Recently, he told me he couldn’t have our relationship progress if I ever smoked pot again. I didn’t take this well and freaked out. Now, please bear in mind that my family is totally cool with me doing it once in a while. My sister and I do it together all the time, and it’s really fun for us. My parents don’t care; my dad is a doctor and he says that everything in moderation is fine. I also believe it is far less harmful than alcohol, and I am speaking very objectively about it. They know, as does my boyfriend, that I am not the type who would allow any substance to get in my way–by the way, when I smoke pot, I am highly functioning and don’t just sit around–and he knows I would do it far less if it bothered him. I just could not believe he told me I could never do it again. We fought, and he asked me to compromise to once every two years.
I thought the idea of all this was just ridiculous. Why should it be a worry for him when it doesn’t affect our life in any way and wouldn’t if I lived with him. He says things like “no wife of his…” or “no mother of his child”… and it just infuriates me because it’s implying that I am not worthy of being his wife or mother of his child. I am wonderful, how dare he!
My question is, does he have the right to ask this of me? I find it so conservative and a little bit insulting. He says that my views that it’s okay are dumb and that he’s hurt I won’t give it up. I told him that I hardly do it now and if we get married I would never do it around him. However, if I hang out with an old friend or my sister and I want to do it because I enjoy it, then it is wrong of him to say I can’t. I just feel really weirded out by the whole thing and like I can’t be myself. Every time my sister makes a joke about it I cringe because I wonder how he would act once he’s part of the family. I don’t want to stop laughing or partaking in the jokes because I see nothing wrong with it. I don’t want to act like someone I am not. I think he should trust that I don’t have a problem since I only do it when I go on holiday. What do you think? — Holiday Pothead
Rather than debate the pros and cons of pot, I’ll stick to your specific question about whether your boyfriend has a “right” to ask you to stop smoking. The answer is, yes, of course he has a right to ask that — or anything else, really — just as much as you have a right to say, “Bitch, please.” It’s OK for two people to grow and change and evolve and decide that things they embraced or simply tolerated when they were younger no longer fit their lifestyles. Sometimes, those things are not things at all, but actual people. The truth is, after five rocky years together, filled with problems you’re still trying to work through, perhaps you and your boyfriend may have outgrown each other. Maybe it isn’t necessarily pot coming between you, but a multitude of differences that will be hard to overcome in the long run.
You talk about ongoing problems, feeling like you can’t be yourself with your boyfriend, worrying how he’ll fit into your family (if you were to get married), and how he’s implied that you aren’t worthy of being his wife or mother of his children. These issues are about more than just you smoking pot on vacation. I mean, come on. If you really feel like giving up pot when you travel means you have to start acting like someone you aren’t, clearly there’s more going on here. And if there isn’t — if the idea of not smoking pot when you travel really, truly does make you feel like you have to be someone you aren’t and that you’d have to give up “laughing and partaking in the jokes,” then perhaps the pot-smoking is a little more of a problem than you think it is.
Here’s the bottom line: It isn’t wrong of your boyfriend to have values that are different than yours. It isn’t wrong for him to have changed over the course of your five years together. It isn’t wrong for him to tell you that he doesn’t want his wife and the mother of his kids to smoke pot, a drug that is “highly illegal” in your country. And it’s not wrong for you to say, “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but I enjoy it, it doesn’t hurt anyone, I only do it in places where it’s legal, and I’m not going to stop doing it simply to appease you when it’s clear you and I share different values.”
There are lots of things couples can — and should — compromise on, but values aren’t among them. You can compromise on behavior, of course, but if your different values dictate your behavior, it may be impossible to reach a satisfactory compromise. When that happens, it may be time to move on. Your boyfriend is probably going to argue that you’re choosing pot over him. And in a sense you will be. So before you make that choice, make sure it’s one you feel confident in.
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