ERP 057: How To Avoid Enabling Your Partner’s Destructive Behavior

By Posted in - Podcast March 16th, 2016 0 Comments

Listener’s Question:

Hello Dr. Jessica Higgins, I’m really enjoying your podcast. Thank you very much for all the insight you give us. I am interested in hearing about addiction particularly gambling addiction.

My husband has been gambling for probably seven years. I discovered it about three years ago. Gambling just seems to be one of those addictions that people don’t really talk about so much. He’s gambling about $30 a day, so it doesn’t seem like a lot, but at the end of the year it adds up.

lonely-557913_1920 copyI’d really like to know how to figure out what to do about this, how I want to proceed in my relationship, and how to assess whether this is a deal breaker for me because I have a lot of issue with it. Any information you can give on the effect of gambling on relationships and how to deal with it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

(These are Show Notes: Be sure to listen to the episode to hear stories, examples, and more tips.)


1. Take An Honest Look

  • What is the impact of your partner’s behavior?
  • Emotionally
  • Relationally
  • Financially
  • Etc.

2. Identify Your Boundaries

  • photo-1448518184296-a22facb4446fAre you enabling your partner’s behavior? (see article below)
  • Do you feel resentful, overextended, or taken for granted?
  • Identify your boundaries. What is okay with you and what is not okay with you?
  • What would holding a boundary allow you to feel?
  • What are your underlying needs?
  • How would holding a boundary help you? How would holding a boundary help your relationship?

3. Change The Rules

  • door-672999_1920 copyDo not participate in old dynamics or habits.
  • Change the way you relate with your partner.
  • Set new limits and standards for yourself.
  • Set boundaries that you can control.

4. Communicate With Your Partner

  • shutterstock_235865920 copyExpress concern without blame or shame.
  • Share the impact of your partner’s behavior.
  • Share the serious nature of the concern. Rate your concern on a scale from 1 to 10.
  • Discuss the option of getting help (i.e. therapist, counselor, Gamblers Anonymous, treatment program).
  • Explicitly state your boundary. “Here is what I am going to do moving forward.”

5. Take Action

  • Stick with your plan. It will feel the hardest in the beginning.
  • shutterstock_340905338 copyBe consistent. Let your partner know you are serious.
  • You are changing the family/couple system.
  • Get support (i.e. Gam-Anon, therapist, support group, friends, etc.).
  • Gather new information.
  • How does your partner respond to your new limits?
  • Is your partner willing to get help?
  • Are you and your partner communicating?



Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 057- How to Avoid Enabling Your Spouses’ Destructive Behavior [TRANSCRIPT]

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching