My (she/her) relationship with my fiancé (he/him) is lovely, but we have an issue around
smoking. I was a smoker when we met, and a few years into dating but before we got engaged, he told me that he can’t picture being with or raising kids with someone who smokes. With various nicotine replacement tools and therapy, I quit. Then when we moved in together, I started smoking in secret, until he caught me. He was hurt by both the smoking and the lying. I totally understood, apologized for both, and quit again. But now it’s happened again. I started smoking, kept it a secret, and got caught. The privacy of secret smoking has come to represent taking a break and self-indulging.
I recently decided to try and be honest and say: I’m going to smoke right now. He responded by getting between me and the door to try and prevent me from doing it. Trying to literally control my movement has me alarmed, and I can’t tell if I’m overreacting. He keeps framing it as either you’re someone who is trying to quit, or you’re not, and if you’re not, we can’t be together. I think that framework is stupid, but if it’s the one he wants to go with. I think what he wants is a partner who is committed to being smoke-free, and I think what I want is a partner who knows that my choice to smoke is mine, my efforts to quit are mine, and when I fall short, it’s not something I’m doing at or to him. I keep coming back to why I lied in the first place about smoking. I wish I were in a relationship where I didn’t feel like I needed to at all—where my partner would be the first person I’d tell if I was trying to do something hard and had a setback. I’ve expressed as much to him, but he just keeps saying that he has been supportive and is angry I can’t experience him as the supportive partner he has been. I’m having a lot of trouble getting him to understand my perspective. I feel ridiculous for considering walking away from a relationship that means a lot to me over smoking—not least because I also wish I had better ways of dealing with my own stress. Do you have any advice?