Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grr Arg

Much of the crappiness and distance involved in my relationship is down to my husband's smoking habit. Right now I'm blogging instead of watching the beginning of the film we were about to watch together, as he had to go have a smoke first. I walked back in to the sitting room from yet another trip upstairs to try and force my daughter to sleep, to be greeted by the usual wave of smoke growing stale emanating from the man I love, so I have to go away for five minutes while it dies down.

He finds it offensive that I ask him to wash his hands and face before holding his babies, or preparing food, or coming to bed. I picked up my baby son today, and his little pure, pudgy face smelled of stale smoke. It makes me want to cry, every time.

I hope the effect of breathing stale smoke is far less than the effect of passive smoking, but it seems to me that if you can breathe in a smell, you're still inhaling a substance, surely.

I can't really ask for a hug or a kiss anymore, as the smell of smoke just sickens me, and the nausea is worse because it seems to stand for everything that's wrong - how my husband has been choosing smoking over his health, my health and comfort, our children, for years and years now.

He can stop if he wants to but doesn't. The last time he stopped, or maybe the time before that, he just resented me for it the whole time. The last time he had an unfortunate acupuncture session that seemed to rid his body of the last of the nicotine, but brought back all the cravings, and he merrily chose to start smoking again, just before we conceived our second child. So I went through a second session of morning sickness being sickened by his cigarettes. When I was pregnant, I could smell them through the front door.

His clothes and his car reek the whole time - but at any mention of this, I get the sighs and eye rolls, I'm the inconsiderate, nagging, irrational one with the problem, he's the considerate smoker.

He has a host of reasons for continuing to smoke, the majority of which are shite. I think, if I didn't have children I would leave because of it - he didn't smoke when we met, by the time he started, I was in too deep :) I was younger, and my tolerance for smoke was higher, though I rapidly stopped being able to hold hands.

He smokes 'to relax' and to manage stress - which is a misnomer, smoking increases stress levels - I can see his desperation any time he has to deal with a difficult family situation - as his stress levels rise, so does the nicotine withdrawal, and all ability to problem solve or stay calm is overridden by the need to suppress the emotions with a cigarette.

I wish he could appreciate the problem from my point of view, I wish he'd feel enough responsibility for his children to stay as healthy as he can, and to keep their air free. We bit hahve parents who died from cancer.

I remember the reek of pipe smoke off my father, how unpleasant it was to hug him when I was child. Perhaps that's why I dislike it so much now, I don't know, I just wish my daughter didn't have the same experience.

I really don't know how any person of our generation can preach in favour of smokers' rights, or defend the habit. I wish I could really articulate the misery his habit causes me, what I feel I have to sacrifice in terms of happiness and comfort in order that he can carry on with this carcinogenic practice he's been indulging in for the larger part of fifteen years, while I go on having to deal with it. I think it's my turn to get a break for a while.


  1. I think you've articulated it really brilliantly Jo.

  2. I'm with Ash on this one Jo. This is one of my favourite posts in ages, and rightly impassioned.

    As some of you know I've been living back in my parents house for the last few months. My mum is the only one who smokes and she's great about only doing it outside when the kids come over and visit, but the rest of the time my clothes, hands, room reek of the stuff when I'm not a smoker myself.

    I can't imagine what it's like Jo to be in a relationship such as you've described.

  3. I'm a child of 70s and 80s and so know what it's like to have cigarette smoke everywhere, but it doesn't really bother me. When I go abroad I really notice the difference in the smell of my clothes but the odour isn't one worth moving my head for never mind making life drastic changes so I think it would be madness to break your family for it. On other hand I have many comparisons. I cannot abide the chemical smell in deodorants and I think it would be fully justified to leave my husband (if I had one) if he started wearing strong deodorant. In fact, that's my next post.

  4. Jo when I smoked if my husband said anything about the smell or smoking indoors (which I did) I would always make him feel like he was such a nag. Really I felt like crap but had no intentions of ever stopping. Hopefully your husband will reach a point when he just wants to stop, unfortunatley all the usual cliches about health and cost just don't work.

  5. Perhaps if I was allowed hit him with something every time he had a smoke? :)