The gambler

Joey Garcia is a certified counselor who still believes in happily ever after.

I moved in with someone I’ve been dating for almost a year. We get along well and share common goals. What has unfolded during the past few months of living together is that he has a severe gambling problem. It seems like he’s getting worse. He’s always gone. I feel like I live alone, and I’m constantly cycling through fear, anger and anxiety. He relies on winnings as his primary source of income and can’t keep a job. I’ve tried talking with him, but he gets defensive and angry. You probably think I should dump him, but I’m in love. I want him to get better. Should I invest energy, time and support even though he doesn’t want to change? Am I a fool?

Are you a fool for investing nearly a year of your life in an addict who doesn’t want to change? Or are you a fool for clinging to false beliefs about what love is? Maybe it’s both. If you are in a relationship but feel like you live alone and are constantly cycling through fear, anxiety and anger, you’re an addict, too. You’re an adrenaline junkie. But instead of spinning around Sears Point Raceway or ponying up to a poker table, you gamble with your heart.

Here’s how you keep the monkey on your back: drama. Every time you attempt to solve a problem by trying to get your man to change, you get a hit of fear (“I don’t want to lose him!”) or anxiety (“What’s going to happen next?”) or anger (“Why is he doing this to me?”). When these adrenaline hits fail to give you the codependent rush you’ve grown accustomed to, you up the ante enough to get into an argument. It’s a bigger rush.

So, are you ready to invest energy, time and support into helping yourself get better? After all, if you love yourself, you’ll still want him to get better but you won’t be in the adrenaline-induced illusion that you have power over his choices. You’ll understand that addicts avoid positive change as long as possible and that there is a huge difference between attachment (what you have) and genuine love (what you want).

After that, it’s easy to “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” And, yeah, I think you should run.

I wonder whether you ever hear anything positive about people’s relationships. I’ve been married to my wife for almost five heavenly years (June 8 is our anniversary). As in any relationship, we have our challenges, but we base our marriage on loving God first and allowing God’s wisdom and love to guide us. She has her faults, but I have come to love those things about her. One of my challenges is how to express my deep love for her. I’ve written poetry and surprised her with gifts. I’ve given her the space she needs to discover herself and to work on her business. Yet I have this great yearning to please her even more. I feel like there’s something I need to say to let her know that my love for her exceeds anything I’ve ever known. You don’t have to respond. I just appreciate being able to share these feelings with someone I know will understand. There aren’t many people who are committed to pursuing love. Most people are afraid of how beautiful they are.

Thank you for a perfect addition to the wedding season. My advice: Pray for wisdom to know if there is something more you should say or do. Until the answer comes, be content that who you are and what you do is enough. Many blessings to you both.

Meditation of the Week

“Has the world left you a stray?” asks the poster for the terrific film, the<i> Year of the Dog</i>. Go see it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll understand how perfect you are, as is.