His choice is stripping his life of sex, blowjobs, and the rest of it.
My husband is a smoker. I knew this even before we made our introduction. He was the dark stranger at the end of the bar, puffing away on cigarettes as the French tend to do. When I asked him to join us I think I might have asked for a cigarette, too. I was in France after all.
When we first started seeing each other, I tolerated his smoking. I'd even, on occasion if I'd had too much wine or we were out socializing, have one or two cigarettes myself.
But then, because I'm not a smoker, I'd go months and months without any at all and when he smoked, it aggravated me. So, when he came to New York City (a place where there are far less smokers than there are in Paris) he agreed to quit. Or, more precisely, he agreed to cutback and honestly, he did an amazing job.
He was able to spend three whole effing days at my parents' house experiencing his first American Thanksgiving and never once thought about having a cigarette. I considered the man a champion.
But then we came back to France to spend our spring and summer, as we do every year, and he slipped back into his nasty habit. I decided I was done accepting this vile habit of his.
I realize it's hypocritical of me to complain about his smoking when I'll have like, oh I don't know ... 10 a year. But it's his dependency on them that kills me.
We get into an argument about something and he grabs his cigarettes and runs for the door.
We go out to an amazing restaurant and he can't wait to finish the last course so he can have that "after dinner cigarette" that, according to him, is "a real pleasure," and one that "you just don't understand, Amanda."
Before we get on a plane, even if it's only a two-hour flight, he's outside smoking a cigarette while I'm in line waiting to check our baggage.
He smokes each cigarette with an equal obsessiveness that leads me to believe he firmly thinks each puff will be his last, as if some catastrophe will befall him and he'll no longer be able to enjoy that movement with his arms and hand.
Then, as he puts it out, he almost looks like a part of him has died, and he comes back to join me, wherever I happen to be, reeking of a foulness that there are no words for. Not just his breath, but his hair, his clothes, his fingers — all of it. I won't even get into what I've noticed it's doing to his bottom teeth.
So, I've taken sex off the table whenever he smokes.
Now, each time he goes for a cigarette, I remind him that his choice is stripping his life of sex, blowjobs, and the rest of it. This evokes a battle from him.
He babbles and swears in French, spattered with, "Aww, baby this is not fair!" in his thick accent, and completely and totally regresses to the way I imagine he was at the age of eight. It's not a pretty sight, and makes me even angrier. I find myself disgusted by his weakness.
As the arguing gets me more and more intense over the one cigarette I know he'll eventually smoke, he also slips into victim mode, claiming that harassing him about his smoking is just making him want to smoke even more. (Which may be the truth, but show a little backbone, man.)
It has — and is — killing our sex life in many ways.
We both have crazy libidos and to not have sex with him aches but watching him smoke those stupid things that are likely to kill him hurts even more.
We've reached a point that whenever we do have sex, it's work-related. My editor will email me an assignment asking me to try "choreplay" for a week or some other sex-related topic and I'll tell her, "Sure." It's in this "work" that I get to enjoy my husband, stinky smoke and all, without feeling like I've crumbled and lost the fight.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm still standing my ground but I think deep down he knows, thanks to my job, he'll eventually get laid because he married a woman who writes about sex for a living. My threats, for the sake of my job, become null and void.
But the sex aside, his smoking is killing our intimacy the most.
I'm less cuddly than when we were in New York City, and I'm more likely to turn my head away from him or step back when he's talking if I can smell the cigarettes on him. I want to make him realize and realize again how much I disapprove but he keeps going back to the nasty things.
I hope that when we get back to New York City in the fall, he'll clean up his act again. I hope that, of all the things two people could fight about, cigarettes will not be one of them. But in the meantime I'll keep my distance.
I'll furrow when he goes outside to have one, and I'll lecture him on what they're doing to his teeth and body, as he nods and says, "I know."
I'll also continue to retreat to the bedroom to masturbate loudly whenever he gets that "come hither" look in his eye.
I'm an American; I play hardball. He's French and "We smoke," he says, so that's where it stands until I get another assignment. And he's up by one ... until I level that playing field again with my vibrator. Again.