This is the sort of online forum conversation I was hoping to find. Here I am, up since about 3:45 AM, looking to "talk" to someone about my wife's smoking addiction and how it's affecting my life. I imagine there are some people out there who would read these first couple lines and say aloud to themselves (or whoever might listen), "Frickin' winer! Dude, get a divorce or get over it."
To be completely honest, I do
feel like a bit of a winer since--although I did once actually threaten to divorce Amy if she did not kick another addiction of hers (a story for another time, perhaps)--but, at the same time, I think our marriage and family relationships are complicated and deserve more serious thought than that; hence, why many of us agonize over whether or not to end a relationship with a person whose habit not only disgusts us but may, in fact, be slowly killing us along with the addict.
I love Amy. What's more, I love my kids--both her boys from a previous marriage and, of course, my daughter, who is also from a previous marriage. Whenever I decide I'm fed up with her, I think about the boys and how attached I've grown to them, and they to me. Now that I've become an integral part of their lives, I don't ever wish to sever the mutual bonds we've created.
That stated, there are times I think I can't stand to be around Amy anymore, simply because of her smoking habit, which--as I think most people who've posted here would agree--she won't quit until she's good and ready, or maybe ever. I have always felt significant concern and some pride in my physical health and appearance. I've been a runner (on & off) since I was a kid, and I got into weight-lifting when I was a sophomore in high school (although I've taken it a lot less seriously since I got remarried). And I've struggled with a chronic health issue since I was about seventeen. (I'm now 42.) ...Although I just started taking medication for my thyroid, which seems to be just what I needed all along.
So I guess what this all amounts to is that I'm very health-conscious, not only for myself but for those I love (although to a lesser extent, because I try to allow room for them to make their own--albeit informed--choices). And smoking is diametrically opposed to my personal ethic of taking the utmost care of your body, rather than abusing it. Of course, I'm not perfect in that regard, either, but I try to avoid subjecting my body to toxins and somewhat less harmful substances on a regular basis. Amy's second- (and third-) hand smoke seems to even be indirectly affecting my running, too. Last year I began training to compete, and it seems my training times are decreasing lately rather than improving. (Hopefully, that's just a sign that I've caught a respiratory bug from my wife and my stamina will soon show signs of improving again.) And then there's Amy's health to consider. Doesn't she want to stick around to see her kids grow up into adults and have families of their own? Since I am a former elderly caregiver, I've seen my share of aging people struggling to breathe until their very deaths because they were lifelong smokers. I'd give just about anything to not have to watch Amy go through that very ordeal herself.
Marriage can be hard--yes, we both promised "...in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part"--but I shouldn't have to worry that her habit may be killing us both--not to mention the kids, when she smokes around them. I mean, I knew we had our differences from the beginning. Amy herself said she thought we didn't have enough in common to make it as a couple. But that was almost seven years ago, and we've managed to "make it" this far. And differences in likes and dislikes is one thing. We can work those out--we have been, to some extent--but it makes no sense to me that we should both have to compromise our very health to continue to ensure the survival of our marriage. These are the thoughts I struggle with not just daily, but sometimes moment to moment.
Thank you for starting this thread, PerfectBear. And thank you in advance to all who choose to respond to my post. Take care, and good luck