I grew up in a male-dominated family: where my father claimed the position of head of the household by right of the wedding vow made by my mother to "honor and obey" him. That was consent enough for him. While he took his responsibilities for the family quite seriously, he was also domineering and critical—ruling the family in a manner that would have us dreading his return home from work each day. While my mother dutifully ran the household to my father's specifications, she was also bitter and depressed most of the time. Shortly after I moved out on my own, my parents drew up divorce papers for the third and final time, ending a long ordeal for everyone involved.
When I began to consider forming a family of my own, I vowed that I would never have the kind of marriage that my parents had. As a child of the 60's and 70's, I embraced the ideas of the feminist movement, and considered my young wife-to-be my equal in all respects. Why should either of us need to be the head of the household? After going through Shere Hite's The Hite Report on Female Sexuality, I extended this egalitarian attitude into the bedroom as well. Why should anyone need to dominate there, either? While I never had a problem being masculine or being a man out amongst 'the guys,' with my wife I was always much softer. I thought that was the way it was supposed to be: the old 'Leave it to Beaver' paradigm had been revised, right?
My wife and I have now been married for over 20 years, have four children, and to an outside observer, we would have seemed to be a nice, stable couple. However, all was not well, and as the years went by, our relationship slowly deteriorated. By the time our own oldest children were getting ready to leave home, my wife and I had reached the point where we each lived our own separate lives, interacted only as necessary, and even slept in separate bedrooms most of the time: and we were both unhappy, lonely, and resentful. I had threatened separation on a few occasions, but could never bring myself to go through with it while we still had children in the house.
Then, in the winter of 2007, a job change from one side of the country to the other forced us into a six-month long separation anyway, while I went to the new job and my wife stayed behind to sell the old house—and you all know what happened to the housing market that year. At first, the separation seemed like no big deal: we had been pretty much doing our own thing anyway, and it removed the nearly constant sexual tension between us that was present when we were together. As weeks stretched into months, however, I became depressed and passed through my own form of mid-life crisis, in which I recognized the pathetic state of my personal relationship with both my wife and children, and I understood that in order to be happy again, I either needed to fish or cut bait; that is, either put forward a genuine and sustained effort to rebuild my marriage or cut ties and seek my happiness elsewhere. I opted for the former.
This past summer we were finally reunited, and over the following several months we have made steady progress in rediscovering each other, rebuilding our friendship, and adding to the once scant list of things that we have in common. All those things that previous marriage counselors had encouraged me to do (such as more housework, spending quality time with the family, and courting & romancing my wife), but which I had always been too angry and resentful to do, I found that I could now do, and often with pleasure.
Along the road to recovery, we have each had our fair share of epiphanies: moments when we finally understood something about each other that we had never truly 'gotten' previously. For my wife, the key moment occurred last fall, when she finally understood the vital connection between physical intimacy and emotional intimacy for a man. For myself, the key moment occurred this spring, when I finally understood the vital connection between being a confident, masculine, and dominant male and attracting the sexual interests of my wife. In a nutshell: it turns out that the man the feminists called for on paper, is not a man they would actually want to sleep with.
To say that this has been a life and marriage transforming realization would be an understatement. At this point, we are proceeding slowly and cautiously as we feel out untrodden territory, but we are already beginning to see positive signs of a happier, more secure relationship. For me, the change that I am undergoing is not a matter of discovering my masculinity, but one of liberating it within the context of my relationship with my wife. In similar fashion, the change that my wife is undergoing allows her to liberate her femininity within the context of our relationship. We both owe a great deal of thanks to the creators and contributors to Taken in Hand for such a great online resource: to find such a wonderful community of like-minded couples has been most reassuring to both of us.
I also wish to express my deepest gratitude to my lovely, intelligent wife. By revealing what she has really wanted from me in our relationship for a very long time, she has granted me a wonderful gift, and demonstrated a level of love and trust that astounds me still. It is now my turn to honor that gift to the best of my ability. To be a bit tongue-in-cheek, this strong, feminine woman wants a strong, masculine man to push against --> and when she pushes, I had better not budge!