A fatally smitten suitor down on one knee, or two, before his beloved—it’s the ritual most associated with courtship.
Once married, however, even if a husband’s “heart fills with a newlywed's happiness, there is no accepted ritual that permits him to display the intensity of [his] feelings.” (I’m quoting my own book here, by the way.)
Which is why a growing number of us incorrigible romantics, of both genders, have been practicing and advocating “courtship marriages” under various names, any of which will do:
wife- or female-led marriages (or relationships)
“yes, dear” marriages
“Around Her Finger” marriages
“She Makes The Rules” marriages
yes, even “femdom” marriages, for the more adventuresome couples among us.
And what could be more natural in a courtship marriage than hubby playing the part of perpetual suitor and kneeling to profess his devotion? And, yes, by “perpetual” I mean doing this every day.
Yes, there are other good reasons to bend the knee to one’s beloved. For a pedicure, or as part of a weekly evaluation session by the wife. Or as preliminary to receiving correction from the wife. (While some of these may appear offbeat, they are all, to my way of thinking, essentially romantic rituals, opportunities for renewed intimacy between wife and man.)
But more frequently than any of these, I think this ritual obeisance is part of what I like to call a husband’s daily devotions. It’s obviously a supplicant, prayerful posture, and prayers may indeed be spoken—to God, or the Goddess, or to a deity seen as incarnate in the beloved wife. Prayer and worship are inherent in a husband’s daily devotions to his wife, though not, I insist, in an idolatrous way, all appearances to the contrary.
But what I think those husbands are really doing down on their knees, more than either praying or worshipping (or toenail-lacquering) is simply…
The ritual of confession is practiced not only in confessional booths, but on psychiatrists’ couches, on bar stools (and, alas, under totalitarian regimes in interrogation rooms and re-education camps). But in female-led relationships, confession is best practiced on one’s knees.
I know this because I’ve done it as recently as this morning, and plan to do it again tomorrow (though sometimes just the act of kneeling before her constitutes my “confession”). A perfect example of this romantic confessional was offered by a cyber friend in the following FLR-type posting:
“When I catch myself doing [insert name of bad deed here], I will usually kneel before her, place my head in her lap and apologize for being such a ‘pathetic schmuck’ (her favorite term for me). That usually dispels some of the tension. I will usually also specifically apologize for whatever specifically I had done.”
Is a husband’s contrition, then, solely for the purpose of wifely absolution—or wifely punishment? I don’t think so. Usually, I think, it’s simpler than that. The husband confesses for the purposes of baring his soul before his beloved. He does (again to quote from Worshipping Your Wife) because he years to “Be Known by Her.”
The clearest statement of this yearning (and daring) that I’ve come across was by another e-migo of mine, also a frequent commenter here. I quoted it in the first part of the Bow & Vow post, but it’s so heartfelt and inspirational that I’m going to repeat a bit of what I wrote:
“Every day he gets down on his knees and affirms his adoration of his beloved. ‘I honestly don't remember the first time I knelt in front of her and just adored her,’ he writes. It just seemed natural. Down on his knees he repeats a series of daily vows that he wrote. ‘I say these to her every day, no exceptions.’”
At the heart of my friend’s morning devotions is a confession of his soul to his beloved, along with a special thank-you to her for permitting him to reveal himself:
"I very much want to serve and obey you.
I want to belong to you. I want to be your submissive husband.
This is who I am and I adore you for accepting me."
“This is who I am.” These five words are the key to my friend’s daily confessional. He wants his wife to know who he is, this guy looking up at her in utter puppydog, tail-wagging adoration. He wants to be “known by her” and, yes, to be accepted by her for who he is.
Now, I happen to know this is a very macho guy, assertive and successful in many arenas, including athletics, fitness training and retail sales. Obviously his beloved knows this side of him as well, and admires these sterling qualities. But it is psychic and physical nakedness he seeks before her on his knees, a psychic surrender that (as I can attest) often leads to a level of intimacy and ecstasy approaching religious rapture.
This is the altered state that Elise Sutton describes as the “submissive zone,” more commonly termed “subspace.”
“I felt totally naked, totally known (and owned), totally accepted by my wife,” one guy describes it.
Another puts it thus: “My sub space is experienced when I am able to humble myself before my Wife. I love kneeling before her and being at her beck and call.”
On the old Spousechat message board (excerpted in 10 parts on this site, the newlywed househusband “Mr. Lynda” speaks proudly of kneeling before his bride, Ms. Lynda, “every morning as I serve her coffee and breakfast. She is the willing partner eager to face the jungle of the workworld. Thank you Ms. Lynda. I acknowledge you as my Head and Boss. Long may you reign.”
Clearly, for these guys (and for me), kneeling and confessing, or “bowing and vowing,” is not some bizarre or edgy behavior, but a basic act of daily devotion, needful to the soul and essential to marital intimacy.
If “needful to the soul” sounds like exaggeration, let me assure you it’s actually understatement. You can get a better idea of the pent-up emotional intensity involved from this anecdote shared by Kathy in her popular “Femdom 101” blog. It occurred when she was “volunteering” at a local femdom “studio” in order to learn more about her husband’s submissive yearnings and was introduced to an older male customer:
“[He} just wanted to kneel at the feet of a woman. All of his life he had fantasied about kneeling naked at the feet of a lady, and being allowed to kiss her feet. Even more than that, he had a desire to tell someone of his need for submission. This was the deep, dark secret of his life. Even his wife of over forty-plus years had no idea of his submissive needs.
“We spent some time talking. I then let him take off my shoes one at a time. I then gave him permission to kiss each of my feet, and then let him suck on my toes. This older man actually broke down and cried. I wanted so much to cradle him in my arms. I wanted to kiss him on the cheek and tell him that [I] understood. Then it occurred to me that there are so many poor men like this sweet baby.”
Any wife who is initially put off by the sight of the man she married down on his knees again ought to reconsider , and realize that this posture is really a return to and continuation of passionate courtship. One wife who discovered this shared her feelgns on the Around Her Finger blogsite:
“He looked so incredibly loving kneeling at my feet. For the first time, I felt empowered. I can't really explain why, but it made me feel so very close to him.”
Kathy’s experience with the older gentleman who wept as he kissed her feet gave her a special insight into submissive men in general, and to her husband in particular. She shares it beautifully here, so perfectly that I think I’ll end the posting with it:
“One of the special moments in my life was the first time John knelt at my feet, and we talked as mistress and [husband]. In my view the first time a man has the courage to kneel at his wife's feet is a very special occasion. This special little physical act often helps a couple transcend many of the boundaries that have kept their marriage arrangement from moving forward.
“This may seem strange to many of you, but that moment John knelt to me for the first time, was as much of a romantic occasion as our first kiss. [Now, five years later,] there is never a day that John does not get down on his knees in front of me… This is the most intimate time of the day for us. It is when we communicate the best.”