Michele O'Mara

Don't go changing...me

Filed By Michele O'Mara | September 16, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: relationships, smoking

My boyfriend hounds me about my smoking. I smoked before we met - he knew that when we got together. Every year (and it's been five so far) we are together he gets worse about his comments about my smoking. How do get him off my back?

~ Happy as I am

Dear Happy,

I'm relieved that your dilemma is not that your boyfriend is begging you to smoke- encouraging you to spend more money on cigarettes and to inhale more deeply. Rarely do our partner's request anything of us except that which will make us a better, healthier, happier person. So the good news here is that he cares.

In fact, he's wise to be concerned about your smoking because it's certainly not ideal for your health to intentionally inhale toxins. The deal is this- when we partner, we are making an investment in a relationship. What we invest is our own life, along with another's life, and the return on our investment depends on the extent of each partner's ability to contribute to the relationship.

Those who love us want what's best for us. HOW they go about delivering their message is not always ideal - and while you don't describe HOW he asks you to quit, I hope it is not through criticism and put-downs. Few people I've ever known are motivated to do anything by being criticized. In fact, it tends to invite rebellion.

The better care you take of yourself, the better your relationship will be. If you boyfriend starts requesting things of you that DON'T make you a better person, then you have reason to be concerned. As long as he cares about you, he's going to want you to stop smoking.

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That good advice. I'm so glad that you took the side that smoking is just a bad thing to be doing and then went from there. There's too much "Well, it's your choice" rhetoric floating around these days for my tastes.

I actually disagree. I don't smoke, but my wife does. I don't nag her about it, but I also do not buy the cigarettes for her. I figure that I have my own set of vices, as do we all. I also realize that, if I were to nag her, it would make her more determined to continue. Yes, I'd like for her to quit, but she knows exactly what it's doing to her, she analyzes diseased tissue for a living, and when she's ready, she'll quit.

At which point, I'll give up pizza and beer.

"HOW they go about delivering their message is not always ideal - and while you don't describe HOW he asks you to quit, I hope it is not through criticism and put-downs."

I agree.. nagging is not an effective strategy to address anything. However, if those whom love us don't at some point help us identify ways we can improve, the necessary seeds for personal growth may never be planted, let alone grow.