Q: I have been dating my fiance for about three years and we moved in together about six months ago. We became engaged about two months ago. I am in my late 20s and he is in his early 30s. Things have been good and seem to be on track, but there is one issue that comes between us constantly.
He is a smoker and I am a non-smoker. This was always an issue from the beginning, but it became tolerable when we found a way to compromise. He cut back and never smoked around me, and whenever he came inside he would wash his hands and brush his teeth. That seemed to work.
Now that we are living together, things have changed. I'm not sure if he is smoking more or if I'm noticing it more because we are constantly together now. He still goes outside to smoke but he has dropped the routine of washing his hands and brushing his teeth and he brings the stench inside with him.
The main problem is that it has gotten to the point where I don't even want to kiss him and that has definitely put a strain on our intimate relationship.
He knows how much I hate it, and when I make comments about it and ask him to wash his hands, he seems to get frustrated with me. I don't know how to mention how much it bothers me without getting him mad or having him become defensive. The conversation always turns into an argument. Maybe I'm saying it the wrong way.
So, how do I get him to try to quit smoking or at least cut back? If he won't quit, how do I get him back on the same routine as before? Do I even have the right to ask such things of him? I love him and I want to be intimate with my future husband but I can't get around the smoky breath, hands, and clothes. It is such a turn off. How do I fix it?
– Concerned, Boston
A: Well, you've both failed to compromise. He promised he'd wash his hands and he hasn't. And you said you wouldn't push him to quit but you're making it clear that you want him to.
My advice is to start over with a new plan. Reestablish the terms. Explain my theory (you can take all credit) -- that you've both misbehaved -- and he'll probably be open to a discussion. Tell him that you just want to be able to love living with him and to grab his face and kiss him without tasting nicotine. Come up with new rules that you both can follow.
And invest in some major air filters. Put them all over the house.
And if you really want him to quit, if that's the bottom line, please be honest and tell him that. You're marrying a smoker. That's your reality. If he intends to smoke for the rest of his life -- if on cold winter nights he's going to be out on the porch with a pack of butts -- well, that's something to really consider. Better to draw a line in the sand before you walk down the aisle.
Readers? Am I right? Did they both fail? Can she ask him to quit? Is this just about adjustment after the move-in? Is this something they can learn to live with? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.