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.”

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