Since my husband became head of our home and our relationship, he just can't do enough to make me happy. I'm still trying to figure out exactly why this dynamic works the way it does. Before I became submissive, I was sure he didn't care about my feelings. He would create problems for me by leaving important things undone. It just didn't seem like he cared enough to make the effort. He didn't want to be reminded of his responsibilities, or asked to do anything more. How could a man really care about me and yet care so little about making me happy? Yet I knew he loved me. I knew he wanted me to be happy. He often said so, and he often expressed his love very convincingly in words and lovemaking. So why not in particular, important actions? This was so puzzling and frustrating to me.
A piece of the puzzle fell into place when I realized how important self-determination is to him. He has to do things because he wants to. He has to take on responsibilities and obligations freely; once he's taken them on, he'll just about kill himself to meet them. But if he feels the responsibility or obligation foisted on him from without, he just won't accept it. He just won't do it, even if it's something “everyone does” or “a good husband does”. If he hasn't chosen it, you can just forget it. I could beat my head against a wall until I went unconscious trying to get him to do things that I thought he should do because everyone else's husband does that, or because it's only fair, or whatever.
When he became the head of the household and of our relationship, there was a shift in the way he viewed himself, and me, and our home, and our life. He seems to have a heightened sense of ownership, a heightened sense of being the man of the house, and a sudden willingness to do things. Suddenly he wants to help me with the dishes and make the bed! He seems to feel that everything is more “his” than it was before: me, the house, the money. And it is indeed more his, in the sense that he has more control over all those things.
Ownership is basically having control over. Although we use the word “mine” to describe things that are merely connected with us, real possession implies control. I believe the sense of ownership ties us (his home and family) to his self-determination somehow. We are not so much things outside himself, demanding onerous duties; we are part of him, and doing things for us is more like doing things for himself. Furthermore, being in command means he makes decisions and carries them out. He does things because he decides they should be done, not because I told him about them or reminded him of them.
What does it mean to own another human being? Obviously, slavery springs to mind as an ugly institution that has fortunately been mostly stamped out. To own a person as if the person were an object, having total control over their destiny and no regard for their feelings, is obviously not good. But when a person desires to be possessed by another, this can be wonderful.
I must tread carefully here, because I really don't understand the attraction of being a “slave”, and I don't want to talk about what I don't know. I only wish to note that, like so much of what we talk about on this site, it is the voluntary aspect that changes night into day.
Everything we talk about here in terms of submission, ownership, slavery, discipline—it's all beautiful because both parties desire it. All of it would be shocking and horrible if one party didn't want it. I think it's that contrast that makes it erotic and that makes it such a tender gift, a breathtaking, awe-inspiring gift to the one who receives it. Because power implies the power to hurt, the gift of submission is a gift of awesome trust, it's a tremendously powerful statement saying, “I believe that you are good.” I could not give my husband the authority to discipline me physically unless I believed, down to my bones, that he would never, ever abuse that right, i.e., use it to harm me. And I could not give my husband control over our financial life unless I believed, deep down, that he would steer us right. He is a good man, and there is no more powerful way that I can tell him so than to freely give him the power to take care of me, which is also the power to hurt me and bring me to ruin.
The gift, of course, is not irrevocable, but we like to think of it so. There is always the possibility of leaving if our partner turns bad. Our society thankfully recognizes the equal humanity of women. But like an acrobat at the circus, we think about what we're doing and how wonderful it feels; we know the net is below us, but we don't want to dwell on it. To keep our minds on it ruins what we're doing.
I liked KrosRogue's little piece defining submission and subjugation. When a person is made a slave to another's will by force, obviously this is not a dynamic of love. There is no trust and no gift. Under other legal systems, women are, or have been, subjugated to men by law (which is force). You can still have good men in such a system (at least if the romance novels are to be believed!). A woman could still submit from love, and a good man could take good care of her. But the possibility of giving—and receiving—her submission as a gift would be lost. You can't give him something that belongs to him already. So only in the context of women being legally equal to men can submission truly be a gift. Only against this background of legal equality is the real beauty of our lifestyle possible.
A man sees himself reflected in the eyes of his woman. She can make him look small, incompetent, and weak. Or she can make him look strong, heroic, larger than life, a good man and true. And seeing himself so, he can be all that. In this way, her submission and trust make him a hero. A hero who holds her happiness and well-being in his hands. He will cherish that happiness and well-being above everything—above his own, perhaps—because that hero in her eyes is worth more to him than money, status, or his own comfort. This is the dynamic of the master and his queen. He cannot do enough for her because of the way she sees him.
I didn't see myself as a controlling woman, but I suppose I was. It's not a bad thing to be; it all depends on the circumstances. Sometimes a woman's survival depends on it. But when a woman would be happier if she had less control and she still won't give it up, I think it's because she was wounded at some point. Perhaps she was orphaned in childhood, or abused, or abandoned by her parents. Perhaps she was hurt in adolescence by selfish, uncaring men. Whatever happened, something convinced her that she was on her own, that if she didn't take care of herself, no one would. She is, you might say, a woman warrior in a hostile world.
When a woman like this submits to a man and gives him control of her life, is this not a truly awesome gift? She is telling him that he inspires enough trust to overcome all her doubts. Is this not a much greater gift than the submission of an untroubled girl who has been cherished all her life?
I realize now that when I was in control, the image I reflected back to my husband was the image of someone not entirely necessary, not entirely competent, not worthy of my trust and confidence. And he lived like that person. Now we are both transformed.