April 26, 2010
A READER WRITES:
I’ve been going through much thinking about myself and my role in my marriage. I truly believe that I am meant to be the best housewife and homemaker for my family through being submissive, as it describes in the Bible. I already consider myself a bit controlling (not mean though), but unmasking my ultra-feminine self and doing everything to make my husband and home happy and memorable is what I feel is my life’s purpose.
Problem? I’m married to what I consider a “beta male.” He financially provides for my family very well, but when it comes to everything else, I’m the one in charge. I plan everything from our meals, outings, children’s schooling and academics, even the home we live in and the vehicles we drive (although his own car was completely his choice). This is a controlling female’s dream I guess, but I just am confounded at my role as a “submissive wife” to a man that’s is 100 percent comfortable with me making all the decisions. I’m not uncomfortable being the “sole spender” and am happy to buy whatever I please without him jumping down my throat about it….I’m very grateful he isn’t controlling or a jerk, but I just am curious if you can tell me what your idea of being a submissive wife is, and how I could possibly be one with my beta husband?
I just want to unleash the ultra-feminine core of myself…and be great doing it.
I admire your desire to do the best for your marriage and your awareness of the danger in always taking charge.
If your husband is supporting you and your children on his own, he is not a “beta” male, no matter how much in manner or domestic decision-making you may feel he resembles one. When you are in the process of making a decision, do you ask for his help? If so, does he decline to help? He may actually be leaving these things up to you out of deference, a desire not to tread on your turf, and he may not sense that you want help. I wouldn’t ask him to be generally more involved in decisions, but take each one as it happens and request his input. We all would like our spouses to intuitively grasp what we want, but that often doesn’t happen. If he is leaving discipline of your children entirely up to you, I would suggest the same thing. Let him know you are struggling or overwhelmed in the face of some problem. A wife generally knows what children need better than a working husband. You may have to let him know more than once, especially if he is busy. Be patient with this and be confident that he will eventually help. The sort of “alpha male” you envision is partly the creation of the love and tenderness of a wife, who lets a man know where he is needed.
Many women make the important decisions about home and children. Think of the husband as delegating this reponsibility to the wife. A submissive role does not mean a woman has no authority of her own. In all probability, your husband is too busy to think of these things and trusts your judgment. So you are being submissive to him in taking on these responsibilities. I realize all these decisions can be burdensome. If you are tired of always being in charge, you might say to your husband, in a moment when he himself is not preoccupied and burdened, that you often question your own decisions and feel the stress of keeping things in order. Try not to second-guess yourself. You are not perfect and are going to make some wrong choices. Don’t judge yourself harshly if you make a bad decision. You are trying and that is what matters.
Try to resist at all costs adding up what you are doing against what he is doing. Don’t keep a balance sheet. Whenever you feel this inclination coming on, fight it. A marriage counselor I once met at a social gathering told me that there are three phases to every marriage: 1) Infatuation 2) Power struggle 3) Mature love. Here we see what’s wrong with marriage therapy. At no point should a marriage be a power struggle. To view it that way is to pervert it. She seemed to be saying this was a perfectly normal and inevitable part of marriage.
A submissive wife is someone who does not rule a husband with her moods and emotions and who devotes herself to making a man’s life better. Male authority is loving oversight and resolve, a form of detachment from the hothouse of conflict that family life often resembles. When we talk about submission and authority in marriage, we are referring to something entirely different from roles in other spheres of life. It’s not the same thing as an employer/employee relationship. It always occurs in the context of love.
In general, a woman who wants a man to be more masculine must let him see her vulnerability and weakness. If she appears always in charge and in no need of his competence, he may withdraw from the field of action. I’m not suggesting a woman feign helplessness, but that she should let him see and help him understand her inadequacies. Most men want to protect the people they love. Typically, a man will respond to a plea for help out of this natural instinct provided that the plea is not part of an attack on his character or on his past actions. A submissive wife who demands a man be in control or who criticizes him for not being in control is not a submissive wife at all.
— Comments —
John E. writes:
To read your response is humbling as a husband. It is very good advice, and the thinking it reflects is unfortunately very out-of-step with the spirit of our age. My wife closely epitomizes the attractive humility you suggest, and I find myself often asking what I have done to deserve the goodness she shows me.
Many women today (not the reader who wrote the letter above) erroneously believe that men only want to see strength, toughness and assertiveness. This is sad. Vulnerability and tenderness are often the things that most move a man’s heart.
Again, I’m not talking about the pretense of vulnerability or the pretense of tenderness. These sentiments must be pure. They must be the real thing.
I liked your response to Reader. I wanted to add that maybe during a casual conversation when she and her husband have some quiet time she could bring up the subject of her responsibilities and see if he’s happy with how she runs the home. I say this because just yesterday, apropos of nothing, my husband said, “I don’t take what you do to make our home nice for granted. I really appreciate it.” When husband and wife are busy it’s easy to forget to say something kind and voice your appreciation for the work the other does. She might also want to express her appreciation for her husband every once in a while too. If it’s not something she usually does she might be surprised by her husband’s reaction : ).
Also, my husband does the same thing her husband does – I make all the decisions about the household and care/discipline of our son (he’s homeschooled and thus my son and I have a lot more time together than he does with Daddy) and our budget. Larger decisions such as how to use a large sum of money (e.g., paying off student loans, certain investments) are made by both of us.
Finally, in re-reading her comment it isn’t clear to me that her husband understands what she is trying to accomplish. By that I mean, does he understand how she sees her role or is this an idea she has of herself (and him) yet he hasn’t been “clued” in to how she wishes to be or how she wishes to see the family.
I really liked your response to A Reader describing what it means to be a submissive wife.
The idea of a “Taken in Hand” relationship is that the man “takes in hand” the woman, the man is in charge and the woman loves it. They portray themselves as a lifestyle community and the Taken in Hand website is full of articles in which people talk about their Taken in Hand relationships, how the man should act, how the woman should act, how to get things started in a man dominant/ female submissive relationship if the dynamics were not like that before.
At the Surrendered Wife, Laura Doyle has a full blown business giving relationship advice mostly geared towards women about how women can make their marriages happier by taking on a submissive role as wives.
Thank you. I have never seen these sites. I see Laura Doyle, who is well known, says this:
The underlying principle of The Surrendered Wife is simple: The control women wield at work and with children must be left at the front door of any marriage to revitalize intimacy.
That’s well said.
One of the biggest temptations today’s women face is the temptation (fueled by exasperation, exhaustion, and directionless hopelessness) to turn a stupid situation into a tragic one. From lack of intervention in a teen son’s sassing his mother, especially in front of younger siblings, to inconsideration of the family’s general needs, it can be sorely trying.
It can be hard to receive less direction from our differently-tempered husbands than we would like in various areas. Different things matter to different men, obviously, and some men enjoy letting their wives be creative in how the general life goals they share are worked out. Others have more detailed expectations as to how things should be done. So often, as mentioned above, expectations or needs are just not known. The inconsideration is not usually malevolent.
Posted by Laura Wood in Uncategorized