Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If You Don't Know Me By Now

Mood: Calm
Listening to: BBC talk about George Bush

The other day, my husband told me that he is smoking. Again. Over the almost 8 years that the husband and I have been married, this has been one hot button issue that never seems to go away. He smoked heavily in college, but quit long before he met me. The agreement after we got married was that if hubby wanted to smoke when we had guests from out of town (it often goes hand in hand with alcohol) then I wasn’t going to be the wife to nag him endlessly about it. Just not my style. Over our marriage, he has had a very difficult time keeping his end of this bargain. Much to my chagrin and worry, the smoking has been happening on and off since then. Stress seems to trigger it, and he works in a pretty high-pressure environment. 

So the question I’m left pondering is how I didn’t know.  I like to think I know my husband pretty well. I can read his mood just by looking at him. I can always tell when his mind is 1,000 miles away, even if he is nodding and doing the usual “uh huhs” when I’m talking to him. I can tell when he’s been out to a happy hour with colleagues before he even gets 3 steps in the door. I always know when he’s feeling guilty. A more troubling idea to me is what steps he took and how many to keep it from me. He doesn’t stink like a smoker (thank god!) and I never smell it on his hair or clothes. I never find cigarettes around the house either.  

I hate playing the insecure wife. I’ve never been one to see an affair around every corner. This being said, I can’t help but wonder what else my husband would be able to hide. We’ve had this discussion before. I claim I’d know if he ever had an affair and he claims that if he really wanted to hide it from me I’d never know.  Which, I admit, is probably true.  I don’t pry into every detail of his life. Again, just not my style. There’s a big 10 hour black hole when he’s at work that remains a mystery to me aside from the fact that he’s at work. I have to admit there are things about me that my husband doesn’t know, and probably never will, although nothing as extreme as smoking. I value my privacy quite a bit, as I’m sure he does too. What really gets my goat is that smoking is pretty much the only thing I ever raise a stink about, and that’s only because it’s so bad for his health.  I’m not too tolerant of self indulgent destructive behavior. 

All of this leads to this question: How long, if ever, will it be before people don’t get blindsided by things like this in their relationships?  Do we every really know our spouses well enough to know when they conceal stuff from us? I think a great deal of trust has to go into a successful marriage, and that includes trusting the other person not to keep important stuff like this hidden.  A person can’t live his or her life constantly looking over the spouse’s shoulder wonder what they are hiding. On the same token not trusting everything is rosy all of the time is a good self-preservation strategy, even in the best marriage. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, my other half needs his ass kicked back into quitting.

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