Couples and gambling



A growing number of studies have examined the relationship between conjugal functioning and various psychopathologies, including depression, anxiety disorders and alcoholism.

Couple therapy is sometimes used in addiction treatment and can also contribute to the prevention of relapse. Pathological gambling shares many similarities with addiction, yet its impact on conjugal functioning has been little studied. It appears relevant to develop a treatment for pathological gambling that addresses the quality of the conjugal relationship.

This project examins the link between pathological gambling and conjugal and sexual functioning.

This research project examined the link between pathological gambling and conjugal and sexual functioning. It essentially aimed to identify whether gamblers and their partners score lower than non-gamblers and their partners in an evaluation of dyadic adjustment, interpersonal communication, relationship beliefs, sexual functioning, anxiety, depression, psychological distress and alcohol consumption. In addition, it examined whether gamblers aged 55 and over and their partners score lower than gamblers between the ages of 18 and 54 and their partners for the same variables. A total of 115 heterosexual couples were recruited, including 40 non-gambling couples and 75 couples in which one partner presented a problem with pathological gambling or at-risk gambling behaviour.

The findings show that the couples in the group of pathological gamblers differ from those in the non-gambling group when it comes to certain conjugal variables. Specifically, the gambling group had a lower dyadic adjustment, poorer sexual functioning, a worse perception of their interpersonal communication and more negative relationship beliefs than the group of non-gamblers. Furthermore, the majority of subjects who considered that they had conjugal problems at the time of the interview attributed this to gambling problems. In addition, they perceived that their gambling problems caused the conjugal problems and not the other way round. Based on these results, it is possible to identify a number of aspects of conjugal life that would need to be addressed in a couple therapy program for pathological gambling.

Main researcher

Gilles Trudel, Université du Québec à Montréal

Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: November 2008