Further Reading

Can I compromise with an MJ smoker I love?

Dear Stanton,

I am at the end of a two-and-a-half year relationship that is ending because of the marijuana habits of my boyfriend. He does it. I don't. He has never lied about the fact that he smokes pot, nor does he do it "behind my back". But it has simply never been a part of the relationship that the two of us have been cultivating; that is, the drug does not play a role in our day-to-day lives at all. The only times I've been with him when he smokes are at infrequent parties with his group of friends. He does, however, smoke it when people come to visit him at home and I'm not around, when he hangs out with a buddy or occasionally by himself.

This is a substance that has been integral in his life since he was a young teenager (his older brother got him started)and is something that he and his friends have done together for many years (he is 33). He describes it as something "ceremonial" and something that connects him to his friends and brothers. From a ethical or moral standpoint, he sees nothing wrong with the drug because to him it is just like coming home from work and drinking a beer — it relaxes you and is enjoyable.

I, on the other hand, have a philosophical problem with drugs in general — I don't believe in that sort of escapist mentality. I feel very uncomfortable in situations where joints are being passed around and everyone is high. People act very differently when they are under the influence and I guess I'd rather being around the "real" people. (Although a marijuana smoker would probably argue that people seem more "real" when
you are all partaking of the herb.) It's the same reason I do not choose to hang around a group of people who's main source of entertainment is getting wasted-drunk on Friday nights. It's not fun to me.

Anyway, the relationship between my boyfriend and me had progressed to the point where we began discussing marriage. And needless to say, the marijuana issue has become a real sticking point. At first, I was adament that he had to quit altogether, but he made it very clear that this was not an option for him. So I did some thinking and came to the conclusion that I could repress my natural "flight or fight" response in certain situations where it was present. For example, if the two of us were to go to a New Year's Eve party, I would not make a big deal about him smoking with his friends and just suck it up and deal with it. If he went on the annual After-Christmas-Hunting-Trip with "the guys", I would not obsess about the fact that he was getting high out in the woods somewhere. But I had to draw the line regarding marajuana in our future home (we do not currently live together). I've told him that I would learn to deal with his smoking when we are in situations like parties at other people's houses, or when we would go and stay with his brothers; but I could not be comfortable with it in my own home.

I feel like the one place a person deserves to be comfortable is in his own home. I don't want to come home from the grocery store to a high husband. I don't want to spend my time watching him get stoned. I don't want to be relegated to the living room to watch the kids while my husband and "Uncle Jim" step out to the back porch to light one up. I don't want to worry about my children finding a bag of weed when they dig through Daddy's filing cabinet. Being on the fringe of this activity makes me feel like a total outsider and very lonley because it's like the person I love leaves me for a while and is replaced by someone I don't know. Meanwhile I'm stuck sitting on the couch waiting for him to come back down to earth. His argument is, or course, that he is fundamentally the same person — high or not high— and I just don't accept him for the person he is. According to his perspective, I'm just looking to change him.

My boyfriend and I were raised in totally different environments and, while he was having these pschodelic experiences with his brothers and friends, I was being fed (in his words) anti-drug propaganda and occupied myself being the "good girl". According to him I have no idea what I am talking about because I have never experienced it. And in a way, he's right. I don't have the same points of reference as he does. I will never understand how it feels to be high on pot because I will never do it. I don't feel like I need to. All I know is how I feel when I'm around it now and how I feel when I try to think about a future life where it is something that occurs around me on a fairly regular basis. I want to feel safe and free in my own home. I don't want to have this constraint of worry. And whether its ridiculous (which my boyfriend thinks), or not, its how I feel.

My boyfriend argues that I just don't trust him. Since it's not something he does when it's just the two of us hanging out now, he's probably not going to start smoking it when it's just the two of us when we're married. I should trust him that he's not going to whip out a big joint in front of the kids. I should trust that he would only smoke "when appropriate". But his definition of appropriate differs from mine. He has friends who go and get high in the garage while their kids are in the house playing. To him, this is appropriate since the kids have no idea what is going on. He also has friends who have a young baby and just smoke right in front of it. This is "appropriate" because the baby is too young to know what is going on. I feel like any environment with illegal, mind-altering drugs in it is not appropriate for children. Period. To him, this opinion is just my " Polyanna" syndrome showing itself again. There are other ways to live life and I am just too closed-minded to accept this.

His friends and brothers smoke it far more often than my boyfriend does — some of them on a daily basis. I think it is potentially embarassing for him to think about having to tell his friends that they can't smoke pot when they come to visit. And I think that it is even more mortifying to my boyfriend that he would have to tell this to his brothers. This is what they do when they are together. He says that it would be very uncomfortable for his older brother to even come to visit if he couldn't partake. And to " force" his brother to take his drugs elsewhere to smoke where he would run a greater risk of being caught (because apparently it's impossible for him to go a few days without it) would be unthinkable. I maintain that people are generally willing (and happy) to abide by "house rules" when they visit other people. It may not be the way you run your life, but, hey, it's someone else's house and you have to respect that. My boyfriend feels that no one will want to visit if they no his house is a no-pot zone.

I feel like I have made steps to give him a compromise — he doesn't have to give it up, but it just won't be something that will be participated in at home. My boyfriend will not step any closer to my side, however. He says that pot WILL be around and he doesn't want to have a marriage based on conditions. I can see his point of view — nobody likes to be told what to do—but I also feel that this is a situation where guidelines need to be established.

Sincerely,
Ariel


Dear Ariel:

Gosh, this is a fascinating story. If you cut out the first sentence, you would never guess the conclusion as it went along. I have mixed feelings about your tale. First, let me say, it is extremely well-written. Second, I believe you are right in your decision. Third, it is such a relief to read a letter from a woman — unlike a woman whose boy friend or husband is ruining her life with their substance abuse — who resolves her course of action on her own, without asking someone to else to tell her what to do. But, I regret that your story could be use by the Partnership for a Drug Free America, because it is actually a story about something more complex than that, captured in your sentence: “My boyfriend will not step any closer to my side, however. “ Noble, perhaps, but self-destructive, it would seem. Your situation is a bit dicier than those of the women I cite, in that your boyfriend is not ostensibly a substance abuser, except that to ruin an intimate relationship due to substance use is a sign of a drug problem.

Stanton