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Marriage, Sobriety, and Fatherhood: How to Optimize Your 2023 Strategy
I've found my priorities, have you?
I have been on a public journey of self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-acceptance for a few years.
I say “public” as my maturity, healing, success, failure, new beginnings, and mastery have all been achieved and shared on Twitter, Podcasts, and the articles within this Substack. While most of my contemporaries have focused on growing their social media influence, I’ve dedicated myself to figuring out who I was and what I stood for.
I look at my life and reflect on how, at 35 years of age, I’ve started a new job, taken on a new hobby, and created a new public event from which I can further share my message. Each of these has played out in the past month, and this tempo is a direct product of the many introspective moments I’ve had since I began writing in 2011.
The pieces are coming together, and the stage is set for me to know who I am and what I want.
While this may appear to be a simple thing to say, how many people do you know who are both aware of and live this in their lives?
Looking at it from a 30,000’ view, I believe a part of this growth has been due to a more mature and developed mind; it was in this exploration of self that I’d learned who I was as a man, where I wanted to go in life, and what the top priorities would be that I’d dedicate myself towards. I also made it a point to keep myself free from all political distractions and divisive events within the country. The decision to do so has paid off in spades; my focus is on me, and that example has bled into the family’s behaviors as well.
In this, I’ve concluded that my Marriage, my Children, and my Sobriety will be my top priorities as we head forward in the year; sub-categories that will also get significant attention will be finances, photography, and physical fitness.
The latter three are personal to me and my situation; the first three are areas I believe every family man should direct his distraction-free attention towards as they will leave an impact greater than anything else one could put their energy towards.
The Big Three: Marriage, Sobriety, and Fatherhood
Dialing in your marriage, sobriety, and fatherhood are integral steps to living a successful life, and the ability to enjoy the fruits of those efforts passes daily. You can ensure that 2023 is the year you find success and appreciation in life through an optimized strategy, which after this piece, you can hone in and execute.
This substack is dedicated to helping you achieve your goals and expand your awareness.
With the right approach, you can set yourself up for a future that includes a strong relationship with your spouse and a commitment to sobriety, which will allow you to be your best self without the preventable risk which exist in so many people’s day-to-day, and the necessary skills to being a great father to your children.
Marriage is a beautiful and complex relationship that requires effort to maintain.
To optimize your 2023 strategy for marriage, it’s important to consider both the internal and external components of the relationship. Externally, you should focus on building a strong foundation of communication, trust, and respect between you and your spouse. This takes the form of taking care of your body, not allowing stress to build, and maintaining a standard of hygiene and grooming. You should also make time for date nights, getaways, and other activities that help keep the spark alive in your marriage. With kids, the options may be somewhat limited due to time, funds, or babysitter availability; that’s fine so long as you get creative.
I’ve had lifelong memories made on nights when Jackie and I stayed in, but we made it a “thing”, to enjoy the time and night together, even if it was a picnic in the basement or backyard.
Internally, it’s important to work on yourself to ensure that you’re emotionally healthy and able to show up for your spouse in a way that strengthens your relationship. This includes committing to self-care, personal growth, and developing healthy coping mechanisms. If you want the marriage to be stronger, you have to be stronger, which means having heavy discussions. At some point, those talks need to be had, and in doing so, the weight of the past or present issues may be lifted.
Your marriage will not improve until you start addressing the parts where you are dissatisfied, free from fear of how your wife will respond. Speak your truth and show her where you’re standing and what you need.
For those dealing with substance abuse, sobriety is essential to a successful 2023 strategy.
Sobriety requires commitment, hard work, and dedication to staying on the path of recovery. It’s important to have a strong support system of family and friends who understand your struggles and are willing to help you stay on track. Now, that sounds like a nice requirement, but it’s unnecessary.
While my wife quit drinking with me, and we’re both 951 days sober as of today, I was ready to quit with or without her support or that of any friends or family.
I removed alcohol for me, not anyone else. If you’re looking to get sober for good, then you, too, will have to do it for yourself and not your wife, kids, or others - just for you because only you will be there, inside your head during those dark moments where the voice within will test your resolve. Nobody can help you at that moment, and if you don’t trust yourself and aren’t doing it for your reasons, that voice will exploit it and break your resolve.
A recovery plan is needed, and it should include various activities that help keep you focused on staying sober. These could include attending meetings, therapy, journaling, and engaging in hobbies that bring joy and satisfaction. One thing Jackie and I both did is we’d bring iced coffees to all of the parties we’d attend so when we got there, we already had a drink in hand and wouldn’t have someone placing alcohol in our palms.
At home, we have seltzers (club sodas), and we’ll mix them with ice and a splash of cranberry, which serves as a means to scratching the “making drinks” habit at the end of the day, minus the drunk.
In addition to marriage and sobriety, fatherhood is another important part of an optimized 2023 strategy.
For those who are already fathers, it’s important to focus on being present and engaged in your children’s lives, distraction-free.
Presence > presents
This could include setting aside time each day to talk to your kids, helping with their homework, and engaging in activities that bring joy to your children. For my wife and I, it’s about throwing a baseball around with our son and doing cheer workouts or crafts with our daughter; each gives my wife and me one-on-one time with each kid. We also get “group” time when we read together, go for walks, or have “family adventures”, meaning we go out and explore things in the community together - no agenda, just fun and connection.
It’s important to be a role model for your children by demonstrating healthy habits and behaviors.
If you’re looking to make 2023 the year you best connect with and develop your performance as a father, then you need to set the standard from which they will measure themselves. If you want to enjoy the company of your kids, you need to be someone whose company they enjoy; these pieces of advice are common sense, but few are applying them, so the sense is far from common.
Most men invest little to nothing in advancing their understanding of parenting or child development; it’s a “this is how I was raised” inadequate approach, to say the least.
You need to be less of a hyper-critiquer and more of a normal person who works to engage and connect with the kids on a level like you would another adult. This is what I mean by giving children “adult levels of respect”; you can’t treat your children as individuals who should be seen but not heard, then expect them to open up and enjoy your company - you wouldn't treat an adult like that and expect them to be cool with you, so why would you think kids are any different?
For those planning to become fathers in the future, it’s important to start planning for parenthood. This could include having important conversations with your partner about parenting styles and goals, taking parenting and child development classes, and developing financial plans for the future.
To me, it’s clear that for a married father, marriage, sobriety, and fatherhood are the big three when it comes to the most important aspects of life that require an optimized 2023 strategy to be successful. You can’t wing it here; these areas need your direct and intentional effort.
By building a strong relationship with your spouse, staying committed to sobriety, and planning for how you will be a great parent, you can set yourself up for living a life that is successful in offering you satisfaction, and that is often desired, rarely attained, sense of peace with who you are as a man.
With the right approach, you can make 2023 the year you set up the rest of your life for success and appreciation.
- Zachary Small
Fraternity of Excellence - This is my private men’s community dedicated to helping you become a better man, husband, father, and leader; FoE is a community that can help you improve your finances, relationships, physique and ultimately get you living the life you want to live.
Consultation Call - Let’s work one-on-one for a half hour, a full hour, or through one of the bundle deals. This is where you and I work together to ensure you get an individualized program and game plan to get where you want to go.
The SOBER Self (Private Telegram) - This is for those looking to have a sober private community where you can drop in, read others’ stories, see their milestones, and share a video or asks a question to people who “get it” because they’ve been there.
Fatherhood for Modern Times - This course will evolve as I provide new videos on how fathers can best be prepared for parenting in 2023 and beyond. What worked in the 1990s doesn’t apply anymore.