Telling him things that you can't tell him

I was re-reading a Taken In Hand topic, How badly I want this; how difficult it is to ask for it. The topic talks about things that women find it impossible to say to their husbands and lovers.

Elle and I developed a partial solution that worked for us. Maybe it—or something like it—might work for other couples.

About fifteen years ago, I bought two sets of blank, half-sized stationery with envelopes: one red set, the other blue. They were the kind of note-paper that one would use to write thank-you notes or short letters to friends or family.

I gave the red set to Elle and kept the blue for myself. I asked her to use her set to write notes to me and leave them where I would find them, perhaps not right away. I told her I would do the same with the blue ones.

My original intent was for us to write love letters to each other and say things that are difficult to say on the spur of the moment. Writing it in a note would give us time to say it exactly the way we wanted to.

To be honest, I really was wanting to have a way of being romantic and sappy and sentimental, without having to say things face to face. I figured that if she had her own set to write notes to me, it would make it easier for me to get up the courage.

She added an idea to it. She suggested that we not talk about anything that we wrote in the notes. No, "I loved the note you left me," or "Did you really mean that?" I think she sensed my true purpose and wanted to give me the freedom to be as expressive as I wanted to be.

We started leaving red and blue envelopes in dresser drawers, stacks of towels, coat pockets, and other places that get checked occasionally rather than every day. One fun thing about it was that a note might not be received for days or even weeks.

In fact, sometimes I would check to see if she if a particular note was still in its place, so I would know if she had read it.

What resulted was more than we originally intended. Yes, we wrote love notes to each other, but she also started writing about things that she wanted to do, or have me do, that she couldn't ask for.

Sometimes her wants and desires were intimate and sexual—or even downright lurid and pornographic. ("I like it when you hold me down and XXXX. Just make sure I can breathe," or "What you did last night—XXXX—was nice. Next time do it harder.")

Other times, she asked for things that she felt were selfish, but that she knew I wouldn't mind doing. She even wrote, "I want a new car. A Jeep. A red one. One that I can take the top off and feel the wind in my hair." (A few weeks later, I decided she needed to buy a four-wheel-drive car so she could get around better in the winter. It was a jeep with a removable top so we would have a convertible for the summer too.)

Occasionally, she told me things that I needed to hear, but didn't want to hear. More often, though, she used her notes to say things that she couldn't say, things that "women just don't say".

We don't write notes like that too much anymore. We've since found other ways of saying things to each other, but it was an important step in our relationship that helped us open up to each other.

I'm not sure if this would work for a woman who wanted to tell her husband that she wanted to be Taken in Hand. Some women would still find it too direct if they had to address something directly to their husbands.

But... a more indirect approach might be to keep a diary and let her husband know that it's OK for him to read it—so long as he never discusses it with her and always puts it back right where he found it so she doesn't know that he read it (because she would absolutely die if she knew he was reading that very personal stuff!)

A diary has the advantage of being a third-person. A woman can write in a diary as if she were writing to a female confidant and talk about her husband as if he weren't listening. ("You wouldn't believe what my husband let me get away with yesterday. I think he's afraid of hurting my feelings or something. If he only knew what I would do for him if he just put his foot down and insisted on it...").

The particular form or method can be whatever works for her and him. The key is that women often need to say things indirectly. Writing it down—rather than saying it out-loud—means that she can keep it at arms-length. She can have some deniability.

If that's not indirect enough, there's always the possibility of using someone else's words. Maybe a character in a novel said something that rings true. If a copy of that novel happened to end up on his nightstand, with a bookmark and some text highlighted in it, well she didn't say it, some character in a book said it.

In many relationships between men and women, the man's need for direct, straightforward communication conflicts with the woman's need to be indirect—to not be too forward. Instead of speaking face to face and being cryptic, it might work better to speak clearly, but have some insulation so that the message is delivered at a time when she isn't aware of it.

That way, the indirect and the direct can meet halfway.


Taken In Hand Tour start | next


Magic of the written word

All my life I have used this sort of "communication" with the important people in my life. It's sort of like mental telepathy, they get to know the inner you and you never have to speak the thoughts, wishes and dreams that are so hard to verbalize. And when they make a particular wish come true it always takes my breath if they read my mind..or my heart.


My concern

My only concern is that a wife might use the notes to unload hostility on her husband. That wouldn't work for most men.


My only concern is that a wife might use the notes to unload hostility on her husband. That wouldn't work for most men.

Yes. Expressing hostility this way would be problematic at best. So, if you discuss it up-front, you might want to say "nothing unkind" or something of that sort.

In our case, Elle has never had a problem expressing hostility face to face. :)

Max, I fear you may be right ...

... but then most men reading this site would know what to do with their wives if they did any such thing!

what a great idea

What a beautiful idea! I especially love the idea of not being allowed to talk about anything that is written on the notes. I generally love talking about most things but there are some things that I will rather not discuss, either because it is just too embarrassing to talk about, or because some things are just more exciting if they are not discussed. Thanks for a great idea. And just a side note, I doubt any woman would use this to unload hostility on her husband. When women are upset we want to talk, not write little notes to leave in his underwear drawer.

As with the article about Ell

As with the article about Elle's childhood experiences and how they impacted on her behaviour as an adult, so too can I relate to what is being said here. I still find it very hard to say how I REALLY feel, to express my needs and desires. I've been in this relationship for three years now and thankfully I am, at last, beginning to feel secure enough to voice some of my innermost feelings—feelings that would have horrified my mother and so consequently leave me with a sense of guilt...Mothers have such a responsibility..we can only hope we get it right. I recall my son said to me once. I know I don't have to do anything to ensure your love. I know your love is unconditional. I think this is the very essence of it all. My mother's love was not love it was about control, on her terms and was dependant on my towing the party line. That, in fact, is not love at all, it is merely control and really rather selfish. I should add here that many years of being married to the domineering male chauvinistic bigotted bully that is my father played a great part in how she behaved as a mother...

As a way forward I have found e-mailing a successful medium through which I can communicate my innermost thoughts...

Thank you once again for an article that is both thought provoking and insightful.

Another Way to Say the Things You Dare Not Say

Leaving notes is a wonderful idea, but for couples like my sweetheart and me, it would be a problem because we are still long-distance.

My solution has been to blog. I write about how I feel about everything, including the relationship (which is a mix of Taken in Hand and Domestic Discipline, with a litle BDSM thrown in). Doing this has allowed me to real work through my thoughts, and it has allowed him to know what I'm thinking.

It's a little like the diary idea, but unlike a diary, it's available to the public, and people can leave their own comments, which contributes to the process of examination and self-discovery.

Why the Direct Approach Worked for Me

When my now fiance and I first met, we too were long distance. I had discovered Taken in Hand about three years ago, and knew it was what I wanted. But I didn't feel comfortable writing my desires—something can be lost when there is no tone of voice as reference. And being a private person, the idea of a blog would be embarrassing to me.

When I had the idea that he would listen to my request and respond favorably (I have excellent telephone interviewing skills), I just jumped in and asked.

I told him about this site—he may have read things on it, we didn't discuss any particular postings. But he understood what I wanted, and agreed to be the head of the household, and take ultimate responsibility for decisions within our relationship.

He both now have the type of partner we wanted. He has my undying devotion; my fondest desire is to please him.

He leads with kindness and firm resolve, but he does not hesitate to take me in hand when I am disrespectful to him, or when I do something that his harmful to myself or to the relationship.

I have never felt so loved, so sexy, so cherished, so blessed. Life is good.

His jewel

Is it possible to have an

Is it possible to have an anonymous blog??? Obviously one that can be seen by my husband but in which I am not identifiable??? I ask this because I hold a position of some prominence in our local community and would prefer anonymity....I am new to this technological caper and love the idea of putting a blog out there for feedback from others.

Written vs. spoken word

Speaking from the perspective of a 50-something woman, who has only recently gained an understanding of what I want and need—a Taken In Hand relationship—I love this idea. I've always identified myself as a successful, intelligent, "in control" woman. To go to the vulnerable place is so hard, yet so necessary. The notes seems like luxurious baby steps to me...


Great idea, thanks!

I read this article a couple of months ago and I finally got the courage to ask him if we could try this. I emailed the idea to him, including the rule that the notes are not to be discussed. He replied to my email but didn't address the part about the note idea—looks like he was following the "don't talk about it" rule right away! So, I left him my first note explaining a few things that I had been afraid to tell him I wanted. The next day I found a note that said something like "Just wanted to say I like your note idea, and I get the point about your note." Success! This is such a great idea!


I think this is a wonderful idea and I hope to employ this soon. We have been married 15 years, but I think any time you can add something like this in an otherwise routine relationship, it's great. My husband's job has changed nature, the past two years, and now he has to travel extensively. I miss him so badly when he's gone. Every time he leaves is heart-wrenching for me. It is especially bad when I get stressed and need a little OTK relief, and he's not here, or when I just need to feel his.....HOH-ness? Once, when he was gone for about two weeks, he started sending me emails with clues to finding some little slips of paper hidden around the house. The pieces of paper were just tokens, nondescript really. Every time I solved his clue and found the paper, I had to take a photo of where I found it and send it to him. The last token was next to a paddle, and said for every token I found, that's how many licks I'd get when he got home. It was great fun, and took my mind off how much I missed him, gave me a sense of his presence and control, and then gave me some much-needed relief when he got home. :) Thanks for a new idea.