How my mousy man became a lion

I have been married for ten years to a wonderful, gentle man who apparently has been conditioned his whole life to be passive, sweet, a nice guy. He used to ask me out, and then in the car he'd look at me with a happy smile and say, “So, where are we going?” We used to argue over restaurants—he would say we could go wherever I wanted, but then he'd veto every suggestion because he wanted it to be someplace cheap. Passive aggressive, when he wasn't just downright passive.

I have always been a strong, intelligent, willful, capable, and often dominant woman, but I have always said, since I began dating, “I wish I could find a man who is not intimidated by me,” or “I wish I could find a man who is stronger than I, or who is able to take charge of me...” I said these things long before I ever knew about Taken In Hand—I simply craved being taken in hand by a stronger persona and being able, finally, to rest in the peace of that, knowing I was finally cherished and taken care of. I'm the kind of person who always takes care of others—on whom others can rely.

I married a man who in many respects is weaker than myself—maybe “weaker” is not the right term—he has been taught to stuff his emotions, particularly anger or annoyance, to lie to himself about his own self-worth, and to in general deny his own innate masculinity. But I married him because he was sweet, and gentle, and loving, and on some level, I have to admit, I knew he'd give me no trouble, that I could have my way, that I could control him. Sadly, that was a huge mistake, and since then, I've wished and prayed that he would rise up and become the head of the household I needed.

I wondered if I could change him. If I tried hinting, or asking, or suggesting different ways of making love, or sex play, or spanking, or talking—for ten years I was very frustrated by his seeming unwillingness to take command of our marriage or to meet my needs (which I wasn't really spelling out). I'd suggest I hide, and he look for me, and when he found me, to spank and ravish me—he would just giggle like a schoolboy and act confused and pinch and grab my bottom on the way up the stairs, in the maddening way that an adolescent might do it. He never got it. Of course, I never really gave it to him straight.

Perhaps I shouldn't have married him, because of being polar opposites in so many important ways, and because the power differential was so skewed away from the traditional roles I craved. If you are considering marrying a man whom you fear may not be strong enough for you, you have an important decision to make. Before you decide, though, that he is just not the man for you, give him the respect he deserves: have a frank conversation with him about your own needs and desires. You see, I was a liar in our marriage: I lied to myself and to him about the truth of what I really needed in our marriage. Once I stopped doing that, things got better. If your man thinks it would be wrong for him to control you, or that spanking is violence, show him this and other sites that talk about Taken In Hand relationships or that explain the difference between discipline and abuse. Talk to him about his fears, your needs, and see if he is willing to take you in hand. If not, perhaps he is not right for you.

Unless, of course, you are in love with him. Ah, then what are you going to do?

Now, what I have to tell you is that people do change. My husband, after ten years and many downs in an up-and-down relationship, in his gentle, loving, and open way, listened to me carefully when I suggested that the problem with our marriage was as much me as him—that I no longer desired to be a dominant force between us, that I wanted him to find his manhood, to be the head of our household, and that I was ready to be controlled by him. The idea made him excited. He knew I was right—our balance had been all wrong. He avidly read everything I sent him, and asked me to send him more each day. He came quickly to understand that I was saying not only that I wanted him to spank me, but that it was his God-given right not only to be the authority in our marriage, but to be able to enforce that authority (in a safe and non-destructive way, of course), and that his authority extends way beyond the authority to spank. That idea made him hard.

He struggles with finding the “look” my heart desires—his look usually reads as confused and tentative. I've pointed that out to him, and suddenly he is conscious of how his own confusion appears to others—as weakness, as timidity. He took upon himself the responsibility to get UN-confused, and to seek the blogs of other men in Taken in Hand or Domestic Discipline relationships. His voice often betrays that he is stuffing his emotion, or that he is unsure of his decision. I frankly told him that if he didn't use a commanding tone with me, that I would likely ignore him. His tone changed quickly (and I got a spanking for saying that). I told him that I needed—was hoping fervently—for this whole arrangement to be exciting to him rather than a turn-off, which seems to have had the effect of giving him the permission he needed (from himself, not me) to go ahead and be turned on by it rather than repelled, afraid or intimidated, and now he reports that the very thought of spanking me makes him instantly hard. Lucky me!

If you are honest, forthcoming and direct about what you need from your man, and give him the freedom to express his true feelings about it, then you can decide whether or not he has it in him to be the man of the house that you desire. But I'm also saying that my husband, a man who once described himself as a “field mouse,” is now turning into a lion, one who last night flatly informed me that he wanted to take me, now, on the floor of our livingroom, and ordered me to lie down on my tummy as he entered me from behind, then he, gently but firmly, grabbed my hair and bit my shoulder as he took me, holding the flesh firmly between his teeth—if you've ever seen video of how lions mate (Google it), you will see that this is exactly how they do it. I was shocked, and immensely turned on, and the wonder of it continues—that this man whom I thought hopelessly passive has begun a transformation, has begun to discover the very first defining lines of his own manhood, and he is revelling in it. And so am I.

Starting a relationship thinking “I can change him” is a mistake—especially if your agenda for his change is your secret mission rather than something you discuss openly together. He may end up being the man of your dreams, but you may have to have ten years of a sorry excuse for a marriage before he does. But having said that, those who are already married should not lose hope that change is possible. As my husband's example shows, people can and do change, if they want to.

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An Awakening?

What I like about your article is that it demonstrates that a man can "learn" to take his wife in hand. Too often it is assumed that a man is either wired for this or he is not. This view always seemed simplistic. What is true is that a man has lot to learn about how to be with a woman. In fact, for some men the learning curve can be quite steep. I have read many times on this forum how a woman awakened to her need for a dominant man as she grew older. Could it be true that a man can also awaken to his desire to be dominant with his woman and learn to freely express it?

Once upon time there was a cultural climate that valued manliness as a virtue. It was assumed a man would be in charge of his family. A man was raised in a culture where it was expected that he would be in charge of his wife. It gave him "permission" to express that part of his manly nature. Obviously that cultural climate no longer exists. Perhaps your husband is like so many men for whom it is not easy to express that part of himself, lest he be condemned. He was never taught that manliness is valued and when used judiciously can be an asset. Instead it was considered boorish, or even worse, if he were to assert himself with a woman in a romantic relationship. Perhaps this is why it took your husband, like so many other men, a while to become comfortable with his manly nature.

Yes, Stephen! I think you're

Yes, Stephen! I think you're right. Not only is he the product of the conditioning of his society, but also of the conditioning of the parents who raised him to believe that he had no real worth (forget worth as a man, he grew to believe he had no worth as a person), that he shouldn't dream, shouldn't try to excel, should just work the treadmill and expect little of life. He can say it more elloquently than I, but the fact is, he is like a kid in a new country made entirely of candy—and he's having a ball. He's learning all about the true him, finding the man within and seeing that this man can please his woman. That's heady stuff. I would say that it is not only possible for a man to learn how to become more dominant and assertive and take his woman in hand, but that it is important he do this, important he try to take that journey, in whatever form that should take for him. He will certainly discover self-respect and self-worth in the process.


I need help. Major major help

I need help. Major major help.

I am in exactly your situation, Belle. My husband and I have discussed things and it is not only my fondest dream but also HIS that he be the "head of the household".

This guy is in such a habit of crawling on his belly to keep from offending anyone. If everyone else knew what actually goes on inside his head as well as I do, boy would they be shocked!

But our relationship always goes like this: one day, he will just do what he wants to do. Yay! Everything is perfect, life is blissful for both of us. The next day he will tell me about all of the things he has fantasized about doing but has checked back. And then the next day he will say to me, "You're out of my league", "You're too good for me", "I just can't be the man you want"—and I say, "Whyever not, you just were three days ago! You say that you are longing to be that way. Why not just do it?" To which he says, "I don't know how!"

To say I am at a loss would be an understatement. Rather than a steady transformation from a mouse to a lion, what we have here is a schizophrenic lion that periodically thinks it's a mouse. And everytime he turns into the mouse, I feel like he is abandoning me to be eaten by the wolves. It is deeply, deeply disconcerting to have ones man do that to his woman.

This man is the only person I have ever slept with. I am deeply deeply religious and I don't know how I will cope if I have to give up on having my dream relationship with him. I refuse to be a martyr and spend the rest of my life miserable. At the same time, it will tear me up in a whole different way to move on to a new partner.

When we married, I was so certain that we could solve this together. But lately he has been shutting every effort down with the words, "I just can't."

I am so torn. I don't understand what's happening to me, or how to proceed when every one of my ideals are being pitted against one another and destroyed in the process.

What about health issues?

I say this based on personal experience. There are similarities between your husband and the way I have felt for many years. I used to be assertive and active and then gradually slipped into passiveness with bursts of energy.

There would still be some days when I was active and full of energy and willing to take charge, but most days I didn't have the energy and really wanted someone else to make decisions. I was afraid to stand up for myself in even the smallest issues.

It took an experienced psychologist to recognize most of my issues were based on physical issues. Most MD's just read certain lines on the chart to decide if you are healthy and not truly look at the patient. Specialists are even worse.

My dentist is a homeopathic doctor and he was also a great help.

Your husband really sounds like he doesn't have the personal energy to take charge. Maybe some "alternative" medicine would help.

This is gold.

Thank you so much for this write-up. This is exactly what I needed.

Great Read!

Thank you so much for putting this into words! This is similar to our situation, except that 2 years ago when I married him he was showing promise as a leader, and now he seems lost. I emailed him your article last night, as a way to open up the subject. It definitely excited him, though I don't think he completely understands that I need him to take charge outside of the bedroom too lol!
Thank you for giving me the words to break the ice. Hope to be where you are eventually!
-Mrs G