DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my wife for 32 years. I love her dearly. Recently, though, her smoking has been really bothering me. Her father passed away from COPD five years ago because he was a lifetime smoker. I thought that would convince her to stop. She has tried, but she always goes back.
She tries to cover it up by making frequent trips to the store and other places to get out of sight to smoke. It infuriates me that she would lie, but she doesn't seem to have a problem with it at all. It makes me wonder what else she's been lying about.
My biggest concern, obviously, is that her health problems are increasing -- frequent colds (she blames "allergies"), coughing while she sleeps, snoring terribly. We now sleep in separate beds at times just so I can get some sleep. When I bring up the subject of quitting, she gets defensive. Her mother will no longer talk to her about it, and she wants her to quit even more than I do.
As my wife goes down this road, I'm becoming less attracted to her. We don't talk much anymore when we are by ourselves. We once went to a marriage counselor who agreed with me on the subject of quitting, but my wife blew it off. I'm near my limit and thinking of ending our marriage. How can I get through to her without a messy divorce? -- END OF MY ROPE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR END: By now it should be obvious that your wife is displaying classic symptoms of an addict. This is something she may have inherited from her father. She has a serious medical (and possibly psychological) problem because she cannot quit on her own. If she's even interested in doing so, which I doubt, she will need professional help. Nicotine patches and gum could aid her in cutting back, but a psychological component will still need to be addressed.
Interestingly, you didn't mention the effect (besides revulsion) her secondhand smoke is having on you. This is something you should address with your doctor. Once you have done that, offer your wife the option of treatment. However, if she refuses, you will have to decide whether to consult a lawyer.