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.