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How to Help Husband with Gambling Problems?

06 November, 2016
Q As-salamu `alaykum. My sister’s husband has not worked for more than four years. He only wants work that will provide lots of money quickly; a regular job is out of the question. He has all the symptoms of a gambler. He stole money from her purse, signed her checks fraudulently and he basically ruined her financially. He becomes very angry and violent when confronted with the issue. He isolated himself from his family and wants my sister to become isolated from hers. He blames my sister and her family for all his problems, and my sister believes him sometimes. My sister is a serious financial provider to her family (4 year old daughter), pious, naïve, and has a great character. All my family and her husband’s family are telling her that she needs to leave him. What is your suggestion?



As-Salam ‘Aleikum,

Thank you for writing to us. I can understand your concern for your sister and your brother-in-law. What you are describing in your text sounds not good. I will try to advice you the best I can, In sha’ Allah.

First of all, the husband is financially fully responsible for his wife. Poor or rich, her living costs are estimated in proportion to her husband’s financial ability. The Qur’an says:

“Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted – let him spend from what Allah has given him.” (65:7)

There is extra strain on the relationship because he has not been in a work for four years. He is disobedient to his Lord (swt) and neglecting the rights of his wife.

Gambling is one of the evil matters which the Qur’an warned us against. Allah (swt) says:

“O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, (sacrificing on) stone altars (to other than Allah)m and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.” (5:90)  

Unfortunately, it sounds like your sister’s husband has a serious problem. I am afraid he might have reached the addiction stage, and he is not in control of his own actions. He can’t be helped, unless he decides that he wants help.

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Spouses of gamblers have been known to try every trick, everything from hiding the car keys to filling up the calendar with social obligations etc., but nothing really works. Gamblers often blame other people for their behaviors or become angry if somebody tries to meddling, in which case they may go off and medicate their pain with a fresh round of gambling. Blaming others is one way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, including what is needed to overcome the problem. This is why he keeps on blaming your sister and her family for everything – because it is easier for him to take the blame on himself.

Here are a few tips for what your sister should be doing in this situation:

As your brother-in-law is unreliable with cash, it’s up to your sister to take control of family finances. Take measures to ensure that her own finances are safe from her husband’s gambling. For example, create a separate bank account, if she hasn’t already. If he is willing to accept help, they should work together to restrict the amount of access he has to the family’s money.

Individuals with gambling addictions tend to beg for money, using everything from blunt threats to subtle emotional manipulation. She should emotionally prepare herself to deny his requests. For example, remind herself daily that having money for bills and food is far more important than feeding his addiction.

It can be very stressful to manage finances when you have to constantly deny your husband’s requests. However, your sister doesn’t have to handle these responsibilities alone. She should schedule therapy sessions to keep her in good mental health. Be aware that your brother-in-law’s decision to seek professional help is up to him.

Your sister should state her boundaries clearly and stick to them. She is being abused by her husband. The term “abuse” is appropriate because he steals money from her and is dishonest with her. Lying to people you love is emotional and psychological abuse. I am afraid your sister has lived with an addict for a long time and has tuned into the addict. She has lost the ability to tune into her own feelings and take care of her own needs. If your sister decides to live on her own terms, her husband will either decide to get his life together and get help, or he won’t. Either way, at least she can then decide whether to end her marriage with him or stick to it.

Finally, I want to say that if your sister’s husband dissolute and harms her, then this is a sound reason for her to ask him for divorce, but she is not obliged to do so. It is more appropriate that she first advises him and tries to reconcile with him. If this is not achieved, then it is better for her to separate as it is not good to have a marital relationship with such a husband.

May Allah (swt) ease your sister’s problem and guide her husband on the right path, In sha’ Allah.

Allah (swt) knows best,


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