I blame the knee-jerkers

I found that other site really painful to look at.

I know those women. Some of them are my best friends. And it's just horrifying to see how freaking shrieking they can be about this—how wide the gap between us is. I knew they didn't get it, but I had no idea how bad it could be.

It's not as though I haven't heard all this before, either. A couple times a month, I go out for a beer with my girlfriends, Most evenings, I get to spend the time listening to them bitch about how exhausted they are, how much there is to do, and how their husbands are too busy to pay attention to them and won't do a goddamn thing to help. The guys are around; they're just lost in their work, or really into sports—and wherever they've gone, these capable, smart women are left alone carrying the full load for their kids, houses, and jobs.

They're angry, because they thought marriage was all about partnership. And they turned around one day, after five or ten or thirteen years, to find that their “partners” have been AWOL for longer than they care to remember, and have made it clear that they won't be coming back any time soon.

(Frankly, listening to these women whinge, I have a lot of sympathy for the guys. Who'd want to come home to all that angst?)

These same women see me with my husband, and are green with envy at how much he cares for me, dotes on me, listens to me. On weekends, he's not out playing golf or hockey; he's hanging out with me. When our kids need him, he's there. Often, when these same friends need help, he's there. Our family is his priority, the center of his life.

They can't figure it out. It makes them so confused and pained that they can't even really talk about it.

It's important to notice that I never get a turn in these conversations. If I try to speak, I get shushed right up. “Oh, but you're married to M. And we all know he's special.”

M is special—but not all that special. He's a tall, smart, good-hearted, introverted, geeky guy, made of pretty much the same stuff as the rest of their husbands. And if I were to try to explain to them the magic that keeps this great cuddly bear of a man totally enchanted and engaged with me, the IBTP comments are a pretty good cross-section of the stunned, hurt, angry reaction I'd get.

How gross! How retro! How perverted! You're sick, lost in your bodice-ripper fantasies, and destroying civilization as we know it!

Let's look at that again. I'm the one with a marriage that's so obviously perfect that they can't even bring themselves to let me talk about it—yet I'M the sicko here.

Got that? (Good. Now, would you please explain it to me? Oh, and for the record: I've never read a bodice-ripper in my life, unless you count Jane Austen.)

The fear of men I hear in these posts, and over those beers, is heartbreaking. It's all I can do not to say: Ladies, I may be a pervert—but I'm not the one here who's salting my microbrew with furious tears. I'm not the one screaming into cyberspace about how untrustworthy men are, or how wrong women are to let them be men.

I don't really identify as submissive (let alone a 24/7 sub), or BDSM. I'm not into rape fantasies (though I do prefer that he take full charge of our sex life, for complicated reasons having to do with past abuse and my own peace of mind). God knows I don't think all men have a right to my body—just this one wonderful man, and only because and for as long as I choose to give it to him. Those of us who've been on this site for a while know that most Taken In Hand women tend to be smarter and more competent in their careers than average, so it's not about being some kind of prefeminist throwback, either.

What makes me different is that I found a man who's worthy of my total trust—and had the great good sense to trust him, literally body and soul, to do right by me. I let him be the man in his own house, gave him authority that mattered, and trusted him to exercise it well.

And the more I did that, the more he rose to the occasion, proved himself worthy of that trust.... and grew in his devotion to me in turn.

That is the whole of Taken In Hand. The rest is commentary.

Aurora (Mercuria)

The Taken In Hand Tour start | Next


You are not alone

I lost my best girlfriend because she hated me so much for being happy. Literally hated me, or hated herself for what she had. And it looked nothing like what I had at all. But I am the one who didn't look for someone to 'take care of me'. Yet I am the one who found that. Is it because I yield to 'us'. Is it because I listen and when I have to, say what bothers me? Or is it because I don't manipulate, talk down or scheme my way in or out of what I want or need? I think it's because someone loves me. And I love/adore/listen to him. I have been told I am the 'buzz' around the playground at my daughter's school as they watch me be buckled into the car. Or I have my hand taken before I walk anywhere. I love my relationship with my husband. What we do, or who we are is different from many others, including others with taken in hand relationships. My husband is a highly sensitive man, very successful and rarely social with anyone other than me. He interacts with dozens of business like minded people, yet remains aloof to everyone around him but me. He is tall, strong and handsome and I know I am envied. But I am the only one he focuses on. I am the only one who gets his full attention all day every day. And I also know it's my constant response that feeds his constant watchful eye. If any other of the women who chat about me were to have this kind of 'under the microscope' attention they would melt from the intensity. Not a very 'equal' feeling. But there is little equal in my taken in hand life. In fact I say I have the lions share of everything that is good! If responding to positive attention, time shared and enjoyed with family and intimacy is less than equal, bring it on! I am not a submissive woman, yet am very submissive to my husband. He is a feminist in all ways, except with me. I guess the best part of all this: I just have nothing to prove. Or argue or fight for. Mutual respect is such a simple concept. The yield is what makes it so good.


It is so important for women to understand that “receiving” is an active process.

As Blush so insightfully said:

But I am the only one he focuses on. I am the only one who gets his full attention all day every day. And I also know it's my constant response that feeds his constant watchful eye. [emphasis mine]


A core difference between a taken in hand lifestyle and other, more traditional relationships is the concept of blaming.

Definition: Blame:
1. To hold responsible.
2. To find fault with; censure.
3. To place responsibility for (something)

Whenever we blame anything other than ourselves we are giving away our power. If I blame the patriarchy for whatever is wrong in my life then I cannot right the wrong until I fix the patriarchy. I do not have the power to do that. I cannot control how the patriarchy (or anyone else) acts. If I truly believe that something or someone else is responsible for any unhappiness in my life then I cannot get better until that something or someone starts to act in a manner that is more acceptable to me.

How ridiculous!

It seems to me a taken in hand relationship is more about personal responsibility. I am only responsible for knowing how I feel and clearly communicating those feelings, respectfully, to my head of the household. He holds himself responsible so I do not find fault with my beloved leader because it accomplishes nothing.

The women Aurora speaks of HAVE given away their power. They just haven't realized it. They are involved in a power exchange without benefits. Women transfer their personal power when they blame their husbands. If I am unhappy and I think it's his fault I cannot be happy until I either fix him or take back my power. Unfortunately if a woman doesn't realize she's given her power away she cannot take it back. Realistically we cannot 'fix' anybody else.

All relationships command some sort of power exchange. A taken in hand relationship, in my opinion, is one in which there has been a clear, concise power exchange with both participants fully aware of what is given up and what is gained. Contemplated this way it appears quite clear to me that Taken In Hand relationships are more honest and much healthier than the 'norm'.

The other constant conflict

We might expect some conflict between Taken in Hand wives and "knee jerkers." What's much more interesting to me is the constant conflict I see on the sites devoted to BDSM, Dom/sub, Master/slave, Domestic Discipline and Taken in Hand enthusiasts. It gave me a whole new insight into world problems...namely, that the more people have in common, the more they fight over the few issues where they disagree.

What Changes?

It is sometimes said women want to change their men. You know, "he was perfect" before marrying but once that ring is on some women act like they have a license to decide what is and isn't acceptable behavior with their men. And, after reading Mercuria's post about "Kneejerkers", it is true there are a lot of women who are disrespectful and so selfishly self-focused.

It's like some can't wait to marry and then two or three years down the road they start the complaining.

What is it that changes? How does the magnetism of love settle in to the mundane boredom and complaining, and resulting changes of behavior? Is love so blind or do people think marriage is a safety net for them to say and act how they want, even when disrecting their partner?

It works both ways, of course. You can hear it in little bouts of sarcasm and sometimes catch rolling of the eyes between two partners reactng to each other. And it grows until their is a noticeable division between them.

No thank you. Taken in Hand may seem politically incorrect to many, but it keeps a great balance and seems to help prevent many needless power struggles that can chip away at loving relationships, over time.

Changing men

It can indeed work both ways. For instance, before we were married, I literally had no idea that my husband would turn out to be so aggresively obsessed (as I saw it) with keeping the house tidy etc. He gave no sign whatsoever before we were married and bought ourself a house that he was like this. Neither in his own flat, nor in mine where we lived for several months before we were married did he show signs of this tendency. It was only after he became a property owner that he manifested this aspect of his character.

I think it was becoming a property owner that changed him rather than marriage, but anyway, it's possible that it's the same with women who want to change men. I mean, things that annoy them about their husbands may genuinely not have annoyed them when they were single. You don't always know how you are going to feel about someone when your circumstances change.

Changing Men

I think the reason is, you just don't know all about a person until you are married and living together. No one is perfect and little things become annoying. It's fine to say Taken In Hand is the cure for that but really, I'd like to come back in 20 years and see for sure.

As for these women being unhappy and disrespectful, some are without cause, but others have truly not been well treated by their husbands. Why is it always their fault? It takes two to tango. Whether it is Taken In Hand, female dominance, or some other consciously chosen format, at least those couples are communicating better. It's not that it is male led that makes the difference..it's the communication.

In the original post, it's said that these women complain because they thought marriage was a partnership but they realized their husbands were "not there." But in the next breath they are blamed for this because they are so whiny.

Well, which came first, the complaining or the lack of partnership from their husbands? I don't know. But it can't be the case that it is always the wives who begin disrespecting first.


Why is it always the women`s fault?

I agree that you don`t have to be in a Taken in Hand Relationship to treat each other with respect. I`ve noticed pretty much the same thing among our friends that Aurora did. There`s women that constantly put their husbands down with no good reason at all. There`s this one friend of ours who constantly complains about her husbands driving. I can`t understand it because the way he drives is just fine. We just rode with them a week ago when there was a bad snowstorm going on. All of Germany was pretty much covered in snow and it made it almost impossible to drive and he got us where we wanted to go safely even though she bitched and complained the whole time about his driving he stayed calm. If my husband would`ve drove the same way I would`ve complimented him on his driving ability. And that`s probably the same thing that Aurora notices about her girlfriends. There complaining about not being married to real men for most likely not to much reason at all.
Plus I remember a thread that was made just recently where a man explained that his wife`s ex husband was at fault for her first marriage not to work out because he didn`t put to much of an efford into the relationship. There you took the side of the ex husband and said maybe he was just easy going.
I believe that it takes two to tangle too, but sometimes people just don`t fit together. I blame it on the efford that people want to put into a relationship and sorry to mention it again—on how their zodiac signs fit together. Autumn

Putting in effort

As I recall, the man on that thread said that his wife's ex-husband was 'weak' because he wasn't forever laying down the law, setting boundaries and limits etc. I felt that a man who isn't forever setting limits and boundaries etc is not necessarily a weak man, he may just not be an authoritarian type. It doesn't necessarily mean that he isn't putting effort into the relationship. The man's comment made me think of my father, who was the last person in the world to go in for setting boundaries for anyone, such a thing would have been anathema to him, yet nobody could have been a more caring or involved person than he was.

My point was that a lack of desire to be in control in a relationship does not necessarily mean that a person is weak, or that they don't care or are not involved. A person who has no desire to control his partner's actions may not be weak. He may possibly even be stronger than a person who feels the need to control everything.

To Autumn

Autumn, just because you've "seen this behavior" it doesn't mean you know the whole story. Sometimes it's about people being a bad match, yes. But everyone goes into marriage wanting it to work. Not everyone has the social skills and the patience to make it work.

That goes for men as well as women.

When you see behavior like that it's easy to blame the wives. But you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Maybe she's really a shrew and eventually he will leave her. But there are other explanations below the surface that you don't know unless you are a fly in the wall of their home.

We went through a bad year that for many couples would have ended in divorce. Here is what happened. I had breast cancer. My husband stood by me physically but he retreated somewhat emotionally. I didn't blame him for that. We had a mutual friend, a man from our church, who was dying of another disease, but he was the head of the Caring committee at the church and he gave me the most important support of anyone during that time (though there were many other friends who came through for me too, bless them).

A few months after I got the all clear this friend of ours died. My husband was probably a little jealous at the amount of grief he saw me going through over this man. He made a lot of smartaleck remarks about our friend. He meant no harm and said, afterwards, that this was part of his own grieving process. But it impacted on me very badly. I asked him to stop and he blew it off and kept doing it.

After a while I was sick of it and began blowing up at him. The conflict spread to the point where any little remark could be like touching a match to tinder. Once, we were in a fast food place with some friends, and hubby made a casual remark about something where I thought he was wrong and was putting down my contribution to the marriage. I jumped right down his throat, in front of them.

Now if you had seen that scene and didn't know anything else about me, you would have thought I was one of those women who doesn't respect her husband. But what you wouldn't have known was that over a period of months he had pushed my buttons to the point where any little thing became explosive.

Well, we didn't become a Taken In Hand couple. Good thing, because if we had, I might have throttled him the first time he tried to spank me. We went for marriage counseling and got a few things out in the open. After that there was a healing process.

Years later, another beloved man at the church died. A friend of my husband's there made one of the same smartass remarks to my husband and guess what? He found it really hurtful. And suddenly he realized why I had been so angry with him years earlier. He saw that though he didn't mean it, his remarks had been very painful to me, and he came to me and told me he understood now. He also realized that he must have been somewhat jealous of this man (though there was never anything wrong between us) even though at the time he'd denied it and said how can you be jealous of a dead man?

So, Autumn, before you pass judgment on your friends' behavior, realize that it's very possible that there is some underlying thing that is unresolved in this couple's marriage, and she may be lacing into him out of frustration over it, not because she is simply a nag who wants to pick on him.

Also, when I hear about all the hard work that has to go into a relationship, I feel tired. Relationships should be a place where I can relax. I honestly don't know what all this hard work is about. Maybe we had some work to do to repair the damage done in that one bad year, but it's not a problem any more and we don't have to "work" at our marriage. Thank goodness.


Knee Jerkers

So true Pat, I agree more understanding could have been shown. Also, I found this entire series of posts in “I Blame the knee-jerkers” to be a little insensitive to women. I have never found a man that cared that much to let me vent problems to them, except my husband, leaving me only my women friends to talk to. (I’m not bashing men, IMHO they just don’t want to talk the same way women do) Maybe I don’t always agree or understand exactly what my friend is going through, but it’s not a good idea to knee jerk judge when someone else complains. It's hard to ever really know the whole story.

Most of us need to vent now and then, and at times, tendencies flow too much to complaining and then usually they flow back out of it again. Isn’t that friendship? Can’t we be totally committed to a taken in hand relationship and not be mad at women at the same time? It feels like some women on this site don’t like women, the comments felt mean spirited to me.


I was only making an example Pat,

because you asked why it`s always the women`s fault, but I read just as many things of people blaming men for relationships going wrong.
Of course I`m not a fly on the wall at my friends house, but it`s not like among good friends I wouldn`t know if there was a serious problem at the time. And that particular friend of ours treats her husband that way no matter if things are going right or not. We know another couple and they both have been unemployed for a long time. They always treated each other with respect.
I might not know what`s going on with people that don`t talk much but the friends we have who talk over their problems with us, I do know a lot about them without having to be a fly on their wall.


Even though I do not talk to my friends about details of my marriage, they do know that something is different between us. It`s little things like for instance when we all have coffee together and my husband asks me for another cup of coffee. I pour the coffee in his cup and put sugar and milk in it for him. I do get a weird look from our friends sometimes or somebody said before: "I would tell him to make his own coffee" and than my husband said "She wouldn`t dare to tell me that". They know that he`s dominant and I`m submissive to him even if we don`t speak about it. You can`t hide it completely and that`s the same thing with what`s going on in our friends relationships, they can`t hide what and who they are completely. That`s what I was trying to say.
As far as giving the impresssion of being mean spirited: The written word is a lot harder than the spoken one and can be easily misunderstood. I don`t think other women hate women here, I certainly don`t.

Jean Gorski wrote

Jean Gorski wrote

..the more people have in common, the more they fight over the few issues where they disagree.

There is a scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian where the Romans have rounded up a group of early Christians, probably for lion food or archery targets. The Christians start furious arguments about fine points of faith while the Roman soldiers look on with bewildered amusement.

I think what happenens in many online 'communities' comes from the fact that the members are not connected by location, occupation, ethnicity, or other things, but are connected by similar beliefs.

If my neighbor and I strongly disagree about a social practice, we can always change the subject. In a forum about things like Taken In Hand, it's not possible to change the subject.



Two assumptions that less strident critics of Taken In Hand seem to make are that value and power are necessarily synonymous in a relationship, and that nurturing is possible in an “equal” relationship.

In a good Taken In Hand relationship, the more a woman belongs to her man, the more she becomes a treasure to be cherished. And, by actively taking control, her man is able (among other things!) to indulge and spoil her completely, while still remaining the dominant one in the relationship. (And I am talking here about good Taken In Hand men. Of course, there are good men with other types of personalities. And narcissistic jerks are available everywhere.)

Equality doesn’t permit nurturing. If you try to nurture someone who considers you an equal in terms of power, your actions will be seen as an attempt to dominate, and a power struggle will ensue. To avoid such a struggle, you would have to act submissively, in some way. But then the relationship would no longer be equal.

“Equality” sometimes seems to bring with it a form of independence that has more than a tinge of indifference, for lack of a better word. And yet, it is delightfully easy for both partners in a good “unequal” relationship to take care of each other and to bring joy to each other, on an ongoing basis.

Equality and nurturing

I'm not sure that equality and nurturing are incompatible. I am sure that there must be couples who regard themselves as equals, and who are able to look after each other. I don't know that looking after someone need necessarily imply dominating them.

And I don't actually feel as if I have less power as a result of the change in our relationship. In a way, I feel as if I have more than I did, because I have more confidence now about expressing my feelings and talking about things if there's something I'm not happy about, rather than bottling it up like I used to. I feel in many ways that I have more control over my life rather than less.

To Louise (“Equality and nurturing”)

You are right that nurturing and equality are not necessarily incompatible, depending on how you define equality. They are especially compatible when “equality” is simply a synonym for collaboration and cooperation, and when power and control are irrelevant to the relationship and leadership is strictly situational.

In addressing their assumption, I was implicitly using the definition preferred by critics of Taken In Hand. When someone consciously “considers you an equal in terms of power,” relative power is a significant element in the relationship. And, when maintaining strict equality is philosophically essential, any act can be interpreted as an attempt to shift the balance of power or to imply incompetence, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

If I correctly understand your comments about your relationship, I think that you are describing the effects of being cherished. The more a woman is cherished, the more she experiences the benefits of power, regardless of how much power she actually has.

nurture and caring


Good post, but there is this one part that I don't follow. You wrote

Equality doesn’t permit nurturing. If you try to nurture someone who considers you an equal in terms of power, your actions will be seen as an attempt to dominate, and a power struggle will ensue

That makes sense but in the next paragraph you wrote

And yet, it is delightfully easy for both partners in a good “unequal” relationship to take care of each other...

It seems to me that nurturing and 'taking care of each other' are about the same. Do you see a significant difference ?


To RichM (“nurture and caring”)


You are right that nurturing and “taking care of each other” are essentially the same.

What I should have stated more clearly is that it is the power inequality itself that ensures that both partners will experience nurturing as only a kind-hearted act. That is why “it is delightfully easy for both partners in a good ‘unequal’ relationship to take care of each other and to bring joy to each other, on an ongoing basis.”

When a dominant man actively takes control, he removes power-struggle interpretations from the relationship, both for his woman and for himself.

In a relationship that is based on strict equality, any act or aspect of nurturing could be interpreted or reinterpreted, at any time, as an attempt to shift the balance of power. But when one partner (man or woman) unambiguously maintains control, there are no power-game undercurrents.

A man who is unquestionably in control can indulge his woman unconditionally because he doesn’t have to weigh each act to determine its effect on a delicate balance of power or on his position within the relationship. In a good Taken In Hand relationship, both the man and the woman experience nurturing by the other as only an act of caring and love, because the issues of dominance and control have already been settled.


power and cherishing


Thanks for the reply. I like the way you stated it in paragraph four

In a relationship that is based on strict equality, any act or aspect of nurturing could be interpreted or reinterpreted, at any time, as an attempt to shift the balance of power.....

I agree with this and also with Pat and louise's comments that couples in an equal relationship might not interpret cherishing from a power standpoint. Some will, some won't, people are people.

In conclusion, I believe it is true to say that a couple in an agreed-upon 'unequal' relationship will, in general, have fewer misunderstandings about the power implications of cherishing, nurturing, and taking care.


Public criticism of men

I really hate being with groups of women or even one woman, who criticises her man publicly, which is something mentioned in the first post on this thread. It's very very disloyal and if we publicly castigate anyone it usually reflects worse on us than the person we're talking about. I don't know why so many women do it. I expect men do as well, but not as much. Also why whinge rather than doing something about what you're not happy with? Change things if you don't like them.

I always make a point of not agreeing with it too. If you collude in this view that men are useless that some women have then you are condoning the view. Obviously I'm polite to them but I don't go along with it. In fact when I was married I'd always think of something good to say about my own husband (who was very much involved at home as we both work) to counteract those comments. Obviously couples differ and some men will be awful whether you're submissive to them or not and some will react best if they're dominated because they're submissive men but those that prefer a takeninhand kind woman, want someone who is a pleasure to be with.

Whether I am like this because I'm submissive and like men in charge I don't know, but it might be related to that.

On the general point on this thread, taking a woman in hand/dominating her is actually quite a task. It requires effort and understanding. It's not just a question of getting your own way all the time. The other element is ensuring you both get something out of the relationship, even if he knows best. And for women like me pleasing someone at home is I hope bound to make them want more to be with you than if home equals criticism from the wife.

Part of my own solution is to have interesting work. I work from home. Personally I can fit that into a takeinhand relationship and I know that doesn't suit everyone but it works for me. It also means I'm spending my days doing work I enjoy and have lots of talk about.

Criticising men

I don't know any women who go in for criticising their husbands, boyfriends etc in public to their faces, at any rate I've never heard anyone doing it. A certain amount of disccusion of their habits goes on among women I know, but it is just as likely to be positive as negative. Recently when I was waiting to collect my youngest son from school I heard another mother telling her friend that she was glad her husband only worked part-time, as it meant they got to spend more time together "We never get tired of each other's company" she said.

If someone does criticise their man to me they usually have good reason to do so, as with my best friend who recently had a lot of aggro from her boyfriend about their new house, which he is absolutely fanatical about keeping immaculate. He is way over the top in his demands, and I had no inclination to disagree with her when she told me about the amount of grief he was giving her. I don't think I would ever disagree with a woman who criticised her own husband or boyfriend to me because how would I know what he's like to live with? she's in a better position to know what he's like than I am.

I might disagree if I heard a woman making a blanket condemnation of all men, but even then it would depend on the circumstances. I know a number of single mothers who are struggling to get along without men, and when one of them says to me "men are a waste of space" I just smile, because what would be the point of saying "I don't think they're a waste of space" or "mine isn't", udner the circumstances, it would sound insufferably smug. If you have to get through life without a man, then seeing them as a waste of space is probably better than mourning the lack of one.

Equality Does Permit Nurturing

I totally disagree that equality doesn't permit nurturing. If a person is determined to prove to the world that she's the equal of any man, maybe she won't let herself be nurtured. Of course, what does nurturing mean to you? Maybe if we had a better idea of what you think nurturing looks like it would be more concrete.

But in an equal relationship, where nobody's out to prove anything because no one needs to prove anything, it works just fine and we nurture each other. It's absurd to say that two people with equal power in a relationship can't nurture each other. Nor does nurturing have to go only in one direction.

Giving up power may or may not mean devaluing. The fact that a woman who has given up her power in a relationship is being "spoiled" by her loving husband may or may not mean she has the same value as he does. You could spoil and pamper your poodle, too, but does it have the same value as you? Maybe she does have the same value in the relationship, but being pampered and petted doesn't prove it to me. She might, or she might be an ornamental trophy wife. It depends on the people involved.


To “Pat” (“Equality Does Permit Nurturing”)

Regarding equality and nurturing, read my replies to Louise and to Rich.

Giving up power may or may not mean devaluing. The fact that a woman who has given up her power in a relationship is being "spoiled" by her loving husband may or may not mean she has the same value as he does. You could spoil and pamper your poodle, too, but does it have the same value as you? Maybe she does have the same value in the relationship, but being pampered and petted doesn't prove it to me. She might, or she might be an ornamental trophy wife. It depends on the people involved.

In my second paragraph, I was talking about women in good Taken In Hand relationships. I know this because my first line stated “In a good Taken In Hand relationship, the more a woman belongs to her man, the more she becomes a treasure to be cherished.”

“Cherish as a treasure” means, according to the dictionary, to hold dear (highly esteemed or regarded) one considered especially precious or valuable.

And perhaps you should reread some of the many articles and comments, on this site, that were written by women who are in good Taken In Hand relationships. They are best qualified to know their feelings about their value in their relationships.