What should happen in a Taken In Hand marriage when it runs into a block wall of resistance on the woman's part? That is, when she is so clearly opposed to the man's orders that even punishment will not work; and it appears that there is no way she will comply unless the man forces her. Is a man in a Taken In Hand relationship ever justified in forcing his wife to do something that she is so vehemently opposed to?
Taken In Hand is a marriage where both parties feel happy and fulfilled. But it's also about the man's leadership and control; and in some couples that indeed means that the man has the final say in most things, or all. Ideally, a couple would not need to sacrifice either the wife's happiness or the man's control. But sometimes there are difficult or intractable issues. How does one balance the wife's happiness against the man's control, when the man makes a demand that his wife is very resistant or even resentful towards?
This question is hard to answer without knowing more details about the nature of the command in the particular case, and just why his wife is so opposed to it. The two of them need to discuss this thoroughly, if they have not already done that. But in general, Taken In Hand is about making both parties happy. If anything, the husband has an even greater responsibility than most men do, to ensure that his wife is feeling happy and fulfilled under his leadership. That's what being the husband in a Taken In Hand marriage means: Not that the man gets whatever he wants, and the woman just has to put up with it; but that he is able to guide them both towards a happier, more loving, sexier, and more fulfilled relationship.
In some cases, it's possible that either the man or the woman is being unreasonable or uncompromising; or maybe even both. As a woman, I would want to feel not only happy in the relationship, but also safe, dominated, protected, respected, and appreciated. The man needs to exercise wisdom, caution, understanding and compassion in his leadership. The woman may have good reasons for her disobedience, and he should be willing to have a long talk and listen to her reasons, instead of just trying to bully her into something that he knows she is strongly opposed to. There may be some acceptable alternative: another way to accomplish the thing the man really desires, that does not involve the wife at all; or there may be some compromise that is acceptable to both of them.
(And please note that I'm not saying that it's always wrong for a man to bully a woman. Sometimes they both enjoy that, as part of a romantic game of dominance and surrender. In that case, it's usually not about something where the woman strongly objects, but something where she is putting up some token resistance, just to provoke him into getting more forceful with her. Women can be kind of tricky that way, so men need to be alert and perceptive as well, so they can understand just what is going on.)
In my view, the man should never try to force (or even command) his wife to do something that she strongly feels is: unsafe, illegal, unethical, dishonorable, or deeply repugnant to her. (And something that is clearly unhealthy would count as unsafe, in the long run.) It's usually pretty clear what's legal and what's not; the question of what's unsafe or unethical will probably require some discussion or even debate between the man and woman.
An example on the safety issue: Personally, I feel that I have a right not to ride in a car with someone whom I feel is not driving safely. Couples can and do have disputes on that, and perhaps some things are not as dangerous as I imagine. But when it comes to safety, I feel it's best to err on the side of caution, so both parties should feel like the driving is safe. But also realize that driving always carries risks, as does anything else in life. People may assess those risks very differently. If the husband were commanding his wife to drive 80 miles an hour, or tailgate, or run through red lights, then he is clearly the one in the wrong. But if the wife were to insist on driving so slowly that cars are piling up behind them and other drivers are getting angry and swerving around them, then she is probably overly fearful.
What can the man do when the woman is overly fearful in general, or has irrational fears about some particular thing? Again, it depends on just what it is. I happen to have arachnophobia, an irrational fear of spiders, that I have no control over. I really dislike having this phobia, and I would love it if there was a good cure. But if a man decided to try and “cure” me of that phobia by tying me up and dropping spiders on my naked body, you can be quite sure that would end the relationship at the first spider. (If not my sanity and his life.) There is probably a way to work around specific phobias, to some extent. But when someone is excessively fearful in general, then it may require getting a therapist involved. Men in general seem more willing to take risks of a physical nature than women are; so it might be that they just need to find ways of accommodating both personalities. But if the man and wife are very badly mismatched from the start in terms of what they consider safe and acceptable versus unacceptably risky, then that may spell long-term trouble for the relationship.
A similar caution holds for what they might find unethical or dishonorable. (Honor and ethics being related but not identical. It's probably not strictly unethical to flip off another driver, or tell your aging grandma that you're annoyed at hearing her aches and pains, or relate scatological jokes at the family dinner table, or leave porn magazines on the living room coffee table. But all of those things are bad manners, and they can make someone seem like a less than honorable person. So honor is perhaps halfway between ethics and manners, and it concerns the important question of human dignity.) Here again, it helps a lot if the man and wife are well matched from the start, in terms of how they view ethics and dignity and manners. That does not mean they need to be identical, of course; and this is another area where there may be gender differences involved. For reasons known only to the Gods, most men find seem to find bathroom humor and slapstick much funnier than women do. On the other hand, a man will often be the first to rush in and rescue someone who is in danger, because heroism is part of the ideals of dignity and manhood for many men. (Well, the good ones, anyway.)
Perhaps the broadest and fuzziest area of dispute is in the issue of what people consider to be deeply repugnant. Women are often repulsed at finding the toilet seat left up, which puzzles men. That's a relatively minor dispute, and it could be resolved either way, in a hygienic manner. Many women are repulsed by pornography of any kind; and many men seem to find this puzzling, and feel their porn addiction is harmless. Sometimes the man will try to talk his wife into some sexual activities that he discovered in porn videos, and his wife will find this deeply repulsive to her, and be adamant in her refusal to cooperate. The man may take this as a personal rejection, and a sexual one; and if sex is very important to him, then he may feel his wife's rejection of some particular sexual activity as a rejection of him as a man. That is probably an unreasonable interpretation, as it's almost never the wife's intention. But knowing that men can feel that way can help the woman to be more sensitive to his feelings about it—provided that he is also willing to be sensitive to her feelings.
The bottom line with sexual activities, I would say, is that it's not really good sex unless both people are enjoying it and finding it sexy. If the man coerces or manipulates his wife into accepting some sexual activity that she is not interested in, then he may as well be having sex with a blow-up doll. If he coerces her into engaging in some sex act that she really hates, then he is probably killing their marriage. That does not mean that he is a bad man for desiring this particular thing; nor is it unreasonable of him to want his wife to enjoy it too. (Assuming here that the activity in question is safe, and something that most people would not find repugnant. There are some fetishes out there that would make almost anyone gag.)
But the wife has a right to her feelings too; and if the husband repeatedly violates her feelings, especially in a sexual way, then that may backfire and the man may soon find that his wife is deeply repulsed by all sexual activities with him. It's probably best if the wife and husband both are willing to expand their erotic horizons and do a bit of sexual exploring with each other. But that does not guarantee that anyone will like what they explore; and with some things they may know full well they would hate it without even trying it. So it really all comes down to finding sexual expressions that both man and wife really enjoy. The rest will need to be relegated either to a solitary fantasy life, or perhaps even totally forsworn. Like all other important areas of compatibility in marriage, sexual compatibility is an issue that is best explored well before committing to the marriage.
Okay, so let's assume now that the thing that the husband is commanding his wife to do does not fall into one of those hard-line categories. That is: it's not unethical, nor unsafe, nor deeply repugnant, etc. It's just something where the wife has a huge amount of inner psychological resistance; and perhaps even resents the man for being so persistent in his demands. Maybe she feels that he's asking her to do something beyond her ability; something that she would find too difficult and arduous, and perhaps she also regards it as useless and pointless and a waste of time. From her viewpoint, he is perhaps being unreasonable in his demands; but here they should both realize that's a subjective judgment, and that they each have a right to their own ideas about what's worthwhile and what's not. Does the man's leadership in the Taken In Hand marriage mean that only his ideas count? No, I don't think so. Again, his leadership is about helping them both to feel happy and fulfilled.
So if his wife is an artist who needs several hours a day to draw and paint, and he insists that she should instead be spending all that time washing his socks and taking out the trash, and other chores—then he is not treating her with respect or appreciation. He is dismissing something that is very dear to her heart—namely, her art—and in doing so he is dismissing her as a human being. On the other hand, if she is a stay-at-home wife who has become so engrossed in her latest art project that she spends 18 hours a day at it—while the dishes pile up in the sink and the dust bunnies multiply on the floor—then the man may be well within his rights to demand that she needs to take better care of the house, and ration how much time she spends on her art. He may even be justified in setting goals for her to meet each day, or making her fill out a schedule, reporting how she spent her time and what she got done that day. If the wife refuses to accept his leadership even when it's clearly in their best interest, then I would question whether she is really interested in a Taken In Hand marriage at all; and maybe even whether she is even interested in keeping her husband.
Some other ways where the husband might intervene and make demands of the woman that she is not really happy about: insisting that she go on a diet and exercise program; or that she take responsibility for other mundane tasks, such as paying the bills and maintenance on the car. She might not enjoy doing any of these things; but they do need to get done, and someone has to do them. They just need to ensure that both parties have some free time for their own interests and hobbies, and soul commitments. There should always be an opportunity for the wife to discuss things with her husband, to give her viewpoint and her feedback, and to have that respected, considered, and taken seriously. But if they are in a Taken In Hand marriage, then the man will likely have the final word, after all is said and done. If he takes his leadership seriously, then he will strive to support his wife and her happiness, and her personal commitments. Sometimes his leadership means that it's wiser to do what his wife wants than what he wants, on some particular issue of importance to her. Being a strong leader means knowing when to compromise and when not to. If he views the Taken In Hand marriage as a chance to indulge and encourage his inner lout—by enforcing all of his own interests and desires while ignoring all of his wife's interests and desires—then that is not a Taken In Hand marriage. Indeed, it's not much of a marriage at all; and it's probably doomed.