Reasons it Sucks to be a Married to a Smoker
12 years ago, I met a man who would change my life forever. He would show me the world, help me discover who I really am and help me learn to look at life from a different point of view. That day changed my life. But one of the biggest things that I learnt when I met him, was acceptance. My whole life I was a strong-willed young lady. I have my opinions and sometimes they are strong opinions and I was never afraid to air them. I had a strict idea as to how my life was going to pan out. I had a Plan A and a Plan B and even a Plan C. My life was mapped out.
Then I met him and my plans went out the window. The first thing I had to realise was that you really can’t plan on who you fall in love with.
In my mind, I wanted a strong man that could challenge me. Take me on adventures and push me to my limits.
He would be tall(ish) and dark. Ambitious and driven and never afraid to show my how much he loved me. But most importantly, he would be a healthy non-smoker. I know that seems like an odd thing to add, but it was always one of my ‘non-negotiable’s’.
I am happy to say that the universe delivered a man into my arms who was 99.9% my perfect man. He challenges me each and every day. Our ambitions are equally matched and he loves me more than I ever thought anyone could. The one problem. He smokes. Like a chimney.
12 years, 2 kids and 7 years of marriage later and he still smokes.
I am a non smoker. My mother smoked when I was a child and I hated it. Hated the smell of the ashtray in the morning, hated touching it. I still do.
When I met my man, the first thing he said to me was “I like smoking, I don’t want to give up so don’t ask me to.” His ex-girlfriend had done just that and it was one of the (many) nails in the coffin of their relationship.
I told him I loved him despite his disgusting habit, and I would never ask him to quit. To this day I have never asked or begged him to give up.
However, I cannot say the same for our two daughters, who ask repeatedly if he will stop smoking the “smelly sticks”. The guilt he feels now that he has children is enough to make him realise that he has to give up. Only it’s not that easy, is it?
I am not naive, I realise that giving up an addiction is not easy, and he has to want to give up. Now that he does, he has tried every trick in the book. Then something changed. He read the book Stop Smoking by Allen Carr
There was something in those pages that triggered something in his mind.
“I never realised how much my smoking affected you.”
I was stunned when my husband admitted this. How had he not realised? But then I had never really said all that much. I just accepted his habit and never argued when he would ask me to leave our table at the restaurant in between courses to have a quick cigarette.
I never mentioned the fact that sitting outside irritated me. Never being able to sit indoors in the beautiful shabby chic cafes on the comfy sofas or surrounded by pretty decor. We always sat on the plastic chairs out the front so he could smoke, but that was the way it had always been.
In the winter I would never moan that he would let all the heat out of our house as he stood by the open door to our back garden. I just let it ride. Because I never wanted him to give up because of me and then resent me for it.
So what changed?
The night after he finished the book by Alan Carr, he sat and spoke to me about all the things that he had never realised before.
One of the biggest issues we have is that we cannot travel together without tension. He hates to be early to airports, because he can’t go through security until the last moment. It would mean him being unable to have another cigarette. I, however, want to get to the airport early, get through security and sit calmly and wait for my flight.
Long-haul can be a nightmare. Not because he can’t smoke on the plane, but because he knows how long it will be until he can smoke again, and that makes him ratty. Our lives revolve around these tiny cancer sticks and I hate it. But I love him, so I never said anything.
Now I do.
Now I make lists each day as to how different our life will be when he finally gives up. Not because I resent him, but because it has finally been the last straw that has made him want to give up.
Smokers have no idea how much they affect others. They have no idea how much we change our lives to accommodate their addiction. I don’t enable him. I refuse to buy them and I don’t encourage him, but at the same time I never made it clear enough just how much his addiction has affected me and our family.
So, for you smokers, here is a list of things you may not realise.
For non-smokers, you are not alone.
It is hard living with a smoker, but if they really want to give up and you want to help, don’t nag them – give them this list instead. It will change their perception of the situation.
5 Reasons it Sucks to be a Non-Smoker.
1: We resent the money you spend on them
Most of the time, smokers do not take into consideration just how much money they spend on their habit. In countries such as Spain it is easy and cheap to be a smoker, with the average price of a packet sitting around €2. This would be a good thing if it weren’t for the fact that the low cost and outdoor lifestyle simply encourages smoking more. In countries such as Australia, a pack can cost as much as AD$40. A 20 a day habit can set you back AU$2400 a month. As a non-smoker, imagine what runs through our mind. You are smoking away essentially the price of renting a beautiful beach front house!
2: Your hands smell. Even after you have washed them.
The problem with this is that whenever you touch us, you are transferring that smell to us. You hold our hands and then suddenly our hands smell like an ashtray too. We put up with it, at least I do, because we love you. But we don’t smoke, so our own hands smelling like smoke is really unappealing.
3: You are a nightmare to travel with.
I’m not sure about everyone else, but I personally love sitting on the plane and chatting away to the person I am travelling with. With no mobile phones or laptops to interrupt and no selfie sticks, you have the chance to really chat without distraction. But no, smokers are grumpy, ratty and quite frankly a God damn nightmare. So now we sleep. We waste that precious time we have together because it is safer not to poke the bear while he is in withdrawal mode.
4: Standing in the cold.
We love you – more than you realise. We must! Because we are choosing to stand in the cold and the rain while you puff away on a tiny smelly disgusting white stick that will inevitably kill you. We watch you sucking away and can actually see the chemicals entering your body and slowly damaging the person we love. But still we stand there, in the cold wind and rain (and sometimes snow) because you can’t see just how much this habit is harming you.
5: The constant let down
I know you mean well when you say “I’ll give up this week/month/year” but you never do. We get excited about the idea that things will change and the willpower is just never there. You have enough willpower to resist the chocolate fudge cake that is sitting in the fridge, but somehow you never seem to have enough willpower to get to the end of a three course meal without leaving us sitting alone at the table looking like we have been stood up. Yes it is embarrassing. We will never say it, but to be left alone at a table in a restaurant while you stand alone outside makes it look like you don’t care, even though we know you do.
Smoking is dangerous. We all know that. Smoking causes cancer and a multitude of other health complications. We all know that. So for the non-smokers out there, stop telling your partner to ‘stop smoking, it’s killing you’ because honestly, when you are addicted, you really don’t care.
Instead, as a couple, look at what you are sacrificing as a smoker and what you will gain being a non-smoker. Addiction can mask everything else. But facing how much your partner will change their lives just to accommodate yours, that is the real eyeopener.
And if all else fails – BUY THE BOOK… because from personal experience, it seems to have worked for my husband.