervasive, and the psychological toll by itself can impact you and your kids more profoundly than you realize.”
“Talking to others who share the same experiences is invaluable, and can help give you and your kids tools to better handle the pain and challenges that come with all of this, whether your wife gets better or not.”
“Genuinely wishing you the strength to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things that you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Aneye324
Others thought the OP was being the AH to his children.
“YTA to your children if you are seriously staying married to this woman. She’s lied repeatedly and hasn’t changed. Why would you expect anything to be different? What are you going to do when she spreads this addiction to your children just like her mom did to her?” – sorghumbuddha
“What would you advise your daughter if she married such a person?” – McRando42
“Don’t let her gaslight you into thinking you did something wrong. You were concerned for her wellbeing and decided that her word could not be trusted so you learned for yourself the truth.”
“The one thing you need to focus on right now is the survival of your children and your own survival.”
“If she agrees to get therapy about gambling addiction, then that would be fantastic, but the fact she hid it from you for months even after you split finances should give you all the reason you need to file for divorce. She learned really awful habits from her mother, so you need to learn from the mistakes made by the men her mother married.” – Asha108
“NTA. Your wife is stealing from your kids, from your family. Where is the gymnastics money? Where are the savings for emergencies? For me, this is a deal breaker.”
“The lying and squandering won’t stop. She could put you into the gutter, and it won’t stop. If you value yourself and your kids’ future, boot MIL out and demand wife get some much-needed help.”
“Otherwise, say the D-word back.” – HighlyImprobable42
“I don’t think this is fair to your children. You are prioritizing your marriage over your security. She could have you all homeless before you resolve this. If she took out loans in your or your kids’ names, I’m going to say you are making an even bigger mistake.”
“Addiction isn’t like a bad habit or tick. It’s all-consuming. People who are addicts can always relapse and generally relapse six times before committing to change on average. You need to be aware that this will likely happen again multiple times before she is better.”
“It doesn’t consume just them. It consumes everyone around them. It’s entirely likely the second she can’t get cash. She will actually take out loans in your name, committing theft, or worse.”
“Choosing to support someone with an addiction often can be the wrong choice. Some need to hit rock bottom before they truly want the help. She knows she needs it, but valid precedent says she doesn’t want it, at least not yet.”
“Find out how much damage she’s done, determine if it’s worth risking any more damage, and then decide if this is salvageable. Right now, you are putting the cart before the horse, looking at the solutions to the problem with someone who just yesterday made it clear that she didn’t want one.”
“The only advice I have is to make sure she has no more access. Get her an entirely separate card and put like 50 dollars per day on it just so she isn’t flat broke but isn’t putting y’all in debt. You need to financially railroad her access until she has proven she can be trusted.”
“Do not take her word for anything that could be significant. She has already lied to your face to feed her habit, and there’s no tangible reason she won’t again besides her word. If she’s mad that you don’t trust her, reiterate why.”
“Please do not view her from the lens of ‘my wife.’ She is not the person you thought she was, and she has shown you as much. You need to look at the person she is and decide if it’s worth possibly sinking the ship to have her aboard.”
“Edit: Make a password-protected trust for your kids. May cost you a bit, but if this gamble ends badly, at least you kids won’t suffer.” – Grimwohl
Some offered advice for divorce proceedings and addiction management.
“Many casinos offer what is called a self-exclusion option. This basically means you go to the casino and ask them to kick you out if they find you there. They may return buy-ins but would likely confiscate winnings.”
“She should be able to contact a Security Manager or something to enroll.” – hey-alistair
“I wish you the best of luck but you really need to consult with a divorce lawyer about how to protect yourself and lay the groundwork for your exit. The fact that she is lying to you and blaming you does not portend a recovery, which is rare even for people who are trying, which she clearly hasn’t. If you don’t prepare for the worst now, the odds are very high that you will seriously regret it.” – Reddoraptor
“You should set up accounts for you and your wife at the three credit bureaus and lock your credit reports. You do this so you control it. This will help prevent your wife from taking out credit.”
“Addicts are addicts, and no matter how much she may want to stop, she may not be able to. Her debt right now is your debt.”
“I wonder if you should consider legal divorce proceedings to separate her debt. I’m not even sure if that works, but if the debt is in her name and your divorce and she agrees to take the debt, I wonder if she could later declare bankruptcy without it impacting you?”
“I believe if she declared it while married, it impacts you? I really don’t know. I am just putting this thought out there as a way to potentially get rid of the debt without hurting your finances. The divorce would essentially be on paper, but you’d have to have it done where you control the money.” – maytrix007
“NTA. Man, I came in here ready to throw the Y T A at you, but what you really need to be concerned about is how many loans could be out under your name and whether you know about all the life insurance policies.”
“Being a gambling addict is a serious business and I’m not at all kidding when I say you need to check those things out and start protecting yourself.” – SunshineShoulders87
“NTA. She’s an addict. She might want to be able to make a promise and magically stop, but she can’t.”
“1. Go to a Gamblers Anonymous Al-Anon meeting.”
“2. Find a therapist with experience treating gambling addiction. Start with the link above, ask people in the meeting, or try psychologytoday.com referrals. Don’t give up if you can’t find someone in your town- zoom will work.”
“3. With a group or a therapist, figure out the conditions for staying married. You could even agree to a divorce so your finances are separated. You might require that all her paychecks go to your account, and you pass her just spending money via a debit card. You might require only supervised visits with her mom. You might require a tracker.”
“4. Decide if you want this marriage.” – capmanor1755
After receiving feedback, the OP shared an update.
“Welp. We had the fight.”
“At first, it was mostly her on the attack for all the things I did wrong that pushed her to the casino. I expected this and was able to turn it back around and keep the focus on the gambling.”
“Long story short, there was a lot of crying and opening up. I told her that she was the one person in this world that I trusted the most, and she was also the one person that lies to me the most. That was the breaking point, and a long vulnerable discussion about where we are in our marriage and where it’s going began. It’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those.”
“She has agreed to open up her finances so we can figure out what to do there. I have no idea how much we’re in debt yet, but it sounds like quite a bit. Hopefully, it’s manageable.”
“We’re going to see a marriage counselor, and she also agreed to go to a gambling addiction counselor.”
“My mother-in-law is probably moving out.”
“Granted, this is just the beginning, and who knows what will happen down the road, but it’s a start. I’m pretty exhausted. We’ll see how things are tomorrow.”
The subReddit felt for the OP and felt that the use of a tracker was honestly the smallest concern here. The OP had far bigger issues to face, including his wife’s addiction and how this would impact their children, from their relationship with their mother to their relationship with money.