I first came across this site about 3 years ago and just recently have started reading the articles on here again, coinciding really with the change in the relations between my husband and me back to a more taken in hand dynamic, although on reflection I don’t think it ever really went away, and this is what I would like to explain…
Since the start of our relationship ten years ago, my husband has always ‘worn the trousers’ just quite naturally, that is the kind of person he is and that is what I wanted too. When our first child came along, I started chomping at the bit as it were, I suddenly found myself wanting to be in charge, especially with our son and more generally, I had a sense that I could run everything better than my husband and I should be the one in charge.
One morning I was giving my husband a lecture about food for our baby son – I had had a bit of a lie-in and my partner had gotten up with our son and given him breakfast but not what I would have given him. I let him know about this quite patronisingly, and he gave me a warning look, but I just carried on in full flow, convinced that he had no idea what he was talking about and that I must be completely right and he needed to hear what I was saying. He was furious – there had been a lot of this going on around that time.
He swiftly came across and tried to steer me upstairs to nip it in the bud and I resisted fiercely. he got me into the hallway and started to spank me and I wriggled away and upstairs, attempting to block his entry to the bedroom, but he got up the stairs too quick and he came in and put me over his knee and something just clicked in my head, I went into the ‘purple zone’ as my partner calls it, and I decided that categorically no I would not accept this, would not accept his right to authority over me, and I struggled ferociously. He sensed that I was not going to allow this spanking and backed off, just long enough that I ran off down the stairs and went to leave the house. I had such a head of steam on me, I was only wearing my dressing gown and knickers for heaven's sake and my husband tried to stop me leaving because of this fact, but only succeeded in de-robing me just as I was going out of the door, and so there I was on a busy city street with all the neighbours off to work, them looking over having heard the commotion as well!!
Well that moment changed EVERYTHING. My husband backed completely away from any kind of authority in our relationship – ‘you want to be in charge’ he said, ‘well you go for it. Our family means more to me so we’ll do this, go for it, you make all the decisions then.’ And for nearly two years I did. The power dynamics in our relationship fundamentally changed to the point where I was taking the lead, and tyrannical too was that leadership. It felt like a complete flip in our marriage, although not in our love-making dynamics, and the whole experience was a nightmare for us both, led to much unhappiness and lack of closeness.
My husband said he thought that I needed to go through this, the point I was at in my life, having recently had kids, that I needed to explore this side of myself, evidently, as I was resisting to the point of absolute refusal, that he had to let me go and come back of my own accord.
But here’s the nub - he still was in charge really – it was he who had allowed me to be in a position to make the decisions, and he made clear that I would deal with the consequences of these decisions. He supported me, he complied, he went along with things even when he thought it was a bad idea. I didn’t do a bad job of things, kept home, family and finances afloat, kept up my share of work on the business, went back to work, thought of myself as the multi-tasker extraordinaire, but I was suffering and so was J.
I was insisting on doing everything single-handedly trying to prove myself that I was right to be in charge, refusing help from everyone, and in the end I burnt out. My health suffered quite badly, my husband had to take charge again for a little while as I was in hospital and when I came out, and the relief of his leadership was overwhelming. All I could think was what has been going on these past two years, why have I been steering the ship exactly, we've nearly run aground.
I talked to J about this, he held me tight and said softly, ‘I tried to tell you but you were determined to go and find out for yourself, I thought you needed to see for yourself, that’s why I didn’t stop you.’ And he was right. I needed to go through the looking glass and I am grateful that he remained so patient with me during that time, I don’t even want to go into details but needless to say I was horrendous, I belittled him, ignored his views, threatened him that I would kick him out if he put up resistance to my decisions – this man, if you knew him you’d know how absurd it was – I can’t believe what I tried to do to him, this man whose quite commanding authority is respected by everyone I’ve ever seen him interact with, who is so considerate and thoughtful, takes decisions seriously, takes into account others' views, and is usually right about most things – this man allowing himself to be treated like this by me, because he loves me and felt I needed to go through it, waiting patiently for me to come to my senses.
When I asked him if he would consider taking the helm again, we talked for days about the past few years, what happened, he never attached any blame to me, showed no resentment, if he had done that to me, would I have had the equanimity to have responded like he did? – I know I wouldn’t have, I would have been out of there, would have quite rightly seen him as a tyrant, thought of him as a bully, for I was over those two years.
But he stayed, because he loves me and our family and he would do anything for us, even if it was hell on earth for him, which those two years had been and because, despite my behaviour, he had faith in me that I would realise this wasn’t working, and indeed I realised it several months before the crisis when I got ill, but it took that crisis for me to finally admit it.
I feel so lucky that he was so understanding, that he has taken back the helm with such calmness and kindness, with a soft touch, but firm and determined to steer us from the rocky ground and we’re now in calmer seas, I feel safe and secure and loved and wanted, and he does too, we did have to go through those two years of madness, he did ‘tame’ me in the end, he took me in hand, but not perhaps in the way that either of us would have anticipated.