We have not always had this relationship. We began our relationship with a small seed of awareness of my wife's need for a man who would not tolerate her behavior when she acted inappropriately. However, this awareness was confused and cloudy, due to our lack of full self-understanding. My dominant instincts were blunted because I thought I needed to be “nice” and “constructive” at all times; I assumed that if I was patient, supportive, logical and communicative, this would eventually persuade my wife to leave her tantrums, false accusations, anger and sarcasm behind. My wife, on the other hand, was in reality (which will be obvious to many Taken in Hand readers) simply trying to find her limits, and subconsciously wanting me to set her straight.
As I mentioned, we did have some early clues. My wife was aware that she had absolutely no respect for her ex-husband, because he simply let her do whatever she wanted. She realized that she was attracted to “take charge” guys. It was obvious from the beginning of our physical relationship that we both greatly enjoyed dominant physical scenarios, starting from classic “pinned against the wall” kisses up to and including acting out bondage and rape scenarios. I had a dim awareness that occasionally women would, in small but unmistakable ways, respond submissively to me with a desire for my leadership.
Like many others on this site, pursuing the clues in our sex life, we first experimented with some BDSM. While that was enjoyable, and sometimes still is, it clearly didn't explain those moments of lucidity when we both were reminded that my wife really needed me to be in charge in real life. Conversely, while I read up on some of the literature and websites about the nature of being “submissive”, it was obvious that my wife did not fit my understanding of this term.
Over the last three or four years, we kept working on this, in the background of our daily life. I came to understand these things:
1. My wife cannot stand weak men.
2. She is bright, resourceful, and when she is not emotionally “off-balance”, really well organized.
3. She has stretches of nasty behavior that are not corrected through my patience with her.
4. I am much better able than my wife to remain calm while under tension, and able to make decisions based on fairness, patience, and kindness, rather than fear, insecurity and vengefulness.
5. She is not interested in explicit acts of servitude, in real life or even just for sexual play. Instead, she fantasizes about and wants in real life to be forced into rough, dominant sex much of the time, having control taken from her. I, in turn, enjoy this just as much as she does, and find it utterly natural and comfortable. Yet, each episode is followed by tender closeness.
6. I had seen my patience stretched thin at times, and observed that in the few cases where I had firmly put my foot down, my wife's behavior actually improved (though she was careful not to admit the reason).
I was puzzled. Is she submissive, or not? Should I demand she act in a submissive manner, because I know there is some aspect of this in her nature, and that I am better equipped to decide a course of action during times of difficulty? How much of her desire for dominance that is so obvious in the bedroom (and on the table, and in the shower, and in the backyard :) extends into real life?
It was only when I found a link to this site (linked from a BDSM user group) that I realized that this set of characteristics is also experienced by others, and that unbelievably, there were thinking, mature individuals with which we could explore and discuss this spectrum of relationship preference.
So in the last two weeks since we have found this site, I realized that there are many women like my wife who are not stereotypically submissive yet are unequivocally in need of boundaries from their men. Without over-explaining, I began firmly correcting her inappropriate behavior at the first sign of sarcasm, defensiveness, or inappropriate accusations, while making sure to provide support and tenderness just as quickly as her behavior improved. While I am not naive enough to think there won't continue to be challenges, the result has thus far been almost magical. We spend almost no time in conflict because I never let her stray from between the “white lines”. Not coincidentally, our sex life has been great. Interestingly, verbal reprimands are all that have been required thus far. (We are still carefully exploring whether or not discipline-related spankings are right for us.)