How to Help your Significant Other Quit Smoking.

By: Thomas Hunter

Everyone has heard how difficult it is to quit smoking. When smokers try to quit, their family and friends would often like to know how they can help. Although smokers won’t quit until they have made the decision for themselves, once the decision has been made, a spouse can provide a great amount of support and encouragement.

Listen. Whether you are a smoker, ex-smoker, or nonsmoker yourself, the process of quitting is different for every individual. Once your spouse has announced his or her intention to quit, sit down and have a conversation. What are her expectations? What are his greatest fears? Work through the best ways in which you can help your spouse quit successfully.

Learn. Particularly if you are a nonsmoker, learn about smoking and nicotine addiction. Read up on the physical and mental aspects of quitting smoking, especially those associated with the method your spouse has chosen. It may be helpful to join a support group for the friends and family of smokers who are quitting and learn more about others’ experiences. The physical effects of nicotine withdrawal are strongest in the first month, but mental cravings will continue for several months. Learn methods to deal with these cravings, so you can help your spouse on a daily basis.

Be Patient. Feelings of anger, irritation, and depression are par for the course when a person is trying to quit smoking. As a supportive spouse, you need to be aware that some days will be more difficult than others, and keep in mind what your spouse is trying to achieve. If your spouse is taking out these feelings on you, wait until he is in a better mood and approach him for a conversation about how to better handle the situation. Make sure your spouse knows that you are completely supportive of her efforts to quit, but you would like to work with her to find better outlets for her frustration during the process.

Sympathize. If you are an ex-smoker yourself, you can empathize very closely with what your spouse is going through. If you are a nonsmoker or a smoker who has never tried to quit, you will not be as familiar with the process of withdrawal and recovery from nicotine addiction. When times get rough, take a few moments to put yourself in the place of your spouse, and sympathize with the challenge of quitting. If you are making plans for the two of you, keep your spouse’s efforts in mind—don’t make reservations at a smoky bar or restaurant that may be tempting. Or if you are a smoker, respect your spouse’s wishes and keep cigarettes hidden and outside of the home.

Praise. From day one, praise your spouse loudly and often. The praise may be in the form of a few words of encouragement or a small surprise gift. Whatever form it takes, your praise shows your spouse that you appreciate the hardships she’s enduring and will support her until she has successfully quit.

Be supportive. What, exactly, does this mean? Many of the actions described above fall within this mandate. Being supportive is an overall attitude toward your spouse’s attempt to quit—do whatever you can to ensure success and help him along the way. If you started the quitting process by listening carefully to your spouse’s plans and wishes, you will know just what to do to be supportive in your particular situation.

Don’t judge. The majority of smokers who try to quit are unsuccessful on their first try. A year after quitting, only 5-10% of quitters will still be smoke-free. If your spouse has a short relapse or is unsuccessful the first time quitting, don’t judge her or blame her. Nicotine addiction is extremely hard to break because of its physical and mental aspects. No matter how the effort to quit turns out, make sure you support your spouse and give him your unconditional love.

Conclusion. Keep in mind throughout the process of quitting that your spouse is making a healthier choice for you both. Even though there will be difficult times, the goal of a smoke-free house and lifestyle is well worth any temporary discomfort. Just be patient and supportive, and you will both be glad of the outcome.

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