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His gambling addiction has torn their family apart

Our relationships counsellor answers your problems: His gambling addiction has torn their family apart

  • An anonymous parent has shared concern about their daughter’s husband 
  • They have revealed that he has a gambling problem, racking up £40,000 debt
  • Their daughter’s credit rating has been ruined and she is unable to find a home for herself and her young son

Q Our daughter has recently divorced her husband of 14 years because of his gambling addiction, which has left them both thousands of pounds in debt. She had known about his behaviour for some time, although not the true scale of the problem, and had been constantly forgiving him and getting loans to bail him out for the sake of their ten-year-old son. 

The final straw was when she discovered he has debts of over £40,000, despite all his promises that he had stopped gambling. He had also forged her signature on credit cards and taken out extra loans in her name without her knowing. 

An anonymous parent has shared concern about their daughter’s husband. They have revealed that he has a gambling problem, racking up £40,000 debt

Now she is stuck with him in the same marital home (although she and their son are staying with us for now) because he says he has no money to move out. They are both in so much debt and her credit rating has been ruined, which has a major impact on her being able to find somewhere of her own to rent or buy. This has taken a terrible toll on her.

He had debts of over £40,000 and took out loans in her name

This is incredibly difficult for your daughter. Your son-in-law has let down his wife and their child. Some of his behaviour – forging her signature on credit cards and taking out loans in her name without her knowledge – is criminal, but I expect she doesn’t want to contact the police because it could impact her son. 

It must be painful for her to be tied to the same house as her ex. What’s more, it is unfair that she is the one who has had to move out temporarily. Her ex-husband clearly has a gambling addiction for which he needs help. 

While he may be hugely financially irresponsible, he may also be a loving dad in other ways and, if so, will still need to see his son on a regular basis for the latter’s sake. Unfortunately, gambling can wreak havoc with family life. 

Sometimes people – men and women – get so addicted to gambling apps that they are unable to hold down a job or relationship, even to remember to collect their children from school or feed them because gambling takes over. So the first thing your daughter should do is get in touch with for advice and urge her ex to do so too. 

 Your daughter needs to take steps to protect herself

She can also take steps to protect herself in future. She could contact an organisation such as or, which can provide free debt advice and could help your daughter get back on her feet.

They can also help her check her credit score and if there’s any inaccurate information, she can apply for this to be corrected and also make it clear there is no longer any financial connection with her ex. It won’t be easy for her going forward as a single mother, but it sounds as if you are willing to support her and your grandchild as much as you can. So she will get through this. 


Q For years I prided myself on having an immaculate home alongside bringing up our two children – now adults – and being involved in our church and community. I often think other people are lazy. 

I was looking forward to my husband retiring next year but he has dropped a bombshell. He says he can’t cope if he’s at home all day. 

He says that my obsessive tidying drives him mad and complains that all he wants is to relax, while I can’t even leave the house if there is a single crumb on the table or if my make-up isn’t perfect. I’m devastated. I know there is truth in what he says, but all I want is to create the perfect home and it seems I’ve got it all wrong.

A I can understand why you feel devastated because, from your point of view, you have worked so hard to create a perfect home and family and you perhaps now feel unappreciated. 

However, that word ‘perfect’ is perhaps the problem. Perfectionism can be a form of illness – sometimes associated with obsessive compulsive disorder. This stems from a feeling of insecurity or that you are never good enough or a desperate need to control your environment in order to quell difficult emotions. 

I wonder if the need to achieve ‘perfection’ has made you happy or is more like a drive that controls you. It must be exhausting, and I suspect that you find it impossible to relax – which is what your husband finds so difficult. 

But don’t despair. Contact or for more help. I would also strongly recommend marriage counselling together (try because I think with help you can solve this problem.