Relationships Are Tough—Can Smoking Them Worse?


cigarettes in an ash tray

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Can quitting smoking save your love life? The answer is maybe. Experts have studied tons of data to uncover the holy grail of what makes a successful partnership, including whether a couple's smoking habits can predict if a partnership will survive.

So where did researchers land? While there are many factors in why a relationship might end in divorce, experts generally agree that if only one partner in the relationship is a smoker, the chances of divorce are higher compared to couples where both partners are smokers. The percentage difference between these insights vary according to a number of separate studies, but generally speaking, the numbers are substantial enough to raise eyebrows. Learn more about the links between smoking, marriage, and divorce below.

Studies That Link Smoking and Divorce

There are a number of studies that indicate smoking and divorce are related. A 2009 study by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in Australia found that the risk factor for divorce among married couples with a single smoker is 75 to 90 percent more likely than couples who both smoke.

Those numbers sound startling—so what do they actually mean for our relationships? Journalist Tara Parker-Pope, author of For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage shared some insight into what makes a successful marriage. In 2010, Pope said in an interview with The Daily Beast, "The more similar people are in their values, backgrounds, and life goals, the more likely they are to have a successful marriage...from age to ethnicity to unhealthy habits, dissimilarities between spouses increase divorce risks." A 2015 study supports this notion. In the study that surveyed nearly 20,000 heterosexual couples over 15 years, results found that couples with similar health behaviors––including factors involving smoking, exercise, and drinking––experienced a reduced rate of divorce. But here's the catch: The risk for divorce is higher in couples where both partners smoke, drink heavily, or don't exercise regularly.

Should I Quit Smoking to Save My Relationship?

So, when it comes to love, do opposites really attract? And if they do, can they stand the test of time? It's difficult to say. There are many factors that can determine whether or not your relationship will last. Smoking is a personal lifestyle choice and so is how you choose to move through your relationships. However, if you're motivated to quit smoking––whether it's for the very first time or for good, there are many ways to get started. It can't hurt your health or your relationships to try, after all.