Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. My car isn’t your Woodstock: I was always sensitive to cigarette and pot smoke, but now I’ve become very allergic to it since my pregnancy. Like, I need to go to the ER because my esophagus swells up if I inhale it too long. Taking antihistamines can prevent an ER visit, but I’m still sick, miserable, struggling to take a full breath, and drowsy from the medication.
The in-laws live in a state where weed is still illegal, both medical and recreational, and my husband and I live in a state where it is completely legal. The legal status in their state doesn’t prevent my father-in-law from using pot (their house reeks of it), but he at least keeps it in the house. Whenever they visit us however, he goes crazy smoking everywhere. Replace the joint with a flask, and he’d be called an alcoholic. I have tried everything to ask him not to do it around me—from the subtle hint, to asking my MIL to talk to him, to flat out telling him his behavior is making me very sick (multiple times)—and he has continued anyway, usually right before we get in a car and I’m trapped with it. Opening the window only does so much. In restaurants and in my home, I can usually sit far enough away from him to be slightly more tolerable, but then my couch reeks for a week after and I have to wash everything.
What do I have to do to make him understand? Do I simply bow out of the visit as soon as he starts smoking? It feels rude, but I’m tired of trying to make him understand and hitting a brick wall.
A: You’ve tried being nice and hoping that he would be a reasonable, caring person and make some adjustments. That didn’t work. Now is the time to announce a rule: “This is a nonsmoking house and we can’t have you in our home or car or anywhere near me if you smell like smoke. This is to protect my health.” Actually, it would be great if your husband could be the one to announce it. And he should give a reminder when the in-laws arrive. I know this might cause some tension, but let me reassure you that it’s not unreasonable at all. You can soften the blow by having some edibles ready for him when he shows up. And if he still breaks the rule, he has to leave immediately.
My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year now, and I thought it was going well. I thought we were utterly trusting of each other. A few days ago, he sat me down and began to apologize profusely, and informed me that he had been suspecting me of stealing money from him. He explained that for some months he had been noticing increments of his cash was missing, and that his best friend Corey had told him the culprit was probably me. I was floored! Then he caught Corey in the act of sliding a wad of bills from my boyfriend’s emergency stash, and the truth was out. My boyfriend said he wasn’t sure about what Corey had been saying, but that he’d been subtly steering me away from situations where I’d have access to his cash, and that he’d mentioned several times that he thought he’d had more money in his wallet just to gauge my reaction. I didn’t notice at all! He apologized his heart out for not trusting me. I’m really hurt and now I’m wondering how I can trust him, knowing that he didn’t trust me?