Monday, January 19, 2009
Walking the Walk
When I began writing and publishing online the first chapters of Worshipping Your Wife more than eight years ago, I was mainly writing for the benefit to husbands, along with guys in committed relationships.
The idea was to offer these guys both a persuasive rationale and a step-by-step program for “Turning Marriage Back Into Passionate Courtship.” I came up with six steps:
The husband needs to:
1. Realize that "the thrill is gone" and that he wants to get it back.
2. Save his sex energies for his wife.
3. Make HER his fantasy.
4. Court her every day, attempt to win her anew.
5. Pamper her and pitch in around the house.
6. Dare to be known by her.
This was the progression that I myself had followed—or was in the process of following. In support of my six steps, I cited ‘Net and newsgroup testimony posted pseudonymously over the years by worshipful husbands and worshipped wives, all of whom were busily practicing what I was still mainly theorizing about.
Happily, my own experience in the years since has confirmed what I wrote in 2000, namely that “The transformations described in Worshipping Your Wife are real, the ideas workable…”
Does the program always work? Of course not. Sometimes it never even gets off the ground. Husbands who suddenly and enthusiastically spring this revolutionary notion all at once on an unsuspecting wife, whether in their own words or by handing her a book (like mine!), are likely to be met with healthy skepticism, maybe outright rejection. Where did all this weirdness come from?
Husbands who opt, on the other hand, for the cautious and incremental path to wife worship, a process often called “stealth submission,” may encounter other obstacles. A few weeks of overzealous dishwashing and gift-giving may leave the wife in utter puzzlement. What’s gotten into my Oswald?
Emily and Ken Addison describe this impasse clearly in their Around Her Finger books and on their blog :
“Women are very often confused by this approach. They ask their husbands what is behind the change in behavior, but their husbands have not yet mustered the courage to articulate their honest feelings… It is not enough for most [husbands] to simply undertake to serve and pamper their wives. There must be some explicit acknowledgement on the part of the woman [of her leadership in the marriage] or else the man is left unfulfilled.”
For many guys, alas, it doesn’t take much discouragement to get them to abandon the whole wife-worship campaign, stealthy or otherwise. The novelty and initial euphoria of doing housework wear off fast, and the wife’s skepticism is thereby validated. Ditto for the husband whose wife hands back the FLR printout or book or impassioned confession with a firm, No-Sale expression. He is likely to give up and go back to not worshipping her, unhappily ever after.
These husbands may ask themselves, Was it all imaginary? Was I just pretending to be this ultra-romantic guy who wanted to suddenly treat my wife like a queen?
Like this guy, who writes: “What if I convince my wife to go for this new arrangement where she’s the queen of everything, and then I change my mind? What if serving her all the time was just a big, stupid fantasy after all?”
The answer, I guess, is that if you give up, it was never meant to be. You weren’t sincere, it was just a fantasy, and you never really wanted it that bad. Whatever. And don’t blame your wife for seeing through it, for not embracing a wild idea that you yourself were not committed to.
A husband in this quandary wrote for advice to Katherine West, who blogs occasionally at Loving Female Authority. Her answer was forcefully to the point: “In a recent comment to one of my posts 'Quiet Guy' complains that his wife refuse to believe that he'll start doing more housework. Well, Quiet Guy, prove it to her. Get up at 4:00 a.m. and have it done before she's out of bed, if that's what it takes. [This] is very serious business. It is not a game. Until she's received her 52nd foot rub from you, until you've made some token confession of your [total devotion], until you have made every effort to prove to her that you are there to serve her, then don't give up.”
Another wife gives a similar response in a letter to the Addisons' Around Her Finger blog: “About four years ago [my husband] tried to communicate his feelings to me [about wanting a wife-led marriage]. He did a good job. But, what he said and how day to day life was lived were two different things… It wasn't until my husband actually started walking the walk and not just talking the talk did I take [him] seriously. He started doing the housework, running the errands, all the things I had done for the past 24 years.”
You can’t just close the deal, in other words, on the basis of a feverish sales pitch accompanied by sales pamphlets full of glowing testimonials from happy wife-worship customers. Talk is cheap, as Liza Dolittle sings to Freddy Eysford Hill in My Fair Lady: “Show me now!”
Which is exactly what this devoted husband did in a successful “stealth” campaign that last many years:
“To convince my wife that I truly wanted to worship and serve her as my queen took years of dedication to housework, child-rearing and pampering without any thought of reward. I did the chores cheerfully and enthusiastically. Yet, each time I failed and became lazy, I felt that I took several steps backward for both of us. I was moving from one equilibrium to another in terms of our relationship, and I needed to be perfect, not anything in between, not just sometimes. Ultimately I convinced her that this was my life, that I was fulfilled in that role and didn't want anything other than to worship and serve her.”
“I decided I could not create a female-led relationship,” writes another husband. “I wonder if any man can. What I did decide is that I could be in a male-following relationship… So I settled in to serving my wife and doing my best to obey her will whether she asserted it dominantly or not. I truly had no expectation that she would change her behavior. The funny thing was that, almost immediately after I made this change, my wife changed as well [becoming comfortable in a leading role].”
A last word on the topic from another husband: “It took many years for us to learn how to get along and build a new relationship… Like the Nike add says, ‘Just Do It.’”