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by Abigail Van Buren

Girl Is Betwixt and Between Friend and Her Soon to Be Ex

DEAR ABBY: My husband started smoking two years ago, and it's driving me crazy -- especially the wasted time and money. I try not to nag him, but it's hard.

Because most restaurants are now non-smoking, when we go out to dinner, instead of smoking right before he goes in, then after we leave, he'll get up a few minutes after we order to go outside and smoke -- leaving me alone for five to 10 minutes. Sometimes he does it more than once.

It makes me really uncomfortable. I feel like people are staring at me. I have asked him repeatedly not to leave me sitting there, but he won't stop. I told him it's rude and he should respect me enough to remain with me through an entire meal, but he refuses. Please tell me what you think about this. -- SMOKING MAD IN VIRGINIA

DEAR SMOKING MAD: Your husband isn't being willfully disrespectful. He is so addicted to nicotine that he cannot sit through an entire meal with you because he must have another "fix"! While your suggestion that he have a cigarette before entering the restaurant is logical, he is unable to go without smoking for that relatively short length of time.

It's very sad. Because you can't convince him to recognize he has a problem, ask his doctor to help him quit. Then all I can advise is to appreciate him while you can, because his habit will eventually compromise his health.