Dear Abby: As her health worsens, my wife refuses to quit smoking, and I’m considering divorce

She now snores terribly, coughs all night and gets colds easily, but she gets defensive when husband brings up her habit

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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 use 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.

DEAR ABBY: What advice would you give to one who thinks about and, quite frankly, is still in love with his high school sweetheart? We never got married. I never married anyone, and our 50th year high school reunion is coming up next year. I talked with her recently over the phone, and she’s also going to the reunion. We’re both looking forward to seeing each other again.

Do you think age plays a big part in how a person should view things? That is, I’ve seen a photo of her, and while it’s very different from how she looked in high school, I still feel the same about her and want to spend the rest of my life with her. What’s your advice? — STILL SMITTEN IN IDAHO

DEAR SMITTEN: My advice is to keep talking to your old flame, see if she’s currently attached and whether she feels the same way about you. If the answer is yes, attending the reunion will let you begin to know her all over again before taking the next step. Time can be a great advantage because you both are mature adults now and, hopefully, less impulsive than you were during your teens. I wish you luck as you revisit this with her.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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