The long journey to Taken in Hand

The long journey to Taken in Hand

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!

Jim R

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Comments

But one size does not fit all

That's wonderful that you have made things work and found your true natures. My only quibble is that there is no "one size fits all" on this wonderful diverse planet God created and tastes and preferences in regard to relationships vary. It would be pretty dull if that were so.

Feminism is simply giving women a right to vote, work and the like and fairness at home. nothing more and nothing less and no one can quibble with that unless they're a member of the Taliban or a man with 4 wives in Saudi etc.

My own 19 year marriage was irremediably bust, nothing to do with Taken In Hand or power or feminism.

Great article. I wish you an

Great article. I wish you and your wife all the best. An observation ... do you think that part of the issue with feminisim is that for some people it really puts a lot more work on women? The reason for my question is I remember a time when women either became at home moms, or if they did work outside the home, it was to 'help', not to support a family. Today, it appears that men expect women to work outside the home—as well as take care of the home. There doesn't seem to be genuine appreciation for the woman who raises a family, makes a home... When I was married, my husband expected me to work outside the home—in a career-oriented profession (which translates to more than 40 hours a week), and to take care of our home and children. I became resentful and after a time we divorced. Perhaps one of the negatives of the feminist movement is that it created a mindset that woman can and SHOULD do everything—perhaps taking the man off the hook for pursing the ability to care for his family. Just a thought. Anyway—great article and I wish you and your wife the best of all things!

Gender roles in modern marriage

MP2482 wrote:

An observation: do you think that part of the issue with feminisim is that for some people it really puts a lot more work on women?.....When I was married, my husband expected me to work outside the home—in a career-oriented profession (which translates to more than 40 hours a week), and to take care of our home and children. I became resentful and after a time we divorced.

As I see it, the problem is not so much with feminism, but with men's slow response to it. Your ex-husband wanted to have his cake and eat it too: he wanted all the perks of a 'traditional' marriage with a cooking, cleaning, kid-wrangling housewife, while at the same time enjoying the income benefits of a 'modern' marriage to a professional, working wife. While the woman in the old Enjoli perfume commercial could somehow do it all—and still be a sexual dynamo later that night—most people (men or women) don't have that kind of infinite stamina.

On the surface, there is the simple issue of fairness here. No matter who does or does not work outside of the home, both partners need to do their part and contribute to the marriage: income, household maintenance, or child care, whatever needs doing. My wife is a stay-at-home-mom, by her choice, but I still do my fair share of housework and child care because I know that those jobs don't end at 5-6 PM on weekdays and usually don't allow weekends off.

There is a deeper layer here as well, regarding a basic gender difference between men and women (and yes, I'm being rather generic and John Gray-esque here). One of the ways in which women feel truly loved is when they feel cared for and supported. Wives generally spend their entire day caring for and nurturing others (either children or co-workers), and they need to know that their is one person out there who supports and cares for them: their husband. If a husband goes from being the person who cares for his wife to being just one more person that she has to take care of, their relationship will falter and she won't feel loved (she'll feel used). Luckily, one of the ways in which men feel truly loved is when they feel needed and appreciated, so the relationship is highly reciprocal and rewarding when both partners understand this and do their part. This was actually one of the things that attracted me to Taken in Hand. Here is a group of men and women who understand that being 'dominant' is not about bossiness, but really about being responsible and leading. The husbands understand the importance of caring for, respecting, and cherishing their wives, and the wives understand the importance of appreciating, accepting, and admiring their husbands. Each partner is getting their needs met in a very fulfilling way.

As Hera indicated above, however, this isn't for everybody. But for some couples, my wife and I included, it works well.

Jim R

Gender Roles in Modern Marriage

If only you had been able to speak to my ex! He was controlling, not take-charge. It took me 25 of the 28 years we were married to realize the difference.

I too grew up in a male-led family. My father was an overachieving type A aggressive personality. I, like you, am a child of the 60's—70's and grew up with flower power, the age of aquarious, and the feminist movement. But I also grew up with a mother who was the perfect mate to my father, who was a strong woman, yet could follow the rules of our family without serious argument. They could agree on most major decisions and the minor ones were simply that. Minor.

I had looked for a Taken in Hand type of man and for three years had him. But then like you had the misfortune of change. We grew slowly apart, although it was the more insidious abuse of the his neglect and ego that caused the most heartache and eventual loss of our marriage.

Since I separated three years ago I have had ample time to consider the same things you have. Unlike you, my husband had no desire to change who or what he was, to try to save something I thought saveable. I had even agreed to return to him to try one final time, but shortly after doing so, I found him unwilling to change the way he treated me and so left for the final time.

I do not think this the answer for all women everywhere. It was simply what I had to do for self-preservation. I am more happy than words that you could make things work for you and your very lucky wife. But as you have pointed out, it has to come from both parties. One person cannot stand alone and expect to weather the storms of a relationship without support.

[For the rest of this post, see Some advice for men seeking a woman.—The Editor]

Eroticism of Taken In Hand

You wrote :

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.

You told that it was a 20 years old relationship with not much sexual intimacy at the end prior of your discovering of Taken In Hand. After awhile your wife understood the connexion between physical and emotional intimacy for a man. And you discovered that being confident and dominant was sexually attractive for your wife.

In a long term relationship, people evolve. The romance of the beginning is not the same. As for their sex life witch is usually less active or fulfilling. I think that the eroticism that comes from establishing a Taken In Hand relationship for a long term couple is a very big part of the decision.

How much do you think was important the sensual (if not sexual)aspect in your epiphanies?

Romain

Eroticism of Taken In Hand

Romain wrote:

How much do you think was important the sensual (if not sexual)aspect in your epiphanies?

In short: repairing our sensual / sexual relationship depended upon each of us realizing what the other was really missing and learning to meet that need, including a transition to Taken in Hand.

Our sexual problems began with the birth of our first child, who was conceived during our honeymoon (foolish youngsters that we were). This loss of intimacy is not an uncommon side effect of parenthood, but in our case it never really recovered, such that our sexual relationship became a point of contention between us from that point forward—for the next 20+ years.

For my wife's part, her primary misunderstanding involved what Michele Wiener-Davis (author of The Sex-Starved Marriage, The Divorce Remedy and others) calls the "Intimacy Catch-22." It works like this:

Women, in general, require an emotional connection before they feel the desire for a physical connection. That is, for a woman, emotional intimacy is the pathway to physical intimacy. On the other hand, men, in general, require a physical connection before they feel the desire for an emotional connection. That is, for a man, physical intimacy is the pathway to emotional intimacy.

In a conventional, egalitarian relationship, it is all too easy for this reciprocal intimacy cycle to become broken. To husbands, it often seems like their wives only spell intimacy T-A-L-K, and completely miss the importance of meeting this vital need if they want their wives to connect with them physically. To wives, it often seems like their husbands only spell intimacy S-E-X, and completely miss the importance of meeting this vital need if they want their husbands to connect with them emotionally.

It is particularly easy for women to assume that men are just being shallow and animalistic in this need, and there are certainly plenty of young men out there, who haven't yet realized their own emotional depth, to support this misconception. However, for the mature man, the man who is in love with his wife, the connection between physical and emotional intimacy is the key to his ability to feel his love for his wife and his wife's love for him. This male 'reverse-wiring' may seem alien to women, since they generally need to feel their love first, with physical intimacy as a nice 'icing on the cake' to follow, but the wife who truly understands her husband's pathway will be able to go a long way toward ensuring that they both get the love and intimacy that they desire.

And herein lies one of the beneficial aspects of the Taken in Hand relationship: by making herself sexually available to her husband at all times, the Taken In Hand wife ensures that her husband's need for physical intimacy is met; which, in turn, ensures that her husband will meet her need for emotional intimacy—the cycle remains unbroken.

With regard to my own epiphany: for a very long time, I don't think either one of us understood what was missing—just that my wife had a very hard time 'turning on' to me sexually. Over time, my wife figured out that her desires and fantasies were those of a sexual submissive (despite being a strong, dominant woman by day) and that my gentle, attentive, 'switch' bedroom style just did not work for her. Finally, after a lot of trust re-building over these past few months, she let me in on the secret.

At this stage, our fledgling Taken In Hand relationship exists primarily in the bedroom, with a few aspects affecting the rest of the relationship as well. Neither one of us are role-players, so for us, the power shift has to be "real," not just bedroom play: although the scale has only just tipped over at this stage. From what I have read here, this is not an uncommon path to take, and we are making the transition to Taken In Hand a slow one. I have no idea where we will end up, but as long as we are both happy with the result, that's what counts.

Take care,

Jim R

Don't make the transition tooooo slow

Jim R wrote:
"Over time, my wife figured out that her desires and fantasies were those of a sexual submissive (despite being a strong, dominant woman by day) and that my gentle, attentive, 'switch' bedroom style just did not work for her. Finally, after a lot of trust re-building over these past few months, she let me in on the secret.
At this stage, our fledgling Taken In Hand relationship exists primarily in the bedroom, with a few aspects affecting the rest of the relationship as well. Neither one of us are role-players, so for us, the power shift has to be "real," not just bedroom play: although the scale has only just tipped over at this stage. From what I have read here, this is not an uncommon path to take, and we are making the transition to Taken In Hand a slow one. I have no idea where we will end up, but as long as we are both happy with the result, that's what counts."

I wonder which of you first two searched the net and found Taken In Hand. I suspect it's your wife. Since she's a strong woman in her life, your long term marriage and the social conditioning, I'm sure she will have difficulties to admit that she wants to be controlled by you outside the bedroom. She might even not realize that's what she wants yet. That would make a big difference for how to act in the installment of a Taken In Hand's relationship.

While it's good idea to go slowly in the transition, it's important for you to take the lead. Since you want a Taken In Hand relationship as opposed to role play, if you limit the control only to bedroom it's not yet a Taken In Hand relationship. Unless you limit yourself to kinky sex, witch is fine but doesn't seem to be your case. Your wife may be wanting more than that and not be able to tell you.

I think you need to clarify your own needs and desires but more importantly for the moment you have to discover your wife's needs and desires. I say that it's more important to discover your wife's desires since being the leader, you need to better understand her to be able to exercise an efficient leadership.

Romain

Don't make the transition toooo slow

Romain wrote:

I wonder which of you first two searched the net and found Taken In Hand. I suspect it's your wife. Since she's a strong woman in her life, your long term marriage and the social conditioning, I'm sure she will have difficulties to admit that she wants to be controlled by you outside the bedroom. She might even not realize that's what she wants yet. That would make a big difference for how to act in the installment of a Taken In Hand's relationship.

This is a very difficult area for her to talk about, similar to the situation that CarlF describes with his wife in this article. There is a romantic part of her who feels that if I love her, if I understand her well enough, then I should just know, without her having to tell me. In fact, telling me would ruin the effect to a large degree—it would be a form of her having to take control and dictate, which is the opposite of what she wants. It took her many years, and a significant improvement in our relationship, just to give me a hint as to what she truly desired in our sexual relationship. It was then up to me to take that hint and figure the rest out on my own; that is, I had take charge and just do it.

It was me, during my 'investigation' of how to proceed from her hint, who found the Taken in Hand website, and in the course of reading over the articles, I wondered if what she really wanted extended outside of the bedroom as well. Using email as a form of non-verbal communication, as CarlF also suggests in this article, I sent her a link to the site and asked her to look it over. In return, she sent back a link to this article, which echoed how she had been feeling about out sexual relationship, and indicated that the site looked "helpful" and was "so far, so good" based upon her initial review. She has never been that direct in face-to-face communication, and I don't expect her to be. I have enough to go on for now.

In response to these exchanges, I have stepped up to the plate and taken charge of the relationship and the family in a way that I have not done before. On the one hand, caring for and supporting my family, and cherishing my wife, are the easy parts—after months of work at improving our marriage, I was pretty much there already. On the other hand, my wife's submission outside of the bedroom will need to be a more gradual process: she is not one to give up power easily, nor will she give it up to a blustering fool. I will have to earn each rein that she passes to me in an intelligent and responsible way, until I have the whole team in hand. That is, I will have to conquer her in a way that I never have before, and earn her submission.

Physical domination (outside of the bedroom) is not on the table yet, for two reasons. First, I have a personal aversion to it at this point, as CarlF aptly describes in this FAQ question: while my father certainly had no qualms about strapping me, he never hit my mother, and instilled in me the strong notion that you don't hit girls...period. Erotic spanking is hard enough for me at the moment. Second, my wife is one who is attracted to brains (intelligence, wisdom, & cleverness), and I believe that physically dominating her would be seen as a "cheap" shortcut, and one that she would resent. In order to truly win her over, I will have to learn to dominate her without laying a hand on her, at least for now.

So we will see how this goes. CarlF reported that his journey has taken about four years, so I am in no particular hurry. The changes that we have already incorporated over the past couple of months have been drastic enough, but have also produced remarkable and pleasant results. The rest will come with time.

Best regards,

Jim R