You deserve a fucking phone call.
And a helluva lot more, in my opinion.
Greg Behrendt is a call-it-like-it-is, no-BS kind of guy, and I can relate to that. Maybe because I’ve gotten comfortable being uncomfortable. His book of bite-size, even biting, quotables that followed the book He’s Just Not That Into You keeps women fueled by to-the-point reminders of what they deserve in their relationships with men.
And if men are smart, they’ll pay attention.
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 be a good husband after 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.”
Addiction riddles relationships with breaches of every kind, and women in relationships with addicts ultimately compromise themselves on every level. In the aftermath of addiction, regardless of recovery and reconciliation, their trust is understandably shot.
Now, obviously this conversation can have a vantage point for both genders. Addiction isn’t choosy, and men can be on the receiving end of its calamity just as easily 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 “today’s woman” doesn’t need a man to protect her from the big, bad world like she did 1000 years ago; but I’ve 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.
Behrendt sums it up in a pretty black-and-white way:
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.”
As for me, I am totally into this woman I love, and I am also into letting her know….