I've been lurking here off and on for a few years now. The little posting I've done has been done anonymously. I thought sharing a bit of my story might be instructive, as unlike many of the women here who recognize that they want or need a Taken-In-Hand relationship, my wife was very resistant to the idea. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say she found the whole idea abhorrent.
But I should start at the beginning. I'm fifty-five and been married thirty-one years come Tuesday. Like a lot of others, I stumbled upon this web site, began reading, and recognized things about myself, my wife, and our relationship, that were revelatory and profound. I'd come of age in the sixties, considered myself a feminist, and had (and still have) four strong sisters. I was a three-striker. (I'm also an American, so maybe you could say a four-striker.)
Oddly enough it was my mother who started me down the Taken In Hand road. Through the years of my marriage, she came to stay with us often, and saw many discussions between my wife and me. She often told me how much she admired the way I handled them. I was (according to her) open, fair, and firm; often needing to insist that my wife speak her mind; and rarely letting anger affect my demeanor. Something else my mother did was respond to me in a very Taken In Hand way. She would defer to my decisions in a positive way—as if she were grateful for my guidance. Much to my sisters' chagrin, she valued men and wasn't afraid to show it. In these and myriad other subtle ways, she gave me the experience of a Taken In Hand relationship once-removed, as it were.
When Taken In Hand hit that fertile ground there was no going back for me. This site helped me form the ideas floating around in my head into a coherent structure. For my wife, however, it was quite another story. When I first proposed the notion of a taken in hand relationship and asked her to read articles from this web site, she was appalled. Husband as leader? No; marriage should be an even partnership. Me taking charge? Are you kidding; that would be humiliating. No; we should just 'get along.'
The frustration for me was that this wasn't something I wanted as a whim. I wasn't trying to fit our round relationship into a square hole. I was trying to save our marriage, and I knew this would fit us like a glove. Because even before finding this web site, my thinking about these issues in the context of our marriage had engendered many attempts at a Taken In Hand way of relating—usually with positive, though temporary, results. So I had seen the evidence, and this web site helped me articulate the ideas I was forming. I was the leader type and I was profoundly content when leading; she was profoundly happy when being led. I found my true masculine self through taking her in hand; her femininity blossomed through being taken in hand. Trouble was, there was a total disconnect between the Taken In Hand wife and the untakeninhand wife. It was one thing for my wife to respond positively to being reprimanded; quite another to hear the stark terms of a male-led Taken In Hand relationship. For much of that time, I seemed to be married to two different women—and the one seemed to have no recollection of the other. Literally. I would say something like, remember that week when we were Taken In Hand and both so ecstatically happy? Or, remember making breakfast singing away after getting physically taken in hand the night before? She would not remember. I mean really not remember. It's a phenomenon I still don't understand.
I am not one for looking back—not really much for looking forward either—but when I do look back upon our Taken In Hand road, it seems a very long and mostly up-hill one. We've spent probably a hundred hours talking about it. We have been happily Taken In Hand, and we've been in periods where my simply uttering the expression, 'taken in hand,' has elicited buckets of hostility from my wife.
A little bit about the 'mechanics' of our arrangement: I think most of the parameters of Taken In Hand come naturally to men and women if we recognize and promote them. They did for us—as I said, we do have the right personality types. But over and above that, we needed a few rules.
Rule 1) my wife is not allowed to 'check out,' as we've come to call it. This was something she'd done time out of mind, that neither of us really understood, but that was a huge strain on our marriage. It might take the form of being all over me one day and coming home from work the next, stressed about something, and taking it out on me. Pissed at her boss, but taking the opportunity of a poorly chosen word in something I said, to apply that frustration to me. And then refusing to talk about it. And then telling me that if only I did this or that, she would be happy. And then going out to the barn to ride her horse, or shutting herself up in her room to hang out on her computer. So our rule number one is: no checking out. If there's a beef, we talk about it until it's resolved.
Rule 2) When either of us feels there's something that needs to be said, we say it—whether or not it's easy to say.
Rule 3) Friday through Sunday she's available for sex. I imagine we are like a lot of couples—there's a difference in our sex drives, and through the years this has caused a lot of stress, frustration, and misunderstandings. This rule simply puts it down there for both of us—we know the schedule and we know what's expected of us. This has been very helpful, though we haven't always held to it.
My wife was fine with not checking out, with being required to talk things out, even with being required to make herself available on weekends. But she was not at all fine with the idea of being punished. That was humiliating. She assured me that she didn't need the discipline of spanking to keep her on track. I should say here that while I consider myself the type to lead, I am not the type to impose myself upon another against their will. So we tried it without discipline. Again and again. But the same old patterns would recur. And recur. Happy; check out; long period of silence; make up; happy, etc. Finally one day I proposed the following: I would take the riding crop that hung in her closet (which was just a riding crop, by the way—I'd never used it on her) and put it in my room in a conspicuous place. As long as it remained there, I could spank her when I felt it was justified. She would be free to retrieve it any time she wanted to rescind that permission. For that matter, I would be free to put the thing back in her closet. In either case, there would be no more spanking, but there would also be no more benefits of Taken In Hand accruing to either of us. It would be a way to try a full-blown Taken In Hand relationship as a pilot program, one on which either of us could pull the plug.
This has worked remarkably well. The only time the crop went back to her room was once I put it there out of frustration (don't remember over what), and she ended up bringing it back. She's gone from hating spankings and the very idea of being spanked, to telling me this morning before leaving to stay overnight at her sister's that she hopes I will spank her when she returns (she picked a fight last night and we ended up going to bed separately). It was not that long ago that just hearing the word spank would put a scowl on her face; now when promised a spanking, she will say, good, or blush with downcast eyes in a most charming way. She knows now that I am not a tyrant—that, indeed, spanking is not an easy thing for me to do. She knows now that it's not something I do to her, but something that we do together. That was the beauty of the crop idea—it gave her a chance (me too, for that matter) to road test our particular brand of Taken In Hand without committing to it long term. I'm sure it is different for others, but I believe this is the only way that would have worked for us, given our unique personalities.
So here we are well down our own little Taken In Hand path. I don't believe we will ever arrive at Taken In Hand nirvana—there will never be an end to this journey. But there are moments now—days, weeks, even months—when our happiness and contentment reach levels I'd never thought possible before we started. Rather like realizing there can be heaven on earth, and that this is it. In fact, that's what I tell people when they ask me how I'm doing. I tell them I'm living in paradise.