What Sober Guys & Men In Recovery Need To Do If They Want To Be GREAT Husbands

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loving an addict

Guys in recovery can be great partners ... here's how.

When I took the giant leap into post-recovery love, I had a lot of stuff to look at, and a lot of decisions to make about how I was going to do things differently this time around.

I get asked all the time how I learned to become a good husband with my track record of being such a bad one for so many years.

I usually say that I wake up each day with the question, "How can I make my wife's life better today?" And then I let her teach me.

Relationships are challenging enough in the best circumstances; but ask them to grow, let alone flourish, with “addiction” as a bedmate, and “challenging” becomes more like “against all odds.”

Relationships in active addiction are infested with breaches of every kind, and women in relationships with addicts often compromise themselves on every level.

In the aftermath of addiction, regardless of recovery and reconciliation, their trust is understandably shot — and it’s not coming back anytime soon.

Patience is the first key ingredient to any form of healing.

Now, obviously, this conversation can have a vantage point for both genders.

Addiction isn't choosy, and men can be on the receiving end as much as women. But today, as I contemplate my post-recovery second chance at love, I'm sharing my “experiential wisdom” as the male ... and the addict ... in the relationship.

When I reached out to the women on my email list, I wanted to know what they needed and were concerned about in dating a man in recovery. Across the board, the number one issue was TRUST — trust that extends beyond sexual fidelity.

This might be a good place to make a distinction between fidelity and faithfulness.

Yeah, the words get used interchangeably, and the claim that one has “been faithful” is usually a claim of no sexual misconduct. But fidelity, in my book, is really about keeping your knickers on, not flirting with sexual disaster, and essentially “not doing the wrong thing.”

Faithfulness, on the other hand, is a commitment to the greater good of one’s partner and the relationship as a whole.

And that's what gets me up every day asking, “How can I make her life better?” It's the difference between “What do I have to avoid?” and “What do I have to do?”

And isn't that a great metaphor for living in recovery in general — focusing on what we can do to improve our lives, and not just on how to avoid what will destroy it?

I am well aware that women today don't need a man to protect her from the big, bad world like she did 1000 years ago; but I've also learned that she does need (and deserve) the man in her life to provide her with a sense of safety and comfort, if only to nurture a rich environment in which her uniquely feminine qualities can flourish. In my marriage, I see that as my “masculine responsibility.”

My wife also needs me to adore her beauty and see it as a new gift that I get to unwrap each day, as opposed to something I receive once and it's mine forever.

This is partly why I'm not crazy about the traditional “til death do us part” vows — I believe a woman's heart should be pursued by a man every day.

Greg Behrendt, author of He's Just Not That Into You sums it up in a pretty black-and-white way, that I really relate to:

"Is he making you happy? I don't mean some of the time, on rare occasions, not that often, 'but the good still outweighs the bad.' Does he make it clear in his actions every day that your happiness is important to him? If the answer is no, cut him loose and go find a man with a higher 'good count.'"

Maybe you’re thinking there’s just too much shit to overcome and it would be easier to just ride it out until something better comes along.

As for me, I am totally into this woman I love, and I want to make sure she knows that because….

I’m also into experiencing everything about being a man, including intimacy.


Greg Boudle is a Life Coach, published author, speaker, and entrepreneur. After overcoming 30 years of struggle with addiction, he lives by the mantra that “your greatest struggles in life are the things you were born to teach”. He provides 1:1 and group coaching to folks recovering from addiction and their families. His books “Addict to Awesome” and action journal “Life Beyond Clean, 90 days to unf@#king yourself" can be purchased at Amazon.

This article was originally published at Life Beyond Clean. Reprinted with permission from the author.