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Dad’s Side: She’s a Quitter

For years now, my wife, Susan, and I have been hiding a deep and dark secret. Until she quit almost a year ago, my wife was a lifelong smoker, even regularly puffing on cigarettes when she was pregnant with each of our daughters, Isabelle and Lorelei.

As you mull that over, I hope you'll hold off your judgments until later. She has a story, which she's allowing me to tell in case it helps anyone out there, and I'm proud of her for it. But make no mistake: We aren't proud of the fact that she smoked during pregnancy. Even my wife now calls what she did "evil."

Susan began smoking when she was a teen, pulled into the abyss by peers. She continued as a twentysomething, and since she did her best to hide it from her parents, she had no one to object to what she was putting into her lungs. Until me. And so, a couple of months into our dating, she agreed to quit. Although it was tough for her in the beginning, she soon appeared to have conquered her addiction. Having no keen sense of smell, I didn't realize that she had simply taken her habit behind bathroom doors. I discovered her secret stash of cigarettes on our honeymoon, a year later. I felt as if I had found her in bed with another guy. Only in this case, my wife was cheating on me with the Marlboro Man.

So, minutes after I learned that she was pregnant, I insisted that she end her affair. Susan agreed. Now that she was expecting, she assured me, she would quit.

Again, I believed her, and that's where I went wrong. I was content to let my wife fight this battle on her own. That's how she said she wanted to do it; having me constantly ask how she was doing, she said, would only stress her out. So I didn't offer Susan much beyond very sparing encouragement.

If I could do things over, I would have insisted she enroll in a smoking cessation class or join a support group. I would have sent her encouraging love notes. Yes, I was following her game plan, but by doing so, and letting her go it alone, I made it easier for her to fail. My wife needed my help, not my hope.