How can I describe this kind of relationship without sounding weird?

How can I describe this kind of relationship—for example, when talking to friends, co-workers or someone I'm dating—without sounding weird or kinky?

Any suggestions, anyone? This is truly a frequently-asked question. More suggested answers would be very welcome. Add comments!

How about this?:

The kind of relationship I personally prefer is one in which the husband is the one wearing the trousers. Most people prefer a strictly equal 50-50 relationship but I tried that kind of relationship and it just didn't work for me [or: but I've never quite seen the appeal of that kind of relationship]. It felt [or would feel] more like a business partnership or a platonic house-share/flatmates/roommates relationship than an intimate relationship. Why be married if the relationship is more like a platonic business relationship?

For me, the husband wearing the trousers in the relationship makes the relationship a lot more exciting. It makes the spouses more aware of themselves as being man and wife rather than business partners or roommates. It's also more fun! Not for everyone, obviously, but I must confess I do find it strangely appealing.

No, I'm not talking about the kind of relationship in which a put-upon down-trodden long-suffering wife serves the every whim of a narcissistic husband. That sounds very dreary/dull/unpleasant. The kind of relationship I'm talking about is one in which the husband wearing the trousers takes care to put his wife and their relationship first. Putting her and the relationship first is the key to creating a marriage in which the man wears the trousers in a good, healthy and sustainable way.

The Taken In Hand Site Owner and Creator

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[This is an answer to a frequently-asked question: this page is part of the FAQ. Please try to ensure that your post is answering the question or discussing the above post. The question is: How can I describe this kind of relationship—for example, when talking to friends, co-workers or someone I'm dating—without sounding weird or kinky?]


Keep it simple and don't over explain

I find it best to simply describe it as wanting a traditional relationship leading to a traditional marriage.

Why give it a name?

I have never found the need to give a name to what my husband and I have. All my family and friends know is that I will not participate in "husband-bashing" when we are having "girl's night out" and that I always speak of him with respect—and I expect him to do the same thing! They have stopped trying to goad me into criticizing him in the open. I think that trying to give it a name will actually turn people off—if they can see that a "regular" marriage can be one of mutual respect and concern for the other's well being, that will speak louder than any label.

Traditional relationship?

It's not exactly a traditional relationship, is it? A traditional relationship is not necessarily sexy, is it? In some traditional relationships the husband does not put his wife first either. I have seen a woman being treated shockingly badly by her husband in a public situation and theirs was a traditional religious marriage. So while talking about it in that way might work in some cases, in others, it will require a lot of explaining to reassure friends that what you are talking about is not something like the traditional relationship I witnessed.

Traditional Relationship

There is no single explanation you can give that will fully encompass the breadth and scope of all that you imply as well as make it acceptable to the listeners in all situations. That is why it is best to just keep it simple, don't try to over explain. Besides, the only person who needs any explanation is the person you're involved with. Anything outside of that is just conversation.

Traditional relationships have been slandered

I think what constitutes a taken in hand relationship is and was best described by a traditional relationship but that for various reasons the traditional relationship has been so derided that no one respects it and most deride it.

Why describe it at all?

I'm new here and have found myself in an implied Taken In Hand relationship. I am so happy and excited about finding myself in this relationship that I have contemplated the same thing: How do I describe this to my friends and explain why it works for me?

Then again, why do we need to describe it and explain it to anyone? I guess it's normal to want to share our happiness with those friends that we are close to and that care about our happiness. And when it's something 'new' that we've maybe never experienced before, we get even more excited and want to talk to our close friends about it. AND when it involves love, we really want to share it.

But consider how much detail you go into when discussing your previous relationships (presumably not Taken In Hand relationships). Do you really get thoroughly into the personal dynamics? Not usually; at least not in one sit-down conversation. Some of the personal dynamics get communicated to friends in bits and pieces over time as individual events occur and are discussed, or as social interaction occurs with friends.

I have been sick with the flu and rambled a little in an email to a good friend about relationships where the man is the leader and how nice it is to not feel like I have to be in charge of (i.e., responsible for) absolutely everything. I received a two sentence email back from the friend, thanking me for being there during her breakup. No comment on what I said about a man that leads. I realized later that a lot of people—even the friends that love me—will read or hear words like that look at me sideways. Not only because of their own relationship values but because I am an educated, independent, strong-minded woman in my 40s.

I’m not concerned about any dissenting opinions about dating and marrying (according to him and I am definitely interested) a man that I acknowledge is the leader and wears the pants. I’m not concerned about what some of my friends might think about not being a 50/50 leader in our relationship. However, it might be worth considering being concerned that others might not agree with and/ or not understand your relationship and form opinions about him that could affect friendships and possibly, eventually, your relationship.

Friends and others will begin to see and the dynamic on their own through natural social osmosis (I made that up—hope it makes sense), all while getting to know your husband for the kind, generous, caring, loving man that he is (or whatever his wonderful qualities may be). Sure, there will be close friends that you will eventually try to describe the dynamics to but only you will know which ones you can discuss this with and which ones you can’t. And it’s not necessary to discuss, explain or justify the personal dynamics of your relationship or marriage—Taken In Hand or not—with all of your close friends, is it?

No explanations necessary - let your happiness show

Why explain/describe anything? It's not like people ask “well, what kind of relationship do you two have?”

When conversations make you feel like further explanation is warranted, just resist the urge to make any declarations—frankly I think we all too often feel obligated to explain things. Let people assume what they will.

If you do feel you need to say anything (perhaps your conversation partner shows some indication of being interested in a Taken In Hand relationship, and you wish to support them), then you can use the “more traditional” statement. I believe most people would make similar assumptions about such a statement.

Beyond that, let your happiness do all your explaining for you. Over time people will notice that you just get along, you're always nice to each other, that you just don't seem to have the same marriage issues most other people seem to have.

No explanations necessary....

I agree with Bobtc. What goes on in my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or wherever with my significant other is our business. If I'm happy in the relationship, whatever kind it is, that happiness carries over into other areas of my life. When I've been asked, and the person is persistent, I simply say, he's spontaneous. That pretty much cuts them off.

Girl talk

I don't feel obligated to explain, but my friends ask about what my husband is like, and I enjoy telling. I don't say anything that gives them cause for concern, and they have some idea of what's up, though I am careful not to be too explicit. I just laugh off some of their nosier questions. I don't think we're actually all that weird. At my wedding, I vowed to obey him, and nobody said anything about it except that it was sweet.


How much detail is necessary?

I like what Um wrote about responding to questions about what her husband is like. Same when friends or family ask about my SO. I do get questions - in part because I put myself on a four year dating hiatus. When you do something like that and then get serious relationship when you break the hiatus, it makes sense that your friends are going to be curious about what is so special about this man!

I have only given a bit of detail to two close friends. Without a lot of detail about how it happens, I mentioned how he takes care of me (e.g., notices that I'm hungry and feeds me, or that I'm stressed and puts me in the bath with bath salts, candles and a cocktail without asking if I need it), and things like trusting him to make decisions about our social activities (although I worded this to be clear that it's not as if I have no say, which I do). I even used the term 'leading'. One gets it to a certain extent but not to the extent of Taken In Hand. The other doesn't seem to really get it at all and has so far avoided any comments about a man 'leading'.

Even with a close friend, why does she need to know that the independent, outspoken woman that she knows (me) can be silenced with just a look from this man? Or that when he says "Are you trying to make me mad?" that I don't hear it as a threat and that I don't even feel like I'm being controlled "in a bad way"? As a 47 year old woman, many of my close girlfriends are like me: single, never married, independent, outspoken, etc. These women, as much as we love each other as friends, would surely cringe if I told them such a thing. Do I care what they think about the details of how we manage our relationship? Not in this regard - although I would care if a lot of my friends thought D was unkind or a jerk or something. But do they need to know the intimate dynamics of how we communicate or manage our relationship? No. Why?

One or two of my absolute closest friends might end up hearing some of it as our relationship progresses. I know some pretty intimate (not sexual) details of a couple friends' marriages/ relationships but that is after years of certain situations that are usually negative.

As time passes and more of my friends and family meet D, I wonder if the dynamics of our relationship will be apparent to others. Anyone reading here have this experience?

Discretion is wise

Some appear to have a desire to talk about their private relationship. I suggest that this sort of exhibitionism is a mistake, and that it is best to keep the details of your private relationship private.

The question was not about how to spill the beans, but about what to say to avoid spilling the beans, while not being dishonest. One person, for example, would like to be able to discuss different kinds of relationship styles with her adolescent daughter. She wanted some ideas for forms of words that would give her daughter an idea without being indiscreet.

Indiscretion is a very bad idea. Keep your own counsel. Don't talk about your private relationship with your girlfriends or anyone else except your spouse. If you do not keep private information private, it is not safe for your spouse to engage with you in any but the most conventional ways. Think before you spill the beans. Seriously bad things can happen. Children get taken away; careers are ended; details dredged up in unexpected court cases; friendships lost—we've heard so many real life horror stories here. Please don't reveal private information about your relationship. It is just not worth the risk.

Why Bother To Explain?

I don't describe my relationship to anyone. I don't see the point, and, beside that, I have seen the alienation and ridicule afforded those who have chosen to open their ULTRAPERSONAL relationships to the outside world.

I have a private life. I KEEP it private. What others know nothing about me they have NO need to know. The fact that I have a GF is public knowledge. That is one thing I can NOT hide, nor should I.

But, the IMPETUS **behind** the relationship is the business of NO ONE!!!! For what reason ought I to open ourselves to possible ridicule when what we do behind closed doors SHOULD be private ANYWAY!!!!

I don't understand those of you who choose to publish your lives to the open public. That makes NO sense to me. I have MANY secrets in my life that I wish to keep private, and those relating to my GF represent the bulk of them.

I am sure that she would NOT appreciate me to yammer our privacies to the outside world. As for me personally, I would END our relationship should she expose that which **I** deem private, and I view my standards and hers to be reciprocative.

My GF makes me happy. She satisfies me. I have NO need to vomit the expletives that may concern this. My life is PRIVATE. If I choose to release any info concerning this relationship, it will be for the presumed assistance of one in dire need of experiential advice and the presumed anonymity that I have maintained on this site.

Mick McCleod

It's private

I believe whatever goes on between a couple should be private. If someone thinks something strange, I might would say he is the head of our household, or that we simply follow the Christian dynamic for a marriage. But anything else is not anyone else's business. My man would be disappointed if I did not keep our secrets private.



i prefer not to discuss our relationship with other people, I prefer it remain reasonably discreet. but my husband has occasionally said something a bit bossy to me in front of other people, and I have found I don't mind this so long as he is pleasant about it. i certainly would not be keen on him discussing anything too personal.