Is the idea of fairness causing trouble in your relationship?

One of the problems some couples in a Taken In Hand or DD relationship have, especially when they are new to this kind of relationship, is the idea of fairness. The man often wants to be a nice guy and doesn't want to spank the woman unless it is “fair”. The woman sometimes gets caught up in the idea of fairness too. Much unnecessary conflict ensues. So, my wife and I just took fairness off the table. It took a little while for both of us to get past the fairness reflex, but it was worth it. It really does feel better now.

We simply agreed that job one is helping her and our relationship to be safe and happy. Putting her first means putting fairness or any other abstract consideration second. That sort of clarity makes it so much easier for us to feel like we are on the same side of the table. She can always appeal anything I decide. I listen, I am never arbitrary or unreasonable, but I don't even pretend to be fair. I just sincerely put her first, and she feels safe and loved knowing that.

I know how hard it is, at first, to feel good about exercising authority over your loved one, without considering fairness. Let me share some thoughts on how we came to feel that it's best to lose our attachment to that very powerful word.

First, a Taken In Hand or DD relationship, as we are wired, isn't fair. It's intrinsically asymmetrical. What's fair about me having the final say on almost anything? What's fair about her getting a spanking for not being her best, when all I need to do when I screw up is apologize, promise not to do it again and feel lousy about it? Chris is an unusually bright and capable adult, with an MBA from an elite school and a very powerful position. There really isn't much fair about her needing to abide by my judgment as to what is best for her and our relationship. We may not have been thinking in those terms when we entered into it, but we agreed to live by fundamentally unfair covenants which we felt would fulfill us and nurture our relationship. As it happens, we got all we hoped for and more. We really are like honeymooners. We often make people sick.

Second, if we understand that the relationship was never intended to be fair from the start, why should we burden the conduct of the relationship with that consideration, unless it adds greater value than it costs or risks?

Here's an example. Suppose you and your loved one have one of your extremely rare little spats. Some terse and ill-considered words are exchanged which aren't reflective of the love and respect you share and desire to always express. Regardless of who may be more at fault, if you are honest with yourself, you don't ever want to be allowed to talk to him like that, any more than he wants to feel free to act unloving to you. Now, you are trusting him to act on behalf of your relationship. You don't want spats to get out of hand, or happen often enough to erode your tenderness toward each other. Would you want him to put fairness first and say, “I can't very well take the necessary action on our behalf because I share the blame?” Might you prefer that he step in, very early in the spat and say, “That is not how you want to be allowed to talk to me and we need a hug and to start this discussion over with the love and respect we feel.” You realize, of course, that that was a warning shot over the bow. It will soon to be followed be some concerted activity a-stern if the warning goes unheeded.

There is nothing fair here. If you end up spanked for something of which he is equally guilty, know that he is keeping his promise to keep the relationship safe. His punishment is having to spank a woman he loves for something that he may be as much at fault as she. I can tell you from experience that the woman will probably feel it's very unfair before she is spanked and will need a lot of tenderness. She will very likely feel loved and safe and glad her man was there for her when her when she needed him to be, after the spanking. Both partners, and the relationship, win; fairness is the loser.

This stuff isn't easy. Will you be able to say thank you for putting me first honey, through your tears, when you both know it's almost never really fair?


[If you feel dubious about this idea, do read the comments below for further explanation.—Editor]

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Fairness doesn't enter into it as far as I am concerned. When my husband and I started Taken In Hand I suggested to him, very tentatively, that he could spank me when he was annoyed with me about something if he wanted to, and that's what he's done ever since. If we've had words about something he might apologise for shouting at me or something, but he'll still give me a good walloping if he feels like it. and he certainly doesn't regard it as a punishment for himself, in fact he generally gets a lot of satisfaction out of it. Which is how I like it. He gets rid of any feelings of ill-feeling he might have towards me in a manner satisfactory to both of us.

The only times I've ever felt it was unfair when he spanked me was when he spanked me for doing something that he thought I'd done and I thought I hadn't. This has only happened a couple of times though. Tenderness doesn't really enter into spanking much, my husband tends to be quite stern when he is spanking me, and I prefer it like that, tenderness at this time would not help me to concentrate my mind on the business at all.



I don't think relationships of any kind last if there is unfairness. So if say he sits around and she does 3 hours housework after work—unfair, wrong, whether she's takeninhand by him or not.
But nor do I think it's unfair if people are that way inclined that decision making power is given to one of them.It just means that one has to be very good at making sure things are fair. Nor do I think he needs to ensure he isn't fairly treated. I would hate that someone I loved was always only considering me and not himself because then he wouldn't be happy either.

Of course things can't be identical in any kind of relationship and life itself is not fair as my mother always used to tell us if we complained about unfairness but I think feeling things are fairly done, justice etc is the heart of good laws and good rules at home too. There was an English judge, Lord Denning who started one famous speech that the people of England don't obey laws because they are told to but because they believe them to be fair and just.


Hi Louise,

I just had an opportunity to browse through the responses to my fairness post. I think for many, I didn't make my thoughts sufficiently clear. I am not advocating unfairness. What I was trying to convey is that in some situations, Chris's welfare and/or the welfare of our relationship is disconsonant with the abstract concept of fairness. Since the goal of our Taken In Hand relationship is a happy, loving marriage, in those circumstances, I put her and the relationship first. That's what I promised and what she has wanted from the start.

In the example you cited of him spanking you for something he thought you did, but you actually hadn't, we wouldn't see that as a fairness issue. If I thought she had done something, all she would need to do is tell me that she hadn't and the matter is over. I would never assume that she would lie. We couldn't imagine being in a Taken In Hand relationship without trusting each other.

Well, I think the things I ge

Well, I think the things I get spanked for are probably quite different from the things your wife gets spanked for. Generally I get spanked for things that annoy my husband, which are not necessarily very important, and seldom anything to do with my welfare or the welfare of the relationship or anything like that, they're just things that happen to irritate him.

In the case of the recent incident of my getting spanked for something I thought I hadn't done and he thought I had, it was because he kept finding the airing cupboard door opan and the cat inside sitting on the towels on the bottom shelf. This necessitated having to wash the towels again. I got spanked on two seperate occasions for leaving the airing cupboard door open, even though I was convinced I hadn't. "The cat must have clawed the door open" I told him indignantly, but he rejected this idea with scorn, though I am absolutely convinced it was what had happened. This situation has now been resolved, because he has put a sort of lock thing on the airing cupboard door "And I'd like to see the cat get that open" as he observed. There haven't been any more incidents of the cat in the airing cupboard, so that's all settled now. I am still convinced that the cat managed to get the door open though, and he is still convinced that I left it open. It wasn't so much a case of him thinking I had lied, as of thinking I had simply been careless and absent-minded (which I am occasionally). Not that I'm not capable of lying if it happens to suit me, but I wasn't in this instance.

I mean, him spanking me in these kind of situations is of course of good to the relationship in that it is far preferable to me that he spank me rather than losing his temper and shouting at me, but it is a good way for him to let off steam, and I know he doesn't dislike doing it, in fact he seems to derive a great deal of satisfaction from it, which is really how I prefer it.

To someone who doesn't get anything out of being spanked of course it must seem terribly unfair that one person gets spanked and the other doesn't, but if you like it like that then I don't think the fairness really matters all that much.


Fairness is Important

We have no problem with fairness because fairness means a lot to us. We don't follow Taken In Hand anyhow.

If I got spanked for something that was partly his fault too I would not see it the way your wife sees it, Ted. I would not be grateful that he is "keeping the relationship safe." I don't see why that does keep a relationship safe, does it mean he's free to be a jerk but she isn't?

It would work just as well if they disengaged from the fight, wouldn't it, and just apologized?

Fairness means a lot to me. If it doesn't to someone else, fine. I understand the argument that it turns one person on to be spanked but not the other. That makes sense. But that one gets spanked to protect the relationship while the other doesn't? No, that doesn't fly with me. Hand me the would be for both of us.


Fairness is important to me a

Fairness is important to me as well, but I've always believed that fairness does not mean that everyone gets the same thing. Fairness means everyone gets what they need.

If we are having an argument that spirals out of control and we aren't able to drop it and approach it in a more level-headed manner I would find it fair if I got spanked.
1. If I am unable to bring myself under control I would want him to help me with that.
2. I find that being spanked makes me feel cared for and protected. I need that especially when things are spiralling. It's absolutely fair to spank me if that is what I need.

This is where I guess the verbage is pretty important. I would be extremely upset if during this spanking I were being told how badly I flubbed up. I would need it to be more of a connection spanking. The message would need to be "I love you and I'm not going to let this little thing ruin our relationship," not "You're a flawed/inferior individual for not seeing this my way and I'm going to spank you until you do."


Hi Pat,

It's not for everyone. We are in a Taken In Hand marriage because it make us happy together.

Keeping her and the relationship safe does not give either of us licence to be a jerk. Some, extremely bright, mature and personally effective women find happiness in the caring arms of a man doing his best to make her feel safe, happy and loved. Not all women want the same paths to that goal.


So Where's the Unfairness Then?

Ted, then why is "fairness" a problem that couples have to let go of then? Why do you need to advocate letting go of fairness if there IS no unfairness involved?

I said it before, in a relationship where both people are happy about it it is not "unfair" that one gets spanked and the other spanks. If that's what they both want then it is perfectly fair.

If he's not being a self-serving jerk and if he is willing to listen to her say she is not guilty of some offense without overriding her as head of the household, then she's not being spanked unfairly.

So I don't understand the idea of "fairness" being a problem in the relationship, unless we are talking about the bean counters.



Hi Pat,

I think some of the disagreement is semantic. Some of it really is about fairness though. The best example that comes to mind is probably one of our extremely rare spats, as cited in my original post. No one is blameless in these exchanges, but its my responsibility to protect us by seeing to it that it ends quickly and lovingly. If a gentle warning and a hug works, that's wonderful. If it doesn't, she gets a spanking and a hug. It isn't fair, but it is how she and I want it to be. For the record, she consented to her spanking as always, but she didn't agree that it was deserved since she felt I had provoked her behavior. She was clearly, partially correct. Neither of us were being our best. After the spanking, she thanked me and felt that I had done exactly the right thing, but not hard enough. She handed me her hairbrush, and crawled back over my lap, for the good cathartic cry she needed. It is impossible not to love her with all my heart at times like that. Perhaps not how most couple feel after a spat. We have barely had a terse word since. That was a couple of years ago.

An interesting aspect is, because I know its unfair, I tend to strive to be worthy of the trust. I think in the more egalitarian relationships I have had in the past,
I was less inclined to this noblesse (sp?) oblige, and we fought more.

I hope that makes it a least a little clearer.


Fair v Just

First, I'd like to ask this question, and I'm not being argumentative, so please don't take it that way. I just see a logical failing in this discussion.

Pat states "...we don't follow Taken In Hand anyway..." If that's the case, her arguments about fairness have NOTHING to do with Taken In Hand, because she's already stated she doesn't follow it. If she had said "we follow some of Taken In Hand, but we don't agree with the fairness aspect", that would be a valid, relevant comment. As I see it, Pat's comments are not useful, because they preclude discussing fairness within the context of Taken In Hand.

Obviously, fairness is important to someone who's not in a Taken In Hand relationship, but those values aren't pertinent to a Taken In Hand relationship, just as the values of a Jewish marriage aren't pertinent to a Catholic marriage.

Not to say someone from outside the community may not have insight, but if they state they de-value/deprecate Taken In Hand, how can they comment on specific aspects in this fashion?

If someone doesn't want or value a Taken In Hand relationship, then why are they on this site? I realize that can sound harsh, and I don't mean it that way, it just seems to follow logically.

Now, on to the title of my post. It seems we're confusing fairness with equivalency or justice.

[For the rest of this comment, see Taken In Hand is not fair but it is fun—and just.—The Editor]

Fairness is not important


Thanks for sharing this with Taken In Hand. It is one of the posts that really helped Mike and me in our early days into DD. We were stuck on this whole "fair" thing, at least Mike was. He never felt like he could take control and lead because he could always find a reason that it would not be fair for him to do that. He spent so much time worry over fair, trying to be fair, wanting everything to be fair. What happened was it stifled any ability for him to take me in hand. He thought he needed to be fair to be a good leader, so much so that he could not lead at all.

In desperation I wrote a question asking for help, to help my husband understand what I meant when I kept telling him that fair did not really matter. You came up with this explanation. It really spoke to Mike, it jived with him and I think he finally started to see what I had been driving at, and how it could really work.

In the first place our relationship is set up to be inherently "unfair". He has powers in the relationship that I do not have. But it works for us. When it works well it feels so good for both of us. I tend to think along the lines of fair is everyone getting what they need, and not everyone getting the same thing. That explanation although works for Mike really well in most situations did NOT seem to fit for him in our personal relationship. We do not really worry too much about 50/50 stuff so much anymore. We do not worry so much about who is to blame for what and who really needs to apologise for what. What is important is doing what will work in our relationship, and what will in the long run be the best thing for us. We found naming and blaming did not suit us very well, and led to grudges and hard feelings. Even with apologies which neither of us have ever been thrifty with. The Taken In Hand way for us does not lead to these hard feelings or long lasting damaging feelings. It clears the air, and sets us on a more connected path.

Take care,

Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong. -Dandemis


Yes, fair does not need to mean "the same", even in marriages where power is shared. Real life doesn't work like that. I was good at tax law. My ex seemed happy to take sole charge of washing the terry/cloth nappies or whatever one's competences are. I think dominant men need to be careful because if it's someone's nature to serve and not to complain then she can easily be exploited and he can sit back very much enjoying an unfair situation where he does very little and she does it all. That is rarely going to work to anyone's advantage long term.

I agree with Tev too about practicalities. Having lists. Ticking off you did this and I that so now I do the other is never going to work. Also if it suits someone that her other half decides things then that's not unfair at all—it's what she wants. I hate arguments and dissension and when you're takeninhand to some extent that's removed but it's still a fair relationship.


Hi Tev,

I am often amazed at how much you and Mike seem like Chris and me.

It's wonderful to read your words now and then just to know we aren't as crazy as we sometimes think we are.


It must be fair!

My fiancé and I have agreed that we do like some aspects of Taken In Hand but he is not going to spank me when we are having a fight that is just as much his fault as mine. If he were to hit me during a fight that we were both equally responsible for I would feel resentful of his authority. I would feel that his is taking advantage of his position in our relationship.

Now, if I walked in the house PMSing and just picked a fight with my fiancé over nothing. I’d EXPECT him to drop my pants right there and spank me till I was in tears. Although I think PMS is natural to a lot of women it can be controlled and many women think they don’t have to try to control it because it’s “not fair” that they have to suffer through their period and aren’t allowed to bitch when they want to. This is absurd to me. Just because I have a period once a month doesn’t give me the right to treat my fiancé like shit that whole week cause “it’s not fair” that I’m suffering. Please, now that is childish.

When my fiancé and I have a fight and it’s equally both our faults then we hash it out. We would curse and yell and call names. Now we keep things more level. We try to use I statements and if one of us says something spiteful we apologize to the other. I know if my man says something spiteful he is only saying it because he’s angry and vice versa and I don’t take it to heart.

I agree that Taken In Hand is essentially “not fair” but this is what I want. I want him to make the final decision. I want to be ruled under his authority. I want him to spank me when he thinks I need it. However, I expect him to take time to consider if spanking me is fair and he does consider this before acting and discusses it with me. How can he rationally consider fairness if he just flips me over during a heated discussion? It’s impossible for anyone to put anger aside during a fight and rationalize whether or not the woman needs to be spanked or put in timeout.

This also doesn’t take into thought if the man in the relationship is the hot head. There are times where my fiancé is the one yelling and screaming and I’m sitting in front of him with eyes wide open and jaw dropped. Do I need to spanked during this moment too? According to some in Taken In Hand this would benefit him and me immensely, although I don’t see what I’m going to get out of it other then a sore ass.

Ted said:

Might you prefer that he step in, very early in the spat and say, “That is not how you want to be allowed to talk to me and we need a hug and to start this discussion over with the love and respect we feel.”

I’m calling bullshit on this statement. What this man could say is:

"Stop! This is not how either of us wants to be treated. Let’s take a break. Consider what we are both saying and hearing. Then we will hug and reconvene with the love and respect we both feel. "

Now this is putting the RELATIONSHIP first.

This article is VERY important

I may be mistaken, but I conjecture that couples hung up on the idea of fairness cannot be in a Taken In Hand relationship, and that if they try to set up their relationship that way and do not also drop the idea of fairness, they will fail or their relationship will fail.

Why? Because as Ted and others have said, a Taken In Hand relationship is inherently “unfair” (as those opposed to Taken In Hand relationships invariably point out) so if you make fairness a criterion, that can't possibly work in this context. But there is more to it than that.

The idea of fairness leads people astray in all sorts of different kinds of relationships, not just Taken In Hand ones. The whole concept is philosophically problematic, and ruinous to relationships. When you think in terms of fairness, you are using a mechanical idea of how to resolve issues, when what is needed is creativity. People hung up on the idea of fairness tend to keep score, always checking that everything is what they deem to be fair, and resenting the other person whenever their ideas of what is fair in any given situation conflict. Work by John Gottman and others suggests that relationships in which there is that kind of resentful fairness hypervigilance fail, and it is not difficult to see why.

Because it is really not possible to have fairness and optimal solutions to problems simultaneously, everyone tends to be miserable in relationships in which fairness is deemed more important than solving the problems.

Let me give an example:

A feminist philosopher once argued that men and women need to be doing the same amount of housework. It has to be more fair and equitable than most marriages are currently, she said. Until her husband is doing exactly the same housework as she is (is it taking the same time that is important? or is it results that count? or must he do the housework EXACTLY as fast and as well as his wife does?) she is being treated badly.

When I pointed out that different individuals have different skills, different preferences, different desires, different all sorts of other things, and that some women love to keep house while their man works outside the home (and vice versa, come to that!) she could not conceive of how it could be a good idea for this kind of division of labour, and she suggested that people who accept such a division of labour are being exploited and abused. She couldn't understand that if housework makes a husband feel miserable and working out there in the big wide world makes a wife feel miserable, for that couple it is better to arrange things in a way that the feminist I refer to would find unfair. And yet it clearly would be better for them to make the most of their complementary individual preferences and skills and have a division of labour that suits each of them well.

Bringing this to the issue of the woman being taken in hand in a Taken In Hand relationship, there is an even bigger issue. If you make fairness a criterion for taking the woman in hand, I can't imagine how the relationship can possibly survive, because either the woman is going to be feeling very angry and resentful and that things are “unfair” all the time, OR the woman must be behaving badly on a regular , and the man must always be Mr Perfect Man, in order for the man to be taking the woman in hand and not the reverse—and why would wonderful Mr Perfect Man want to be with such a ghastly woman when he can clearly find someone a whole lot more pleasant to be with?! Either way, the chances of such a relationship surviving are slim. Resentment eats away at the love and destroys it. It is poisonous. It is incredibly harmful and destructive to a relationship.

Understanding that fairness is a terrible thing to aim for in a relationship helps couples to start aiming for something better—ways of handling difficulties that instead of pitting the two against each other (as the fairness idea does) bring the two together.

For those able to drop the fairness idea, Taken In Hand can provide a fabulous means of solving problems, nipping fights in the bud, resolving difficulties, and reconnecting, as I have described, for example, here. Taken In Hand powerfully brings the couple's sexual connection and core personality aspects (in which this kind of control feels soothing and brings peace and harmony and intimacy) to bear in difficult times and on problems and issues. But I can't imagine how a Taken In Hand relationship can work if fairness is given high priority. Part of what it means to be in a Taken In Hand relationship is being able to relax and be at peace, and you can't feel peaceful if you are having to watch out for unfairness all over the place.

And what if the man is human too, just like the woman? What if the man is if anything more angry or emotional than the woman? What if the man sometimes wants to spank his wife to get his anger out, whether it is fair or not? What if the woman is very happy to be used in that fashion? Is it objectively better if the woman would not allow herself to be used in that way? Or some other “unfair” way? Why? What is wrong with helping someone you love? Why must the man never need such help? Why can't he be human and still be loved and accepted by his wife despite his human weaknesses and flaws?

When you make fairness a criterion for judgements and decisions and actions, what happens when the two of you genuinely, wholeheartedly, and with good will disagree about what constitutes fair in a particular case? Then what do you do? Then you are in trouble, because whatever happens, if you disagree, one or both of you are going to be angry and resentful and unhappy. And eventually, if you are in a relationship in which there is an element of control, the whole thing is going to blow up, with the controlled party accusing the other of abuse, and the like. How can this possibly work? I advise all couples new to Taken In Hand to talk about this issue and make sure that fairness is not going to come between you. If your spouse is hung up on the fairness idea, I think you need to work through that, perhaps with a competent marriage therapist, before beginning to make changes in a Taken In Hand direction.

One of the most wonderful things about doing away with the fairness idea is that (if you have actually managed to drop it in your own psychology) you are free to stop being hypervigilant for signs that the other person is screwing you/being unfair, and you can relax and be at peace and put your energies into more productive things like coming up with creative ways of solving problems or otherwise making your marriage more and more joy-filled. Realising that things don't have to be fair to be delightful for both of you is amazingly liberating.

The man no longer has to feel sick with guilt about the unfairness of Taken In Hand; the woman can take delight in her husband's control, fair or not. She may also feel pleasantly more aware of her strength as a person when she notices that she positively enjoys the unfairness in their relationship.

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Misinterpreting Unfairness

That woman who was talking about 50/50 housework represented a viewpoint that does no one any good.

When I say fairness is important, I mean something quite a bit different.

I happen to be a switch. So a relationship where I am the one Taken In Hand and he walks away scot free from a similar offense would not work for ME. I don't see a problem with it in cases where it is clear that one person wants to submit and the other wants to dominate and they are both clear on their positions. And yet unfairness comes up as an issue even in those situations.

I DO see a problem with one person being spanked for participating in an unpleasant argument when both of them were at fault. Similar to CJ, I could see it as acceptable when it is a matter of reconnecting, and expressing love and concern for each other, but if it becomes a "I'm the head of the household so I will spank you until you admit you were wrong," situation then I think a lot of women who are submissive and want to be Taken In Hand would still perceive that as unfair. And they would be right! It would be an abuse of power.

When I say I have an equal and fair relationship with my husband, do you imagine me sitting there counting beans and telling him to shape up when he's got less "beans" on his side of the ledger? Because that is certainly not the case. We have different roles, not strictly because of gender, but they do happen to follow traditional gender roles. He goes to work. I stay home. I do most of the cooking. He does most of the grocery shopping. We do the laundry together and keep each other company. No one is counting up the chores to make sure they are exactly 50/50.

To me fairness is a more abstract issue than that. If he got the idea (or I did) that his wants and needs outweighed mine and that my opinions didn't matter, that would be unfair and it would be a problem. If he accuses me of something I didn't do, that would be unfair and it would be a problem. It would be even more of a problem, in fact a deal breaker, if he accused me of doing something wrong and he used some authority (just as a male who is stronger than me maybe) to spank me for it without checking the facts.

So I don't think this is the kind of "fairness" issue that people should jettison. If one person's needs are met and the other's are not, if one person becomes the scapegoat, these are real unfairness issues that need to be solved or the marriage is going to founder.

Btw, if the husband feels he wants to spank his wife to relieve his tensions, why doesn't he just say so? I don't see this as an unfair situation. But if he picked on her and made her wrong for some trivial thing in order to have an excuse to spank her, then that would be very unfair.


For the record

"Pat", I don't actually disagree with you about this. It is quite true that there are different senses of the word "unfairness" and that in some senses of the word it is indeed bad. I don't think that conflicts with anything I said in my post. I was not aiming it at you, and no, I had not imagined you being hung up on the fairness idea. If I had thought about you in this context I would have guessed that that you aren't hung up on the fairness issue, because you appear to have a longstanding marriage, and the statistics are against marriages surviving where there is the kind of problem I mentioned.

It is not about winning

I DO see a problem with one person being spanked for participating in an unpleasant argument when both of them were at fault. Similar to CJ, I could see it as acceptable when it is a matter of reconnecting, and expressing love and concern for each other, but if it becomes a "I'm the head of the household so I will spank you until you admit you were wrong," situation then I think a lot of women who are submissive and want to be Taken In Hand would still perceive that as unfair. And they would be right! It would be an abuse of power.

I do not see this as what Ted is talking about at all. I did not interprate Ted's taking his wife in hand in the way he mentions as a way to "win" an argument. I would bet that in Ted's marriage they are not really concerned about winning arguments and being right, Ted feel free to correct me if you disagree with this. It is about stopping an argument from spiraling out of control.

Mike and I have never had an argument where one person is totally at fault. We could be disagreeing on something, and we could both be getting frustrated. It could be over something that Mike started originally, who knows. This kind of thing happens to us. We could both start down the road to a huge, nasty fight. Then Mike will use his authority to take control. Not to win the fight, because that is not the point, there is no winner or loser. Our relationship is the winner or loser actually. Mike might take control to stop us from fighting, stop us from spiraling into a nasty fight over something quite trivial, which is most often the case for us. Is it fair that Mike will take control in this case? Some might say yes because he is equally to blame for starting it. But lets suppose that we put blaming secondary to a healthy close, sexually charged relationship. Lets suppose that we say that being right and winning the fight is not what is important. What is important to us is martial harmony. So it might seem unfair for him to take control, but really it would end up being unfair to our relationship if he did not. In the end "we" would lose.

In most cases there is no real right and wrong. For some folks finding the blame is not what makes the relationship healthy, although in the end it might be possible to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of either of us. We are not really looking for blame, or who is right or wrong. We have found that to be a really pointless excersise in our relationship. We both feel right in the moment, and usually we both feel that we can see the other's point of view after the fact. So Mike might very well say, "I am the head of the household and I will spank you for your behaviour during this argument because that is what I see is necessary." I do not think he is worried too much about being right or winning the argument. This situation is win/win for both of us. The thing is to an outsider looking in on our relationship it would be very difficult to see it this way. I am not saying that every relationship would benefit from being like ours, because you seem very happy in your relationship. Often though what might seem an "abuse of power" from the outside is nothing of the sort.

Take care,

Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong. -Dandemis

Respect for our agreements? That's fairness.

Lest we get stuck on words, those who wish to banish the concept of fairness, fill in the blank: "if he breaks their agreement he acts _____". Far from ridding the relationship of resentment by dispensing (by fiat?) with the concept of fairness (which, I would submit, you have mistaken for equality), you have, in my view, made it harder for the woman (who loves her man's authority but never wanted to live with a tyrant) to be able to say to him, calmly, considerately, that he let her down, broke their agreement, acted selfishly or inconsiderately. If she feels that way, and can find a voice to articulate her hurt in a mature way, if she invites a heartfelt reflection on his part, what will be his reply? He could say: "you're hung up on fairness. If you want me to be dominant, forget about that." Or he might say: "you know you're right, I can see your point. I'm sorry I let you down."

[For the rest of this comment see the front page article Agreements are a two-way street.—Editor]


I think fairness is really important in all relationships. i don't expect anyone to mean by that that everyone does identical chores although I don't see why if both men and women work the time they spend at home with children and housework shouldn't be fairly divided—what good dominant man thinks it's right he sits around at weekends whilst his wife doesn't everything and he reads the papers? How does that protect and look after her interests? If one is spending more time than the other on work/housework they'll get over tired and resent it. Surely that's common sense.

I found the quote I like
“Why do people obey the law?” Lord Denning asked and went on to answer:

“The people of England do not obey the law because they are commanded to do so; nor because they are afraid of sanctions or being punished. They obey the law because they know it is the thing they ought to do . . . For this reason it is most important that the law should be just. People will respect rules which are intrinsically right and just, and will expect their neighbours to obey them, as well as obeying them themselves: but they will not feel the same about rules which are unrighteous or unjust. If people are to feel a sense of obligation to the law, then the law must correspond, as near as may be, to justice.”

Same with rules imposed by a dominant man. They must be fair and just.

Seeking clarity

"I may be mistaken, but I conjecture that couples hung up on the idea of fairness cannot be in a Taken In Hand relationship, and that if they try to set up their relationship that way and do not also drop the idea of fairness, they will fail or their relationship will fail."

I am of two minds about the issue of fairness within a taken in hand marriage. Most husbands who discipline their wives are not so conceited to believe that they are superior to their wives, or that because he is a man that he is always right, or that he always possesses self-control. They do not believe she is any faultier than he is. Being human beings we all have our weaknesses and/or faults that we struggle with individually, and any attempt to keep score, as if such a thing was possible, would be absurd and pathetic. We are enjoined in a romantic, intimate relationship, not some legal compact between two business partners where all must be balanced and accounted for.

Yet, the issue of fairness can not be so easily cast aside as a factor in a taken in hand relationship. Not too long ago, on another forum, a woman spoke about how upset she was about being spanked by her husband for a reason she thought was unfair. Without going into the particulars, she was upset because to her the "unfair" spanking represented her husband's lack of trust in her. Her husband believed she had put herself in danger and had directly disobeyed him. She felt he had misjudged her behavior and punished her before he had all the facts. When advised that she should not worry about it being fair, for the very reason Ted and the boss explained above, she still insisted that fairness did matter.

So for her and for many others fairness does matter. Why? Quite often in a taken in hand relationship a wife trusts her husband to be fair when making a judgment about her behavior. It is important to these women that he gets it right. These women want to be held accountable for their behavior. Their views are that if it isn't fair then why bother to worry about the reasons for punishment. Why not forget about real reasons altogether and simply spank her whenever he feels like it? Why indeed? Because for these folk, the power of a taken in hand relationship partly lies in the husband's real authority to discipline his wife. If fairness did not matter it would be as if they were playing a role.

Perhaps the main reason that makes me wonder about the fairness issue is that I have discovered that taking my wife in hand not only changes her behavior, but it changes mine as well. I feel responsible to get it right. I am as accountable to her about my behavior as she is to me. If I am evaluating her behavior then I had better be evaluating mine as well. I do not pretend to believe that I or my wife is perfectible. But we both feel responsible to protect what we have in each other. If I acted as if taking her in hand was not based on some sense of fairness or that it did not matter, then I would threaten the very basis of our taken in hand relationship and that is trust in each other.

So here I am, having painted myself into a corner. lol I understand what Ted and the boss are saying, it makes so much sense, and yet, taking into consideration what I wrote above, I wonder if they can show me how my thinking is confused on the importance of fairness in a taken in hand relationship.

Reply to Stephen and others

I think some excellent points have been made, that have helped me clarify my point (in my own mind, at least—LOL!) As I said to "Pat", in some senses of the word, fairness is important. However, I was attempting to make a point about one particular meaning which trips people up.

It is interesting to me that there seems to be a slight cultural difference with respect to how the word “fairness” is used in the UK vs the USA. I would not say that someone who violated his agreements was acting “unfair”, I would say that he was acting immorally. To me, it is not a matter of fairness at all, it is a matter of his having raised expectations by making an agreement, and having done that, he should not violate it. Fairness doesn't come into it. So it seems that the word may be used differently in America.

On the issue of the woman whose husband punished her because he misjudged her, of course that would feel bad, and of course the man should strive to make his judgements accurate, and it is at least unfortunate or possibly negligent or outright abuse of his power if he makes a habit of this kind of misjudgement. In that sense, punishment should be fair, yes, if you want to call it that, but there are bound to be mistakes in that, and I do think that the woman does need to be able to get over that easily and move on, if the relationship is to survive. It is simply not possible for any man never to make a mistake. If the woman is often in a state of doubting her husband's good will, etc., that is a big problem. And if she does not doubt his good intentions, I really don't think the woman is going to get too upset about this kind of mistake. Honest mistakes happen. And sometimes a man might do something (punish her) in anger that he might well feel guilty about later. It is just too much to expect there never to be a mistake.

But of course I agree with you, Stephen, and others, who have stressed that the man should really work hard to make his judgements accurate and any punishments appropriate in the context of the relationship. IF you want to call that being fair and equitable, OK, sure!

I do think, though, that if the issue of fairness looms large in the relationship, then unless that is resolved the relationship is in jeopardy. This is absolutely not to say that the answer is for the woman to be silenced on that issue—silence is not AT ALL the same as a mutually-agreeable solution to the problem. Relationships in which the woman is silenced are also in jeopardy.


Hi Stephen,

I think you and I have very much the same understanding of the matter. I actually agree with every thing you said.

In the example you cited though, I don't see unfairness as the culprit. If he punished her before he heard all the facts, that's doing a pretty crummy job of protecting her and the relationship. They need to trust each other. He needs to hear her and believe her. She needs to trust that once he has really heard her, he will use the best judgement of which he is capable to keep her and the relationship first. She doesn't need to agree with every spanking. She needs to know she has been heard, and she is loved.


Hi the boss,

Beautifully said. I think you said what I meant much better than I did.


Different dynamics

I have to agree that you do throw some fairness out when you enter into a Taken In Hand relationship, but often only when compared to a marriage where both parties are equal. It's like playing by a new set of rules in a sense, and it reminds me of playing cards. One move might be allowed in one kind of rummy and not in another. One spouse "hitting" the other certainly breaks the rules of a non-Taken In Hand relationship and would definitely seem unfair and one-sided. But in a Taken In Hand, there's a different set of rules you agree to play by.

Now, to me the fairness issue really has to do with the reason for the spanking. I've long felt that if my husband chooses to spank me for something I didn't know he felt strongly about, I'd accept this kind as a "now you know spanking" and view it as fair. But, if he spanked me for for doing/not doing something that was impossible to accomplish/avoid, I would find it very difficult to stomach that kind "unfairness." I also wouldn't care for being spanked for something he thought I did as a result of misinformation, when in fact I didn't do it. I could take a "here's to making sure you never do xyz" walloping, a pre-emptive kind, over a "here's for doing xyz" that I never actually did spanking.

When I first introduced Taken In Hand to my husband, fairness was one of the things he brought up as troubling him, and it still comes up for him at times. I've done my best to reassure him that I don't need the same steps to be taken that a teacher takes with a student or a judge with a defendant. This is not all about crime and punishment to me. I need the release, reconnection and the physical reminder that he's the authority to whom I've agreed to submit. These things are much more important to me.

Fairness rules...

You certainly need as a dominant man taking a woman in hand a good idea of what is going to work, be reasonable, fair, right for her. I suppose some women might like to work 20 hours more a week than their man and serve his needs on a continuous basis to the point of exhaustion and as many women who accept their lot from huts in Africa to villages in Afghanistan they may not be unhappy because they see it as a norm, love their man and are content—so I am not saying "unfairness" always leads to unhappiness but if you have a woman brought up in a society like the US/UK where the law, rules, justice, life is designed around fairness to some extent you're not likely to be able to help her accept she does more than you around the house or that, say, the man sits at home doing nothing, no job, no housework, and the woman unfairly has a full time job and then does all the housework (which is not unknown—some dominant men , awful horrible ones, exploit submissive women with exactly that model).

The desire for fairness is something that can protect women who want to be takeninhand from abuse in my view. If you don't have it and you're with an abusive man then your submissive nature will just get taken advantage of. Desire for fairnes is therefore a self protecting and self esteem mechanism.

If by fairness we mean if he washes up one night she does the next then I doubt anyone is really going to advocate that. Sometimes I've accepted unfair treatment on the basis the relationship matters more than that situation on that day and if that's all we mean by unfairness then that's fine. In fact the incident I'm thinking about he apologised the next day. I don't think I could live in a long term situation where things were unfair on either side.

We have no problems with fairness

We have no problems with fairness. If my husband spanks me for something that wasn`t my fault he might apoligize or he just tells me: "Oh, well so you got spanked even if you didn`t deserve it, it reminded you who`s in charge". And that`s the end of it. I`m glad that he doesn’t have guilt feelings about it.

Re: We have no problems with fairness

Autumn, the way your husband and you feel about it and handle such situations sounds very healthy to me. I imagine that it might even give you two a bit of a giggle at times. It is not an issue for you.

To the boss,

Yes you're right, boss, it is not an issue for us at all and shouldn`t be for anyone else either. Nobody`s perfect and has the right to make mistakes. If a woman has the feeling of being treated unfair in cetain situations talking about it is ok, but then she should forget about it as quickly as it happened.

We have no problems with fairness

I am on the same wavelength with Autumn. When we entered into a Taken in Hand relationship, I gave my husband "carte blanche" to spank me whenever he wanted. This took fariness off the table. If I am being punished for something, I know it. If I am told to get the paddle and get over his knee because he wants me there, I look at it as an opportunity to practice my submission and please him.

Fair? Yes and No

Wow! This has been an excellent exchange of opinions.

Personally, I could never have submitted myself to being punished unfairly—that is until there were some fundamental structures put into place. I needed to be certain (well almost certain—ha,ha! I do struggle still) that my man had our best interest deeply embedded in his heart before we became an Taken In Hand couple because the fairness factor was a tough one for me.

My list included:

Will he expect me to shoulder all the household responsibilities even though I own a business? Or is he the team player that I need in my life who just sees what needs to be done and does it? Afterall, we are a team and if one of the team members is sitting on the homefront bench while both are simultaneously working the business field then surely the team member doing double teaming will tire of the situation and reevaluate. For me Hera is right on about this!

I worried about tyranny—I'm not kidding! I am so in love with this man and couldn't help worrying about what if he got carried away with the power and acted selfishly and out of some sense of superiority—that would make me unhappy and I would have to leave the relationship and then my heart would be crushed.

I worried about discipline and what if he crossed the line to abuse and then we would most certainly be over!

It goes on! Aye-aye-aye!

So for us what was required was a real understanding of who we are as individuals before we could apply Taken In Hand principles. When it was understood by me that my man had my wishes, desires, happiness, and personality traits known to him and held in his respect and then we combined it with my knowledge of his sense of decency, his sense of fairness, his ability to hold me in high regard, and his overall worthiness of being a forthright leader whose desire is to love me with everything inside of him, then to go into a Taken In Hand lifestyle and to be disciplined unfairly, turned out to not be the big impact that I feared it would be.

He is not always going to get it right—but he tries.

I am not always going to be disciplined when we are both at fault and at odds with one another, but when the situation arises unresolvable and we are miserable and our stability as a couple is wavering then he takes responsibility and uses discipline to ease the situation and create calm between us and when I have been thoroughly broke down and crying we then talk lovingly, respectfully, and gently to one another. He acknowledges his part and we discuss the fact that there is an unfairness to me getting disciplined but that his discipline to himself comes in the form of feeling responsible for failing as our leader and he takes that strongly to heart. We relax, apologize, and then have mind blowing sex!

This would never work for me if he was in any way ruthless, one-sided, selfish, self-absorbed, or any other trait that I personally abhor, but it works only because he is a good and just man who loves and adores me that I am able to find myself—every now and then—getting unfairly punished.

Oh well!


Fairness as an issue isn't something my wife and I have ever aimed for—I'm in charge and she obeys—but if that's what we both want in a sense it's the fairest and best way to run our marriage. I'm not sure why this is an issue for others. If one of us thought something was unfair that would be a problem to solve and ensuring fairness might not be the best way to solve it if the two of you don't want what would commonly be regarded as fairness. What am I missing?

John D.