Dear Life Matters,
I am very much in love with my girlfriend, who I have actually asked to marry me. I want to spend my life with her but she is adamant that I no longer smoke pot or she will not marry me. I guess our engagement is on hold.
I need pot for stress and back pain. I do not feel I should just give in and allow her to control me and I really feel I need to have my pot, at least occasionally. But I do not want to lose her either.
Please help with any suggestions you may have. I am really in a contrary position.

Dear Contrary,
I have to say what I will probably end up repeating, and that is healthy and happy relationships require “room for two!” If you are truly in love with each other you will have to come to some sort of compromise. Being able to understand the other and reasons that they may feel the way that they do is critical to a good relationship or marriage.
Empathy and aggression, or in this case anger (aggressive feelings), are inversely related. As one goes up the other goes down. Let me be clear though, that empathy is not sympathy. Many people think that it is one and the same. It often leads to sympathy and compassion, but it is not one in the same. Empathy is the ability to be truly attuned to the other, to vicariously share in their subjective experience. In other words, you need to really be able to put yourself in each other’s shoes.
So before you dig your heels in, try to find out and understand why she is feeling the way that she is. Also, maybe you need to think about why pot is so important to you or is it just that you don’t want to be told what to do?
In terms of pot, there truly are other ways to get stress release and also to manage back pain. Is this really the issue or do you just like getting high?
Strive to be honest with yourself and then try talking with your girlfriend.
Also, it sounds like you may smoke frequently if not daily.
To put it in perspective and to understand some possible reasons she may feel the way that she does, please understand that pot does put you in a different state of consciousness and if she does not smoke as well, then she may not feel the same connection with you that she would like to feel. That is actually a compliment to you.
Smoking pot is also a carcinogen; perhaps she does not want you to get cancer.
Also, if you have children, the secondhand smoke can and would affect them.
Finally, she may see something that pot is doing to you that you cannot see in yourself.
Now, on the other hand, I would guess you have been together for awhile if you have asked her to marry you. Isn’t this something she has known about you or did she just discover it?
If she has known all along then I would wonder about her co-dependency and whether she has had an agenda to change you.
Obviously, you do need to talk about this dilemma you are having.
I am a big believer in premarital counseling, which can be obtained with just the two of you, or in a group setting with other couples considering marriage.
It really does help you to be clear about each others’ expectations and fantasies about what the marriage will be.
Marriage can be difficult and we have seen many deciding not to marry and of those who do, about half end in divorce.
It really sounds like you need this kind of help and I hope she would agree to it, before you get married.
If you give up smoking pot just because she demands it, you will probably resent her. Not a good place to start in a marriage.
As I said in the beginning, there needs to be room for two. There has to be room for both of you and communication and compromise is critical.
It really sounds like you are at a standoff and that is not indicative of love.
I would recommend that you have her read this or that you go to her and tell her that you love her and want to work this out but probably need a little help to do it.
The help is confidential, supportive and kind. Hopefully, you can resolve this. Good luck!

Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at or send your anonymous inquires and replies to Got something on your mind? Let us help you with your life matters, because it does!

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