8 Min Read
- Why You Can't Hide Smoking From Your Spouse
- Secret Smoking Dangers That Go Beyond Your Health
- What You Can Do If Your Spouse Is Secretly Smoking
- What To Take Away
Any behavior that one partner keeps secret from the other is going to be detrimental to the relationship, but smoking presents some unique issues. Whether it’s cigarettes, pot, or vaping, trying to hide smoking from your spouse rarely works and can sink a relationship.
Most of us know that smoking is an unhealthy habit and nationwide rates of cigarette smoking are down. Unfortunately, traditional cigarettes have been replaced by many with vaping or pot smoking.
Regardless of the substance you’re smoking, if you’re hiding your smoking habit from your spouse there’s a problem, and not just with your health.
Why You Can’t Hide Smoking From Your Spouse
You know you shouldn’t be doing it. You know your spouse wants you to quit, but you can’t help it – you need a smoke. And you figure if you do it in secret, away from everyone, and hide the evidence, no one will be the wiser, right?
Smoking of any kind is nearly impossible to hide, especially from your spouse.
Unless you completely avoid all levels of closeness and intimacy in your relationship, smoking is a habit that leaves traces on even the most careful person.
- Air freshener
- Going outside
- Changing clothes
None of these actually work to get rid of the evidence - smoke always leaves traces.
- Stain teeth
- Leave oils on your fingers
- Mints only superficially and temporarily change your breath
- Clothes and hair hold the smell even with washing
Pot has the same tells with the addition of,
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slower reaction times
- The quintessential “stoned” look
- Increased hunger
Even vaping nicotine or THC, which many think is easier to hide, can be spotted if you know what to look for.
- Frequent “breaks” or need to “use the restroom”
- Increased sensitivity to smells (vaping can affect a person's olfactory sense)
- Dry mouth and increased thirst
- Tell-tale odor
And those are just the outward signs.
If you’re smoking, you’re also damaging your health and your appearance. Smoke of any kind will age you and damage your skin, eyes, and teeth.
Eventually your inability to climb stairs without breathing heavily, your cough, and your need to disappear for a several minutes at a time will be noticed.
Smoking cigarettes, pot, or vaping create many other problems and dangers as well.
Being high isn’t something you can hide, and if you’re trying to you may also be putting others in danger. Trying to hide smoking pot and being high from your spouse could mean that you’re also engaging in risky behavior, like driving under the influence or being entrusted with the care of children.
Neither of these things are acceptable and both are illegal.
Secret Smoking Dangers That Go Beyond Your Health
It’s not just your health that’s at risk when you hide a bad habit. The physical changes caused by smoking and vaping can degrade your appeal on all fronts.
Secret behaviors also destroy trust, and smoking in particular can make it harder for your spouse to feel attracted to you. This isn’t just because of the lingering smell or yellowing teeth, it goes much deeper than that.
Hiding a behavior like smoking can cause,
- Trust issues. Concealing smoking or vaping creates a breach of trust within the relationship. When one partner hides their habits, it can erode the trust and honesty that are essential for a healthy partnership.
- Communication breakdown. Hiding smoking or vaping often involves a breakdown in communication. Secretive behavior can create distance between partners and make it difficult to have open and honest conversations about important matters.
- Resentment and frustration. The spouse who is unaware of the smoking or vaping habit may feel deceived and betrayed upon discovering the hidden behavior. This can lead to feelings of resentment, anger, and emotional distress, potentially causing conflict within the relationship.
Dr. Kurt has seen this time and again in his counseling. And while the substances may vary, hiding bad habits, especially smoking, always causes problems. Here's what he had to say,
While chain smoking cigarettes has become less common, secret smoking has become really common. Here are a few examples I've heard in counseling - smoking a couple of cigarettes while drinking with friends at a Super Bowl party, sneaking into the garage late at night to smoke pot to help fall asleep, smoking crack at a party in Vegas, telling your wife you quit binge smoking cigs when you've actually just switched over to vaping. All of these have come up as issues with partners who were angry about being lied to, deceived, or not being told. Hiding smoking from your spouse just makes the problem bigger and can actually create a problem where there may not be one. While none of these spouses were happy about their partner smoking, most said they could deal with that, but absolutely would not accept the deception."
A clear example of these problems can be seen in Meisa’s relationship.
I have been married for 5 years with a marijuana addict. When we met, we used to dope together until I started to feel I wanted to quit. He agreed for 4 to 6 months and started again when we discover we were pregnant. He started to grow it and by the time our daughter was born we both were smoking all day long. I decided I wanted to quit and needed him to stop for the good of our baby. He agreed but lied and hid it. And this has been our marriage for 5 years. We even signed a contract to be able to work together in our family business. Again, he broke the deal and now I have resigned, and he has lost me as a worker and honestly at this point as a partner in life. I do not want to spend the rest of my life fighting every 3 or 4 months against the same issue over and over and have these arguments in front of our 5-year-old who has happened to spend her childhood seeing this drama with pain and confusion. The worst part: I am pregnant again and even if he apologizes and promises to quit the lying, mistrust and anger have damaged us so much. It’s even bigger than just him being "high". If you have promised your partner or spouse to quit, DO IT before it is too late! While you can still rebuild trust and treasure your family that loves you. Please don't exchange that for something that makes you ‘feel good’. Look out for help and work your way. Your loved ones would be proud and by your side.” – Meisa
Meisa’s story is typical for couples when one partner is trying to hide their smoking habit, and her warning to others should be taken to heart.
The major cornerstones of a strong relationship are trust and respect.
When you engage in habits that are detrimental to your health and to your family’s health, three things happen.
- Stop trusting you
- Stop respecting you
- Lose faith that you love and respect them
Lying about your behavior only further destroys trust and respect.
Although the concerns regarding the physical effects of smoking on a partner and children are very real, the biggest problem for many couples when it comes to hiding a smoking habit isn’t smoking itself – it’s the deception and the mistrust it creates.
Secrets always come out and they have a way of slowly destroying relationships. They create a need for lies and sneaky behavior, which will erode communication and cause partners to drift apart.
These communication issues and distance can leave a relationship open to even larger problems, like potential emotional affairs as one partner seeks the company of someone who can commiserate or sympathize with their position.
Eventually, without intervention, these behaviors will destroy a relationship.
What Can You Do If Your Spouse Is Secretly Smoking
I'm ruining my marriage through smoking weed. The thing is I know it yet I'm in total self destruct mode. I sit there smoking thinking about what I'm doing but still carry on. She's upstairs I'm in my man cave and she won't let me share the bed if I smoke. So we hardly sleep together. I need to stop.” - Martin
Although he’s not actively hiding his smoking, Martin is a good example of what can happen to a marriage when destructive habits are given priority over the relationship.
In Martin's case he knows he has a problem and the fact that he hasn’t been able to stop means he may be facing a full-fledged addiction. He needs help, and he will need the support of his wife in order to quit.
If you’ve discovered or suspect that your spouse has a secret a smoking habit you’ll need to handle things delicately.
The fact that they’re doing it in secret means that they already know you wouldn’t approve and are,
- Don’t want to be nagged about it
- Think they’re trying to spare you the pain of knowing their problem.
Whatever the reason they’re hiding things, they aren’t likely to respond well to an aggressive confrontation over their problem.
Knowing that your spouse is actively hiding something from you can be infuriating. The anger at being lied to can make you want to yell, accuse, and demand.
Unfortunately, going about things this way can lead to them feeling worse, going to greater lengths to hide things, and potentially depression in your partner.
Most people don’t want to maintain bad habits or hurt the people they love. So, there’s a fair chance your partner has some desire to quit and is struggling with their own strength and ability to do so - even if they haven’t admitted it to you yet.
I've been smoking ever since i was 18 when i went away to college and made my first friend. That friend smoked and eventually got me to start doing it too. It’s been 7 years since then and I’m still smoking. Recently my girlfriend and I have been constantly arguing about pot and she feels I’m addicted. After taking a look in the mirror (& at my finances) i think she’s right and I feel terrible. But every time i try to quit i find myself sneaking around her and smoking it. The longest i last without it is a few days. Any advice on how to permanently quit?” – Chad
Chad’s reaction to his girlfriend’s concerns demonstrates how the wrong approach can backfire.
The more they argue the worse he feels and the more he tries to hide it.
What Chad needs is help and that likely means professional help. This can be hard to accept for both the partner that’s hiding their smoking and the partner being lied to.
Unfortunately, smoking is often dismissed as nothing more than a bad habit like biting your nails or swearing too much. Many people whose partner’s smoke think saying, "Just quit!" should be enough, but it’s not that simple for most.
When a person has gotten to the point of hiding their smoking from their spouse, especially when they know its destroyed the trust in their relationship, “just quitting” probably isn’t possible. It’s more complicated than that and addiction counseling.
What To Take Away
If you’re in a relationship and dealing with a secret smoker of any substance, it’s time to take things seriously and consider what additional options and resources you may have.
- Secret behaviors have signs. If you’re seeing signs your partner is hiding a smoking habit, don’t ignore them.
- Detrimental behaviors like smoking have effects on more than the physical health of the smoker, they can have secondary effects on the people they love as well.
- Hiding a bad habit will erode trust and respect within a relationship.
- Demanding and demeaning them won’t work, however. Approach your partner gently and honestly about your concerns and the need for them to quit.
Working together, and potentially with the help of a professional counselor, is the best option to get your spouse to quit hiding their smoking, take care of their health, and rebuild the damaged trust in your relationship.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published February 13, 2020 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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