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Gambling and the Couple: Comparing Gamblers' and Spouses' Views on Family, Marital and Individual Levels

Diana Cunha, Ana Paula Relvas


This study compares the perspectives of 19 pathological gamblers with those of 13 pathological gamblers' spouses (N = 31) with regard to family (i.e., family functioning and quality of life), marital variables (i.e., dyadic adjustment and marital satisfaction) and individual variables (i.e., congruence, differentiation of the self and psychopathological symptomatology). Regarding individual functioning, the gamblers and spouses presented with psychological symptomatology, as both had values that are typical for emotionally disturbed populations. Moreover, the gamblers showed additional difficulties with regard to congruence. The results show that the gamblers' perspectives on family and marital life were less affected by difficulties, yet this difference was most pronounced in marital life. The primary limitations of the current study are regarding the independence of the subsamples (i.e., the participants were married or had marital life partners but were not couples) and the small sample size. Nevertheless, the current results call into question the ‘truths' that are taken for granted by previous literature (e.g., gambler's perceptions of marital problems) and highlight the challenges that couples' therapists face regarding perspective differences in couples experiencing a gambling problem.


Gamblers; Spouses; Families; Couples; Individuals

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