QUESTION: Hi Dr. Chris,
I'm Derrick. I'm 24 years old. I'm educated. I'm aware of myself and of my past, meaning I know what makes me tick and why I tick the way I do. I'm also bipolar (off medication for 4 months) and I'm recovering alcoholic (sober for 3 years). Last but not least, I'm Christian and I'm religious. But I'm writing to you because I have fetishes that influence my every day life.
I have three fetishes. The main fetish is a smoking fetish. They branch off into fetishes for older women and crossdressing, of which smoking is included in both of them.
Short story. My father doesn't smoke. He divorced my mother when I was 5. My mother does smoke. When I was younger, she made it clear that I was to never smoke. I wan't allowed to have friends who smoked and I couldn't date girls that smoked. According to her, young people that smoked were stupid and trashy. She caught me smoking when I was 15. She was very harsh and I felt very bad about myself. I never let her catch me again, but I continued to smoke. I'm a closet smoker. Neither my friends or my wife knows I smoke.
When I was a kid, I used to wear my mother's clothes and smoke her cigarettes. Sometimes I pretended to be like her. Sometimes I pretended to be the kind of woman I wanted to have a relationship with. I've never been caught crossdressing.
After I graduated from college, I had my own women's clothes. I threw them out when I became involved with the woman who later become my wife.
I'm heterosexual. I dated only one female smoker in college and it was a one date thing. I either never came across many female smokers or I didn't know how to approach them. My first sexual experience was in college with a non-smoking girl.
I've never really liked girls my age. My preference has always been for older females that smoke.
My dream woman is: my mother's age, a smoker, a Christian, a good woman.
After graduation, I got a job, and moved away from home. I thought I would be able to start smoking openly in a place where no one knew me. I didn't do that. I still hid it. I then made a decision that I would meet and marry the woman of my dreams, so I looked for online and joined dating sites.
I found a lot of cougars that smoked and I had sex with some of them, but nothing serious happened until I met, Linda, the woman who would become my wife. I didn't meet her online. I met her at church. We started as friends and kind of inched into a romantic relationship.
She is 52 years old, but she's not a cougar. It took a lot of soul searching her her to begin a relationship with me. Linda is a super nice woman that smokes two packs of cigarettes a day. Not surprisingly, Linda is a lot like my mom. The two of them are like anti-smokers in the bodies of smokers.
Linda and I dated for 9 months and have been married for the last 4 months. My mother initially had a problem with Linda's age, but she is "warming" to her, because she sees I love her and she sees that Linda is a good person who loves me.
Lately, I've been feeling haunted. I'm haunted by church. Am I an awful person for having this fetish and marrying a woman who satisfies it. I'm haunted by Linda second guessing her marriage to me. She worries that her smoking and her age is unattractive to me and I'll wind up leaving her for a younger woman who doesn't smoke. She worries about me having to take care of her as she gets older and being a burden.
I'm haunted by what Linda would feel like or say or do if she ever caught me smoking. I've always wished that I could be open with her about my smoking. I've even thought of telling her about my fetishes, but I'm deathly afraid of a negative reaction.
A part of me wants to have a "grown-up" relationship with my wife. Another part argues that I enjoy being mothered by her and she does mother me.
I'm mad at myself for unwittingly involving another person in my fetish by marrying her. I'm also scared of losing her because she's the best thing that ever happened to me.
She also has two children from her first marriage. One son is 15 and lives with us. The other is 20 and away at college but comes home to visit. They are a big reason why I don't tell Linda that I smoke. I know she caught the younger one smoking before she even met me. I don't think it would look very good if he came home from school to find me smoking with his mom.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that this thing has just gotten so big and developed a life of its own, and I don't know what to do about any more.
ANSWER: Hi Derrick
An interesting question.
You do have a strong foundation about feelings for your mother your wife and ideas and pressure about what you should and shouldn't do. In psychological terms this is referred to as oedipus complex.
Smoking and age are just a part of this complex, other aspects usually focus on attire, hair style demeanour. Your bipolar disorder also allows you to develop an intrigue into the smoking aspects.
Should you talk to your wife? The answer is yes but temper any conversation with her with a strong degree of control and presentation.You need to start out with a tentative approach about your feelings on smoking and then build up to age and dress. Your wife is not stupid, she can understand about that fact that you are an individual with thoughts and desires.
Does she know about your bipolar?
Do you know whay she smokes?
Is her argument about her children not smoking well founded; can she back it up with evidence and substance?
Has she ever tried to stop?
You have a dilemma about how to talk to your wife. She mothers you and that gives you succour but you must start to be more adult with her.
Have a grown up conversaton with her about her children, what part should you play im their future. How do they see you? How do you want them to see you? How does your wife think they see you?
Following this vien you should soon feel how your wife views your approach to 'adult conversations' and it also helps you to develop some rapport with her on adult themes.
If this goes well then advance to more complex issues; if she begins to retract her feelings and switches to being a maternal figure then the next move is yours. Either be strong and push for a strong equilibrium between you or accept the maternal views and remain with this for the next five years before trying again.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Dear Charles,
Thanks for writing me back and giving me a lot to think about. You are right about the oedipus complex. My wife and my mother are very similar in physical appearance and in the way they dress and behave. They are both very attractive and ultra feminine and at the same time they are very conservative- Republican, Christian-Right. Even their cigarettes are feminine. My mom smokes Virginia Slims and my wife smokes More 120s. As far as my smoking fetish is concerned, style is very important. A lot of girls my age smoke like truck drivers. Both my mother and my wife smoke like movie stars and ladies. By the way, I have not crossdressed since I started dating my wife. There hasn't been a need because there is no longer a need to fantasize about the woman of my dreams- because I married her. However, I still notice and appreciate the way my wife dresses. She always wears make-up and prefers skirts and dresses over shorts and jeans. So yeah, I married a woman a lot like my mom. Psychologically speaking, they're a lot like in that department too. My wife is very dominant and demanding and controlling and manipulative and very authoritative. But at the same time, she's not a thug. She is "sweetly" in charge of things. And another thing I want to add is that whether she knows it or not, she smokes and uses her cigarette as a symbol of her authority. She points with it. She holds it between her teeth whenever she wants to playfully stare me down. She and my mom are both very dramatic smokers. It comes through in their gestures and the way they exhale when they're trying to make a point.
You asked some other questions about my situation. Bipolar? Yes, my wife knows I'm bipolar. She is the one who talked me into going off my medication. She thought I should try prayer. Prayer helps a lot. I also like being able to feel things things with more detail. My thoughts are a little more rapid and unfocused and my depression hits more frequently, but its not too bad and I think of it as kind of a trade-off.
Her kids are great and I like them a lot. They definitely had a problem with my age when I first started dating their mom and she told me to be their friend and never act like a father because they already have a father. I think they like and respect me. I know we get along well. They know their mother loves me. I have a good job and I contribute to the family, so I think they see me as more of a positive than a negative. But I think you want to know whether they view me more as an adopted brother or their mother's husband. I don't know how to answer that except to say that my wife is above us all in terms of the pecking order. All the decisions come down from her.
You asked if I know why my wife smokes? Yes, I think so. I know a lot about my wife's smoking, because I'm obsessed with it, though I try not to show it. I always ask questions with a poker face, like I'm not really interested when I really am.
My wife started smoking when she was 12, which would have been in 1974, which of course was before my time, but I've heard a lot of stories. Apparently, smoking wasn't such a bad thing back then and everyone did it. At least that's what she says and I believe it. She said her high school even had a designated smoking area for the students as long as they had their parent's permission. Linda said she started smoking because 1) Everyone else smoked 2) She wanted to be cool and grown up, and 3) She thought it looked sexy and she wanted to be more attractive to boys. (Yes, I like that one). Her parents gave her their permission to smoke openly when she turned 13. That's also when she got permission to smoke in school, because her high school started in the 8th grade.
Quitting. Linda has only tried to quit one time since we've been together and it only lasted a day. It happened 4 weeks ago after we got back from a weekend church retreat in the mountains. That's when she started having second thoughts about our age gap. The majority of the married couples were younger and very active. We were supposed to go with another couple who are friends of Linda's. They're in they're 50s too and they both smoke. However, that couple backed out at the last minute. Linda was the only smoker on the retreat and she felt self-conscious because of that and the age of the other couples. We went on a hike and she got winded because of her smoking and we had to stop, rest and then turn back. She wanted me to go on without her, but of course I didn't want to do that. It also bothered her that a lot of the couples on the trips had young kids and I didn't have kids and she couldn't give them to me. The thing is, we talked about that before we got married. I told her I didn't want kids. I told her the same thing again when she brought it up at the retreat.
Linda is a very attractive woman and I think she looks great for her age. Her breasts are pretty good sized but of course she's given birth twice and she's older, so they sag. Her body isn't like a 20 year old and that's great for me, but of course she doesn't get that. She can't understand why I'd want to be with someone who has the wrinkles and the extra weight and the sags when girls my age don't look like that. When we got back from the retreat she made an effort to stop smoking and start working out. The stopping smoking only lasted a day before she asked me to go to the store and buy her some cigarettes. The working out lasted about four days. And she got depressed when it didn't last. She thinks she failed me and of course I tell her that I'm happy and I love her the way she is and that she doesn't need to change for me.
I do light Linda's cigarettes for her as often as I can, and she likes that a lot. I always kiss her afterwards and tell her she looks sexy or beautiful. That's the smoking fetish in me trying to make her feel good about her smoking. And I really like to light her cigarettes for her. When we sit on the couch, I hold the ashtray on my lap so that she's comfortable and doesn't have to reach across to the coffee table. After we make love, I snuggle up next to her and lay my head on her chest while she smokes. That is my happy place.
You asked about when she caught her youngest son smoking. I wasn't there when it happened, but of course I talked to her about it. She just doesn't want him to smoke, because she thinks it isn't good for him and she doesn't want him to be addicted to smoking like she is. She and my mother are a lot alike on this point. They are both fond of saying that "things were different when they started smoking," It makes sound like a magical time for me, but I get what she's saying. She's basically saying it was more acceptable then and people didn't know how unhealthy and addicted smoking really was.
Another thing that my wife and my mom have in common about smoking is that they're both hypocrites. One minute she's talking about how bad smoking is. Another minute, she's talking about how much she enjoys it. That was one of the things that always got me when I was younger and still does today. Its like they're trying to keep something good all to themselves without sharing it. Logically, I know that isn't the case, but it feels like it emotionally.
I have always praised my wife while she is smoking, but I have never praised her because she smokes. Why? Because I want to encourage her to feel good and associate it with smoking while not giving away my smoking fetish. The same goes with her body and her aging. I never say, Wow Honey! I just love your saggy boobs. Instead, I touch her breasts and tell her that she's beautiful.
You didn't ask me how Linda feels about our age difference and how it affects her church life and her social life, but I want to talk about that for a moment. Linda was flattered that a younger guy could find her attractive and she said it was an ego booster. She brings up our age difference more than I do. Its on both our minds, but she's the one who talks about it most. She's definitely turned on by our age difference, but she doesn't want to feel like a pervert about it. In her mind, she's justified being with me as God's will, and she's just enjoying it. And that's what I always remind her of when she questions whether I would be better off with someone my age.
We live about two hours away from my home town, so I've adopted more of her friends than the other way around. I think I'm more comfortable hanging out with 50 somethings than she'd be hanging out with 20 somethings.
I've been trying to think about what I really want while I'm writing this letter. The main thing is that I want to stay married to my wife. I don't worry about her quitting smoking because I know she's not going to quit, and I'm trying to justify my fetish her. Sometimes I feel bad about underhandedly encouraging her to smoke. If I was a good husband, I'd be encouraging her to quit, but of course I can't do something like that. I would like to be able to smoke with my wife and have her accept me as a smoker. For that matter, I'd like it if my own mother would accept me as a smoker. But in the end, everything I want depends on her reaction to knowing how I feel.
I almost think my best bet is letting her know that I approve of her smoking and age and think its sexy without spilling all the beans. My biggest fear is being labeled as a freaky pervert. I don't want to upset her or shock her. I just want her to feel good about her smoking and her age and to know that being with her the way she is now is in my best interest.
I am concerned that you have come off your meds for bipolar. I would suggest that you do have a conversation with your GP just to aware of what the situation is if you do continue away from them. Prayer can help in many cases but sometimes medication is also a very good support just to give God a helping hand.
Talk to her but take things in small steps, so age, then smoking and so forth.
You are both practical and mature people, but I do urge you to be very aware of your possible change in mental attitude that you may be completely unaware of.