Recovering Nice Guy & Happy Man Coach
THE SHORT VERSION
Hello brother. My name is Charles McKeever. I have been married 24 years, have one grown child, one teenage child, and live in Austin, Texas. After reading No More Mr Nice Guy, I began a journey to reconnect with my masculine and eliminate “nice guy” behaviors that were negatively affecting all areas of my life.
Since then I have learned how to be a calm, confident, loving, playful, unshakeable, open and inviting man, comfortable in my own skin and reconnected with my joy.
If you feel insecure, anxious, attached to outcomes and negatively affected by the emotions of your wife, girlfriend, or some other female in your life. If you want to make a real change in your life, let’s talk.
I offer both group coaching and private one-on-one coaching for men like yourself who want to stop beating themselves up mentally, build their confidence, and quit playing small in life. You can be a happy man again.
Two days before Halloween my wife said, “I don’t think I want to be married anymore.” We had been married 21 years.
THE LONGER VERSION
On October 28, 2018, two days before Halloween my wife said, “I don’t think I want to be married anymore.”We had been married 21 years at that point. Our 22nd anniversary was coming up that November 15th.
We sat on a park bench in our neighborhood and I cried. I felt like my life was over. I felt like a failure as a husband, as a father, as a man. I wasn’t happy either, but I wasn’t ready to call it quits. I just didn’t know how to fix it. Fixing it was what I had always done, but this wasn’t something I could fix and now she was saying out loud what I had known for the last two years, if not longer.
We didn’t know what to do next, so we just continued to live together. I started looking for men’s groups in the Austin area. I eventually found a No More Mr. Nice Guy group in Austin and I attended a few weeks of meetings. The men there were friendly, but we all sat in a circle and just gave updates about how life was going for us. I felt like I needed more, like I wasn’t moving forward. So, I started Googling for answers. That’s when I found my mentor and men’s coach.
At first I just watched his videos and read articles in his newsletter. I was learning a lot and decided I wanted to go deeper. So after a 1.5 hour call with him, I decided to hire him as my men’s coach.
I needed someone to help me see what I couldn’t see alone. I needed someone to hold up a mirror and give me the tools I needed to make serious lasting change in my life. I was excited to have finally talked to a man who understood me and could help me.
On December 27, 2018, two days after Christmas my wife said through her tears, “I can see you are trying, but my feelings have not changed and I feel like a fraud.”
I said, “Okay, as I see it we have two options. 1) We can file for divorce and just call it quits now or 2) We can try a trial separation and you can see if this is really what you want.”
She agreed to the trial separation, so we told our son (18) and daughter (15).
Our son took it hard. Our daughter took it in stride.
Since my son was 18, I gave him the option to continue to live in his same room at home with his mother and sister or he could move in with me. He decided to go with me, so that day we went out apartment hunting together.
We left mid-morning around 10am and returned early evening around 4pm with a two bedroom apartment secured.
My wife was very surprised. She said, “You got an apartment already! That was fast.”
I said, “That’s what we agreed to, so I’m honoring our agreement.”
I then loaded up my most important items in our family van and began moving into the apartment, which was only a short 10 minute drive from the family home so I made multiple trips back and forth to move my stuff out. When I have my mind set on completing a task, I get very focused, so I didn’t notice what time it was or that the sun had set, until I was making my way up the stairs in the dark for another arm full of my clothes.
Suddenly I was keenly aware that I did not want my kids to have a life long memory of Daddy packing up his stuff and leaving in the middle of the night.
So after I loaded up my clothes, I told my wife, “I have what I need for tonight. I can move the rest of my things tomorrow. I don’t want the kids to feel abandoned in the middle of the night. So, I want to drop off these items and then come back home, watch TV with the family, and have a “normal” evening. Then when it’s time for bed, I’ll give out kisses and hugs and then I’ll go back to the apartment. Is that alright with you?”
She agreed and that’s what I did.
For the most part it was a normal evening. When it was time for bed, I kissed my kids, told my wife to lock up behind me, and I went back to my empty apartment with my things scattered around on the floor.
I was 46 years old, had worked hard all my life, had tried to be perfect, had tried to make everyone happy, had put myself second, had done all the things I thought I was suppose to do, and still I was turning out the light in an empty two bedroom apartment alone. How did I get here?
I slept inside a sleeping bag on an air mattress that night. I remember it was cold in the apartment and I was physically and emotionally exhausted, which was a good thing because I needed to sleep. I wrote a few entries in my journal, turned out the light, and buried my face in my sleeping bag. I was 46 years old, had worked hard all my life, had tried to be perfect, had tried to make everyone happy, had put myself second, had done all the things I thought I was suppose to do, and still I was turning out the light in an empty two bedroom apartment alone. How did I get here?
The next morning was soul crushing. The light from the window and the fact that I had to pee woke me up, but neither were motivating enough to get me out of bed. I just lay there, staring at the ceiling wondering how the hell I got here in life and what was next. My brain was flooded with thoughts and emotions from the time my eyes opened. I was having a hard time processing it all. All I could do was breathe deep, in and out until I could get some mental space to decide what to do next.
The silence of the apartment was deafening, so I decided to talk to myself out loud. “Okay Charlie. Let’s take it one step at a time. What’s the very next thing you need to do today?” My brain was still overwhelming me so all I could handle was focusing on making it through the day one step at a time. “I gotta pee!”, I said out loud to myself. “Okay, then get up and go pee. Don’t think about anything else. Just go pee.”
When that was done I said out loud to myself, “Okay, Charlie. What do YOU want to do next?”
At this point in my journey, I had started three months of men’s coaching on November 13th, 2018 and my coach had encouraged me to start thinking “inside out” instead of “outside in”. He encouraged me to start asking myself what I wanted instead of always thinking about what everyone else wanted.
So, I decided, standing there alone in that apartment, with my stuff still laying on the floor, that I wanted a cup of coffee.
“Okay. Then just focus on making coffee.”, I said out loud to myself.
Then I said out loud, “What’s next, Charlie?”
“A shower. I need a shower.”, I said.
“Then go take a shower.”, I said out loud to myself.
From there I checked in on some work, moved items around the apartment, and decided to spend the day moving the rest of my stuff into the apartment and buying some groceries to fill my empty cabinets.
What happened next was a series of painful days and nights where I worked, engaged in outside social activities, and tried hard to give her space and respect the spirit of the trial separation.
To give her space, I went radio silence on texting and phone calls. I did not send her love notes, or message her to “check in”. Oh, I wanted to, but my previous needy behaviors had led me to this station in life, so I resisted every urge to reach out to her and tell her how much I loved her and how much all of this was killing me inside. It was extremely hard and each time my brain would bring it up, I would talk to myself out loud and remind myself that reaching out, texting, calling, dropping by the house would just make things worse. I decided that if she contacted me, I would reply, but only enough to maintain connection and not to make myself feel better.
Getting messages from her was gut wrenching. Each time she would send me a message I would spiral into a storm of thoughts and emotions. I would assign meaning to everything and analyze each word and emoji. What did that mean? Was she regretting her decision? Does she still love me?
I was a mess.
After I moved the rest of my things into the apartment, there was no need to go to the family home except to visit the kids and pet the family dog, which the dog didn’t really seem to miss me all that much, now that I think of it. Man’s best friend? Not in this case 😉
Now that I was not around the house all the time, I wanted to stay connected to my kids. So, I took them go cart racing, texted them good night each night, and told them I loved them. Other than that, I stayed away so she could feel what it was really like to not have me around.
Eventually, she sent me a text to say she had made dinner for her and the kids and if I wanted to stop by to eat, that would be okay with her. So occasionally I would eat at the family home and she and I would talk. The rest of the time, I cooked for myself and practiced living as a happily divorced man, which is what my men’s coach encouraged me to do.
So, I would reply when she initiated contact, but otherwise I maintained my distance to give her space to think.
One night after dinner, she cried in my arms in the backyard and said, “This is so hard!”
I agreed and held her while I was dying inside.
After several weeks of living apart, I invited my wife and kids over to see the apartment. I thought that since the apartment was the place our kids would be staying on occasion, it was a good idea for everyone to see the space.
At this point I had all the basic appliances I needed. I had a coffee maker, new bath towels, a used rug I bought off of Facebook Marketplace, and I was starting to wonder if I should buy real furniture. Up to that point, I was using two lawn chairs and a patio table as my living room furniture, so you know, classy stuff.
Buying furniture was more of a daydream at that point because, I was also paying for two households. I was paying all the bills and the mortgage for the family home and paying for an apartment, and I was paying for men’s coaching, which I felt was extremely important to continue for myself. If I was going to start over, I didn’t want to make the same mistakes all over again.
A lot of changes happened in a short period of time. I had started taking improv classes in November of 2018 with the goal of getting out of the house, reconnecting with my sense of humor, and to learn how to better flow with other people. Up to that point I had no hobbies, no friends, and no activities outside the house. My wife was my world and that world wasn’t there anymore.
I also signed up for an axe throwing league in early December 2018. I saw it as a fun, badass activity that got me out of the house every Sunday night and gave me the chance to meet new people. Now that I was living in the apartment alone, improv class and axes were a very welcomed distraction from being alone in the apartment with my thoughts.
Another important change happened when I traded in my car in for a used Chevy Volt. I didn’t discuss this with my wife because I felt I needed to take care of me and it wasn’t a decision I needed to consult her about. Prior to the separation and men’s coaching, I looked to her for approval on all major and even many minor decisions. That and many other Mr. Nice Guy behaviors had led us to this point in our relationship, so I was not interested in continuing those behavior patterns.
If I was going to be a divorced man anyway, then I needed to envision a future without her and that meant getting clarity on what I wanted, who I was, and what I was about.
One morning, while having coffee at the house, my wife said, “I love you. I don’t want to lose you. I don’t want a divorce.” This was roughly seven weeks after the start of our trial separation. I was glad to hear her say these words, but I had been working on myself with my men’s coach, so I also understood that this was how she felt, “right now”. Less than two months ago, she wanted a divorce and this meant that her feelings could change.
I said, “Okay. I love you too. I’m glad to hear that. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll keep the apartment for a bit longer so you can make sure this is what you want.” I kept the apartment for the rest of the month then I moved back to the family home. But that is not the end of the story.
What came next was an incredible personal transformation fueled by three months of men’s coaching with my mentor, reading a ton of relationship books, watching videos, reading articles, traveling, and having deep connected conversations with high value men.
When my wife first said, “I don’t want to be married anymore”, I was anxious, fearful, frustrated, hyper nice guy, needy, sought outside validation, used sex as a marital benchmark for success, was burnt out professionally, had no friends, no hobbies, and I worked all the time.
Today, I have friends all over the world, love photography, throw axes in two leagues, enjoy hiking, spend time with my kids, work when it’s required and take plenty of time for myself. I no longer seek anyone’s validation. If they like me, fine. If they don’t like me, fine.
My internal world is peaceful. I have slowed way down, on everything. I enjoy waking up at 6 a.m. to have coffee, read, and have time to myself.
I have a better long term view of everything. Sex is no longer a benchmark for success and when we do have sex it is satisfying and connected. I am learning to spend more time touching my wife without expectations of sex. Hugs, kisses, and dancing in the kitchen are no longer agenda driven. When I do directly invite her to be intimate, I don’t get upset if she declines. I just move on to the next thing knowing that we will come together eventually and that we are just not in the same space in that moment. This has been huge both for her and for me.
I have NUTs around how I am treated and how I treat others. I am kind to people without being a people pleaser. I only laugh at jokes I think are funny and if I’m not interested in a conversation about something, I’m up front and honest about it. I call out the moments that I’m feeling off and own the moments when I need space for myself.
I give my wife space and listen without fixing or judging. As a result she opens up to me and seeks me out when she hasn’t seen me for a while. She no longer avoids me and even invites me to go with her places. When I want to go, I do. When I don’t want to go, I tell her to have fun and I’ll catch her next time.
I now take the lead on planning things and I don’t leave every decision to her. When I want to do something I make up my mind to do it and I invite those I think would enjoy coming along. If they decline the invite, I go on my own anyway. I don’t play victim, or tell myself stories. I’m vocal about what I want and I recognize that I won’t always get what I want and that’s okay.
What I have learned and continue to learn on this journey is what I want to share with you, a man who is ready to listen and take the first steps toward being the man you want to be and to live the life you want to live.
This journey isn’t for anyone else but you. It’s not for your wife, your girlfriend, your kids, your family, your friends, your co-workers, or society as a whole. This journey is for YOU, so you can live a fully expressive life, so you can fully be the man you were born to be, the man you know you are inside.
You can be the man you want to be.
You were born okay. You were born with joy. You were born happy and you can be happy again. You can reconnect with your masculine, have friends, have a healthy relationship with someone who wants to be with you, earn what you want to earn, and simply live in the world, calm, confident, and pleased with who you are being.
If any of my story resonates with you or you would like to talk with someone about improving your confidence, connecting with your masculine, dealing with separation or divorce, feeling worthy or not enough, or other issues you are experiencing as a man, then let’s set up a time to talk. You don’t have to go through this alone. You are not required to join a men’s group or hire a men’s coach. Just be willing to take the first step by reaching out and starting a conversation with someone who understands, will listen, and who cares about you.
Much love brother,
Happy Man Coach