My baby’s father won’t stop smoking. What should I do? Ask Ellie – Toronto Star
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QMy partner’s smoking habit is driving me crazy. He promised to quit when I was pregnant, then for her birth. However, the stress of a newborn led him back to smoking.
I remind him that we must think beyond ourselves to stay healthy for our child, but this often leads to him reminding me he was a smoker when I met him.
What also angers me is that our routines are dictated by his smoking. After dinner he smokes outside; in the morning, he repeatedly leaves to smoke.
I’m left caring for our child or cleaning up alone as all those 15 minutes add up and I don’t even have time to shower.
He never smokes inside or near our child, but I feel his smoking is more important than us, and he won’t make any sacrifices.
How can I help him quit, or better manage my anger toward this habit? I don’t want our relationship to end over smoking, but I feel a barrier getting wider between us.
Searching for Answers
AI can relate to the smoking debate. Years ago, an older boy (he 16, me 15) taught me to smoke. I thought I looked cool.
Four years later, while some teenage boyfriends smoked, the one I then cared about said he couldn’t stand having smoke near him. I quit, cold turkey. It wasn’t easy but three years later, I, too, couldn’t stand smoke near me. I’m now grateful that I stopped, for myself and my children’s sakes.
Your husband’s response is weak. Yes, you knew he smoked from the relationship’s start. But you hadn’t yet had a child to worry about, or shared responsibilities that he leaves “for a smoke.”
This addiction will persist so long as he keeps telling himself he “needs” that smoke.
I’m alerting you to Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Stop Smoking” books, because I’ve interviewed people who’ve read them. And quit smoking.
Their success largely comes from the author assuring people that they’re not prisoners of nicotine and can take charge of their own life.
Get a book, read it yourself. Then leave it lying around, with no orders for him to read it. If you withdraw from the battle, the choice for personal resolve plus a happier relationship, can be the result.
FEEDBACK Regarding the couple with two young children and no family or close friends who can help (Aug. 3):
Reader: “Your straightforward comments showing recognition and empathy, while fleshing out the writer’s context, lays a groundwork for me to ponder how I could handle a similar situation.
“Here’s a unique opportunity to suggest another action for the couple, to consider putting a word in the ear, a note on email, etc. to their minister/rabbi/priest. One of those people might put them in touch with a young person/local horticultural society member/mom and kids’ get-togethers at their places of worship or a local library.
“These community leaders may know who loves to babysit, or have a garden to help with, or be happy to meet their neighbours.
“It might be just what someone or some local organization has been waiting to hear or read about: An opportunity to help others, or how to become involved with others who might be able to use their particular gifts or, would understand the couple’s need, having been in the same situation recently or in the past.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Substance abuse can seem impossible to overcome. Or, with personal resolve and weighing the consequences rather than hold that belief, determination and addiction counselling can lead to healthy changes.
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