- 8 years ago
This is long and a bit rambling, but bear with me…
I have always judged other people’s relationships. I have always looked down on other girls who had boyfriends or husbands who hid things from them or who lied to them. I always considered myself not just lucky, but also smart, for picking my guy… My honest, open, responsible, and very trustworthy guy.
Until yesterday, when I found out that my partner–who I have been living with for nearly 2 years–“dips.” He uses smokeless tobacco. I found out because I saw it on a receipt that was lying around when I was cleaning yesterday morning. I asked him about it, and he admitted that he has used smokeless tobacco for 8+ years. He hid it from me because he was ashamed, and because he knew I wouldn’t like it. I cannot even begin to describe the shock I felt (and to some degree, still feel.) When you live with someone, you feel like you know their habits, their vices. I definitely didn’t think tobacco was one of them. I was so angry at him–for doing it in the first place, and of course for lying about it for years. I yelled. I called him a liar. I told him I didn’t trust him. I told him he was going to get cancer. I told him I didn’t want to be with a liar. I cried. He cried. He threw the snuff in the dumpster and told me he’d never do it again.
Later, I talked to someone who had been through something somewhat similar. They emphasized the shame that my guy feels, and that he hid his nasty habit because he was ashamed. It seems so obvious, but I was too busy being angry and telling him he was a liar to realize his shame. I now feel sorry for him–sorry that he is in the grips of a nasty habit-no, addiction- and sorry that he was so embarrassed that he felt he couldn’t tell me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pissed beyond belief, and I still wish to God that he didn’t do it. But I also feel pity and love for him.
Now, I’m not sure what to do. I know that you can’t force someone to quit something like this. I know that an ultimatum is not a good modus operandi in this situation either. I’m trying to be supportive, but it’s hard not to be pushy or nagging. We bought a bunch of gum, candy, and sunflower seeds yesterday. Hopefully that will help. He has also requested that I keep asking him each day if he chewed, but I fear that will turn into me nagging and him lying. He has promised to be open about it, but I know that shame and addiction are powerful forces and he may hide it if he slips up and uses it.
I am afraid right now of several things. I am afraid he will lie to me and tell me that he has quit, and continue using it secretly. There is not really any way I can ensure that he isn’t lying (after all, he has successfully kept it a secret since I met him nearly 3 years ago). I am also afraid that, even if he is honest about it, he will slip up and keep using it. I know that he wants to quit, and has tried to quit before I even knew about it, but it didn’t work before, so why will it work now? He keeps saying that he would do anything for me, and that he will quit, but I don’t want him to quit for me. I want him to quit for HIM. So any ideas about how to get that message across, again without being too pushy?
And finally, more about ultimatums, etc. I absolutely love this guy and want desperately to spend the rest of my life with him. BUT–and this is important for me–I do NOT want to spend the rest of my life with someone who smokes or chews tobacco or is a user of any kind of drug. If we were already married, I would not consider getting divorced over this, but we’re not married and so the choice is still mine to make. I am not planning on telling him this (especially right now), but if he hasn’t quit in a year or so, I may want to end the relationship. I don’t want to knowingly choose a life with someone who has this habit. For myself, for him, and for our future children. It might seem harsh, but these issues are very important to me. I don’t want a future filled with oral cancer and gum disease. Is this wrong of me to think this way? How can I get this point across without it being a threat or an ultimatum?
And finally, what are your gut reactions to this? Any advice or suggestions? I am pretty upset about this right now–couldn’t sleep last night, can’t seem to get much work done today– so I could use all the help I can get.