Changing for myself

Someone wrote that for a woman to change herself for the guy would be to diminish herself, etc, and it struck me that that was how I'd always thought about myself. In the course of the frequent and tiresome rows with my husband I would ask myself angrily, “Why can't he just accept me as I am, why does he want to change me?”

And then I discovered this site, and was disconcerted and excited by what I'd found. I realised that my husband and I had been playing at having a Taken In Hand relationship for years, and I also realised that the times I had felt happiest was when, just occasionally, it had actually felt real. I also realised that my husband didn't really want me to change much, just minor things, and that it might not be the end of the world if I gave it a go.

I began to wonder if changing myself, just a bit, to make my husband happier, might actually make me happier too. Perhaps it would be better than continuing to have rows about the same things we'd been rowing about for 22 years. What if I just tried it and saw whether it worked or not? So I tried it, and found to my amazement that it did seem to work.

I found that it was actually more pleasurable to do what my husband wanted me to do than to argue with him about it. Not only did it make me feel calmer and happier, it was also incredibly sexy. I find it amazingly perverse that I, a rampant individualist who has always utterly loathed being told what to do by anybody, should actually like this, but I do. I find it quite easy (most of the time) to do what he tells me. And this makes it a lot easier for him to keep his temper too.

I don't feel at all diminished by having changed myself just a bit to accommodate my husband's needs, in fact I feel enhanced, happier and more peaceful. I don't want any more traumatising rows and shattering emotional experiences, I want peace, and I seem, on the whole, to have got it.

Last night we were listening to the couple next door having a stupendous row (a fairly frequent occurrence). They were going at it hammer and tongs and my husband said thoughtfully, “Maybe I should offer him the use of my workshop.” I don't think being Taken In Hand is for everyone, and I don't know if it's for the woman next door, but it does seem, rather strangely, to be for me.

Louise C

Take the Taken In Hand tour



Dear Louise,

Taken in hand or not, I think we do change a bit to learn to get along with another person. I'm sure I have changed a little to accommodate my husband and I know he has changed a bit to accommodate me.

I think the person who said it diminishes a woman to change in order to please her mate was talking about more sweeping changes. I'm sure we have all seen people, most often women, who have no personality of their own or if they do, gleefully submerge it the moment a man comes along.

You know the type. If he's a vegetarian, she will stop eating meat and begin preaching at anyone who does. If he loves fine literature, she will give up her Harlequin romances and start reading what he reads. And so on and so forth. Like a chameleon, she becomes a mirror image of each and every man, and thereby diminishes her own specialness.

That's not particularly attractive to any but the most gullible and egotistic of men. The rest see through it. Better to be yourself and attract someone with your own personality. And then STAY the person you are, keep your interests, keep your own friends, keep your own involvement with life.

Adjust on the small stuff...but don't become his yes-woman. It's the best way to bore a man to death.


Yes, I agree with you absolutely about not changing your personality etc, my problem always was that I never could seem to see that I could change my ways a bit without actually changing the essential me. I always felt that I shouldn't give in to my husband. He's capable of getting very, very angry, and sometimes he could get angry enough to frighten me, but at the same time I always despised myself for being frightened, and this made me more defiant and more determined not to give in, and it was a sort of vicious cycle. Discovering that I could change my ways enough to please him without changing who I essentialy am has been a very good thing for me.

I know that, in spite of my maddening ways, he has always liked my personality because of something he said to me years ago during one of our interminable and tiresome rows about my total lack of interest in housekeeping. I said to him rather bitterly:
"The world's full of women who are marvellous housekeepers and do everything perfectly, why didn't you marry one of those?"
"But they're not interesting!" he exclaimed "you're more interesting than they are!" I was astonished, it had never occurred to me that he found me interesting, it was quite the nicest thing he had ever said to me, and an enormous boost to my ego.

I don't know why I couldn't just adjust on the small stuff without it being within the framework of a Taken In Hand relationship, but it just seems to work for me.


Miss Louise: I would reframe this as not so much changing who you ARE but what you DO which is still very much who you are. Change is inevitable. Behaviors must change to facilitate a relationship. Maybe in making changes in how you respond to your husband, you are becoming more of what he enjoys and, ultimately, more yourself. If you were still behaving the same way you were 22 years ago, I'd say you do have a problem!

Changing what you do

Well, the problem in our marriage always was that my husband took the line that I should change, not in order to please him, but because it was what other people did, it was never "do this in order to please me" it was always "you should do this because this is how it's done, because it's what other people do -"etc etc. Unfortunately, I am the last person in the world who is likely to do something because it is what "other people do". Madly individualistic, his comments about what 'other people' did always used to enrage me. It used to make me absolutely livid when he would sometimes compare me unfavourably to other women he knew, his mother, his sisters-in-law, friends' wives etc, it just made me hate all those women like poison and be utterly determined not to be like them. I embraced Quentin Crisp's dictum "don't try to keep up with the Joneses, drag them down to your level", with enthusiasm, which would be fine if I lived on my own, but I don't.

I needed a personal approach, but my husband didn't grasp that, and nor, fully, did I. Now we do, things are better. We were always quite happy when we weren't having rows, now we seem to manage to be happy without the rows at all, which is nice. I'm probably being a bit over-optomistic in saying "at all", but it has been over three months now since our last one, and the average used to be about one a month, so we must be getting something right.

what about men are they gonna change?

I see what your saying about changing little things without changing yourself. I guess in away it is comprising. To be very honest you find more women changing for men rather than men changing for women. I think that this is why women have a hard time giving in is because 97% of the time men will not change. I think that men and women both should sacrifice and change to some degree for one another, other wise it's not fair. When it's not fair and the woman is always the one to change it only makes her appear as weak and then she will be taken for granite. If that's case then I don't agree being the one to always change, because you will only lose yourself slowly and wake up one day wonder who you are.

Men changing

Well, my husband did change as well as me. He developed more self-control, was much less likely to yell at me, and became more considerate of my feelings and aware of how I felt about things. We have got along a whole lot better since then.

Mind you, the 'no rows at all' period eventually came to an end (though it was over a year later). Various things have occured in our lives over the past five years that have created stressful situations, and my husband has erupted on several occasions.

But these occasions are very infrequent, and we generally manage to get back on track quite quickly. I do sometimes feel a slight feeling of regret for what I think of as the 'honeymoon period' (which lasted just over a year), but the fact is that things are still very much better between us than they were in pre-Taken In Hand days, and Taken In Hand continues to have a benficial effect on both of us. I am glad that we made the changes that we did.