Monday, February 18, 2013

NANCY & DENNIS: I HEAR BELLS!


When my husband hears bells, he comes running! It’s one of the first lessons he learned when he met my family. “Go to the bell! Ask what needs done,” my Aunt told him. And he did!

In my family the women gather in the living room while the men congregate in the kitchen – why not? The men are going to prepare and serve dinner so they belong in the kitchen! The men always look after us, keeping coffee fresh, serving drinks, lighting cigarettes, the usual things. We love being served, and the guys love serving. The problem was that we didn't want to yell for service. And we certainly don’t want to be constantly interrupted to see if we need something or, worse yet, have one of the men hovering around just outside our conversation, waiting to be called. NO, this just doesn't work. We don't have privacy, and the men waste time.

My Aunt came up with a solution. She got the idea from a visit to an old Edwardian mansion, now a museum. The wall of the servants’ quarters had lights, one for each room in the house. When one lit, a servant quickly went to see what was needed. What a great idea!  But instead of switches and lights, my Aunt suggested bells. Her sisters loved the idea! The bells were bought, the men trained, and it works like a charm. The bells have been ringing – and the men have been running – ever since!

If one of the women needs something, she picks up the bell and rings it. A man comes, serving tray in hand and politely asks, “How may I serve you ladies?” It’s an opportunity for him not only to serve the one who rang the bell, but also to see what the other women want. While he's serving, the women’s rules are that he gather up glasses, cups, and ashtrays at the same time. He's more efficient, and it makes for a minimum of interruptions.

Like everything, we have “house rules” around “the bells”:


  • When the bell rings, he sets everything else aside; the bells are his priority! ALWAYS!
  • Men should be 100% responsive while making a minimum of trips; he must do as much as possible each time he is summoned.
  • If a group of men is in the house, only one should answer the bells but all must take turns answering.
  • A tray is mandatory; everything is served from and removed on a tray.
  • When responding, a man should wait to be acknowledged; he is NEVER to interrupt a conversation.
  • Men should not comment or attempt to engage in conversation when answering a bell. Men are there to serve, not socialize; OK, I’ll say it again, MEN SHOULD SHUT UP!
  • Politeness and deference are the rule; “Ladies, how may I be of service,” “Yes, Madame,” “Yes, Ma’am”!
  • Women should expect to be served, so use of “please” and “thank you” is not needed.

The bells have become a family tradition, and, like a groom getting an apron – or many of them – the bride receives at least one bell; by the time she’s at the altar, she knows what it’s for!

The bells aren’t just for serving at dinner parties. If Mom sees something that needs to be cleaned up, for example, she’ll ring a bell and summon Dennis to take care of it. We have bells in every room.

We use bells at home whether we have guests or not. The bells let everyone know who's in charge and who's not! When women friends have come around, they have learned to love the idea, and a few of them now have bells in their homes.

And bells aren’t just for women. Most of the men in the family have one, but the purpose of a man's bell is, of course, very different. A man isn't going to be served – EVER! Instead he will leave his bell with a woman or group of women he wants to serve. Dennis does this every day with my Mother. When he comes home, he takes her his bell and a mixed drink – on a tray of course – and presents them, telling her he’s now at her service. She’ll take full advantage!

N

25 comments:

Daniel said...

What about the boys in your family? Do you train them from young to serve the ladies and stay in the kitchen with the dad and do you let the older brother serve their younger sisters.

Does your husband and children ( Son & Daughter ) takes your name after marriage.

Siobhan said...

Thank you for this article, it was a wonderful read. Many times I have to call out for my hubby to come to serve my wants. I will have to offer the idea to my daughters; they are always yelling around the house for their brother to do something for them. Having the bell to ring for him to come right away would be much more quiet. This would make the female led family home more peaceful.

Sam said...

I agree, an excellent article. The use of a bell makes perfect sense, I think my girlfriend her mother and sister will approve of the idea. A far more dignified way for a Lady to summon her servant.

Sam

WSY said...

I really like this bell idea. Thanks for the article. Once men are well trained, they seem to find it fulfilling to serve women.

Anonymous said...

omg i wish i could be part of your family, it would be a dream come true for a submissive man like me. i'm so glad that families like yours exist, it gives me hope for the future. thank you.

Ayesha said...

Really? Lmfao!

Nancy and Dennis said...

Sam -

That's exactly why they came up with the idea - it's a far more dignified way to summon their servant. And there's no doubt as to who has the power - she's ringing the bell!

N

WSY said...

I keep coming back to this statement: "we love being served, and the guys love serving." Obviously a lot of men would say they wouldn't love serving women, but it seems that those who do it find it rewarding. Perhaps some men have an innate sense that it's right to serve a woman.

After years of male dominance in society, it would be beautiful if more men would present their wives with a bell. Certainly women deserve it~
!

Ayesha said...

But of course! No doubt. Yes ladies: For whom the bell tolls.........

Here are a few gentlemen I’m sure will come eagerly running with cookies and tea at your convenience :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpmcE3l-DVU

Nancy and Dennis said...

WSY -

Training a man never quite ends, but, yes, men do find fulfillment in serving women. When women lead, everyone benefits!

N

Anonymous said...

One should just come running when one hears a woman ringing a bell. No time to think just do. The thinking can start once you have to digest what the woman requires of one. And as you say to make oneself useful clearing up as long as it does not interfere and cause retardation of the requirement the women have rung for.

I have answered whistles before. A shrill blast on the whistle could sometimes provide a panic in me which in turn could cloud my mind as to how to best serve.

But I agree its a nice feeling when one is called it makes you fell wanted and useful and of service.
Femsup

Mario Borg said...

Love the article it brings out the sub in me very envious of Dennis, i would love to know more about the mothers role and the dynamic's of having her there and how it started

mario

Nancy and Dennis said...

mario -

My mother-in-law lives with us. When she was widowed some years back, she and Nancy decided that she would move in with us. After remodeling a part of our house to provide her with her own accommodations, she moved in. I am responsible for cleaning her quarters - 'the Queen's Quarters' - and looking after her as I do my wife. Nancy's mother is the Matriarch of our family and deserves respect. Although Nancy is the woman-in-charge, her mother has complete authority over me. Since Nancy has long workdays and often travels on business, I am accustomed to taking direction from my mother-in-law. I serve and obey her as I would my wife.

As far as the dynamics of having her with us, well, she's definitely a woman to be obeyed, but even more so when Nancy is away. She can be very demanding. She's a stickler for efficiency and for work being done correctly. She's pretty aggressive on inspecting my work, keeping me from wasting time, and making sure I comply with the house rules - i get way more demerits from her than I do from Nancy. It's my mother-in-law who will call me when I'm away to make sure I'm in my hotel room at curfew - since she's a night person, she may call me more than once in an evening, as she says, "Just so you know I'm thinking about you".

i don't mean to imply she is a cruel woman - she is not - but she demands appropriate behavior. She and I have some long and interesting conversations, do volunteer work together at a woman's center, and I frequently drive her to go shopping, to the salon, or to visit one of her friends. She involves me with some of her activities; I am a member of her small knitting group as well as her romance reading group. These groups meet every two weeks at our house; I'm privileged to serve them and to participate with them.

dennis

Mario Borg said...


Thanks Dennis i appreciate your reply for me your mother in-law gives a whole other layer to the dynamics of the household which i really like, your level of service/worship is an inspiration for me and your a better man then me. i think you or Nancy can easily dedicate a blog or two on your mother in-laws approach and the things she does and makes you do.

mario

Anonymous said...


A husband not only marries his Wife but also her family. He is a valuable resource for work and companionship for the family and their friends he marries into.

They are often dear to the Wife so why shouldn't he be of service to those she loves. To be the exclusive focus of her emotions and time is an old fashioned concept.

Femsup

WSY said...

dennis, thanks for sharing the details of the relationship you have with your mother in law. I agree with Mario that you are an inspiration in your dedication to serving the ladies of your household. It's too bad more men don't have that special desire to serve women.

Nancy and Dennis said...

WSY -

Thank you for your comments. I enjoy serving my wife and her mother; doing so is beneficial to all involved. I have a managerial position at work and get enough 'authority' there; when I get home I leave all that at the door and begin the most satisfying time of the day for me, when I serve my wife and her mother. Very satisfying and fulfilling!

Dennis

Anonymous said...

You mentioned that you get way more demerits froM your mother-in-law than your wife...what happens when you get a demerit? Are the formal / kept track of? Do they result in some form of discipline if too many are accrued?

Anonymous said...

Love this article..I try to anticipate anything she wants or needs ahead of time so she doesn't have to call me
.But when I hear her pull in from work I'm there to greet her at the door. My wife deserves this as well as all woman do.

Nancy and Dennis said...

Anonymous (asking about demerit system) --

Neither Nancy or her mother care to make note of or correct problems or rule violations unless they are really something over the top - which they rarely are. Instead a system of demerits are used. Demerits are tracked in my journal; it's all well documented with a list of violations and an appropriate number of demerits. Anyone can list a demerit although they are usually listed by Nancy or her mother. I can list a demerit, too. That is I can admit to having violated a rule or not properly done a chore; as a reward for honesty, if I admit to a fault it only counts for half the number of demerits that I would get if Nancy or her mother noted that particular fault.

Eventually demerits will add up to the point where Nancy will call me out for the demerits I have. It's a teaching moment for Nancy and her mother; I'm always lectured for my faults. I have the opportunity to admit my wrong doing and admit my guilt; there is no other choice, there is no appeal, or not-guilty plea. The women are right and I am wrong - no question. Once I've had my say Nancy will determine an appropriate punishment which ranges widely but may includes extra chores, a fine, missing a social event, and so on. There is also a penance that is applied; for example, I'll be prohibited from smoking for, say, three days. When the punishment is done and the penance is completed, I am forgiven and the demerits removed.

The system is a good one since it eliminates the women having to correct me for every little thing, which is inefficient and wastes time; Nancy says that nit-picking is for game players. Now were I to do something very wrong, like talking back or being insubordinate or were I judged to be less than respectful, punishment would likely be immediate and would indeed be significant. As it is most of my demerits accrue from missing little things while doing chores - my mother-in-law inspects carefully. I also accrue demerits if the women just think I'm moving too slow and pick up the pace; it's their way of making me more efficient.

D

WSY said...

Dennis,

thanks for explaining the demerit system. Sounds like it works well.

In an earlier post you mentioned being a manager in your career. Do you ever find that it's harder to take a leadership role in your work when you are under your wife's management at home? Or are you able to deal with both roles well?

WSY

Billy said...

Excellent idea; the bells combined with the rules is a very efficient way to run a home daily.

Nancy and Dennis said...

WSY --

Dennis is a manager in a woman-run company. Even when his company was owned by a conglomerate and run as a patriarchy, Dennis was supportive of the women he worked with. When the conglomerate decided to sell the company, a group of women employees got together, found some financing that was available to women wanting to buy/start a business, and bought the company. When the women took over the company patriarchy was out. The all-female management team was looking to move women into long overdue positions they felt had been denied them under the men who had previously run the company. Dennis was supportive of moving women up, taking an active role in the program. Since he had software skills, as well as Feminist credentials, he was one of the few men from the old firm who was promoted, and not once, but three times! He and a male friend are the only two men on an otherwise all-woman staff management team.

So, yes, he does have a lot of authority at work - and none at home. Even at the office though, he works for women so there's a little overlap between work and home for him. The dynamic is different, but remembering that things that work at home like, giving a "yes, ma'am", making a great cup of coffee, and always remembering that she's in charge, also work at the office. When he comes home Dennis, like many men, wants to be told what to do. He leaves his authority at work, comes home, puts on an apron, and concentrates on what I want done! And he doesn't need to have any authority to do that!

Oh, and Dennis' friend, the other staff manager? He's in an FLR, too! It seems that men who listen to their wives, develop an attitude that helps them in the increasingly female-run workplace.

N

WSY said...

Nancy--

Thank you for the explanation. Too bad more men don't have the opportunity to work for female owned companies. The organization I work for isn't female-owned, but I work under female managers, and it's been good experience.

WSY

Nancy and Dennis said...

WSY -

You are likely to see more and more female managers in the future. I'm glad working for them is a good experience for you as that experience and a good attitude will serve you well as 'female-led' becomes the norm, not only at work, but at home, too.

N