Wedding Woes

Leave him.

Dear Prudence,

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?

—Smoke Signals

Re: Leave him.

  • Leave this relationship.  It isn't that you aren't breaking  his trust because you did - but you're dealing with an issue and  you don't feel you can talk about it with the one person you should.  And instead he feels like support is a string with a finite end. 
    VarunaTTcharlotte989875
  • You're right with this bit:

    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.

    So you're probably not for each other.
    short+sassycharlotte989875
  • You’ve repeatedly lied to him! Just. Break. Up. 
    flantasticlevioosaCasadena
  • The fact of the matter is, as much as the LW would like to quit, they can't.  It sounds like they have at least cut back a lot.  But that isn't good enough for the fiance, which he has always been clear about.

    I think it's stupid they got together in the first place.  If smoking is a dealbreaker for him, then don't even go on a first date with a smoker.  Duh.  He made a ridiculous assumption that someone can quit smoking if they just want it and try hard enough. 

    Probably because it's legal and common, people forget that nicotine is one of the strongest addictions out there.  For some, quitting can be extremely difficult and even impossible.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • This is really controlling and he's not a good guy. It's easy to get lost in the idea that LW should quit smoking, but the reality is that he decided that she needs to change something about herself and he's essentially forcing her to, even to the point of physically restraining her. 

    She's lying and secret smoking because it feels good to control your own actions. I suspect that if she leaves him, smoking will lose it's allure. 
    charlotte989875VarunaTT
  • You’re not compatible.  He’s entitled to be with someone who doesn’t smoke and you’re entitled to smoke, just break up.
  • Time to leave. He’s controlling and manipulative, so it’s time to go. Physically blocking you from leaving? Huge red flag. This isn’t on him to control but he doesn’t see that. And I suspect part of the relapses, while not entirely, and rooted in someone else trying to control what you do. 
    MyNameIsNot
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