Eep! Brave, brave woman!
Alright, so first off nicotine is what is referred to as biphasic. It acts as both a stimulant and a relaxant over time. This causes an additional problem because the blood titration level where each user is most comfortable is different. And, because of the rapid fall off of the effects, the user has to increase intake to maintain the blood titration.
Additionally, it's rumored that the more popular brands typically incorporate sugar into their chemical formula. As if an addiction to the nicotine wasn't problematic enough!
Personally, I took my first dip of ... um.. Skoal? Copenhagen maybe, on the playground when I was eight years old. By the time I was fourteen, I was a right proper little thug, walking around town with a dip in my lip, a chaw in my jaw, and puffing away on a cigar I didn't know I wasn't supposed to actually inhale.
I quit, the first time, for a class in addictive behaviors. As part of the class assignment, we were supposed to chose something to give up for the duration of the semester. Every Tuesday, we would get together with our "support group" of three other class members to discuss how it was going. At the time, I was a recent transfer from engineering over to the "soft" sciences and didn't really buy into the whole newfangled (at the time) "disease concept of addiction". One of my group mates thought they were going to be smart and give up something they had hated their entire life; green beans. Being pretty well full of myself, I chose to give up both nicotine and caffeine in all forms. (In addition to my tobacco usage, I was putting away a thirty cup percolator of coffee by myself every night working the over night shift.)
I got caught the very next session. I was bragging that I was doing just fine. WHILE chomping on my third Snicker bar. And had it pointed out to me there was caffeine in Chocolate.
But, that was the only time I slipped. For the entire semester.
My classmate who gave up green beans, snickering up her sleeve, found herself craving green beans for the first time in her life. (Granted, I probably didn't help since I switched from Chocolate bars to battered and fried green beans for a snack. Hey, she shouldn't have laughed so hard about the chocolate fiasco.)
The day of the final, I turned it in, aced the class, and was met at the door by my two best friends. One had a carton of cigarettes and the other had a thermos of coffee. Apparently I was an even bigger asshole without them than I was with them.
I've given it up a couple of other times, but my experiences from then pretty much held common.
Setting aside the whole nicotine plus sugar addiction, there are also the behavioral considerations as well that most people, even smokers trying to quit, typically don't think about.
What do you do with your hands? One of those worry stones or newfangled spinners can help a little there.
What do you do with your mouth? Sucking on hard candy only helps minimally.
Time seems to pass more slowly. This is even more true while doing tasks once completed while smoking.
Smokers tend to be more sociable, believe it or not, than non-smokers. At least according to one little old lady on oxygen who frequented the Bingo hall my wife used to drag me to. She preferred to sit in the smoking section, because according to her, the people in the non-smoking section got on her nerves.
But, how do you fill that social void when all the people you used to chat with on break are out on the smoking section? Particularly when everything anyone says to you is too loud and too abrasive on frayed nerves?
And then there is what my classmate ran into. For certain personalities knowing you can't have something makes you crave it more. In her case, for the first time in her life.
Sounds seem louder. Sights seem brighter. It feels like you are nothing but a giant walking nerve ending. And for no really good reason once you stop and evaluate just what it was that person did that aggravated you. Which just makes us aggravated with ourselves and in turn causes us to lash out again. In a very real way, the nicotine has fogged the lens we've seen the world through for a long, long time. And, in a very real way, the way we deal with stress has been blunted to the age when we took up nicotine as our primary coping mechanism. We find ourselves having to learn the coping techniques non-smokers picked up while we were lighting up.
How can the spouse help during this time?
Understanding. Support. Love. Understanding. Devotion. A little more support. And a whole lot more understanding.
Grant me the serenity to accept what I can not change, the courage to change what I must, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Best of luck to the both of you!