He took me in hand by letting me fly

He took me in hand by letting me fly

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.

Sophie B

Comments

Wow--thank you so much for

Wow--thank you so much for this testimonial. It gives so many of us wives out here hope for our relationships. I wish I knew how to re-blog this on my page. My situation is so similar, except that nearly 20 years went by with me trying to wrest control from him. All the while, he quietly kept control in an unassuming way. Now that I've "woken up and seen the errors of my ways" it's been quite a task convincing him I truly am ready to submit. But yours is the first story I've heard with so much honesty about your behaviors, and the long-standing love and dedication of your man. Brava!

Saint

HI ......, I'am very happy for you but two long years of rebellion seems long, very long for the kind of behavior you describe; "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, ..... 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...." I don't know what to think but this doesn't sound human, it's more saint like and as I presume we all know saints don't exist.

Waiting for the Truth

Your story brought back some painful memories that I don’t really want, but the ending is worth the price. As you mentioned, we now see each other more clearly and steer away from the old mistakes. We know our proper roles with absolute certainty. The tighter connection is obvious to everyone – and some even dare to ask how we got here. Occasionally, we will explain how, to looks of utter astonishment and disbelief. It doesn’t matter: Tell others, tell everybody, scream it from the rooftop. Someone might listen.

You paint a realistic picture, throughout. Well done. I hope that others will read your account and revisit their own preconceptions. It would save a lot of trouble, but then, we humans aren’t quite that smart. It takes many, many bumps and bruises to get at the truth.

Despite similar experiences, I come at this journey with a man’s point of view, remembering how difficult it was, watching and waiting for my wife to burn out. I knew that it would happen, sooner or later, because she isn’t a man and can’t behave like one indefinitely. I was betting big, hoping that the facts would surface before we drifted too far apart. Eventually, we had an awakening that set us back on the right path. It’s a story that I’m not ready to share because of the private details and physical intimacy involved. I wrote it out for myself, but it may never see the light of day.

Anyhow, the maturation process was miserable as we were both exhausted from grinding against each other. Kids also played a big part for us. She was heavily invested in them and overly protective. It’s a natural impulse that easily goes awry. Additionally, she had many “helpful friends” urging her to take control and lose the dead wood (meaning me, of course). To her credit, she didn’t take it that far. For my part, I refused to give in, telling her that she could leave if that’s what she really wanted, but that I wouldn’t take her back. That bit of stubborn defiance might have helped in tipping the balance. At the very least, it fractured the delusion that she didn’t need me.

Of course, I never wanted her to suffer, but I did dump a lot of responsibilities into her lap, so that she would see the inevitable result of her megalomania. It was only a matter of time until she buckled, and I stepped in again, stabilizing our finances and home and relationship. Later, she explained her thinking, saying that she “should have been strong enough to do it all.” At that point, she basically wept with abandon, realizing how close we came to disaster. She saw that I was guarding us all along, but I was still willing to let her feel her oats and find her limits. It shouldn’t have taken so long to regain our balance, but learning is funny that way.

We did spend many days talking, laughing, bemoaning our foolishness and sitting silently as the regrets washed over us. We learned things about ourselves that we never expected. Looking back, we didn’t bother affixing blame, either, because there was plenty to go around. When the solution finally appeared, we moved forward, leaving the past behind us. We accepted our natural roles as man and wife, and rediscovered our potential. Since then, we’ve had no real doubts.

Now, we can display a depth of kindness and forgiveness and humility and nobility that defies any rational explanation. Issues that should bother us, just don’t seem to matter anymore. We live easier, more comfortably. We found our way home.

I’ll stop hijacking your thread, and simply thank you for an honest account, showing how we get into (and hopefully, out of) these destructive power struggles. As the editor requested, please supply a “handle” so that everyone can recognize your comments. You have something important to say, and a gift for expressing it. Congratulations and best wishes.

The truth ultimately wins out.

Alan K

Questions

Your narrative is instructive, but I'm not sure what lesson to take away since it would seem the main lesson is that sometimes taken-in-hand women have to learn the hard way by experiencing taking temporary control, and I don't want to learn the hard way. Why did you resist your husband's authority so tenaciously once you became a mother? Was it hard to see yourself as a competent strong mother and at the same time know how much you like to follow your husband (to the point that you fought following to prove you could be a good self-sacrificing mom)?

Um

He Let Me Fly

I loved your article! It reminds me of my husband's and my relationship. I, too, held the job of HoH for a while. I'm not sure if he let me like J did.

I think that when we become mothers we realize that we have a huge responsibility of a very precious little one. How that morphs into taking on everything else, I don't know, but somehow it does!

Thankfully, I'm now past that stage and I'm back to being Taken in Hand by a man that is totally committed to me and our marriage. He's my Captain and I'm his co-pilot and we now fly together with my Captain totally in charge!

Kat

:-)

Hunted to hunter

I thought you might like this sixteenth-century poem by Edmund Spenser. When I first read it, I thought the huntsman should have kept running and not tired so easily, but your story may illustrate the point.

Like as a huntsman after weary chase,
Seeing the game from him escaped away,
Sits down to rest him in some shady place,
With panting hounds beguiled of their prey,
So after long pursuit and vain assay,
When I all weary had the chase forsook,
The gentle deer returned the self-same way,
Thinking to quench her thirst at the next brook.
There she beholding me with milder look,
Sought not to fly, but fearless still did bide,
Till I in hand her yet half trembling took,
And with her own goodwill her firmly tied.
Strange thing me seemed to see a beast so wild,
So goodly won with her own will beguiled.

Um

Reply

Hi, thank you so much for taking the time to comment on this thread, I found this account very cathartic to write and your words of encouragement and appreciation are very kind. I think it can be good to remember we’re not alone in going through these kinds of issues.

Hi Hermes, I would agree two years was a long time. I suppose I may have been a bit too fleeting in my narration, there is much else that I haven't discussed not least because I was conscious the post was rather lengthy. I wasn't like that every second of every day, and of course my partner is no saint, he too had his role to play in the situation we found ourselves in. But yes I did those things, not every time there was a decision that we disagreed on, or in terms of all decisions in our life. But in terms of many - where we lived, where we shopped, what we bought, and didn't, where we went or didn't, all aspects of our children's health, wellbeing and development, all future planning, our business, how we interacted with friends and relations, ultimately I insisted on the final say, and yes if he didn't comply or he grumbled too much, those were some of the things I did ...

There is more to the story than I have narrated, a context I perhaps didn't explain as to how this could have gone on so long and why my partner did just put up with it, and yes, I think he put up with it for the reasons I said, but he certainly is no saint and I certainly wasn't like that all the time, there were nice times too between us.

Um, thank you for posting Spencer’s poem, it’s a pleasure to read, and it made me laugh out loud. What I have written does seem to illustrate the point perhaps, although I wonder what to take from the association - I can't help but assume that the huntsman does not have the best of intentions for the wellbeing of that poor deer…

One explanation I would offer as to why I behaved as I did when I became a mother is that I turned into my own mother, it was the model I knew best of motherhood, and my mother is quite the fearsome domineering matriarch, the undisputed and undisputable head of the household in a long line of fearsome domineering matriarchs, although I realise this is the topic of another thread.

I think what you suggested also offers an explanation, it seemed like one negated the other, there was a compromise to be had, I couldn't reconcile the two 'roles'.

But also, I was very conscious that becoming a parent created different sets of priorities, which perhaps my partner was taking a little longer to wake up to, I ended up questioning whether it was fair to my son to allow my husband to make decisions that I didn’t believe provided the ideal conditions for raising our family, I don’t mean that there were unhealthy conditions, I just had high expectations for what our son should expect of his life – we hit a brick wall over a question of ‘jam today’ or ‘jam tomorrow’.

I’m not sure which if any of those explanations are right, I’m not sure the line of causation is clear in these kinds of matters, it depends I suppose on how one looks at it, which parts of the situation I focus on. Was it learned behaviour, some form of cognitive dilemma, stemming from practical/material problems or an emotional response? I’m still not sure, although suspect a combination of those things.

Thank you again for the comments, this site is such a mine of thoughtful and considered discourse, it is truly a pleasure to have contributed in some way.

Kind regards,

'Sophie B'

I like this article very much

I like this article very much, but I confess wondering if your husband's story is a bit revisionist. I say that because I see myself in it. I remember the first time that my wife essentially asked me to take her in hand. I tried to, but it was too weak for her -- a simple mismatch of ability. I withdrew and waited her out as well, and it was miserable for both of us. Eventually things changed as I've written about here elsewhere. Even though I made a choice to act passively, I don't think I did it with any power or control. But, I think that it was the only way for us at that time to come to where we are now, and I think the same is probably true for you.