I've been married for 10 years to a woman I love, but she's a smoker. The last couple of years her smoking has begun to bother me and has even been a turn-off. I hate the smell, especially on my clothes. However, it's unfair as I married her knowing full well that she's a smoker. Talking about it usually ends in an argument and she stays mad a couple of days. Yet she won't smoke while I'm eating and usually brushes her teeth after smoking if we plan on having sex. But I'm getting very agitated when she smokes in the new vehicle we purchased for me. I try not to take extended trips with her. I won't let her drive my car mostly because I don't want it smelling like an ashtray. I know I'm being a little selfish but I can't help the way I feel, and she was well aware of my strong dislike of smokers.
- Smoked Out
So far, your approach is all smoke and no mirrors - you're focusing on the smoking as your problem, rather than hers. You need to show her the "mirror" of your concerns for her: the increasingly negative effects on her health, plus the eroding effect on your relationship with both of you on opposite sides of a daily issue. You need to help your wife see that she's risking heart disease, lung cancer, and early, visible skin aging. You need to assure that you'll support her through the tough effort of quitting, when she's ready, for her sake. Stop protecting the car and your clothes from smelly smoke and get informed about programs that would assist your wife to quit.
• Nicotine Anonymous at www.nicotine-anonymous.org offers group support and recovery. It provides a list of in-person meetings available by country, and/or telephone and Internet meetings for those who need them.
I'm Agnostic and my mum, who's Anglican, goes to church almost every Sunday. Otherwise, there isn't much religion in our home. It took many years to get my mum to let me stay home from church. She thinks that it's me misbehaving or being contrary. I've tried talking to her about it, but she rolls her eyes and won't listen. What can I do to get her to accept my decision?
- Religious Differences
You're not there, so she's already accepting that you're old enough to make that decision, even if she disagrees with it. The Eye Roll is a parents' expression of frustration and trust me, we've all used it. Mom naturally wants what she thinks is best for you, and she clearly believes that a church background is a healthy part of growing up. Rather than fight her on it, back off. She goes, you don't, there's nothing contrary about it so long as you don't keep seeking her stamp of approval. But keep your mind open. There's a lot of support, community activities and socializing that go on around church membership, so you never know when some of that might appeal to you when this is no longer a mother-daughter power struggle.
My girlfriend decided she had a medical condition. I recommended she see a specialist in alimentary conditions but she chose self-treatment. After months without change, she finally went to specialists who determined that she has manageable food intolerances, not a "condition." Despite positive changes, she's self-diagnosing again. She relies on magazines from organic food stores and television programs to expand her list of symptoms. She's spending exorbitant amounts of money for products that don't work for her; she's also becoming convinced that our environment is poisoning her. She gets angry at me for not supporting her 100 per cent while she's "fighting for her life.” I don't want to leave her while she needs help (and I do still love her), but I can't imagine living the rest of my life like this.
- Wit's End
Your girlfriend is obsessed with health worries, and that's often a sign of other insecurities. You can offer the support she's seeking by not criticizing her, and letting her follow her own journey. However, I suggest that you encourage her to seek counselling for her anxiety. Put it positively - that her increasing worries are naturally stressing her, which affects any symptoms she already has. Meanwhile, a therapist who specializes in anxieties can guide her through the pursuit of better health.
Tip of the day:
You can't force someone to quit smoking, but you can show how much you care for their health.