Monday, June 30, 2008

Pillow Talk & Pillow Moans

This is a postscript to the preceding post about another kind of role-reversal behavior observed in FLRs. Namely, that husbands are starting to gasp and moan and vent their emotions during the climactic moments of lovemaking.

Some husbands are being encouraged, or even manipulated by their leading wives into opening up in this way. Other husbands simply find themselves unable to suppress this unmacho behavior—or feel that they no longer have to suppress it, after years of doing so.

An interesting discussion of this behavior, from both sides of the bed, can be found at the new FLR message board, SheMakesTheRules.Com (an outgrowth of Barbara Abernathy’s Venus on Top Society ). I recommend interested readers, male and female, join the board and check out the thread (“from fantasies to talking vs. moaning,” which can be found under “Marriages and Relationships”). But perhaps the board ops won’t mind if I pass on a few snippets from the several provocative responses:

A woman posts: “And just as men love to hear a woman moan and make noise, we love hearing that kind of feedback from men. At least I do! I L-O-V-E to hear a man moan, groan, and cry out when making love... It comes across as positive feedback, and lets me know that my partner is most def into the moment!”

Two women echo this sentiment:

“I completely agree a 100%. And the thing is, if we are in a situation where I just want silence and he's talking, or I want him to tell me exactly what he's feeling and all I'm getting are moans, I tell him what to do!”

I love it when my lover moans, talks, shakes and loses control! I like to know that I am in total control of his pleasure, length of pleasure, and climax, after I have been satisfied of course. I also love to hear that he is mine... all mine to do with what I wish.”

A husband confesses: “My wife loves for me to make sounds in bed -- she's told me on more than one occasion that she wants to hear my release as much as feel it... which of course makes it more intense for both of us.”

Lesson for us guys: It’s fine, even great to vocalize during sex, but verbalize, too.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pillow Talk — Give it a Try, Guys

Have you noticed — we’re starting to get Hollywood heroes who break the “strong, silent type” mold of Wayne, Coop, Clint, et al. Vince Vaughan, Shia LaBeouf, Adam Sandler, even Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man—who am I forgetting?—these guys tend to talk a blue streak. In fact, you can’t shut ‘em up.

Yet the real macho guy, master of the one-syllable repartee (or grunt), remains the archetype. Especially in the bedroom. It’s the girl who cries out, “Oh, James!” While Bond just gives a tomcat shrug and arches an eyebrow.

This silent gunfighter image has had an lasting effect on generations of guys. We strive to underplay our parts before, during and after sex. Whatever you do, don’t show your emotions. It’s embodied in today’s casual sex hookups.

But this manly protocol gets chucked right out the window in an FLR (female led relationship), or WLM (wife led marriage). And if it doesn’t, it should.

The goal here, of course, is not to hide one’s worshipful feelings from one’s beloved, but to reveal them. Don’t try to be the “strong, silent type” when it comes to your adoration and devotion.

In Chapter 6 of my book, “Daring to Be Known by Her,” I quote Fumika Misato:
“Consider a true and honest confession of your feelings to your wife. Express yourself without reservation. Don’t be afraid to let your wife know how powerful she is. Her primary goal is to get your attention, and all that entails. Let her know that she has it. And she will be impressed, even touched, by your honesty.”

Lady Misato goes even farther, recommending wives get their husbands to tell them everything, every night (she recommends the marriage bed as the site for these nightly confessions).

While Lady Misato instructs wives in ways to extract these nightly confessions and avowals of love from their mates, there’s nothing wrong with a husband initiating them.

Like, during lovemaking. Again, to quote my book:
“For me, the throes of conjugal sex tend to trigger impromptu, lovestricken confessions. The most impassioned avowals suddenly populate my brain—mostly unoriginal, even trite. I used to suppress these, trying to maintain at least a semblance of manly reserve, knowing my blurted words might sound embarrassing afterward.
"I no longer do that—muzzle myself... These days, during the final crescendos of passion, I am more likely to let myself go—verbally as well as seminally. My wife has heard me stutter out empurpled phrases like, ‘I’m so lucky to be married to you.’ Or: ‘You are my queen.’ Or: ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ Or: ‘I want to belong to you completely.’ Not a few times I have reverted to simply repeating her name over and over and over, mantra-like.”

Okay, afterwards I sometimes feel a wee bit embarrassed. How must all that have sounded to her? Was I gushing like a lovesick schoolboy, or schoolgirl?

Maybe. But the point is, I’m not Clint Eastwood, or John Wayne. I’m not muy macho. You won’t see me leaving the gal of my dreams as I riding off alone into the sunset on my favorite horse. As I wrote:
“I do want to belong to her completely, etc., etc., and I want her to know it, to know me. What I have given voice to really are the innermost secrets of my heart—things I want to share with my beloved.”

My wife, as it happens, is not a talker. She’s the strong silent type in our marriage. She has not commented on my confessional binges during lovemaking, neither praised nor scolded me for them. They are just kind of “out there,” on the record. Because I cannot help myself, I have to tell her everything.

Another instance of FLR role reversal.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Male Mutiny -- To Quell or Not to Quell

On the SheMakesTheRules message board recently, there were several postings about husbands rebelling from the FLR status — after having begged for it!

One husband described his occasional bouts of mutinous behavior in this way: “I can become sullen, stubborn, or willful at times due to various reasons, and this causes tension between Goddess and myself.”

“Why do guys do this?” one of the women moderators asked. Meaning, once their fantasy becomes reality, why do they “balk and rebel and generally act pissy when the woman starts exercising her authority? Are they testing? If so, what is the best way to deal with you in this mood? How should she bring the relationship back to a healthy FLR status?”

The responses were thoughtful, insightful. Most of the male posters counseled wives to be understanding and tolerant. Consensus: Adjusting to an FLR and submissive status takes time, no matter what a guy’s fantasies have been, and the wife should be understanding of occasional rebellions.

The Case for Zero Tolerance

There is another FLR school of thought, of course, which advises zero tolerance of husbandly mutinies, rebellions, “pissy fits,” etc.

The oft-quoted Au876 describes how his wife-leader dealt with him on these occasions:
“I think some form of rebellion is natural no matter how deeply we want to submit. My wife refers to my small rebellions as pouting. She just waits me out and kids me about it. She says I am pouting or acting like a little boy. She thinks it is funny and childish of me. It may take me a day or two to get over it even though I try hard. When I come around she knows I am just a little more firmly under her control than I was before.”

On other occasions, however, Mrs. Au would take a firmer hand with him: “When she senses some rebellion in my attitude or actions she is quick to punish me in some way and warns me I better learn to like things the way they are.”

Au876 cites various kinds of punishments, from “writing lines” to a cut in his weekly allowance to a denial of TV or computer time.

A more frightening form of punishment is described by a worshipful husband cyber-tagged “love struck”:
“I remember in our early days my Lady responded to a similar situation by taking the initiative and telling me ‘OK if that's the way you want it - IT'S OFF!’ This worked with me on two levels: 1. I couldn't imagine going back to the way things were before, so I was mortified that I'd pushed her too far. 2. The very act of her taking control in such a dramatic manner revealed an inner strength that immediately increased my desire to serve her. The next day I was begging for her forgiveness. She gave me this and also gave me a very sore bottom to remind me of my place in the relationship.”

A philosophical summing up on this topic is offered by Lady Misato of Real Women Don’t Do Housework:
“If resistence is offered at all it will consist merely of token rebellions from time to time for the sake of his ego and to test your resolve and seriousness. In actuality, he will enjoy this as much as you do and he would be extremely disappointed if you were to back away from your new expectations of him.”

Friday, June 20, 2008

Just Do It!

Another survey is out validating the findings of many previous surveys,* to the effect that husbands who apply themselves in the kitchen, laundry room and other precincts of milady’s house may be rewarded by her in the bedroom.

In “Housework and Sex: What's the Connection?" released last April, University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research discovered that many housewives get turned on watching their husbands do housework.

"Sounds good," a macho husband might respond. "But is it manly? Because I wouldn't want to do anything that wasn't manly, just so I could get... well, you know."

Don't worry. You can look on housework as “Domestic Dragon-Slaying”--at least that's what I called it in my book. As I wrote in Chapter 5 (“Pampering and Pitching In”):
“A husband can step up to the plate (as it were) and be that that helpmeet without endangering his masculinity (even if he dons an occasional apron). By doing so, in fact, he will be more a man in her eyes. Yea, verily, he may assume the radiant and transfigured status of champion—her champion. And, yes, it may pay erotic dividends down the road.”

What these researchers have not yet discovered, or have not deigned to publish, however, is that it’s not just wives who get turned on when husbands do housework. Husbands get turned on by themselves doing it.

Yeah, verily.

As Au876 (among many other wife-worshippers) has confessed:
“I often find I have become sexually excited at the darnedest times. I may be ironing her clothes, cleaning the bathrooms, preparing dinner, washing dishes -- you name it. And I realize I have an erection. She may not even be at home and yet I have become excited just knowing I am serving her in some fashion.”

I leave the “why” of this to the psychologists, normal or abnormal, to decipher. I would only point out that a male working himself up into a sexual dither in order to impress a female is not uncommon in courtship.

But for the wives, it seems, the turn-on has less to do with erotic fantasy than pragmatic reality: She’s relieved and grateful to have her usually couch-bound mate up on his feet and doing some of the heavy domestic lifting, thereby lightening her burden.
“Ask any man, goes a joke I heard somewhere, and he’ll tell you a woman’s ultimate fantasy is to have two men at once. While this has been verified by a recent sociological study, it appears that most men do not realize that, in this fantasy, one man is cooking and the other is cleaning.”

Another old joke to the same purpose: “What’s the sexiest thing a young dad can do for his wife?” Answer: “The dishes.”

That’s not to say that women can’t indulge some wild fantasies in regard to domestic arrangements. Take this sampling of responses by young women to an Internet survey question, “What would your dream househusband do for you?”
…keep my house spotlessly clean and have delicious meals prepared for me every night--- and dress up when I want to go out!
…do laundry, pay bills, walk the dog, run errands, and have dinner waiting on the table for me at night naked!
…keep the refrigerator full …cook, clean & kiss me as I walk in the door.
…fetch my book, hold my bookmark, and rub my feet whilst I read...
…pick up our kids, help them with homework, and be happy to see me!

And this final fantasy: “He’d have my period for me.”

The female-led nature of this domestic setup was also made explicit by several women who responded to the “dream househusband” survey, to wit: “I want a man who truly understands the business of maintaining home & family and who understands in no uncertain terms I am the CEO.

The message to married males I can sum up by adding three words to the tagline of this blog, i.e.:

“If you want your wife to be a goddess, worship her… and serve her!”

* According to one previous survey cited in my book, “men who do more housework and child care have better sex lives and happier marriages than do unhelpful husbands.” (Research findings published by marital researcher John Gottman, Ph.D. in the May/June 1994 issue of the Family Therapy Networker.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is Courtship Behavior a Fraud?

An emailer objects to my "passionate courtship" model for marriage:
"You're always advising husbands to act like they did when they were 'courting,' which is already an old-fashioned concept, but that's phony behavior. Guys only do that stuff—buying flowers and candy and opening doors and even going to chick flicks—in order to get her to bed. Nobody actually lives like that. It's a fraud, part of the mating dance guys are supposed to go through."

Reading that reminded me of my dad, the way he once reacted to this European guy who would kiss ladies’ hands on being introduced: "Phony hand-kissing,” I remember my dad saying with contempt. “A real man saves that stuff for the bedroom."

I am also reminded of that ultimate anti-chivalric, chauvinist hero, Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire. Here’s a famous exchange with Blanche DuBois:

I was fishing for a compliment, Stanley.

I don't go in for that stuff.


Compliments to women about their looks. I never met a dame yet that didn't know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and some of them give themselves credit for more than they've got. I once went out with a dame who told me, "I'm the glamorous type." She says, "I am the glamorous type!" I say, "So what?"

And what did she say then?

She didn't say nothing. That shut her up like a clam.

Did it end the romance?

Well, it ended the conversation, that was all. You know that some men, Blanche, that are took in by this Hollywood glamour stuff whereas some men just are not.

I'm sure you belong in the second category.

Are these guys right, and I’m wrong? Should there be a post-nuptial ritual when husbands pull the pedestal out from under their new wives? Are male courtship rituals ridiculous and emasculating? Are they artificial and unsustainable?

I will agree that courtliness and chivalry are not easily sustained. Which is one reason so many marriages end unhappily. But is courtship behavior artificial? Let me quote my own book (Chapter 3, "Perpetual Courtship"):
“The truth is, perpetual courtship is not an artificial contrivance, a trick foisted upon credulous husbands. It is an arrangement in harmony with our own biological natures, male and female. And even if it wasn’t, who cares? It works! What wife can hold out against continuous, insidious courtship? How can she not be susceptible?
“If a marriage is to be a compelling and continuing love story—and that's the goal here—romance must be reinvented, with new romantic challenges thrown in the way of the suitor (lawful husband though he be).”

Endlessly replaying the male-female mating dance is a secret a husband and wife can share, a little engine that can and could, that will generate erotic energy day after day.

It may not be the only secret to marital happiness. I haven’t made a study, it’s not my field. But it's certainly one secret, and I've seen many marriages collapse from its non-application.

The Kowalski Method may also seem like a workable formula for a sexually charged marriage, but unless the husband looks like the young Brando, I wouldn’t advise him to try it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Role-Reversal Rehearsal

If you’re addicted to those old movies on AMC and TCM, you know that Broadway shows always used to open “out of town,” in order to work out the kinks.

Well, FLR couples sometimes head out of town to work in the kinks. To try things, whether in private and public, that they might be afraid to try back home, where everybody knows them.

Except that, for FLR couples, “What happens in Vegas” doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas. A certain provocative practice might prove so much fun that she and he decide to bring it back home and incorporate it into the daily domesticity.

I was reminded of this not long ago in reading through posts from the old "Venus On Top Yahoo Discussion Group" (which recently evolved into a full-fledged FLR discussion board, She Makes the Rules).
The first guy asks: “Does anyone know of a place that supports FLR where the husband is allowed to serve his Wife while in the complex? Like a hotel or vacation spot?”
The next guy answers: “These places are everywhere. In every city and vacation spot you can think of. When you arrive at your destination, rush to open her car door for her. From this point on, pretend that you have class and that you would like your wife to have an unforgettable vacation. When you are with her in a public place, act in a way that will make her proud to be with you. Offer to do the things that she wants to do while on vacation and don't whine about it. Open doors for her, pull out her chair at supper… My point is that if you desire to give your wife a beautiful relaxing vacation, book it and prepare to treat her nice.”
Then this followup comment: “When my wife and i go on trips we both check in and she will send me to get the bags and unpack while she checks out the hotel. When she gets back to the room everything is in place.”

Which reminded me of a likeminded post by Au876 from Lady Misato’s original Wife Worship board:
“We went to visit some of my wife's girlfriends at a lake cabin a couple of years ago. We had to take our own sheets and etc. One of the first things I did after getting the car unloaded was to make up our bed and put her clothes away. Later we were all sitting around talking. My wife asked me ‘Have you made up my bed yet?’ One of the ladies started to laugh like that was a stupid thing to expect of a man. But I quickly responded telling her yes and I had hung up all of clothes too…
“My wife was real proud of me. The lady that laughed made some sort of comment about what a good husband I was, and my wife responded saying something like, ‘He knows what is expected of him.’
“I was not embarrassed. I was proud of myself. I had done what I was supposed to do. The fact my wife asked me was a sure sign she did not intend to keep my status a secret from them. The fact I had already done it was a sure sign to her I was not ashamed of my status.”

Another member of Misato’s original husbands’ forum, who posted under the name of “Johann,” described an out-of-town tryout where his wife and he flirted with mild public humiliation:
“I kept silent and followed closely to her left rear. I stepped ahead to open doors. I never realized that waitresses tend to ignore other women. But I would not respond even by eye contact. My mentrice ordered everything and soon the waitresses got the drift. I think they'd seen it before. The waitress would ask: ‘Are you ready to order, sir.’ My wife would answer, 'Yes, he will have the Crab Louis and a glass of Pinot Grigio. Failing that, a dry Riesling, followed by coffee, after dinner.’ That was the general tone.
"It was good for me to enter the role publicly and privately. I spoke very few words all weekend, offered no suggestions and was treated like a pet and a servant. It was good for her and even more so for me. I recommend this. No, I do not think we imposed on anyone. Some people were disoriented when they spoke to me. I would look at my Lady and she would answer.”

"Female Led" is SOP, home and away, for fdhousehusband, who writes the much-visited blog, Her Househusband’s Life.

He regularly chronicles his daily life, including holidays and getaways, with replays of all his submissive routines. As he explained a couple years ago in a report on a family outing to Disney World: “Although i didn't have to do all the cooking, cleaning, and other housework like at home, i am still bound to follow Her Rules of Behaviour when we are on a trip.”

Fd (just like Au876), upon arrival at a hotel or resort, promptly unpacks for everyone, while his wife—and kids, if they’re along—head off for the pool, the lake, the seashore or perhaps the nearest mall.

Happy traveling!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keep On Taking Those Baby Steps

“Is there a point of no return when one truly embraces this way of life?” – “Ms. Kathleen,” writing in Elise Sutton’s Predominant e-magazine, February 2005 issue.

A provocative question, especially for guys whose submissive yearnings are offset by their reservations and fears. Just how far down the FLR road dare they go before it’s too late to turn around and scramble back to “the way things were”?

The journey, of course, starts with the first step. Most FLRs, I venture to say, were not inaugurated at one swell foop, but tentatively and incrementally. Whether the first steps are taken hand in hand, by mutual consent, or via stealth submission, initiated by the husband, they’re usually baby steps.

It’s a good way to proceed, allowing both partners to adjust (consciously or subconsciously) to altered roles and power dynamics within the relationship. With a baby step, one foot can remain safely anchored in the comfort zone.

Emily and Ken Addison, co-creators of the Around Her Finger books and website and blog, recommend couples explore the lifestyle with a two-week “Boot Camp.”

“During those two weeks,” Emily advises an interested wife, “introduce him to loving female authority as described in the Boot Camp section of the book."

But, in order to achieve a full-fledged FLR, don’t you need to stop “pussyfooting” around at some point and take some bold steps?

Yes, says Emily. "At the end of those two weeks, have an open and candid discussion about wife-led marriages and male submission. He will never want to go back to shared authority again.”

Ultimately, the Addisons maintain, stealth submission is not sustainable. You need to take a Big Bold Step. Wife and husband need to affirm to each other that they are formally entering an FLR, not by tacit consent, but by mutual agreement. Most critically, the wife needs to assert her authority over her husband and her new status as head of the household, and the husband needs to acknowledge and accept this, going forward.

But why aren’t baby steps enough, if you take enough of them? Well, according to a Pre-Socratic philosopher, Zeno of Elea, in a famous paradox, such incrementalism can never reach a goal:
“You cannot traverse an infinite number of points in a finite time. You must traverse the half of any given distance before you traverse the whole, and the half of that again before you can traverse it. This goes on ad infinitum, so that there are an infinite number of points in any given space, and you cannot touch an infinite number one by one in a finite time.”

But let me disagree, with the contemporary Addisons and ancient Zeno. The “half-the-distance” paradox holds true only in a theoretical universe. In fact, my college Greek Philosophy lecturer, who first told us about it, proceeded immediately to debunk it with a practical example:

Imagine the boys on one side of the class and girls on the other, and then imagine each side moving toward the other by traversing half the distance between them in a series of steps. Even though, in theory, they could never actually close the distance, as the lecturer explained, “after a relatively few steps the boys and girls would be close enough for all practical purposes.”

Some very dramatic milestones, in other words, can be reached one step at a time. In the words of a famous haiku*:

O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

(*by Kobayashi Issa, as translated by R.H. Blyth, quoted in J. D. Salinger's 1961 novel, Franny and Zooey.)

This isn’t theory, because the baby-step method is exactly how I’ve proceeded in my own marriage. Often with a backward baby step for every two forward. In this halting fashion, my wife and I have covered a considerable distance. She is now in charge of almost every aspect of the marriage, our family life, my daily existence.

And we never, ever sat down and had that Talk. In fact, years ago when I proposed our having such a discussion, it almost always backfired. I stopped doing so.

I will acknowledge that sometimes the next baby step will turn out to have been a Big Step. Suddenly the climbing snail, inching upward, looks over his slimy shoulder and sees that it’s a long, long way down… and then looks up and realizes he is dramatically closer to the summit.

I remember taking one of those next steps that suddenly loomed large, and thinking, with a thrill, “This may be a point of no return on the road to wifedom."

Exactly what that step was is a topic for another post. But wanting to chroncle the milestone, I posted the following on the Female-Led Relationships Board: “Finally, after more than a decade of on-again-off-again wife-worship, with incremental gains and losses, I realized we had turned the corner.”

All those little steps had become a bold step. I and she and we were finally and actually committed to this lifestyle. Was I alarmed?

Maybe a wee bit. Like this husband, who wrote to Elise Sutton:
"Dear Miss Sutton, I am coming to the realization that I am approaching a point of no return and each step, including reading your book, is taking me there."

Her advice: Fear not, but rejoice. “Do not fear submitting to a woman out of a fear of losing your male ego. Humility is a good thing for only a man who is humbled can than be edified to the place where he is fit for his Queen.”

It’s like an engagement. At some point, you need to call it off, or march down the aisle. Commit to a wife-led marriage.

A wife-worshipping husband emailed me his realization when he saw where his own baby steps were leading:
“It really brought it home to me just how pleased and proud i was to be so completely controlled by the Woman who was irrevocably becoming my Mistress, how i/we had already gone beyond a point of no return, and how (deep down) i had always yearned for this ever since we met… It really made me feel in touch with my natural self, and even more accepting of who and what i am.”

Monday, June 9, 2008

Making HER Your Fantasy

That’s the title of Chapter 2 of my book. It’s directed to husbands, and, of course, “her” refers to “wife.” I could have said, “Making Her Your Fantasy — Again.” The way she was during courtship, and the honeymoon. Until the glamour wore off somehow.

The point being, wives can regain that fantasy status. Because, to quote myself, “Men need sexual fantasy. It's the highest-octane fuel they can burn. They do idealize womanhood. They do empedestal their girlfriends.”

Men are going to have those perpetual adolescent fantasies about some female or other. So shouldn’t it be the woman we’re married to, instead of Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson or Jessica Simpson or whoever?

I know, guys think they can’t control the sexual fantasy process. But, in fact, they can. If they want to, and are will to make an effort for a glorious payoff.

The first step – stop masturbating. Easier preached than practiced, of course. I spent most of a chapter on the topic, and it’s certainly more than I can deal with in this post. But, cutting to the chase, as I wrote…

“Once I stopped siphoning off the fuel needed for the marital combustion chambers, my sexual fantasies automatically refocused on my wife. She suddenly regained the status she possessed during courtship—seductress, enchantress. The creature to be pursued and won, again and again…

“I began thinking about her a lot. Daydreaming about her. Tripping out on tactile replays of her morning embrace, recalling the warm smell of her hair, the salty taste of her skin. She went, in the words of another song, from being ‘gentle on my mind’ to being very intrusive. In fact, I was thinking about her all the time. What I wasn't thinking about, or lusting after, were glamourized images of other females. Those had vaporized.’”

A commenter to this blog had the same experience when he stopped self-pleasuring. “Suddenly my wife looked really good to me,” he wrote, “and I began what I could easily be called courting (I developed a crush on her -- never thought I would feel that again)… Our sex life now is the best it has been since before we were married.”

A dominant wife explains how it operates on her husband, referring to a photo of some glamorous actress: “I have to admit girls, this young and beautiful woman on the left is what I would like to look like. Once a long, long time ago, I kinda looked like her, but even in my 20's, I didn't look as good. Now, I'm in my 50's and gravity is winning more and more every day.... But in the eyes and mind of my husband, I am FAR, FAR, superior to this beautiful young lady, because to him, I am his Goddess and his Queen, I am beautiful in his mind and eyes and he shows it to me EVERY Minute of EVERY day.”

Once this begins happening to a husband, he can actively encourage the process, and he will find himself living with a fantasy figure.

Or, to quote my favorite bit of advice on this topic, “If you want your wife to be a goddess, worship her.”

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Make Your Own Honey-Do List

Eager to show your wife that her word is your command? Well, in all likelihood, she has issued many commands in the past that you have let slide. Perhaps because they were disguised as polite requests or even vague wishes.

Fdhousehusband, who writes the highly trafficked blog, Her Househusband’s Life, describes how he finally realized this in his own marriage, and what a dramatic impact it had on him, and them:

“i found that i was actually hindering the growth of [my Wife’s] dominant side. When She would say that a light bulb was out or that there was laundry in the washer that needed to be hung up, i sometimes was too lazy to comply right away. i found that each of these actions undermined Her dominance and She would revert back to O/our old relationship. i also learned that Females speak in a diferent language. When They want something done, They don't come out and say it. In the early days, my Wife would say something like, ‘My carpooler went home early so I'll be taking the bus home today.’ i just accepted that like She was giving me a bit of information. What She really was saying was ‘I need you to pick me up from work.’ Once i understood the Female language, i learned to respond by saying things like ‘May i pick You up from work today?’ i found that She really responded to these ‘offers’ to do things for Her which She in fact had prompted with subtle ‘requests.’ i also think that it showed Her that i was really listening to everything She was saying.”

Let’s apply this seasoned advice from fd. Why not take a few moments, or as long as you need, to draw up a list of tasks that your wife has expressed even a casual interest in getting taken care of… or items she would like to have (not big-ticket items, I’m not suggesting you spend big bucks without her authorization).
Not directives, but things that were perhaps dropped into the conversation in your hearing that you let slide.

Then start to work on the list, doing or buying or taking care of as many items as you can. If you do this, maybe you could let me know here, in Comment form, if your Wife notices, and what the upshot is, in terms of your FLR. Positive, we hope.

By the way, I’m going to take my own — and fdhousehuband’s — advice as soon as I post this and start drafting my own list, going room by room, for starters. Oh, and next time I hear her express some vague desire, I’m going to add it to my list -- as a command!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Enter the Queen

My wife and I have a favorite line from the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s the one where the mother, Maria Portokalos (played by Lainie Kazan), tells daughter Toula on the night before her wedding, “The man may be the head of the family, but the wife is the neck. And she can turn him any way she wants.”

This always gets a laugh—and, no doubt, resonates as “That’s so true!” with most audiences. Haven’t we all known for years that wives really run marriages and families? That they just allow husbands, because of their fragile male egos (like Michael Constantine’s as Gus in the picture), to pretend to be calling the shots?

But that traditional masquerade is less and less seen in female-led relationships and wife-led marriages. More and more of these wives are dropping the power-behind-the-throne game and openly assuming command. They are issuing edicts in their own names and having their male consorts stand beside, or a little behind, the throne chair now reserved for the Queen.

It’s about time, don’t you think?

I have been among those wife-led husbands who dream about acknowledging my wife’s primacy in public. As if that were some far-off goal on the long FLR road ahead. But if I stop and tote up all the ways in which it is already true, it’s obvious that the fait is certainly accompli.

My wife is the head and neck, commanding the orb and scepter of power. Openly so. A few examples should make the case:

1) She pays all the bills when we got out. At restaurants (from fast-food on up), she consults with the kids and me, but has final say on what we can order, from the standpoint of cost, portion-size and what’s good for us. It’s gotten so that I hardly glance at servers, and they instantly adjust to focus all their attention on my wife. I suspect it’s a pattern they are seeing more and more often in couples and families.

2) Ditto when we are on the road — go to a motel or hotel or rent a car, or go to any public attraction where we have to pay. I stand around with the kids while Mom makes all arrangements, especially checking in or checking out at motels. In fact, she often goes in alone, or, if we’re with her family, most of whom are female, with another woman, while I wait in the car. (By the way, I never complain about any arrangement, motel room, restaurant table, etc.)

3) When we bought our house, and when we went through subsequent refinancings, again, she did all the talking and deciding. More often than not, she used “I” rather than “we.” The house would be exclusively in her name except that our real-estate guy reminded her that ours was a community property state and that the financing would go better with us both on the dotted line. But when negotations were in progress, I kept silent unless asked.

And yet, I gripe because on many documents she has me sign above her! It’s the same when she tells me to sit at the head of the table when we have company (not always, but often). We still play those charades. But I dare not push her on those small symbolic displays. It’s up to her.

And I can be patient. Because we have definitely come a long way down the wife-led path. It was not always thus with us. We were, at the outset, very 50-50. The percentages today are, what, 75-25, 80-20, or even more, in her favor? These days my vote is purely ceremonial, like in the House of Lords.

One might wonder, How much more subservient could I be? Do I want to be?

But there are ways in which I could certainly enhance my wife's power and prestige. Without pushing her or “topping from the bottom” or wearing one of those “She’s the Boss” shirts or aprons favored by many husbands in FLRs.

I could significantly advance the public aspect of our FLR, I think, simply by following this excellent advice from Au876, a devoted husband who showed the way to me and many others:

“In public and around your friends, one of the best ways to ‘continue the relationship’ is to take the offense. Don't wait for her to tell you what to do. If she has to do that, people see it as her bossing you around. Jump right in and ‘offer’ to do this or that or just do it. Treat her like she is the most important and most special person in the world (after all, she is) and you WANT to do these things for her. Do them because you are showing RESPECT for her and it won't come across as being submissive. Her female friends will be jealous of her. Your wife will glow in that and appreciate the way you behave in front of her or your friends.

”There is a tendency among men to put down their wife in public. The exact opposite should be the case. Anyone who has a wife they can love, adore and worship is lucky. I consider myself extremely lucky.”