My husband hates me smoking. He says it‘s unhealthy and thinks smokers are fools. I don‘t think he is being fair. I smoked before we married and I only ever smoke outside. I don‘t want to give it up just yet as it relaxes me. How do I get him off my case?
He cannot stop you smoking. Likewise, you cannot stop him from nagging you. So you are at a stalemate. Both of you want the other to change and neither of you are willing to change yourself to resolve the situation.
Something deeper is going on here. You are both locked into a power struggle.
You are afraid that if you give up smoking, he has won. Then he decides what is right for you, not you. That is too much of a sacrifice for you. You want a marriage where you have the freedom to make your own decisions about your personal well-being.
He has his own picture of marriage and it includes an intelligent, responsible, healthy wife. Because you smoke, he doesn’t think you measure up. But because he loves you and doesn’t want to lose you, he wants you to change. Give up smoking and his value system is no longer offended.
Every single one of us has a picture of the marriage and marriage partner we want. This picture is made up of numerous values and beliefs. Most couples want to make sure their values match so they share what is important to them before they marry. Unfortunately, this doesn’t avoid the problem of conflicting beliefs and values. Not all scenarios can be canvassed during prenuptial discussions. Many conflicts will only surface when an issue is played out in real life. Secondly, couples often ignore information about the differences between them.
Both you and your husband are guilty of overlooking a basic difference. You knew he didn’t like smokers and he knew you smoked. He probably thought you’d give it up and you probably thought he’d tolerate the smoking.
The only way you can now change the situation in an honest non-manipulative way is to go back to square one. Separate. If you think that is too drastic, you need to learn to live with his nagging.
Nagging only really bothers us when we believe it. Deep down you think your husband is right about smoking. You probably believe it is unhealthy and irresponsible. You say it relaxes you but you might be smoking because it is your opportunity for rebellion. Your husband tends to be controlling. You don’t like being controlled. Smoking is the one thing that gets up his nose.
To stay married and get over his nagging you have to grow up. This means taking responsibility for yourself. You have a choice. Either give up smoking or give up the belief that it is unhealthy. If you decide to quit, do it for yourself, not your husband. Do it because you believe smoking is unhealthy. If, on the other hand, you can truly believe that, for you, the advantages of smoking outweigh the negatives, tell your husband to nag all he wants. You won’t be quitting.
If you choose this latter course, your husband will have to decide to either give up the marriage or modify his values.
Whether you give up smoking or change your beliefs about smoking, the stalemate will be broken.