Why does it work?

Why does it work?

This site is full of testimonials to how well Taken In Hand works. Not for everybody, of course, but for many more couples than my upbringing and experience ever led me to suspect. The stories are usually emotionally convincing. But, then, I don’t suppose many people would bother to register with the site just to report how their Taken In Hand relationship backfired. And the testimonials here span seven or eight years. I wonder how many of these relationships are still on, still Taken In Hand, and still satisfying to both parties. People may discover new tools, and new toys, but human nature remains the same protean, unreliable thing as ever.

But let us take the stories at face value. If it works, why does it work? Let's get rid of a couple of pseudo-explanations first.

One is that men are naturally authoritative and women naturally enjoy being under the control of their husband. That’s not only a brainless stereotype, not only contrary to easily-observed fact, but a rhetorical fallacy. It's saying a complex phenomenon behaves as it does because of its “nature”--which boils down to saying it behaves as it does because of how you've labelled it. A man who is firm on many things but doesn't expect to get his way on everything, and who feels no mandate to order his wife about, much less to punish her, is not less masculine than a man who spanks his wife. At least, since I am that type of man, I think not. My father was domineering with my mother, not out of principle but because he didn't know any other way. I knew as a boy that I did not want to copy him, and eventually I came to pity his narrow views and limited emotions. I wanted a woman who was my friend as well as my lover and domestic partner. I got her.

A second wrong notion is that, historically, the Taken In Hand model of marriage once predominated but that the corruptions of modern feminism (and for some, modern secularism) have introduced confusion into people's minds and relationships. This is nonsense. The most ancient stories we have, from The Epic of Gilgamesh to the Old Testament to the Iliad, make clear that power struggles between men and women are perennial, regardless of laws, religious doctrines and social norms. And not just power struggles in the abstract. In earlier times male coercion was taken for granted. It still is, in many settings. A modern woman may voluntarily give her consent to her husband's authority over her. In most earlier societies such a gesture would have been laughable, because the man was assumed already to possess it. And in the societies of which I speak, which continue to exist today, women often had no choice of the man who would be in authority over them, as a contemporary Taken In Hand wife does. The interest of the Taken In Hand idea lies, not in some romanticization of an imaginary past, but precisely in its modernity, its radical affirmation of a couple's right and ability to structure their relationship in unconventional ways

I would like to explore some reasons that Taken In Hand appeals so strongly to some people (including me, although I'll never experience it). I can think of at least ten characteristics of these asymmetrical relationships, as they are usually described on this site, that would make them emerge as attractive alternatives to the bland, unfocused, commercialized fairy tale that is usually marketed as contemporary secular marriage. (I’ll come back to that “secular” later on.)

Simplicity. Very possibly the single most appealing thing about Taken In Hand. The power struggle that virtually all couples know too well is, at least in theory, just waived. The parties, instead of worrying constantly about what their future negotiating leverage will be if they give in today, adopt a single overarching principle: he decides, and makes her comply. The only thing that makes it work is trust. One of the surprises, to me, about these relationships is the sense of release so often expressed by women: the stress of holding out is gone. I no longer have to fear losing my autonomy; I've crossed that bridge. I no longer have to feel responsible for everything and, therefore, feel that we need to negotiate everything. I know what I need to focus on and what I can ignore. I trust him to make good choices, and that includes bringing me back if I stray. Common sense tells me it can't be as simple as all that, but as I said, the stories are emotionally convincing.

Challenge. Taken In Hand implies definite behavioral standards and defined consequences for failing to live up them. (At least for the wife; I have yet to hear what consequences, other than divorce, might accrue to the husband if he defaults on important responsibilities.) Contemporary popular culture scarcely understands the notion of standards as they relate to everyday behavior. Everything except outright crime, no matter how obnoxious, is tolerated. There is no actual punishment for anything unless the law expressly provides for punishment--and very, very often, not even then. Personal failure is defined out of existence. Yet young people perennially rediscover the satisfaction of being challenged to live up to some standard, with real consequences if they fail. Ask anybody who’s ever played on a good sports team or served in a crack military unit if they’d willingly exchange those billets for lax, sloppy, ineffective ones. Nobody of any spirit would.

Focus: A Taken In Hand relationship is neither a natural phenomenon nor one culturally delivered to one's doorstep. The idea must be discovered, probed, thought about, and the relationship must be searched for, negotiated, dared, practiced, and learned by trial and error. These things are not true of the great majority of human relationships of any kind, which are based mostly on accidents of birth, social and economic needs, and/or transitory emotion. People drift together and drift apart, physically or emotionally, suffering disappointment and sadness but often not realizing that the culprit isn't the other person, or even oneself. It's the mutually shared habit of avoidance and drift. I’m no expert on women’s feelings, but if waiting room magazines have it right, the average woman’s most common complaint is that she feels she is more invested in the relationship than he is. Taken In Hand won’t magically eliminate such a disparity, but it would naturally work against it. By definition, it requires concentration and effort.

Communication. This great mantra of relationship counselors can’t be just a vague slogan in a Taken In Hand marriage. The concept is completely unworkable without regular, detailed communication about the parties' atypical and asymmetrical expectations.

Creativity. As I noted, general culture not only doesn’t present any template for a Taken In Hand relationship, but if the notion comes up at all, it is usually for disparagement. The parties must first discover the idea, then discover each other (even if they are already a couple, one of them must usually convince the other), and then they must work out all the specifics for their own situation. All of this constitutes a major reorientation of thinking and adaptation of lifestyle. This takes intelligence and effort. Unimaginative, overly rigid, or lazy people simply won’t be drawn to the Taken In Hand idea. If you're discussing such a relationship at all, you probably aren't dealing with a dud.

Specialness. This means the feeling of, not necessarily pride, but at least of satisfaction, at having chosen a distinctive and minority identity for some important aspect of one’s life--the "we chosen few" sensation that all people crave. Usually a transitory and conformistic choice, like long hair in the Sixties or tattooing and piercing today, but sometimes constructive and durable. In any event, it is always emotionally reinforcing while it lasts.

Intimacy. Being intimate with another person, and not just physically, always triggers strong emotion. The reverse can be true, too: sharing strong emotion with another person can create a feeling of intimacy. Survivors of a trauma or disaster, even if strangers, often feel temporarily bonded with one another. Even people who hate one another sometimes report the curious sensation that their enemy understands them better than anybody else (cf. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). Taken In Hand is a mechanism guaranteed to trigger strong emotions on a regular basis between two people. That has its dangers, of course, but if both parties have agreed to the setting for the express purpose of creating intimacy, it can work.

Intensity. Taken In Hand marriages embrace rather than evade the power, weakness, pain and fear inside us. Power and control are avowed. Pain and fear are given an open if limited role. (So, for that matter, is guilt, since modern men are conditioned strongly against being controlling of women, not to speak of striking them.) It is not a new observation that power, pain and fear can, for many people, feed into the erotic. In my own lovemaking, I could not not notice how much physical aggression entered into my pleasure and hers.

Meaning. Taken In Hand creates a broader context for a couple than the self-satisfaction, mutual pleasure, and/or romance that are the implicit offerings of marriage in popular culture. Only in movies and true romance novels does conjugal lovemaking reset the relationship, because in conventional relationships there usually aren't any definite expectations most of the time. Lovemaking is just what married couples do for mutual pleasure (occasionally for kids). In a Taken In Hand relationship, it seems, not only lovemaking but a great many other things in daily life are specifically intended as reinforcements or resets of the original reason for coming together. The testimonials say this would be especially true of lovemaking after an incident in which the husband takes his wife in hand in some way. I don't know from personal experience and never will. But I don't have to have experienced it to grasp it.

And here I conclude by returning to my earlier references to "secular" marriage. I'm not a believer. I find it amusing to see some posters hunting up scriptural passages to justify doing what turns them on. But, in fact, what Taken In Hand provides for a relationship is psychologically quite similar to what a shared religious faith does. Like faith, Taken In Hand creates a hierarchy, sets out standards, sanctions consequences, employs rituals, requires people to confront the reality of power, pain, fear, temptation, transgression, and guilt, and establishes a context that confers specific meaning on the everyday. Given the appalling void that popular secular culture offers as guidance for a marriage, it is not surprising that people who never dreamed they would do such things are finding the idea attractive.

Retiarius

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Comments

reply to Retiarius

I love how well you articulate your thoughts on taken in hand relationships. I wish I could write like that! I think you're right about the factors that make these relationships work.

I'm just wondering, if you find this appealing, why do you say you'll never have this type of relationship? Have you already talked with your partner and she's indicated it's not possible, or are you afraid to approach her about this because you fear how she would respond? I'm sure you've noticed as you've read on this site that a good number of people who've wanted this were, at first, very reticent about sharing this desire with their partners for fear of how they might react, and very often their fears have proven to be unfounded. I just want to encourage you to carefully, tactfully share your interest in this type of relationship with your partner. I hate to think of you being so drawn to this and yet unable to experience it.

Also, I am a Christian, and I've not used scripture to explain my desire for a taken in hand relationship. But, I'll bet I could. Or, maybe I'd find it just can't be done honestly. Maybe I'll have to give it a try and see where it leads. I often explore concepts while I'm writing about them instead of exploring them first and then writing down what I've discovered.

But, for those who do use scripture, I think they're just using that as a frame of reference to help them do exactly what you did when you wrote this article, which was to explore why this type of relationship works. I guess I don't understand why you wrote that it amuses you that they do that. Should I be amused that you used certain aspects of male-female relationships throughout history as part of your frame of reference for your article? I'm not. I think it makes perfect sense for you to have done that to write your excellent article, and I think it makes perfect sense for Christians to look to the scriptures to do the same. I don't see one as comical and the other as sensible. But, maybe this isn't what you meant at all and I've just misunderstood you?

Best wishes to you. Maybe some time you'll post that you took the plunge and broached this subject with your wife/girlfriend? Hope so! Best wishes to you!

Thanks for your positive feedback,

and your encouragement about my own relationship.

I am amused by using scripture to rationalize an unconventional conjugal lifestyle "amusing" because I was brought up in a strict, devout Christian home in which mention of sex, in any manner, was strenuously avoided and emotions in general were suspect. I grant that could scarcely be considered typical of believers.

Yes, but . . .

You're right, taken in hand is desirable for all the reasons you describe, but your analysis seems especially accurate for people who come to taken in hand as an idea in adulthood rather than as a want from childhood. How do you explain those of us who have wanted such a relationship from our earliest memories?

Um

I don't.

Try to explain cases such as yours. I was merely articulating some reasons that people (like me) who have never even considered this kind of relationship, and who haven't experience spontaneous desire for it, could reasonably conclude that it might, in the right circumstances, appeal to them.

I find myself startled that I can understand some of the feelings expressed by women who like being Taken In Hand. I could never let my partner decide the important things for me (and I have gotten by quite happily without deciding everything for her), yet I find something in myself that intuits what the moment of surrender could feel like. Look up a painting titled Bridge In The Woods by Rafail Sergeevich Levitsky.

Why not experience it yourself...?

Your analysis almost seems academic, distant(!) and scientific to me. Like you studied an "alien" species and describe how peaceful they live. That's why it strikes me that you add a "personal touch' by saying that this lifestyle is not for you.

I really wonder why this is...

I'm a 50 year old male from the Netherlands, married for almost 30 years and since a few months I am slowly introducing Taken In Hand into our relationship. Bit by bit, including the physical punishments etc. (For me these are The Essentials, though I know this may be a minority view on the site! ;o) ). And given Socrates' advice for men who want to introduce Taken In Hand in their relationship, with every step I carefully monitor if happiness grows for both of use. It does. To my great surprise my wife not only accepts, but rather embraces the new dynamics.

This is something I could only have dreamt about a couple of months ago, and now it is happening in reality. It's wonderful. So whatever your situation is, don't give up attempts to make your fantasies real because you think they may be too weird to even bring up.

I can tell you that I had quite some red flags along the way, but yet the unthinkable is happening.

Searcher

Many on this site are not religious

Thanks Retiarius for sharing your thoughts.

I agree with many of your insightful comments, but you lost me in your last paragraph.

I wonder about your last conclusion/comparison- that Taken In Hand, "like faith, creates a hierarchy, sets out standards, sanctions consequences, employs rituals, requires people to confront the reality of power, pain, fear, temptation, transgression, and guilt, and establishes a context that confers specific meaning on the everyday."

While I do agree that faith does these things you mention, so do many other things in life. Why single out faith to compare Taken In Hand to?

Society itself causes us to employ rituals, confront power, pain etc. as does, to varying degrees, most any organization or group you can belong to, not to mention any personal relationship you are in.

I would argue that any meaningful relationship (marriage, friendship, membership to a club, political organization or religion, requires its members to create a hierarchy, set out standards, sanction consequences, employ rituals, and requires people to confront the reality of power, pain, fear, temptation, transgression, and guilt, and establish a context that confers specific meaning on the everyday.

Maybe I am being too sensitive, as I am not a religious person. But to me, Taken In Hand is so much more than that.

I think the crux of it to me, is that Taken In Hand feels extremely individualized and personal. It doesn't feel like a shared faith in that religious sense. And I personally don't feel a specialness like we are the chosen few. (Chosen by whom?) Nor do I feel the need to fill a void caused by my secular marriage.

Thank you.

Why faith?

I suppose because, unlike most other major lifestyle (ugh word) decisions, Taken In Hand is so countercultural as to be counterintuitive. Try suggesting to a random audience of European or American women that being under their husbands' control in almost everything is the way to go. The largest cheering section would be among practicing Christians, and it would be only a very small minority of them. Generally, something that's so out-of-the-mainstream, thorough-going, open-ended, and requires that one person have personal authority over the details of another's life, is either religious or quasi-religious (like membership in the SS or the Communist Party, back in the day they were political important).

It's counterintuitive for men as well as women: why else do so many women voice their frustrations getting their mates to sign on or to stick with the program? I can relate. Though the Taken In Hand idea gives me an emotional tickle (where I didn't expect it), I'm also very jealous of my privacy, peace and leisure. I would face an inner conflict about giving them up to be my wife's keeper.

Well said, Retiarius but there is something else to consider.

The aspect of my Taken In Hand relationship that is missing from your comments is the sexual aspect.

I have always fantasized about being taken in hand by a strong and loving man, long before I knew the term Taken In Hand or knew of this website and community. A large part of being fulfilled in my Taken In Hand relationship is having that fantasy realized in my everyday life. It is very powerful when you can live your fantasy and know that in doing so your husband is also living his, and getting a lot of pleasure from it.

If living this way did not bring us pleasure we would not do so. However, the benefits are not purely sexual. In establishing that Mr Lucky has the final say and can choose to discipline me if he sees fit, we are able to avoid many conflicts that can erode a relationship before they get out of hand. I find that even though I am a very strong, intelligent woman, knowing there are consequences for my actions, I am better able to think before I act and I am ultimately happier with my behavior and myself than I was pre-Taken In Hand. As for Mr Lucky, his confidence in himself has vastly improved since we started this journey, which has had many positive results in all aspects of our lives.

Thanks for the great discussion!

I get the sexual part.

When I say I feel "interest" in the Taken In Hand concept, I'm employing a euphemism.

But, unlike you, I haven't always fantasized about this kind of relationship. Nor did I know that some women fantasized about it. The closest my wife has ever come to that subject is mentioning, once or twice, that she has sometimes wished she had an elder brother. She was initially drawn to me because I'm an (obvious) eldest child, as she is. (All four of our parents were also eldest children.) Yet while that role comes easily to me, as does parenthood (and training dogs), she says she often feels inadequate. (She isn't, not by a mile. But she feels that way.) I've always thought I should help her resist that feeling. If I were to suggest that, instead, she just turn stuff over to me, I think it could come across as, "You're right--you are inadequate."

I'm an oldest child.

There's a thread that runs through the experiences of oldest girl children, I think. I, too, longed for an older brother, and I know something about myself at age 52 that I didn't know when I first wished I'd had an older brother (a feeling I had from a very early age), which is that oldest girl children in particular feel an emotional burden that everything is on our shoulders, and we don't always have the strength to cope.

Now, this doesn't mean we're incapable or inadequate. Obviously, far from it. We do a very good job of coping, even though parents and siblings (and, later in life, children and in-laws) place a tremendous amount of their inner lives on us to listen to, ameliorate, and solve; or if we can't solve their problems in the way men can, we are expected to be there for others in a way that is supposed to be self-abnegating. Although first-borns have a strong personality and an equally strong desire to be our own people, and though we are raised with an expectation that we'll be independent, in fact, it seems to me we're raised with double standards that are quite confusing, because on the one hand, we're supposed to behave as oldest children (or onlies) do: emulate our parents and go out and conquer the world (to a greater or lesser extent, depending on our parental job as role models).

But at the same time, oldest daughters are expected to be there for everyone in a way that younger children are not asked of. I think this is where the desire for an older brother, someone's shoulder to rest your extremely emotionally burdened head, comes from.

And all of this leads into Taken In Hand. I think oldest girls are more willing than younger siblings who fight to declare their independence. We are born with the mantle of independence already draping our shoulders, but no one ever stops to ask if we wanted it that way. In fact, I can attest to feeling absolutely burned out and exhausted by other people's expectations. You have to understand that women in particular are not given the same type of burden to perform that men are; the burden we seem to get is almost purely emotional, and it's a heavy burden indeed. It might not seem as difficult from a physical standpoint, of course, but taking care of people, body and soul is a huge burden, very draining.

I think one of the major benefits of Taken In Hand is that you've found a man who somehow understands that burden and is completely willing to take at least part of it off your shoulders. It's a very liberating feeling knowing you have someone who will pick up that slack, because being an oldest or only is very much like being alone most of the time. We don't get the same problems middle and youngest children get, of course; and no one's got it easy, god knows. But this particular issue is about responsibility, taking charge, feeling like the world is on one's shoulders.

I never consider it an insult for a man to open a door for me, for example. Instead, I see it as a charming expression of his acknowledgement that I exist as someone who might just like to have my way made a little easier for a moment or two. It might not seem like much to those middle or youngest children who are very busy carving out their separate identities and trying to get some acknowledgement in the world away from their oldest siblings, but believe me, having a door opened for you every now and then feels like a tremendous blessing when you're worn out by having to hold a door open for yourself all your life.

Wow. Five stars.

What you say is all true to my experience as an eldest and a spouse of an eldest. Especially your observation that women eldest are assumed to be emotionally available to everyone.

Taking Her in Hand

Retiarius wrote:

a man who wants it must presumably request that the woman give authority to him

and:

If I were to suggest that... she ... turn stuff over to me

but that is not what Taken In Hand entails.

You shouldn't expect that your wife to agree to turn stuff over to you. If your wife is taken-in-hand inclined she probably won't think much of the idea of being submissive or turning stuff over to you. She will, however, obey you if/when she feels your power, your control, and most importantly your love and respect. Taken-in-hand women do well when made to obey.

Sometimes I have to be forceful with my wife. She is far from submissive otherwise, or she was when we first got married anyway. She bristles if I ever call her submissive but she responds exceptionally well to a bit of force and she treats me like a king or a god. Had I asked her to give me authority over her, or turn stuff over to me, that would never have worked. She is just not the submissive type. If your wife is not submissive, she is not going to react well to a request that she be submissive or turn stuff over to you.

But you don't need to do that anyway. That is not necessary for taken-in-hand. You simply take charge and get on with it. If your wife is a taken-in-hand woman she will perceive this as a gift from you, not an imposition on her.

Your hard work, patience, loving control, involvement, intensity, decency and moral behavior create the reward of her submissive response, something she deeply desires. Be honorable. Be kind. And she will be your princess.

True

Nicely said, Michael.

I myself would/could never give a man authority over me. He will have to take it from me, fight me for it if you will. There is nothing wrong with a good use of force. Of course I could give authority to a man, but only the man who is strong enough to take it from me shows he is worthy of it.

Jessica Rabbit

re: why faith?

I think you have a rather extreme idea of what Taken In Hand means,if you think it means you won't have any privacy, peace, or leisure if you have that kind of relationship.

My husband for instance lays down the law about some things, but about others he is quite laid back. He doesn't micro-manage me,a nd he doesn't watch my every move.

I would be unenthusiastic about being under my husband's control in absolutely everything, I like to have some freedom of choice, but in fact he is only interested in controlling certain things.

We both still have plenty of privacy, peace, and leisure. About as much privacy and leisure as we had before, and rather more peace, since there are fewer rows.

Louise

How long have you and your husband

been doing this? Most couples of any description who stay together long enough reach a stage in which both conflict and the need for explicit communication decline because the parties have learned to accommodate, or at least maneuver around, each other's preferences. My wife and I have such a relationship, and I wouldn't jeopardize it for the world--not least because it wasn't easily come by. I value what I have, and am surprised to find something in me that wants more.

But I must assume that any attempt at major reorientation in a long-standing relationship would entail both cost and risk. The cost, to me, would be the time and effort needed to sustain a Taken In Hand program through some kind of initiation phase (months? years?), assuming my wife could be persuaded. And the risk is that she would not be persuaded and would take away the impression that I'm dissatisfied. That would be a can of worms better left unopened.

Married for almost 30 years

Retarius,

You write about having reached a phase in your relationship where everything is set, said and done. Why don't you go order your coffins? (Just kidding ;o) )

NEVER stop communicating about your dreams, desires and new horizons you've discovered. Take her on that trip into your head! Maybe so far in your life you went with the flow and now found out that this river hasn't taken you to the place you want to be. Maybe it's time to make some changes. Live while you're still breathing!

I discovered Taken In Hand site last summer (in fact I rediscovered it). The concept just grabbed me and from that moment I have been searching on the Internet looking for tips and tricks how to move from my dull vanillia relationship into a Taken In Hand one. Of course on this site lots of information can be found and I think Socrates' tips are a wonderful place to start from. But you may need other guidelines such as "How to become more dominant" etc. or anything else that suits you. But take it slowly as you start introducing this in your relationship, and with every little step you take, carefully evaluate her reactions and move on from that point.

I've been married for almost 30 years, so I know exactly what you mean and how difficult it can be to no longer match the "expectations" from your spouse. But if you look at it positively, this could become a new and exiting chapter in your relationship.

You look at it in terms of costs, but why not consider it to be an exiting journey? Yes, this takes "some" efforts (and sometimes more than that). We tell our grown up sons that maintaining a relationship IS in fact hard work and that is exactly why my wife and I are still exited about each other.

If I may offer you one advice it would be to search on this site for

"No Guts No Glory"

Thank you for your encouragement.

I suppose I decided to post on this site mostly to see if I could be persuaded to do what I already, in my heart, want to do: take our relationship to a different level by finding a new way to be involved with each other. Sex has its limits as you age. Companionship and loyalty are comforting but not terribly exciting. As for fun, I'm not sure that deadly serious intellectual eldest children like we are know what it is. But if she wanted me to make her life simpler and calmer—and mine more intense—by allowing me take open charge of her feelings, I think we'd discover each other all over again.

Simplicity indeed....

I very much concur with your thoughts on 'simplicity'. My husband once asked me what aspect of our marriage was the most important to me and my answer was that I felt utterly safe and contented in the knowledge that there would never be the need for dispute. I cannot explain how reassuring it is for me to know that I am loved and cared for so much that I need never have to question his word or quarrel over his decisions.

I do not see this as submissiveness, any more than an employee is submissive to a boss or a schoolchild is submissive to a teacher. It is all about being comfortable in accepting another's authority in the knowledge that his wishes and decisions will be the right ones for me. If I didn't love and trust my husband implicitly, I would not be able to offer this unquestioning devotion. I do not shy-away from using the word 'obedience'—indeed, I agreed to obey in my marriage vows and it's this 'simplicity' that makes our marriage so successful.

Are not all men fallible?

I grant you, automatically deferring to another may be conducive to tranquillity, but it scarcely ensures an optimal outcome. As the soldiers in all wars could testify, the decisions of those in charge are not always right. And while one can perhaps, for the sake of the relationship, accept inferior outcomes for oneself, what about adverse consequences for others, e.g., children?

You say you are devoted to your husband because you love and trust him implicitly. Does he love and trust you implicitly? If so, then why is your authority in the relationship not equal? (I'm not talking about metaphysical equality here, but pragmatic ability to exercise independent choice.) And, in that event, what would a Taken In Hand sort of agreement between you add? If not, why do you stay in the relationship?

Of course my husband is fallible, but...

I am intelligent and willing and able to make independent choices in my life and I am encouraged in this by my husband. He will often invite my opinion and is always ready to listen to my initiatives for the home and our relationship. Of course my husband is fallible, as we all are, but the ultimate success in our marriage is that I choose to accept his final word. If we assume that we are equal inasmuch as we will both make the same number of poor decisions, then I choose to accept both his good and bad decisions without question.

We can have differing opinions on any number of issues and often 'agree to disagree' when discussion reaches an impasse but that is totally different to my husband 'telling' me that he wants me to undertake a task for him the following day or wear a particular dress for him.

My love and trust is based upon my absolute belief in him and that he would never do anything to hurt me in any way—that is why I chose him as my partner for life and I was VERY choosy indeed! And, in answer to your question, yes my husband does love and trust me implicitly too.

on men's fallibility and on giving up leisure to manage her

Retiarius, I realize I may be misunderstanding you, but I get the feeling by your reply to Barbara_mac that you find yourself at once attracted to and repelled by the taken in hand idea. Maybe repelled is the wrong word. Maybe "fearful" describes it more accurately. By that, I mean it sounds as though since you can't completely wrap your mind around how every facet of a taken in hand relationship would work, including how you, as a fallible man would handle so much power, you possibly fear that you would become abusive or tyrannical.

I found this post by the Editor that might help you as you work through the issue of fallible men being given the power they have in taken in hand relationships:

"The question "What if the male is wrong?" is misconstrued. We completely recognise that men are just as fallible as the rest of the human race. The control is not justified on the basis of infallibility, which would be silly, but on the basis that both the man and his wife actively prefer him to be in control. The man in a Taken In Hand relationship is seeking consent even when he is taking charge. The control is for the benefit of both persons, and for the relationship between them, and the man in a Taken In Hand relationship puts his wife first."
Submitted by The Editor on Wed, 11/07/2007 -

I think that states it pretty clearly.

In another of your replies you state, "why else do so many women voice their frustrations getting their mates to sign on or to stick with the program? I can relate. Though the Taken In Hand idea gives me an emotional tickle (where I didn't expect it), I'm also very jealous of my privacy, peace and leisure. I would face an inner conflict about giving them up to be my wife's keeper."

I gather from that comment that you also fear the level of work and commitment that seems to be required to make a taken in hand relationship work. As for your concern about having to be your wife's keeper, may I suggest that you read as many articles and forum posts by Louise as you possible can? Not only will you spend some very enjoyable moments reading about her taken in hand adventures with her husband, I think you'll also come away not feeling so uptight about each little detail of these relationships. Her husband sounds like a very busy man who has neither the time nor the disposition to micromanage Louise except in a few areas he really cares about in their marriage. And they both sound absolutely delighted with the nature of their taken in hand relationship. I really think reading Louise's posts will open you up to a more light-hearted, less cerebral approach to all of this.

I want to encourage you to not feel you have to have every little detail worked out in your mind before you can even consider attempting this type of relationship. I mean, a person could paralyze himself against taking any meaningful action in life because he can't anticipate and mentally settle every little thing that might come up in a particular undertaking. Marriage, having children, even choosing a career path are all daunting undertakings which we do our best to prepare for, but which, ultimately, require us to jump in and do a lot of learning and course correcting as we go.

That's my two cents, Retiarius. I'm still hoping you'll take a bit of a risk and bare your soul to your wife about what you've discovered about certain desires you have. Discussing something doesn't mean committing to it. In fact, even trying it out doesn't mean committing to it. That can come later, if it's something you both find desirable.

Bridge in the Woods

Thank you, Retiarius, for the painting reference. I like the way the woman hesitates even though the side of the bridge she hasn't yet reached looks sturdier.

Searcher, will you please tell us the story of you and your wife, red flags included?

Um

Why it works for us.

I don't want to get too deep into this—I wouldn't know exactly where to start but the reason it works for us is quite simple—because it does... we can deny our basic impulses and instincts as much as we like but that doesn't mean they aren't real. As a woman I want to feel loved secure and protected—as a man my husband wants to protect and value what is his, that is where the obedience comes into play. Even if I where the Queen Of England I would be required to obey my security staff, they would have made it clear to me that if I don't follow their instructions they can not guarantee my safety—if I want to don my crown and go out drinking and dancing without warning them first then they can't do their jobs, the Queen is answerable to them—in the same way I am answerable to my husband and I like it that way; so why the spankings and stuff? Well for something to feel real there has to be real consequences for disobedience or it's like a police officer shouting "Stop, or I'll shout Stop again." Anything less than this kind of interaction in our lives would feel like a role playing fantasy game instead of a deeply enriching and rewarding relationship lifestyle.............. Oh and did I mention, it's such a turn on? lol

A gentle push?

By what you write, Retiarius, or maybe the way you write, I get the impression that you and your wife are already somewhere on the taken in hand spectrum, and you just want to push it a bit. I respect your caution about suggesting change. Maybe you should avoid verbalizing your new desire but act on it (incrementally) and see how she responds.

I don't know what you want your wife to do differently (if anything), but when I don't listen, my husband sometimes moves me physically from what I'm doing to what he wants done. Your wife probably wouldn't be upset by that especially if you were forcing her into something obviously good for her and pleasant, and you did it with a twinkle in your eye. I don't mean anything sexual by my vague wording--I just don't know what you would want your wife to do or not to do.

Anyway, why discuss it with her when that might hurt her feelings? There are several posters on this site who have written articles about having successfully introduced Taken In Hand without explicitly discussing it.

I like your dog training allusions by the way. I don't think of my husband as any animal but a human set apart, but I don't mind when he calls me bird or butterfly.

Maybe I'm just projecting, but hearing about your wife wanting an older brother makes me think you would be doing her a favor to try (gently, sensitively) pushing.

Um

You're reading me right.

And, in fact, I'm already doing what you suggest. I must, as you say, be sensitive (if not surreptitious) about it. There are old wounds, on both sides.

One of her angriest charges, in disputes gone by, was that I am like my father, whom I've mentioned in other posts was a domineering man, especially toward his family. Despite a lifelong desire not to be like him, I recognize more of him in me with every passing year. Without doubt, I can be hurtfully tactless, even when I'm not trying to control anything or anybody.

Which leads to a different kind of old wound: very few people who know me realize that I suffer constantly from anxiety that I am wrong. About anything, no matter how trivial. I keep a running score, and it's painful. My father was never wrong, in his mind or in mine as a child, so I feel I should be the same. But my mind and personality are more my mother's than my father's. Whereas he was cold, she was warm; he was rigid, she was open; he was literal, she was imaginative; he was narrow, she loved everything and everybody. Like her, I get interested in everything and see great ranges of possibilities everywhere; my problem is to feel confident of my choices. (She never felt confident of hers, either, which is probably why she could adapt to the domestic life she had to live.) I learned as a child to fake confidence convincingly, and that's served me well. But I live in constant fear of my inner shakiness. Most likely, this dualism explains why I feel I am on both sides of the Taken In Hand idea.

How, then, should I disturb the peace of my marriage by trying in any overt way to take charge? I could be wrong, and the consequences could be disastrous. As I've made clear in other posts, we have always negotiated everything, even if painfully. You reach a point where all the big issues are settled, and you've both gotten very good at avoiding the little ones. We have great affection, loyalty and support, though not a great deal of passion. I am absolutely sure of what we have, and so is she.

Yet I would give anything to have the power, on any given occasion, to make her feel calm and centered. I know how much she needs it, and I know how much I crave the assurance that I know what I'm doing. She is the only person who could give me that. If she trusted me enough to let me step in and take charge of her feelings, I would be the happiest man in the world.

I want to thank you for your sensitive observations and well-expressed thoughts. We seem to be extremely different people; you stress how much you rely on intuition, while I live entirely in my head. But you make me think of my mother, and for that many thanks.

Give it a try

After this comment, I think if you gave it a try, you would be a great Taken in hand husband. You say your father was dominating, but not loved. Since you show such an amount of concern about your actions, specially towards your wife, that tells me that you really love her. You want to be in charge and as long as you love her and have her interests at heart (and yours also) you will be very loved.

My husband is very insistent sometimes. He does not micromanage me, though yes there are certain things he likes to have strong control of (such as hair dye—if it were not for him, I'd dye my hair probably once a month). He is also the most sensitive, loving, passionate man I know. I married him because he had the biggest heart, and at the same time had a very fun, loving, sexual, caring take-charge side.

I think by now your wife knows you have a side of you that wants to take charge, I think if you talk to her she will probably want you to try this.

Since my husband and I have, our relationship has been amazing and so fulfilling.

Hoping the best for you!

Kayleigh

You have great courtesy, lady,

in the old sense of the word. You are kinder to me than I have a right to expect, considering how I addressed you earlier.

Thanks for your advice and best wishes. You say, "I think by now your wife knows you have a side of you that wants to take charge, I think if you talk to her she will probably want you to try this." I hadn't asked myself whether she sees this in me or not; after all, I didn't see it in myself until very recently. But I hope you're right.

Your description of your husband makes me jealous. I wish I were as generous, warm and protective as you make him sound. Or, at least, I wish that my wife could think of me that way.

It's okay about your reply to

It's okay about your reply to my article, I forgive any "snarlishness." Trying to figure this out in your head sounds pretty exhausting and frustrating, I can imagine you have been thinking about this 24/7.

My husband didn't know he had this part of him in himself either until I pointed it out. I knew since I had been with him that he had this kind of 'take charge' man inside him, because that kind of man can not hide it. All kinds of little signs are always showing up in men like this, especially in the words they say.

When I found this site one day, I knew instantly that this was the kind of relationship I wanted, and I figured my husband would too since he was figuratively close to it already. So I decided that same day to send him some articles. I sent him a few articles by email (he was at work) that described what taken in hand was, and I also sent him a few of Louise C's incredibly fun to read articles.

His reaction was great! It surprised me slightly, but the first thing he text me was "if this is the relationship that you want, then I am a very lucky man."

Since then our relationship has been amazing! Disagreements no longer continue to the next day, but end quickly. Not to mention our sex life has become so much more fun, passionate, and intimate.

I even notice a change in him everywhere he is. He is such a confident person now. He said 'I allowed him to be a man.' That comment made me very happy, because that is how I want him to feel.

Don't be jealous of my husband, he has many many flaws (such as being so messy!) I hope that you can show your wife some articles from this website or talk to her about it. It is at least worth a try because it is your marriage, and years from now you could regret not giving it a try. Who knows, you could even find desires in your wife that you didn't know she had.

The best thing to do, is to talk to her about it. Be very open to each other, and things will always work out.

Kayleigh

Thank you, Retiarius

That's very high praise, and I feel bashful. I'm glad you're moving forward with your wife, and I'm sure she knows you love and admire her.

You might like CarlF's articles. He's like a detective figuring out his wife's secret. They've been married for a long time, and he doesn't wish to embarrass her or undermine her strength, yet he suspects she wants what she won't admit.

My husband keeps pretty quiet about what pleasure he gets guiding me, and in many ways I'm grateful for that. I'm not sure I would want to hear all of it. But of course I try to figure it out, and I find your dualism idea interesting. He's an oldest brother too with a very strict dad.

Um

It is Biblical

"I find it amusing to see some posters hunting up scriptural passages to justify doing what turns them on."

As a Christian, and Taken in Hand woman, I know that one does not have to "hunt up" scripture to justify this lifestyle. Or bend, or twist scripture, for that matter, to make it fit. Husbands are to be the head of the household, charged to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and women are charged to respect and obey their husbands. Do most Christian marriages follow this model? No, but that doesn't change what scripture says. ;)

"But, in fact, what Taken In Hand provides for a relationship is psychologically quite similar to what a shared religious faith does. Like faith, Taken In Hand creates a hierarchy, sets out standards, sanctions consequences, employs rituals, requires people to confront the reality of power, pain, fear, temptation, transgression, and guilt, and establishes a context that confers specific meaning on the everyday."

Hmm, yes. Maybe that's what God had in mind. As well as experience the power of love, bonding, unity, joy, peace, loyalty, commitment, personal integrity, authenticity in a safe, spiritual relationship where God is the center.

For me, in addition to simplicity, focus, challenge,communication, creativity, specialness, intimacy, intensity, and meaning (I agree with your assessment on each of those qualities, btw), living according to God's plan, as a serious Christian, is what I want.

I've never been in a Taken in Hand relationship before now. I am the one who suggested it when I first met my fiance'. I can tell you that I have never been more in love, felt more passion, emotional connection, physical intensity and commitment to our bond with a man before. It works for us the way it seems to for sooooo many others who write here.

For me personally, I cannot separate Faith from Taken in Hand. My experience/understanding is that it is God ordained.

However, I know that there are MANY non-believers who experience fulfilling and rewarding Taken in Hand relationships. I don't take anything away from their experiences, just stating mine.

Red

No disrespect intended

As I explained above, my amusement results from having grown up in a very devout Catholic family (and spent many years in Catholic schools) where it was assumed that, whatever the Bible might mean by "male and female he created them," it couldn't possibly be referring to sex.

I resist religious ideals of marriage largely because I saw, in my parents' marriage, how religious teaching bound two people together who, despite good intentions, did not find mutual satisfaction. My father controlled everything, keeping my mother always short of money and always on the defensive. She withered under under this treatment and, in compensation, retreated into religiosity. The only people she could tell her troubles to (she thought it was all her fault) were priests, some of whom treated her callously.

I realize none of that reflects on the Bible. But the whole agonizing experience--as the eldest, I had to be something of a substitute emotional parent for my younger brothers and sisters-- made me fiercely independent in my thinking, determined to reject all dogmas and to structure my own views of life. (I didn't realize until many years later that such "views" are like scenic stops on a never-ending journey: enjoy them for a few minutes, take some pictures if you want, but then move on.) Hence, reposing all trust in a single book doesn't appeal to me. Yet, I feel very much what you said: "As well as experience the power of love, bonding, unity, joy, peace, loyalty, commitment, personal integrity, authenticity in a safe, spiritual relationship where God is the center." The key word in that sentence isn't "God" (who, I can assure you from personal acquaintance, doesn't care what he is called, or if he is called anything at all) but "center."

Taken In Hand is my latest discovery, and is likely to be a lengthy project if I decide to move my wife in this direction. Something tells me it would make her happy . . . but she doesn't know it yet. Given the history of our relationship, it's going to take love and tactics to help her realize it. Thanks to you and everyone who posts here for the assist.

No disrespect felt

Retairious,

It's all good. I did not feel disrespected. I enjoy the exchange of differing opinions and the introspection required for an evolving, engaged life.

I do understand from your descriptions of your family life how it is that you came to your attitudes about religion. I'm happy, though, to read that your perspective allows you to see that your parent's behavior (and the behavior of the priests), does not necessarily reflect what the bible teaches.

But back to Taken in Hand--

If you decide to move your relationship in this direction, I hope that you will write about your experiences here! I would be wonderful to read. I am in a fairly new relationship (less than a year), engaged now, and we are developing our own style of Taken in Hand. I find the articles here so helpful to me because I recognize myself in them and get ideas to springboard communication. I especially enjoy articles by men because I love to learn and understand their differing perspectives.

The curse of being first-born is...

... that we spend far too much of our lives comparing ourselves to our parents.

My hope for you, Retiarius, is that you allow yourself out of that box. When you see or read people on this site telling us to "do what comes naturally," I am very aware that the first response to enter one's mind is some version of "what?? everything new gets filtered through whether it's acceptable or even possible!"

Unfortunately, that "is it pragmatic?" filter is part of what's preventing you from acting on your instincts and desires.

However, I will say that when I read that you would like to have more control over your wife's 'feelings,' I am not clear on what you mean by that. That could translate to so many different things, that I would request an example of what you're talking about.

BTW, I work as a writing/creativity counselor; writing about what is going on in your head is a productive way of understanding our own motivations, and it is a form of healing of old wounds, or rather, it can be. I get the impression that letting yourself talk about the disparities and differences between men and women is a good beginning to understanding the social and familial forces that shaped you.

These forces do not have to now control your way of being in the world. This is the nice thing about getting old(er), in my opinion; we have the opportunity to become our own person, separate from our parents' influence.

Thanks.

You are right, right, and right. I'd like to respond more fully, but I'm traveling and iPhone-challenged. When I get back to my beloved desktop, hopefully Monday, I'll reply again. Again, my thanks for your insights. I have one question: why your handle "Pericles"?

My wife's feelings

Diana is an extremely capable, focused, achieving person. Like most such people, she pays a very high inner price in anxiety and self-doubt. I've always known that, and I've been her blocker, coach, cheerleader and, when necessary, her therapist.

I don't regret any of that, but in the last year I've found myself wondering if it's all enabled her to avoid discovering that she has the capability of simply letting go. Not permanently (unless she wants that), but when she finds herself backed into an emotional corner and feels desperate. Up to now, I've put my arms around her and comforted and soothed her and counseled her. This is at best partially effective; it calms things down for the time being, but it doesn't prevent her from spending days on end biting her lips and driving herself to accomplish more.

But what if she gave me the power to take it out of her hands? What if I could say, "Kneel down, close your eyes, and remember that you're not in charge?" She's a little girl inside, still looking, I suspect, for her missing older brother. On my side, I've had to get past my distrust of power over others in any form, a side effect of growing up Catholic and under an authoritarian father. I now feel quite sure that I want to have the power to heal her. I've comforted her like a brother, but she needs something stronger. To my great astonishment, what some women have described on this website seems to answer to this sort of need. I simply did not know till now that proud, capable women could actually willingly embrace their man's being in control.

You are completely right that writing about these issues has been, from the start, a process of self-discovery. Almost every post I read teaches me something new, and sometimes, as I draft a reply, I realize that my understanding of what I read isn't complete, that the poster's words have more resonance than I at first thought. This is particularly true of your posts.

Sort of

For now, I'm trying to subvert the patterns (otherwise known as "ruts") our behavior has congealed into, by requesting that she, or we, do different things, by arranging our being together with time to talk, by being even more demonstratively sympathetic and supportive than I've always been . . . and by being just a little firmer or more demanding on some things.

This increases the attention she gets from me, which I think she enjoys. Moreover, I enjoy giving that attention, because I'm not just trying in some vague way to keep up my end of an habitual relationship--I have a goal, and that energizes me. I don't think she yet suspects where I want to go with this.

To me, it seems as though there is a radical asymmetry to inaugurating Taken In Hand in an existing relationship: a woman who wants it may offer to give authority to a man, but a man who wants it must presumably request that the woman give authority to him. Those are two radically different negotiating positions. (Which is not to say that the first is always easy; as women posting here often attest, it can be difficult to get a man to accept the idea.) What this suggests, to me at any rate, is that go is a better model than chess: indirection is the name of the game. Ideally, by the time the words "taken in hand" come out in the open, we'd already be doing a significant part of what I want. But I don't think I'm quite that skillful, and I don't think she's quite that naive.

The difference

For me, what seemed a disadvantage to start from ("What if she's not into it?" "What if she does not want me to take her in hand," etc.) soon turned out to be an advantage. In this whole concept the MAN plays the ACTIVE part.

Imagine you were a woman wanting to have Taken In Hand relationship, but your husband didn't. What would be the odds that it would ever be going to happen? You cannot force someone to take charge, can you?

But... you can take charge and take someone in hand. Taken In Hand is not about the woman submitting, it's about the man actively taking charge. This may be what you have not yet understood about Taken In Hand. It may take some romping, but hey, just enjoy the journey and see where you end up!

PS

I do not agree that a woman should give authority. Sometimes in life authority can be extorted. As long as it happens playfully, it won't harm you relationship (BTW, a good place to start can be the bedroom).

There is no substitute for heartfelt conversation

The reality is that unless you are one of the rare couples who know from the start that they both desire a Taken In Hand relationship, one side of the couple is going to have to introduce the concept of Taken In Hand to the other.

This is challenging no matter which party is doing the introducing.

Doing this early on in a relationship might take less effort and risk, (however the level of trust between parties is certainly not as high early on). So if you are the man in a fairly new relationship, you can probably be dominant if that is your desire and just see how the woman reacts. If she likes it, great, if not, just move on sort of thing. No deep explanations, conversations or soul-revealing required.

However, I think for couples that have been together for many years (or decades) in an egalitarian relationship, it’s not as easy to just change course without explanation or discussion.

That is why, at least for us, communication has been key. I am the one who introduced this concept to my husband, and in the process I had to get over the idea of keeping anything from him. Over the last year and a half, I have bared my soul to him and he has opened up to me like never before. That in itself has been the most amazing thing, and we feel so close and really understand each other so much more than we ever did. We are still trying to figure out exactly what our Taken In Hand relationship looks like and I assume it may just keep evolving.

My suggestion would be to start the conversation with your wife sooner than later. Testing taking charge here and there is fine if you are a man, as is “Acting As If” if you are a woman, but there is no substitute for heartfelt, honest conversation.

I know it’s not as “romantic” and maybe it will work for you if you just start behaving as a Taken In Hand husband would behave, but in my experience, we had to really talk about the details to be sure we were on the same page. Especially because, like you, my husband was deeply concerned about doing something that might harm our relationship, not to mention that might harm me. ;-)

I do think you have a slight advantage over a woman in your situation. As Searcher so accurately points out, Taken In Hand by definition is the man actively taking charge. So ultimately to create a Taken In Hand relationship, the man has to take the lead by his actions.

However, (and this is where the delicate dance comes in) the woman has to enjoy it. If he were to just take it against her will, then it wouldn’t be Taken In Hand at all, as you clearly understand.

My point is that it is definitely possible for you to take those burdens you speak of off your wife’s shoulders and experience the closeness that a Taken In Hand relationship can bring. Because you know you want it, if it turns out that your wife does too, you can act. (As opposed to the woman’s situation where she knows she wants it but it’s up to the man to act.) But I do think she needs to consent, even if she doesn’t know it is called Taken In Hand.

I agree with Searcher: No Guts No Glory! If you don’t at least try you have no chance of success. And if you do succeed, it will all be worth it. Life is too short to merely settle.

Consequences for the Husband

Hello Retiarius,

You mentioned something in your article something I have yet to come across on this site (although I am new here, so if this has already been addressed, my apologies):

"...I have yet to hear what consequences, other than divorce, might accrue to the husband if he defaults on important responsibilities"

Thank you for that statement! I can draw from my experience that when a man lacks the maturity to make the right decision, or own up to his mistake, I just take my power back from him. My husband is a true alpha, he doesn't want to abdicate his authority over me—or anything— at all, so in the rare moments when he lets his anger overrun his logic, I confidently, and in my own quiet way, take back the reins.

After all, the reins were mine to give him in the first place, and I did it because he demanded it and proved very capable of handling it. As a man who considers it weakness to let anger override his intellect and maturity, for me to take back what was instinctively, yet carefully, given to him is indeed a failing, not only in his eyes, but in mine. That is a wound he has very little interest in inflicting on himself—or me.

OK

Thanks for your explanation. I'm all for people, and husbands too, being held accountable. I spent several years dealing with the wreckage of domestic violence. Like everybody else in that line of work, I observed again and again women enabling their abusers. But here, by definition, we aren't talking about abuse; we're talking about healthy women saying, with open eyes and full hearts, "I want this."

Surely, on-again-off-again defeats the spirit of the thing? I thought the idea was to skip all the second-guessing. "You're in charge. Deal with it. And with me." That's what I want to hear from my wife, not necessarily in words but via the kind of wordlessness people who sleep together can share. Frankly, I want the power to make her shut up--in her own mind. That's where the pain is. I want to be able to make her withdraw into a core peacefulness where there is nothing but indestructible her (a space I've discovered in myself in other ways). That won't be possible if she allows herself to be constantly vigilant whether I'm looking out for her interests.

Have I been reading too many internet fantasies?

Dissenting Opinion

Reitirarius,
your post is interesting and well-written, but as another poster here said academic and quite distant. You make a few good points, but I think you draw the wrong conclusion in many of the reasons you give in defense of Taken In Hand relationships.

First let me start by quoting you:
"I haven't always fantasized about this kind of relationship. Nor did I know that some women fantasized about it."

This is I think the reason why Taken In Hand seems to baffle you so much. Many people here seem to come to Taken In Hand later in life, have even been in egalitarian relationships for years before they discover that they want such a relationship.

That seems very odd to me. I seem to be one of the few people who always knew I wanted a Taken In Hand relationship. Pretty much from the day I could walk. Even before I had any sexual feelings I knew I liked to be dominated. So for me Taken In Hand is indeed natural.

Let me new come to the characteristics you see as important to a Taken In Hand relationship.

Simplicity. It certainly works in a Taken In Hand relationship, but also in many other relationships. It is certainly not exclusively Taken In Hand. A female-led relationship (or a gay one) would be based on the same thing.

Also, I don't find Taken In Hand simple at all. On the contrary, because of the big responsibility (of being in charge) of the man, and the level of trust which it takes from the woman, Taken In Hand is not only immensely complex, but also, in my view anyway, risky.

I agree with you on the Challenge characteristic. But again, it goes for many other relationships too.

Communication. Again, same as above. Communication is important in any, absolutely any relationship, not only sexual ones.

I agree with you that "Unimaginative, overly rigid, or lazy people simply won’t be drawn to the Taken In Hand idea." Again, though, Creativity should be important in any relationship.

I personally agree that Taken In Hand relationships are more intimate and intense than egalitarian relationships, but I'm sure people who are not interested in Taken In Hand would disagree. There are many ways to build intimacy, the husband being in charge is just one of them.

So, in my opinion, the reasons you give why Taken In Hand is interesting and works are quite good ones, but they can be applied to many other types of relationships as well. They are not specific to Taken In Hand at all.

So now to the part I do not agree with. You call certain explanations for Taken In Hand "pseudo-explanations".

"One is that men are naturally authoritative and women naturally enjoy being under the control of their husband. That’s not only a brainless stereotype,... "

You obviously are of two minds about Taken In Hand. And I would say your opinion about it is largely influenced by political correctness. In the 21st century especially women are supposed to despise such a "sexist" relationship. I do believe that many men, obviously not all, are naturally dominant. But this dominance also has been systematically bred out of them in the last 40 years. A man who takes charge has become the epitome of the "oppressive male".

Obviously, nature vs. nurture can be discussed ad nauseam. Most women I knew adore men who are take charge. But the world being as it is, their desire cannot be voiced aloud. So often these things are just whispered about at a girl's night out after a few too many drinks, when my girlfriends and I admit that we are looking for a "Conan", but sadly enough only find "new", enlightened men. That women are supposed to go crazy for the new man is the real brainless stereotype here. And quite honest, I am sick of it.

Jessica Rabbit

Wordlessness on her part

I would never have asked for my husband's authority over me. I never have asked for it other than expressing gratitude. I would never come right out and say, "You are in charge," or "I want you to make me obey." I think that should be unnecessary.

Um

My advice...

I haven't been on this site in years. I've been very sick (long story) and just visited this site again today.

This was one of the first posts I've read today and an idea came to me while reading your posts, Retiarius. Maybe this would work.

Next time your wife gets down on herself and thinks she's she's not doing something good enough, give her a firm swat on the butt and firmly tell her, "stop that! I don't want to hear that talk from you. You are a wonderful (wife, mom, employee, whatever it is she isn't feeling confident about)."

In this way you are asserting your dominance and taking her in hand without adding to her insecurities. *shrugs* Seems like a good place for you to start in my opinion. :)

why it works

It works because if you're not in charge of your wife her natural tendency will be to take charge of you, and that's not going to work in most marriages. If you don't tame that shrew she'll eat you alive and then wonder WTF happened to you and why you're not with her anymore. It works because if you tame that shrew, she'll be yours for life, a tame, sweet, obedient, respectful owned wife. Wives need to be taken in hand and kept there. That's the only way I know of to make a great marriage.