General Etiquette > general

S/O Smoky the Neighbor

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Greetings, long time lurker, first time advice seeker.   

My husband was supposed to quit smoking cigarettes as his wedding present to me.  That was about 3 and a half years ago.  He's relapsed, lied about it and quit again several times--blaming stress or his mental illness or just plain old addiction as an excuse when caught.  I do not excuse or condone his behavior, but I try to be understanding about the severity of cigarette addiction for some people.  I discovered his most recent slip up about an hour before he was hospitalized and almost died from seizures resulting from a toxic med combo.  During his hospitalization, he was placed in a coma for several days on respiratory support while he fought off a respiratory infection and recovered from his seizure .  When he was well enough to be taken off life support, he spent days coughing up all sorts of disgusting things.  Of course, he's vowed never to smoke again--I'd love to believe him.  My quandary, however, is not about my husband's behavior which would thoroughly derail my question at hand. End B/G

My husband is buddies with our downstairs neighbor who is a smoker.  On several occasions, I have discussed with said neighbor (Smoky) that smoking was a big deal breaker in our relationship for a number of reasons.  Specifically, while my hubs was in the hospital, I asked if he had been bumming my husband cigs recently.  He denied doing so.  In summary, I made it clear that sneaking cig's was a huge point of contention in our marriage.

My husband has been home for over a week and is STILL coughing and recovering.  Yesterday, he went downstairs to hang out with Smoky.   My husband called to ask if Smoky could use our washer and dryer (again) and I said it was no problem if they could manage to stick my wet stuff in the dryer.  Never mind that I had several loads of my own to do, he needed clean clothes for work, so I figured it wouldn't kill me to help him out.

Later that evening, during a rousing argument about the subject of smoking and destroyed trust, my husband advised me that Smoky invited him over via a text that said "Wanna come down and have a cig?"  I need some perspective and advice.  I am furious that Smoky knew a) cigarettes are turning into a deal breaker in our marriage b) my husband literally just got out of the hospital and was still recovering.  My husband did not smoke the offered cigarette, but I feel it was very disrespectful of Smoky to specifically offer that as the reason for them to hang out knowing full well my feelings on the subject and the state of my husband's health.  I am aware that my husband is a grown man who should be capable of declining on his own, but I don't understand why Smoky would go out of his way to test the situation.

I am a very frank person and my impulse is to tell Smoky directly that I feel his actions were disrespectful.  I also *feel* like telling him that next time he needs a favor (e.g. lending him $10, letting him use my phone, washer etc.), he should look elsewhere because I am not feeling very charitable towards him at the moment.  It's tricky since we live in the same building and his requests are often surprise ones delivered by him just knocking on the door.  I don't want to create long term animosity or enemies with person and his wife, I just feel his actions were as such that I want nothing to do with him.  An apology might help, but at present, I feel I would doubt it's sincerity.

How to proceed?  I don't want to misdirect any of the anger I feel towards my husband at Smoky, but I feel that his actions were really out of line.  Even if I don't give him a big speech about the cigarette deal, I am disinclined to continue doing him any neighborly favors and presume that he'd want to know why that's changed.   I'd also like to ask him to quit using my lawn furniture for his smoke breaks where he leaves butts everywhere in our green space. Important to Note: these neighborly favors are completely one-sided (us helping him out), so I have no obligations in that regard.  I really want to avoid flipping out on this guy.  Help!

I think it's fine to not want to do him any favors and it's fine to resent him for offering your husband a cigarette but if your husband wants to keep doing him favors that will be hard to stop.

I think you are misdirecting your anger towards Smoky rather than focusing on the fact that your husband has been lying and sneaking to smoke with someone.  That's not on Smoky, that's on your husband, and you can either choose to put up with it or call it a deal breaker for staying married.  Smoky is only acting this way because your husband has given him reason to believe that it is okay to ignore you and sneak around behind your back.  That is entirely on your husband unless he has been protesting or asking Smoky not to do this and has been ignored.  This is between Smoky and your husband, not you and Smoky.

You are under no obligation to give favors to Smoky.  You can just say no when Smoky asks for one or when your husband asks for him. 

As he is a neighbor, and a neighbor your husband spends time with, you should be polite to him.  But that only means a polite hello.  It doesn't mean you have to spend time with Smoky, have conversations with him, do him favors, etc. 

Of he or hubby does ask why you don't do favors for Smoky, you could just say that you are not required to do him favors.

Good Luck with your husbands addiction.  I had a relative who was addicted to cigs.  It's a really rough road.

Perfect Circle:
You can say no to favours. His laundry needs are not your concern and I certainly would not forgo my own as a favour to someone else.

But you cannot blame your neighbour for your husband's smoking. Your husband is an adult and he is 100% responsible for his own actions.


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