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My Wife Started Smoking: What You Can Do As a Husband

wife started smoking

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“My wife has started smoking, and the image of her doing that eats me up.” In one of the posts from this Reddit user, not only does he hate seeing his spouse smoke, but it’s actually making him think about separation. For something that’s supposed to relieve stress, smoking can eventually destroy a relationship.

And it’s a much more common story than you may think.

According to a post published in the National Institutes of Health, the top three reasons for divorce are infidelity, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Nicotine addiction and cigarettes fall under the third category. 

If you’re currently experiencing this problem as a husband, you may be hurt and confused about your wife’s actions. Like many loving spouses, you want to help her, but you have no idea where to begin.

First, be aware that nicotine is one of the hardest addictions to quit. According to the FDA and other posts, only 7% of smokers successfully quit after many years and attempts.

Second, she will need your help and support during this journey.

Finally, know that it’s completely possible for your wife to quit smoking.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the reasons behind your wife’s cigarette habit, how it can affect your relationship, and how you as her husband can help her quit for good.

Why Women Start Smoking

brunette smoking

To understand your spouse, you first need to understand why a person, specifically women, smoked in the first place. Here are some of the most common reasons:

She already started to smoke in her teens. 

For many people, they smoked way before they got married– some started many years before. According to one of the posts by the CDC, “Tobacco use is started and established primarily early in life, or during adolescent years.” 

As a result, her nicotine addiction would have already been in place years ago, even before you guys entered a relationship, started dating and got married, and she simply hid it from you long ago. And once being a smoker has taken root, it can get triggered anytime. 

She may be feeling extreme stress.

Do you know if your partner is currently having a hard time at work? Are the kids being difficult lately? Are you two having marital problems? If so, there’s a chance that she smokes to relieve her stress.

According to psychologist Sherry McKee, “Across a number of studies, we know that a woman usually smokes to regulate negative mood and stress, more so than why a man smokes.” In other words, it’s a good guess that your wife could be using tobacco to ease intense stress and help her deal with what’s happening in her life. 

She may be struggling with her mental health.

Does it sound like your wife is struggling with depression and anxiety, or do you suspect that she could be? Is she always sleepless or crying at night? Mental illness has a strong correlation to substance abuse, and that includes nicotine. It’s a really common reason why women start to smoke. 

If she is dealing with a mental health issue, it’s a sign that she could be using nicotine as a way to self-medicate or to ease the symptoms.

These are just three of the most common reasons why a woman would start smoking, and for many, it’s a combination of factors. One of the best ways to discover why a woman began is to ask her directly, or to really make it a point to observe the signs.

Tell-Tale Signs That Your Wife Is A Smoker  

blonde smoking

Many smokers are already aware that it’s a bad thing to do. Because of this, a woman may be ashamed to tell you about it and deliberately hide it from you. Watch out for warning signs like:


Check out her nails and fingers. A smoker usually has nails and fingers that eventually take a yellow stain due to tar and smoke present in cigarettes.

Discolored Lips and Teeth

A heavy smoker often develops bluish-black lips. In addition, their teeth could show some brown or yellow staining. 

Burns in her clothes

Check her clothes. Due to the sparks that come from a lit cigarette, a woman who smoked may not notice small burns related to those embers.

Skin Changes

Cigarette smoke negatively affects the skin, hence the related term “smoker’s face.” Specifically, toxins from smoke constrict the blood vessels. In addition, the presence of carbon dioxide posts less oxygen for the skin. Finally, the skin’s direct exposure to smoke irritates and dries it out.

As a result, you may start noticing premature wrinkling on your partner’s face and the back of the neck. Her eyes may also be manifesting a bit of crow’s feet, or her facial skin may start to look like it’s always excessively dry.

Smell of Smoke

Finally, you could start smelling smoke in your spouse’s hands, breath, clothes, skin, and hair. As a smoker, she may be used to the scent, which means they never notice it anymore. However, the stink of cigarettes is hard to mask, even after you wash your hands or brush your teeth.

On top of those signs, she may also start chewing gum more often to hide the smokiness that a cigarette posts, or start wearing more perfume to prevent you from smelling the smoke. You may also start seeing a pack here and there. Moreover, you can also ask her friends if perhaps they’ve noticed anything. Be vigilant about these red flags. 

The Link Between Smoking and Divorce

couple sunset

For this Quora user, smoking is like the last straw for their marriage. This is what he said in one of his posts:

“For the last decade my wife has smoked 3–4 cigarettes a day. I fear for her health. I recognize I can’t force her to change, I just want her around. I have said all of this to zero progress. Is it time to give up?”

So yes, you’re right to feel worried about her. More importantly, you’re not alone in feeling that way. Your wife’s smoking habit — and their apparent inability to quit — can cause you to feel betrayed, lost, and powerless to help them change.

Worst case scenario? Divorce.

Let’s look at a few studies:

  • According to this 2009 study by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in Australia, divorce is 75% to 90% more probable in a marriage when one spouse is a smoker, versus a marriage where both spouses smoke.
  • However, couples in which both couples smoke don’t fare well, either. Another study found that couples where both partners smoke face a higher risk of divorce compared to couples who don’t smoke.

Even if it doesn’t lead to divorce, her smoking can severely strain your marriage, especially if you don’t smoke. Some reasons are:

  • You’re worried about her physical and mental state.
  • You feel like she is being really selfish.
  • If she’s smoking inside your home, second-hand smoke poses a huge danger to you and your family’s health.
  • She seems like she’s wasting your hard-earned money on feeding her addiction.
  • Intimacy as a couple may be reduced or completely non-existent due to lower libido caused by smoking.
  • You may be questioning if your values as a couple still align.
  • You’re disappointed in her choice, and it’s hard to take a stand or else it can break you up as a couple.
  • You’re not on the same page anymore regarding your future.
  • You may be worried about your children picking up their mother’s smoking habit.
  • It can trigger bad memories or even a bit of trauma in you, especially if you grew up in a home where your parents or family members smoke. 

Unless you would be willing to live with a smoker, you may be wondering how to help your partner to quit smoking. The next section is filled with tips and advice to help you begin.

How to Help Your Wife Quit Smoking

black and white woman smoking

Right off the bat, don’t forget that quitting smoking is incredibly difficult. For some, it’s downright impossible and they never succeed, especially if they would not have support they need to stay on the right path.

As a husband, it would be critical to approach this from a place of love and understanding. You would be playing a huge role in your wife’s ability to quit than you may realize. Here are some pieces of advice to help you get started:

Express your concerns without lecturing her.

husband and wife

Again, most smokers are already aware of how bad smoking is to their health. What they don’t think about, however, is the physical and emotional damage it has on the people they love. 

Before you start, make sure you’re in a calm and positive headspace. You have to be on the same page, so never attack her in any way. 

Instead, begin by reminding her that you love and care about her, and that you’re concerned about her smoking. Then, assure her that she can open up to you without judgment. Create a safe space where she can share her thoughts and feelings about her nicotine addiction. Location-wise, it’s best to choose a neutral, comfortable site for your two.

With that said, be prepared for your spouse to resist intervention. Recognize that this is her decision to make, not yours. 

Help her find her motivation to quit smoking.

For many smokers, a deeper motivation can be the push they need to quit. Try to help your loved one think about hers, such as:

  • You want her to live a long life with you and your family because you love her.
  • You want to stay married for many years and have a healthy relationship.
  • Encourage her to read posts and testimonials from people who have successfully quit.
  • The money she’s spending on each pack can be spent on better things, like vacations, a new car, etc.
  • Discuss how breaking her nicotine addiction will allow you to enjoy more activities together over the years.
  • Talk about how she’s going to feel better in every way.
  • If you’re trying to start a family, talk to her about how it improves the chances of getting pregnant if she quits.

Be patient as they struggle with withdrawal symptoms.

holding hand

Once your spouse decides to quit, prepare yourself to support her through the withdrawal symptoms. This is really one of the most difficult parts of trying to quit, because up to 90% of smokers are physically addicted to nicotine. Be ready for symptoms like:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • restlessness
  • mood swings
  • headaches
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • an overwhelming urge to smoke
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • irritability

During this time, know that you need to be extra patient with her. For a bit, you may not recognize her personality from the person you love and married. Remember that not only are they dealing with physical withdrawal, but they’re also battling the emotional effects of quitting. 

Come up with distractions from the nicotine craving.

man and woman kitchen

Distracting your wife from her cravings can go a long way towards helping her win the battle against smoking. Aside from that, it’s an opportunity to reconnect and share things that you both love as a married couple. Explore ideas like:

  • Cook a delicious meal together
  • Take a scenic walk
  • Play a fun game
  • Post letters to loved ones
  • Watch a movie
  • Take up a new hobby together, such as painting or pottery
  • Start going to the gym together
  • Go for a swim
  • Take quick trips to your favorite places, such as the lake or a camping spot
  • Dating activities
  • Going out with non-smoking friends

However, avoid situations that can trigger her craving, such as bars and other venues where smoking is allowed.

Know when to seek outside help.

If her addiction is too advanced, you may want to seek professional services. For instance, talk to her about getting behavioral therapy. It would also be a good idea to try smoking cessation methods or medication such as nicotine patches, nasal sprays, and inhalers.

Try a hypnosis app.

woman looking at phone

Studies have shown that hypnosis can be extremely effective for smoking cessation. In fact, it’s been found to be one of the best ways to quit smoking long-term.

It’s also very convenient. Your wife can simply download a hypnosis app, and they can start following the program ASAP. Aside from that, she can also use the built-in tracker to help them check their progress. 

Believe in them.

happy couple

Finally, your wife will need all the understanding and support you can give her as she quits. Encourage their efforts, accept that they may relapse, and assure them that you are in this together and you won’t give up on them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is vaping better than cigarettes for my wife?

NO. E-cigarettes or vapes are still full of nicotine, which will only enable your wife’s addiction. Instead, remove all smoking paraphernalia from the house. This includes all cigarettes or her pack of smokes, lighters, vapes, and similar items.

Can my wife influence my kids to start smoking?

Yes, children with parents who smoke are more likely to develop the addiction themselves. That’s why it’s urgent to address your wife’s behavior as soon as you can, to lessen the impact on your family and relationships.

How do I help my wife curb her nicotine cravings while she quits?

Try to distract her. For instance, remind her why she’s quitting in the first place. Do something fun that will keep her mind off cigarettes. In addition, use the hypnosis app to help her control her cravings.

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