Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alpha Mail: resigning one's captaincy

Anon asks how she can follow a husband who is reluctant to lead:
We are a mix of #3 and #4. My husband has always joked that he "got married so he wouldn't have to make" certain decisions. Several years later my career blossomed, we moved out of state for my job, and I now make 50% more than he does. I believe that may be the root of his non-committal behavior. Early in our relationship he was very much “in charge” and VD’s post made me realize how much I miss that.

Last year we lost our first child - she was stillborn. Since then he just does whatever I want or ask. I don't take advantage (seriously), but his lack of leadership is astounding. I can usually get him to make decisions on big ticket purchases, but not much else.

I fully admit that I am a control freak at times – feel I must care for the house, the husband, the pets, and my career. With our recent tragedy I truly want to simplify my life and allow him to take a much larger role in the running of our lives. How??
The unfortunate reality is that despite decades of equalitarian propaganda, men still tend to find it infantilizing to be supported by a woman. When this state is coupled with being trapped in a marital position of sexual submission, it virtually guarantees a complete abdication of male leadership. How can a man possibly lead when his wife not only wears the metaphorical pants, but he is wearing a metaphorical diaper as well?

In a relationship that has reached this level of structural imbalance, there isn't much room for subtlety. Since there isn't much Anon can do about the job situation except to avoid rubbing it in his face, the best place to start is probably the central core of the marriage. Consider that there is a word for men who are financially supported by their women but are the indisputable leaders in the relationship; it is not a coincidence that pimps who are financially supported by their hos tend to exhibit much stronger psycho-sexual leadership than do husbands who financially support their wives.

So, I would recommend for Anon to first try to purposefully set aside her control freakdom. Her husband is already in a state of mind to receive and follow orders rather than to give them, so any additional directives given to him will tend to reinforce that undesirable mental state. It will be hard, but Anon should attempt to limit herself to making only genuinely necessary requests and to be careful that they are always framed in a way that could be rejected. "Would you mind doing X?" or "Do you have the time to do X?" rather than "You need to do X!" or even "X needs to be done", that sort of thing. (Based on what she says, he's probably going to do whatever she wants no matter how she phrases it, but the point is for her to begin helping her too-obedient husband adjust out of his reflexive, see-what-a-good-boy-I-am-Mommy instincts.)

The second recommendation is for her to resign her sexual captaincy, if I am correct in concluding that her frustration with "his lack of leadership" means that she decides when and how they are having sex. It is unfortunate, but the common female idea that "no one decides, it just happens" actually means that "she decides or it doesn't happen." Many, if not most, men quite reasonably give up initiating after being shot down too many times. Think about it. Prior to marriage, a man who does not give up on sexual or even romantic pursuit after being shot down is labeled a creep, a sexual harasser, and a criminal. Given this, it is ludicrous to expect men to do a complete 180 after getting married and keep pursuing their wives actively when their wives are shooting them down on a regular basis. The normal and entirely rational male response tends to be something on the order of this: "She has rejected sex often enough for her to know that I'm interested, so rather than continuing to put myself in a position to be shot down, I'll just wait for her to let me know whenever she happens to be in the mood." And since female sexuality is predominantly responsive in nature, thus begins the downward spiral into Married Degenerative Bed Disorder, the less fatal, but still potentially crippling heterosexual form of Lesbian Bed Death.

Now, not knowing Anon's husband, I don't know if he will respond well to her telling him that she trusts him, she wants him to take responsibility for their marital relations, and she intends to do as he instructs her to do in the future. He may be so far gone into submission that he simply won't believe her. And if she makes the mistake of attempting to dispute or reject his initially timid direction, he will surely give it up and return to his submissive, reactive posture. But the unfortunate fact is that there is no way for a woman to encourage her husband to embrace his leadership in any marital area, let alone the core one, without first consciously resigning her own.

In these days of easy, no-fault divorce, a feminist family court system, and a steady stream of wives blithely abandoning their marriages in pursuit of self-fulfilmment, self-discovery, and personal happiness, (translation: "sex with older alphas or younger deltas"), virtually no man is going to fight his wife for the sexual captaincy. The prospective reward is high, but the risks are too great. This means that in most cases, a woman is going to have to either actively disdain her leadership or accept the responsibility that comes with it.

If Anon is successful in these two measures, I suspect that once she manages to make her husband realize that he cannot rely on her control freakiness or her sexual captaincy to make what should be his decisions for him any longer, he will gradually become accustomed to the role and eventually begin to assert leadership in other areas of the relationship as well. There are no guarantees that the recommended approach will work, obviously, and the husband's apparent comfort with his BETAtude certainly poses an additional challenge to the process, but the central principle to keep in mind is that if a relationship is not working as it is presently structured, then structural change is needed.

44 comments:

Joshua said...

It seems to me, that at some point Anon and others in her situation will have to decide to make a sacrifice.

My wife stays at home with our 2-year-old. I do not make much money, but we make it work. We choose to sacrifice many material things because a strong marriage and strong family are more important to us than money or material things.

One way to quickly reset the balance would be for Anon to stop working, or take a job making less. But, that requires a big lifestyle change and a big sacrifice. But, I think it would be well worth it, if her desire if for a healthy, proper relationship.

Nate said...

and... I've now been called a pimp... and I don't really have a problem with it.

SirDOn said...

I think Joshua made a great point. If she can find a way to stop working or scale down dramatically, elevating her husband to the position of the provider of the family, that will help tremendously. Just how much is she willing to sacrifice though.

Anonymous said...

"Last year we lost our first child - she was stillborn. Since then he just does whatever I want or ask"

Do you really think Game can fix this?

As a man, I can't think of anything worse than losing a child. If I wasn't a Christian, I'd probably consider putting a bullet in my skull rather than facing the pain of this...

This goes way beyond "no-fault divorce, a feminist family court system, and a steady stream of wives"...as crappy as those factors are.

peace, Joe

JT said...

Nate,

You give yourself too much credit. How does that diaper fit? What's your flavor? Huggies? Depends? Hope it doesn't leak much.

ZT said...

I have seen relationships work where the women is the bread winner but it ofter requires that the man has demonstrable power in another field. Either they are very charismatic, politically connected, or have so much ego the world revolves around them.

In short there has to be something that she truely looks up to him for so that she respects him. Money is only one way of doing that. But if he has nothing that she respects and the only position he thinks of is that of money then they are going to have a long struggle.

If they have faith in the Judeo-Christian vain he needs to be the spiritual leader and grow a pair of balls. If they have no faith then I hate to be the one to tell you but unless you can respect him and unless he becomes some kind of leader in the relationship your going to have problems and may not last.

Giraffe said...

and... I've now been called a pimp... and I don't really have a problem with it.

Something must have rubbed off from the mad Aussie. Next you'll start rapping about Kobe.

Giraffe said...

For your next post, Vox, you should tell a man how to demote a woman out of the captain position when she doesn't want to relinquish it.

Anonymous said...

"For your next post, Vox, you should tell a man how to demote a woman out of the captain position when she doesn't want to relinquish it."


Take her below and flog her. - Salt

The LP 999/Linda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The LP 999/Linda said...

Great post. This was insightful for my views about overt marital female leadership.

Encourager said...

In my experience, once you consciously give up the leadership in your marriage (as a female) it can take a LONG time for the man to pick it up, even if he is alerted. I have to make a decision 20 times a day to not be the leader and actively resist his waiting for me to lead.

Mark said...

"I fully admit that I am a control freak at times... "

That's the source of the problems. That she halfway admits it implies it is much worse than she lets on. And her definition of CF is totally incorrect. CFism has nothing to do with "caring for" people or things, or even taking responsibility. No, being a CF means only YOU can do it good enough and anything anyone else does just isn't up to snuff.

"Early in our relationship he was very much “in charge”..."

Possibly, I suppose. Chances are, though, anon just reigned in her CFisms for a brief period at the beginning of the marriage during the honeymoon phase. After that, however, anon couldn't abide it and let her control freakisms run wild.

Hubster acquiesces because he knows resistance is absolutely futile with his control freak wife.

RC said...

Most excellent advice but she needs to realize that it'll likely take quite some time for his testicles to drop.

Catherine said...

I'm with Encourager. The last time I tried consciously giving up control on a major issue (complete with a discussion in which he agreed, and then me refraining from nagging/bugging him about it, which I figured was just another type of control) led to him not making a decision on the issue at all. Without going into details, we lost a lot of money due to the delay and are still in debt from it half a year later.

I wish I was alone in this. I have a friend who tried to get her husband to take charge of the decision over whether or not to sell a property: he delayed as well, and the house went into foreclosure.

Every traditionalist book/blog I've read seems to describe the 'giving up control' hardships as akin to "Oh, maybe you'll have to put up with your husband getting lost on the way to the dinner party while you make an effort not to be a backseat driver, but just suck it up and wait!" No. There are men today who are so unaccustomed to making *any* decision that they'd rather put it off and play WoW up until the hour that the sheriff evicts them *and* their wife.

Please don't take this as a rant against men - my marriage is happy (sex included) except for this one issue. I just don't want women to get the idea that this is something that can always be changed in an afternoon by sitting down and talking about it.

Vox said...

I wish I was alone in this. I have a friend who tried to get her husband to take charge of the decision over whether or not to sell a property: he delayed as well, and the house went into foreclosure.

Time-sensitive areas are probably not the best place to begin to apply an uncertain process that is known to take an indeterminate amount of time. In any event, it's vital to recognize that mistakes will happen in every area no matter who is the leader.

Orville said...

On the other hand, some guys need to be allowed to crash and burn in a spectacular way before they wake up. So for that wife it will a long series of white knuckle rides.

Recruit said...

Ladies who read this blog, it's time to put on your thinking caps. Her husband didn't get this behavior by default. He was taught to react this way. I'll leave it to you to piece together how that happened, but please don't do this to your boys.

Secondly, Game cannot fix still born children, but it can instill the confidence necessary to help deal with the situation. Men are not taught how to be social creatures anymore. We are taught to work and shut up. I know this, because I just got back from a week long class on nothing but game. Suffice it to say, the guys I met are actually better at social interactions than women. A lot better. The very first thing you notice about them all is a die hard attitude that they are fully capable of dealing with anything. Hopefully, this guy can get a mentor to show him how it's done.

Anonymous said...

Time-sensitive areas are probably not the best place to begin to apply an uncertain process that is known to take an indeterminate amount of time. In any event, it's vital to recognize that mistakes will happen in every area no matter who is the leader.

Yeah, men not leading really is catastrophic, on both macro and micro levels. And trying to get him to lead can add catastrophe if it doesn't work.

It could help to pick something smaller than "The Family Fortune" that, if not handled, you know would frustrate him. If he complains, say, "I can't handle this anymore." Then he's more likely to step up.

SarahsDaughter said...

When women have heard that they can relinquish control to their husbands, their hearts and maturity need to follow at the same level. Few things are more disgusting than to witness a smarmy Christian woman, preforming that which she was challenged to do (in giving her husband the control in their marriage) while her gossiping lips spew her condescension and mockery behind his back as he stumbles about. Be it a blog, Bible study group, or simply among friends, the first thing women need to do is stop destroying every shred of dignity their husbands have by learning to shut up about it and stop gossiping.
At times this restraint may make a control freak feel like her head is going to explode but it is essential if she desires success.

Athor Pel said...

Control freak women are motivated by one thing, fear. They worry about everything, even what they can't control, which in my opinion is a mental disease. They therefore attempt to exert control over more and more things in a vain attempt to eliminate the fear.

Not only does a control freak not trust her husband but she also does not trust God, assuming she believes in God. Finally she does not trust herself.




Comedy moment:
My grandmother was a control freak. Always had to tell you how to do something the "right" way. She drove the family car, paid the bills....

I hit her on the head with a shovel when I was four because she pissed me off with her know it all attitude. Few years later I told her to mind her own business when she tried telling me how to cast a fishing rod, she shut up. I guess she remembered the shovel. Really never had a problem with her after that.

What I'm trying to say is the only way to get these kinds of women to lay off is to whack them on the head with a shovel so they know you mean business if you tell them to shut up.

To the women complaining about their husbands losing money; I guess the money is more important to you than your husband. Since that seems to be the case then you should divorce your husband and marry the money. You'll be happier.

Comedy moment over.

The following advice is for Christians, the rest of you are on your own, unless you want to be a disciple of Jesus, in that case read on.

If your fear is so consuming that you are willing to destroy your marriage over it then you really really need to get on your knees and ask the Lord for help. Repent, repent repent, cause trying to do it all on your own will destroy you and everyone around you.

If your husband is a failure in your eyes then you need to pray for him. The Lord will deal with your husband in His way. Whatever happens better not meet any resistance from you because asking God for help and then telling Him that it's not the kind of help you want is not a recipe for a long happy life.

Anonymous said...

If you're a woman in this situation, your husband's problem may be lack of interest rather than lack of confidence.

When a woman dominates a family, she organizes it according to her tastes and preferences. So stability and comfort generally get top priority, especially when there are children around. Men respond to adventure and excitement. So don't be surprised if your husband isn't thrilled about your hints that you would like him to take control of a world that you designed.

For example, don't be surprised if he isn't excited when you ask him to take charge of planning the family's annual trip to visit relatives. Maybe he would rather see a sporting event instead, or go camping. But if the family has a built-in assumption that vacations are for visiting family, then probably neither of you will consider doing something that the husband might actually enjoy.

Your husband is already enthused about something; it's just something that he assumes you wouldn't enjoy. So go to a sporting event with him. Learn to play World of Warcraft. Show him that you really want the family life to include his happiness, and maybe he'll respond with some enthusiasm.

Catherine said...

Vox and others, thank you for the advice.

Athor Pel, my husband's the breadwinner, so losing money hurts him even more than it hurts me, and as his wife I don't want him to suffer. Thanks for the divorce recommendation though - truly, your writings are like the voice of Jesus Himself.

Anonymous said...

Pimping ain't easy
But it's necessary..

Anonymous said...

"My husband has always joked that he "got married so he wouldn't have to make" certain decisions"

What if this wasn't a joke? Much truth is said in jest. What if he wants to live like Nate, without the pimp part (which we have to take his word on).

Otherwise, unless the guy is a Christian there is simply not the motivation to become a leader (in much of today's men). If they are Christians, then the wife is going to have to control freak herself and literally refuse to do anything unless he makes the decision and then is going to have to bite her tongue till it bleeds so that she doesn't wreck it. And she will have to pray and be understanding as he gets training wheels with the whole leadership thing.

It can be done. Above Rubies has an article on it by Val..I forget her last name, but the article is always up there. About how she literally had to refuse to do anything and obeyed him in everything so he would finally take leadership.

Take heart, God is the answer. Christ is the way.

Anonymous said...

"The following advice is for Christians, the rest of you are on your own, unless you want to be a disciple of Jesus, in that case read on.

If your fear is so consuming that you are willing to destroy your marriage over it then you really really need to get on your knees and ask the Lord for help. Repent, repent repent, cause trying to do it all on your own will destroy you and everyone around you.

If your husband is a failure in your eyes then you need to pray for him. The Lord will deal with your husband in His way. Whatever happens better not meet any resistance from you because asking God for help and then telling Him that it's not the kind of help you want is not a recipe for a long happy life."

Athor, Vox said you are an atheist on his book review. If you are, just honestly wondering here...why do you give biblical advice? I mean, shouldn't everyone just do what they want? Why cite the Bible (by the way, good advice LOL)?

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Athor sorry I mixed you up with someone else. I apologize.

castricv said...

The sad thing is that if he simply were to say "Go wait in the car!" with a stern look, but without raising his voice, the next time they are negotiating or some other high stress situation in public, she would literally cream herself and everything would be fine. A little dose of the stern father from the 50's tends to shape women up real quick. Facinating, but anyone above Regular beta already knew this since they were 15.

SarahsDaughter said...

Why is that a sad thing? That he won't attempt such a display of manliness or that she would respond so positively to it?
You're dead on by the way.

Anonymous said...

Look, there are other ways of abdicating control other than walking away and letting the finances crash.

My wife pays the bills, because she gets antsy about them being paid on time. She's the family bookkeeper - I'm the family CFO. Che pays the bills. I decide what the bills will be.

So if a woman wants to put her husband in charge, she can do the job under his direction. Of course, the relationship may have gotten to the point that he won't believe her - it's likely, actually. So she will have to cheerfully and willingly do whatever he directs, and she will have to understand that earning his trust back will take a long time.

But it can be done. Doing it this way is longer, but keeps the family afloat until hubby takes the abandoned tiller.

Catherine said...

Anonymous: I physically pay the bills, too. That wasn't the issue here - I'm not quite that dumb. It was a decision, not a chore.

The situation was something akin to this: he agrees that he'll decide what car we'll rent on vacation. He puts it off. By the time he finally decides and approaches the counter, the office is closing and all the normal cars have gone, and the only thing left to rent is a $3,000/day stretch limousine.

That's obviously not what happened (it was a far bigger deal) but it's the closest analogy I can use, because I don't want to risk identifying him.

Anonymous said...

The problem is women's failure to define what decision is considered "controlling". There's a difference between making a decision and one that requires leadership. Many times my wife asks me things that common sense should already inform them.

SarahsDaughter said...

Catherine,
Is money more important to you than the ability for God to deal with your husband being the decision maker?

“I wish I was alone in this. I have a friend who tried to get her husband to take charge of the decision over whether or not to sell a property: he delayed as well, and the house went into foreclosure“

Yes Yes, it‘s epidemic that men are idiots and we good Christian girls still try to give up control to them but they‘re just so dumb and we‘re just such gossiping hags.

“...Please don't take this as a rant against men...”

I didn’t take it as a rant against men, I took it as a rant against your husband and an embarrassing display of a woman not in tune with God’s commands for her life.

“...as his wife I don't want him to suffer.”

Yet you’ll openly de-edify him on a blog in not just one comment but three. You are hardly looking for advice, you are bitching and moaning because some big error was made and you’re attempting to use that as validation of why you can’t relinquish the control of big decisions in your household.

“Thanks for the divorce recommendation though - truly, your writings are like the voice of Jesus Himself.”

Really? Is that all it takes for you? I’m sure your husband loves that you listen to other mens' advice about your relationship with him. And tell other men that they are like the voice of Jesus Himself.


"Anonymous: I physically pay the bills, too. That wasn't the issue here - I'm not quite that dumb. It was a decision, not a chore.
The situation was something akin to this: he agrees that he'll decide what car we'll rent on vacation. He puts it off. By the time he finally decides and approaches the counter, the office is closing and all the normal cars have gone, and the only thing left to rent is a $3,000/day stretch limousine.
That's obviously not what happened (it was a far bigger deal) but it's the closest analogy I can use, because I don't want to risk identifying him.


And your analogy is absurd, car rental companies are designed to be a last minute decision or emergency needs kinds of companies that supply their customers with what they’re looking for and if they don't have it, would give the limousine to them to rent for the same price as the sedan.

So really, please, tell us what dastardly thing your husband did that makes you such a special snowflake? You single handedly married the biggest idiot in the world? Is that it? I’m sure it was a “far bigger deal” and I’m sure you “don’t want to identify him” - you want to protect him from knowing how out of line and quite frankly disgusting you are that you would air your husband’s business like this. Out of the heart the mouth speaks (or types) and I find it VERY hard to believe that we are the only anonymous bunch you have told your woes to. His decision making ability is hardly your only marital problem.

Anonymous said...

Recruit said, "Her husband didn't get this behavior by default. He was taught to react this way. I'll leave it to you to piece together how that happened, but please don't do this to your boys."

I agree with this wholeheartedly.
When I was growing up I tended towards Beta at the least or more likely Sigma, as I have no desire to lead but easily got the girl(s) even when I was not trying.

But now after marrying and receiving certain negative responses so strongly for many many years I now tend to react in a very delta to even gamma manner.

It truly sucks as I try to change myself and my relationship. Like I have to fight every single step of the way. But hey, I am a guy... we were made for battle. It just gets a bit depressing when your opponent happens to be your spouse.

Anonymous said...

SarahsDaughter said, "Be it a blog, Bible study group, or simply among friends, the first thing women need to do is stop destroying every shred of dignity their husbands have by learning to shut up about it and stop gossiping."

I find this somewhat funny... I would LOVE for my wife to gossip, instead of just doing this to my face.

Wendy said...

SarahsDaughter is absolutely right.

SarahsDaughter said...

Catherine,
Your rental car analogy makes no sense since that industry is designed around last minute and emergency situations. Should they not have the car you need, in my experience you get the limousine at the price of the sedan.

What is interesting is your desire to snowflake here in saying that the dastardly decision your husband made so negates the ability for you to relinquish control because of the consequences you can see. You're ignoring the significance of those consequences and you are certainly ignoring the fact that it has nothing to do with you. You are gossiping and de-edifying your husband on an anonymous blog and making yourself look a fool as you say some other man's words are like Jesus's.
At Anonymous (really wish you all would choose a moniker): No, you shouldn't prefer your wife to gossip about you it is damaging to her own soul. If she is nagging you to your face about where she finds you inept, you have an opportunity to put her in her place if you're man enough to do it. Read what Castricv had to say.
@Wendy: It was a hard lesson learned and one of THE most significant to the success of our marriage.

Houston said...

SarahsDaughter pinpoints a major reason why my wife stays away from women's Bible study groups. She despises feminism in general and hates husband-bashing in particular.

Nate said...

"What if this wasn't a joke? Much truth is said in jest. What if he wants to live like Nate, without the pimp part (which we have to take his word on)."

You could also take the word of others who've met me and my wife.

But to answer your question... by her account the man doesn't want to live like me. I make all the big decisions in my house. I allow influence and show respect, but I make no bones about who has the final say.

One cannot survive this kind of situation if he is weak or lazy.

Anonymous said...

Also you could link him to Athol Kay's blog: http://www.marriedmansexlife.com/
Or better yet give your husband Athol's book.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/1460981731/

You could also have a look at http://www.takeninhand.com/
They discuss how to let their partners know they want a change.

Anonymous said...

http://www.takeninhand.com/category/categories/advice.for.women.wanting.their.marriage.to.become.taken.in.hand

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