While reading the few recent threads posted over the last few weeks, I got to thinking about my power dynamics inside and outside my relationship(s) and my work and social life, both currently and pre-Taken-In-Hand. It has occurred to me that I may, perhaps, be a little hypocritical in regards to my beliefs and actions. This doesn't necessarily present a problem for me, and I've reconciled my feelings and beliefs within myself. I do, however, find it a bit curious.
I deal mostly with men, day to day, in my job. The main part of my job consists of fixing technical problems, repairing electrical and electronic equipment, specifying technical systems for jobs, project management, and lots and lots of talking with architects, engineers, contractors, and other myriad tradesmen. I get a lot of the macho, pat me on the head, don't take me seriously, “It'll be okay little darlin'—I'm a man and I can take care of it,” or worse, complete and utter disrespect and disdain, because I am a woman. I refuse to put up with this kind of behavior from the boorish, clueless, prejudicial chauvinists. Most other times, I come across the respectful but dominant type who expect to be able to bully me into acquiescence. Even these types, who will be respectful and listen (but ooze an air of dominance), are off-putting to me. I know what I am doing, and when it comes to the equipment I am trying to discuss and instruct them about, I absolutely demand their attention and compliance with any requirements, specifically relating to installation and operation of this equipment. If they usurp my authority and decide not to follow my instructions, I can be a real ball buster—a force to be reckoned with. To an extent, I tend to get a kick out of standing my ground and being in control. It's a rush to come out on the other side of a challenge with their respect, grudgingly, or not. In a work or social setting, when I sense weakness, in women or men that I work with, I remain respectful and civil, but I find myself in a constant state of irritation. I would much prefer to deal with the chauvinist, or the dolt, than the indecisive, hesitant, nervous type. I don't do well in the reassurance department, other than when my children are involved.
I work with my significant other. We've been together for most of 11 years, now. He's the boss at work—not only over me, but over our entire (small) company. He's the top dog, and runs the place. We have an excellent relationship at work. His niche in our industry is a little different from my own. If not for me, he would likely get rid of the sales/service/installation portion of our business. His focus is elsewhere. Our agreement was that he would let me do what I wanted, and grow what I wanted, provided I could at least cover my salary and my costs. In turn, he would leave me virtually autonomous. He does not question me, he does not micromanage, he interferes in no way with my little portion of our company, other than to be there with a friendly ear if I need to bounce something off him, or on the rare occasion I don't feel comfortable making a large financial decision, and to keep a very distant eye out and make sure things are well. He is ultimately my boss, but he treats me as an equal. I can't ever recall a time where he has pulled rank. Sounds like the ideal, laidback wonderful boss (and he IS!).
Hehehe—here's the twist. He is the head of our household. It's his way or his way, and I am expected to obey. He is the leader of our home, and there is no equal power or say-so. When I walk in the door (or even when I am away, as I travel a lot), he's a totally different kind of “boss”. He's very particular about certain things, and insists that I accept his authority. It's a night and day difference. He does not let me roam free and on an unlimited leash with pretty much unlimited say-so, as he does at work. I'm expected to ask before spending money (that's OK—see below), call with updates when I am out of town for business, and just generally keep him in the loop. It sounds like common courtesy, and generally, it is, but the difference is that there are consequences if I forget to—or decide not to—do as I am expected. I'm expected to do other not-so-common things, like go to bed at a certain time, and not wear clothing when in bed with him.
I am so completely in charge and dominant in my professional life. I am really dominant in general, I suppose—except in our relationship. It literally changes me. I just simply respond in a way that is so completely different from the rest of me—from the me that I present, genuinely, I might add, to the rest of the world. My dominance and control out in the world isn't faked or forced, but neither is my acceptance of his control and authority. It simply puts me in a different place...and naturally!
At work, I virtually demand that I am allowed to spend what money I need to in order to perform my job correctly, and I honestly think I would resent it if I had to ask permission. At home, I have a very serious issue with money in general (opposite what you may think—I am a NON-spender). I spent many years with no money and in much financial stress, and I don't like to spend a single dime (actually, that goes for work too). If it were not for him, I would be in a constant state of distress at the mere thought of pulling a dollar out of my wallet to pay a bill or purchase something. I can't spend money. I freak out! I am always afraid of not having enough in the event of some strange unforeseen event or emergency. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop and for us to run out of money, with some catastrophe ensuing. We, of course, do not run out. All the bills get paid, almost always on time. We have what we need, for the most part. The children get generous gifts (and they deserve them) on birthdays, holidays, and when they've done something extra-special to earn such. I am so very thankful he is able to handle our finances. I could cope, if I had to, but I certainly would not be as happy and relaxed and secure-feeling. It's so much better to be able to simply ask if I can have something I need, and be told yes, or no (it's never a no for anything unless there's a legitimate reason).
I believe I have always had this need to be taken in hand, in a relationship. I haven't always known it, and when I first got an inkling of what I wanted, I was afraid and denied it. I tried to be stronger and more dominant, in the hopes that I could just convince it to go away, or overcome it. I find it curious that I can (virtually) seamlessly slip between these two roles now—and that I've reconciled both as such that I don't resent or fear either one. I enjoy me—and all the opposing parts. Back when I discovered that consenting adults could exchange power, and what the many facets and ramifications of that were, I was very intent on understanding why I was the way I was, and was confused that I could be so completely different professionally, as opposed to personally. Before I discovered this Taken In Hand part of me, I was always in charge, in control—or at least I always endeavored to be. I didn't have much patience for people like me who wanted their man to be in control. I thought they were just uninformed, misinformed, or even weak. I mean, and then meant, no offense, it's simply how I felt. Discovering I was, in part, the very thing I had snubbed, was a real eye opener for me (hence my hypocrite comment). I find much amusement in the fact that I often get a bit frustrated with my situation and want to feel more control on a more regular basis.