My introduction to the Taken In Hand site was an essay on submission, which made me think about my relationship with my husband of seven years. I'm neither controlled nor submissive—we have what our relationship guru, Dr. Patricia Allen, calls a covenant relationship: which is based on equity; on chosen and complementary roles. Dr. Pat defines a covenant relationship as one in which the roles are designated: that is, each of us naturally has the full range of male and females energies, but we choose to remain anchored in our preferred energy.
Pat also teaches:
• convenient relationship: where the partners are both masculine energy and feminine energy, both get respected and cherished; although if their timing is off, it can result in clashes or hurt feelings and anger; and
• co-dependent relationships: where one person wants to be both respected and cherished, and the other person gets neither—Peter Pan and Wendy are the exemplars—she gives and (over-)gives hoping to get back from him but he never gives back! (Very occasionally, a co-dependent relationship between two strong narcissists works because each is able to hold their boundaries against the other. Lots of fireworks usually, though.)
I prefer to be the feminine-energy partner in a covenant relationship. That means that I am gratefully receptive to Mike; I am available to receive whatever and whenever he wishes to give, whether positive or negative (I am a woman with a career, not a career woman: he comes first!); and respectful of him. It also means I give up my natural right to present my wants, opinions, and directions freely to him. If I wish to offer a suggestion or opinion to him, I get his permission first—that is, I don't ambush him by suddenly turning into a Yang masculine-energy competitor for leadership. It also means that unless he suggests something that's illegal, immoral, or unethical, I follow his lead—no whining about what restaurant I want to go to, or what color I want to paint the living room.
I'm a very strong woman, and I need a very strong man if I am to respect him. I had wistfully decided there was no man so strong, and thus I was doomed to never marry. Then Mike showed up: he is that strong—I have no fear of ever being able to out-think or use force with him—and so I am entirely comfortable subordinating myself to him, as only an alpha female wolf can! The alpha female knows herself to be naturally superior in rank over all the other pack members—but defers to her alpha male.
Sadly, too many of the ladies on my Pat Allen-related lists can't hear that yet; they're still mired in the egalitarian fantasy and believe they can have a man who will provide for, protect, and cherish them but also see them as equals! I hope to awaken them to the fact that men really are different. If you want an alpha male/Yang mate, you're not going to get a sweetness-and-light wimp; you're gonna get a guy who likes weapons and women! A man who is intent on his status and his ranking against other men—because women's rankings of him don't count! Real uncomfortable stuff, that, for most “modern” women.
Mike is the Yang, masculine-energy partner in our marriage: he provides for me, he protects me, and he cherishes my feelings above his. That means he ensures I feel comfortable and secure. It also means that he must suck up his own negative feelings or anger, and not dump them on me without first getting my agreement to hear him. That way I am not ambushed into trying to take care of or sooth or “manage” his feelings unexpectedly. It also means he doesn't get to blow off steam from work at me! I am protected not merely from the world, but from his frustration. If I am doing something that bothers him (something he feels bad about), he makes an appointment with me, so I am prepared and receptive to hear his feelings, but otherwise he manages his own feelings, and takes care of mine!
I am the yin, feminine-energy partner, the receptive and cherished follower. That only applies in our relationship, between us—not at work, or in a store, or with other men and women where I am my usual Yang self! I am willing to control my Yang masculine-energy self (with Mike) and I work to remain anchored in my feminine-energy self, because that complementarity allows for Mike and me to have the best, most intimate, most balanced, and happy marriage. (Remember: all people have both kinds of energy.) I'm not submissive (in the textbook sense), and yet I recognize and respect him as the alpha male; the leader of our “pack”—I would (and will) follow him anywhere he leads! And I am a pretty damned good leader myself!! But I choose to be his loyal and loving subordinate—not his slave or servant or toy! He has as much care and responsibility to me as I do to him!
the boss wrote:
I got a chuckle out of this: we joke about Mike “taming his feral female”: because I was a serious (angry) feminist, a really masculine Yang woman when we met—in self-defense of the wounded little girl that he recognized and came to protect. But he and I do not find comfortable (for us—whatever floats your boat, eh?) the concept of “breaking” a woman; because who wants a broken woman? What does it say about a man (and his perception of manhood and of himself as a man) that he wants to “break” her, instead of choosing to cherish, protect, and guide her?! I have not been “broken”—I have been shown that while I may be head and shoulders above most other people, to Mike I am a beloved subordinate.
Most women want a man who is stronger, and can't be pushed or led around. None of us wants a wimp! (Or a husband-son!!) Rather than love and domination, I’m confused by this notion of domestic discipline / bondage / S&M, which seems to turn into further breaking someone already broken. Only someone who is already broken would consider being hit some version of love. I'm all for domination: the master is a master because he is better (bigger, stronger, smarter, more willing to be violent—but with his peers and competitors, not with his lover!—he's protective of her against all others!) Just because a man can beat up his woman does not make him worthy of her respect or make her willing to follow his lead.
It's not being submissive when you defer to your chosen alpha male. And he's not being an authoritarian dictator when he sets the plans and leads you—he's taking appropriate care of his woman. Pat Allen makes the balance and rewards of complementarity clear: when a woman is cherished, she feels respected. When a man is respected, he feels cherished!
Personally, I don't understand the need for physical discipline. If it is a sexual pleasure for you, have at it! However, if it is necessary in order that the woman “stays within his directions,” well, I’m not sure what that says about her willingness to make and keep her commitments to him. An alpha female wolf does not need the male to discipline her; she is entirely aware of her responsibilities as his second; she is subordinate to him because she chooses to be so, not because he can force her to be so. (She's worthy of his leadership!)
Of course, this may be the difference between an alpha wolf woman and a more naturally submissive or feminine woman. I am not naturally submissive—I am naturally rather aggressive and entirely elitist. I had given up on ever finding a man I was willing to marry, because I was not willing to subordinate myself to any man I had met until Mike showed up. But now I am, wholeheartedly and completely: