Is it a good idea to make formal promises when starting a Taken In Hand relationship? I think not. Making promises would feel artificial to me. Especially promising not to be quarrelsome or difficult, which would be almost impossible for me to keep to.
When I suggested to my husband that we try to have a Taken In Hand relationship I was quite overwhelmed with surprise and gratitude when he agreed, and seemed to understand what I wanted. Carried along by a flush of enthusiasm, I was absolutely determined to be the perfect wife from now on. I would keep the house immaculate, never be sulky or argumentative, and never give him cause to be annoyed with me again.
Well, that didn't last long. The zeal with which I went at the housework at first soon wore off. Boredom set in once more, and although I still try a lot harder than I did, I've long since given up my attempt to keep the house immaculate, because I soon realised that would put me in a mental home before long.
Moreover, my husband didn't actually seem to want me to overdo it. I remember, after watching me rushing round cleaning things for some time on the first day he said to me “I think you've tried enough for one day”.
And then there was the day when I'd been vacuuming for rather a long time, and he wanted to watch something on TV, and said to me “Don't you think you've vacuumed for long enough now?”. I threw a major tantrum. “You've spent the last 22 years telling me I don't do enough vacuuming,” I shrieked, hurling the vacuum cleaner petulantly to the floor. “Now you're saying I'm doing too much, why don't you make your ****ing mind up?”
My husband was not in the least disturbed by this. “We'll talk about your little outburst later” he said calmly. I knew what he meant by “talk” and it had an instantly calming effect on me.
I was dismayed to find that I could still get sulky and petulant after all my good intentions to be the perfect submissive wife, but I was very thrilled to find that my husband was able to cope with this, and not only didn't let me wind him up when I got like that, but was able to take control and make me behave myself again without laying a finger on me. My respect for him increased by leaps and bounds, and has continued to do so since.
Life doesn't always turn out the way you think it is going to. Although I didn't make any formal promise to my husband, I did say that I would try to do what he wanted, and not argue with him, and if the first time I had got sulky or quarrelsome with him he had turned around and said to me ”You promised to be submissive to me, and now you're not doing it. Why?” or something like that, it would not have helped in the least, it would just have made me feel guilty in addition to being bad-tempered.
My husband's ability to rise above my bad moods and restore order is one of the main things that has kept our relationship going. Throwing my promise back in my face would not have worked. Although I didn't think it through at the beginning, I now know that our relationship is never going to be entirely free of tension, and what I need is for my husband to be able to grab the reins and get us back on course when I get out of hand. I didn't ask him to do this, he just does it instinctively, and no formal promises could have covered that.