Why do I struggle to forgive and forget?

My husband had a gambling problem, losing alot of money and creating debt. He has quit, but I still feel resentment towards him and struggle to forgive and forget. He has been working overtime to try and make up the money he had lost and to try and make a mends.
Asked by Carley

Hello Carley,

Thanks for reaching out. Forgiveness can be a hard thing to navigate even for those of us well practiced in the act. For those of us who struggle with navigating forgiveness it can be all the harder. So I offer you here that forgiveness can be a struggle under any circumstances. So then if we take that into account we can perhaps start to take the sting out of the struggle in knowing that it is normal to struggle with this. 

There is of course the wider context here of your husband and the gambling and the resulting debt. When written on the page that can seem like one thing, but it's actually more akin to three things. I'll expand:

  1. So you are married to your husband and that comes with many commitments that you both make agreements to upon getting married whatever the ceremony you have there are still those vows which will of course differ in form depending but chief among them is trust. You are trusting him and he is trusting you with each of your hearts, your futures, your love. So theres an understanding there that you will be together through thick and thin, a contract of sorts. Arguably the one you will come to trust the most in your life going forward together.
  2. The second thing is the gambling which can come with other behaviours but by its very nature can lead to chasing money, when your up its feeling great when your down its feeling low and when your down it can lead to trying to make up lost earnings by gambling more money instead of cutting your losses after the first loss. Often gambling will result in blowing of ones budget chasing bets in this fashion.
  3. The third thing is the debt that occurs from the gambling and now the resulting financial risk as a result i.e. the risk of losing potential high value items to pay back the debt etc such as car, house etc.

So when we break it down in this fashion its easier to see just how complex the situation can be. We can of course break it down more with further context around was the gambling known about by yourself or was it kept from you until was too late etc and more but essentially you are looking at the initial broken trust of the marriage due to the situation, the gambling addiction itself and the after effects of that addiction i.e. the situation you now find yourself in.

There's a lot to work through there before you can entertain the idea of forgiveness and with all of that swirling around it may be some time before you can actually forgive and move past this together.

It may also be worth looking at couples counselling if you wanted to work on this together in that setting. However if you want to work on this individually thats possible to.

You may also be looking at your attachment style and what this means to you, is it a familiar situation in your own life or past. What is your attachment to this gambling etc, does the situation feel familiar or has the same situation happen to you or someone you were close to growing up i.e. parents etc. All these are things to think about, to get you started on that journey. But you can certainly benefit from exploring this further in session.

As to the why, its too early to say at this point thats why we would need to explore this in session and the why comes out of the work we would do together, you would find your why then.

Warmest regards,


(BA, (Hons), Integrative, Counsellor)