Saturday, November 19, 2016

Conquering and Maintaining

A friend of mine made me aware of a podcast that I have thoroughly come to enjoy. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History has been something I’ve listened to while driving to and from work for the past several weeks. I’m in the middle of his WW1 exposition of life on the western front. Fascinating stuff.  Not that this is D/s stuff but it is worthy of checking out if you enjoy a good story.

It was while listening to his podcast that Dan prompted me to write this post. In his tale it is now the end of 1914/early 1915. Germany is fighting the Russians on their eastern border and is in thick with its invasion of France with a western assault. The fighting has been brutal. Casualties of the Allied forces are over a million and for Germany it’s approaching that. The war is barely five months old. The battles have been brutal for both sides and now both Germany and France have dug in and no one is moving. There is a stalemate in this trench-warfare. It was at this point where the narrator posed the question: “How can one side conquer the other amidst this stalemate?”

It was that statement that got me to thinking. In the typical marriage husband and wife share somewhat equal power. In many marriages the husband oppresses the wife a little more than he should and in others the wife may do the same with her husband. However in a wife-led-marriage there is an understanding that she is the one who reigns with complete control. But, how does a wife ‘conquer’ her husband and as a follow up, how does she maintain that position as conqueror? This question comes on the heels of a lengthy and passionate post I read on the FLR blog in which Namaste describes her version of two different types of women – one is the traditional/submissive type while the other is the take charge dominant who wishes to keep her man firmly under her thumb. Her post discusses female oppression by men in the centuries past and (although paragraph three gets a bit emotionally infused) it is a good read.

But let’s return to the original question: How does a woman conquer her husband?  For me, the word ‘conquer’ may not mean the same as it does to you. For me it means: to take charge of, to dominate, to rein in, to supervise and to discipline, to manage, to oversee. It implies a power differential that exists between the ruler and the rul-ee and that power differential should be excessively lopsided to the point that there are no illusions as to who is in charge and who is not.

As I thought about this I considered the relationship between employer and employee. I’ve always heard that employers want to pay their employees only what it takes to keep them somewhat happy. And of course, employees only want to do enough to keep their employer off their back.  In other words, each party does only what is necessary to appease the other.  One strives to be cheap, the other leans toward laziness. How true that is with how so much of life plays out.

So given our natural tendencies, what does it take for a woman, a wife, a girlfriend – the female partner in a relationship – to maintain the upper hand in their arrangement? What has to happen for her to not only assume the controlling position but maintain it?

A couple of thoughts come to mind.  First and foremost there needs to be structure. She needs to institute routine into his day (and I would suggest – into her day as well). Generally, we all thrive on what we are familiar with.  Establishing a routine provides that familiarity. Routine can become an important tool in maintaining her husband in check. What is it that she wants him to do from the moment the alarm goes off in the morning? What does she expect from him during the days he is not at work? What should his evening routine be? Whatever it is, it needs to be reinforced. That is where her routine also becomes important. She needs to reinforce what she wants. She's the employer. He's the employee. All employees slack off if not provided with oversight. It’s my belief (and I’m only speaking for what works for me), is that she provide cursory oversight – at least periodically - and when she does, let him know she is (or has just finished) checking on his performance regarding his expected chores and then provide the appropriate compliment or criticism. (Dinner was delicious. The beans were overcooked. The kitchen looks fabulous. The floor still needs to be swept before you do anything else.) The same pattern of providing him with a routine and she providing periodic supervision can be instituted at various times throughout the day depending on the situation.  It may be that she gives him a larger chore to do on a weekend.  Doesn’t it seem appropriate that the employer inspect and comment on the work of her employee? Sure does to me.

Sometimes however, those expectations are not quite so structured.  For example, she may want him to walk with her when shopping. She may want him to follow her when shopping or push the shopping cart or carry the purchased items. She may want him to open doors or stand when she enters a room or act in any one of myriad ways to establish protocol in various situations. Although this can become a routine it isn't a time-dependent one in the same way as a morning, afternoon, or evening routine around the house might play out. Instead, a 'door' becomes the stimulus to what should be the appropriate response. The 'going shopping' might be another stimulus that should produce an expected response. Patterns of behavior can be established - and wouldn't it be fun to even intentionally go out and practice them so they can be enforced!

What I’m driving at here is that leading and following BOTH require work. It’s not enough to just say, do this and then never give thought to it again.  In an ideal world that would be wonderful but we aren’t without our faults. We, the employees, often do only what it takes to keep her happy and sometimes we even struggle doing that. And that can be quite different from doing what it takes to make her feel lavishly special because of the way a chore or job is done. Likewise, it’s important for her to evaluate his level of competence on what has been asked, demanded, or expected. And of course she needs to consider what must be done if "he doesn’t do what she wants or does it in a way that she doesn’t approve.”

Secondly, it's imperative he knows she is in charge and it should be equally important that she lets it be known she is the dominant party. So how does she do that? How does a leader remind others who is leading? Well, she can do so by checking up and providing constructive feedback as suggested above.  But leaders are leaders because they demand leadership. I’ve watched many people at my work over the years be put into positions of leadership. Some do well. Some don’t. Those that do well find ways to get their follows to buy in. They sell their product. They snuff out problems quickly. They are not afraid of confronting but confront in a way that doesn’t alienate their follower from them. They are visibly present. They give praise but are able to separate themselves from those they oversee. They pay attention by making sure the details of their work are followed and are not satisfied by the "I did 80% of what you asked" mentality. They push their employees to be the best and not settle for mediocrity. What is so revealing is that the employees who embrace great leadership come to take pride in what they're doing. They view their boss quite reverently. It's quite the thing to see when this happens.  Can't you draw your own parallels here between the wife who leads with confidence and the husband who works for her?

The wife, the girlfriend, the female partner, needs to also make herself ‘be’ that person. She doesn’t need to be a bitch. She probably doesn’t even need to raise her voice. The screamer-lady isn’t going to get the same respect as the one that goes about taking charge in a sensible objective way.  But she does need to set herself apart and she does need to demand more rather than less.  Leading in this way may feel like it's hard for you (the woman) to do but remember, you are in a situation in which your husband WANTS to follow. He wants to go the extra mile. All you need to do is help him go there, reward him once he does and actively supervise to keep him performing at that level.

When at work I know it is sometimes easier for me to just do some things myself rather than ask others to do it for me.  But if I take that route I’m letting it be known that I’m one with them (which isn’t necessarily bad) but can’t be something I do regularly.  Remember, employees only want to do as little as they must. If the boss is going to do it, then why should they? The woman needs to let him take the initiative, or let him follow her order, and bring the task to completion even if it’s easier for her to do. In time, he will learn and then she won’t have to even think about that chore.

I'll suggest one more quality: Verbalizing. How the husband addresses and interacts with his wife provides an easy insight into his heart. The man that interrupts, questions, debates or speaks critically to her or about her conveys a heart that isn't where it needs to be.  There is work to be done. His wife must abolish those traits and put them firmly to rest.  On the other hand the man that addresses his wife as mistress, goddess, queen or with some other adulating speech and who speaks only after being spoken to; the man who is quick to apologize and who addresses his wife with reverence and continually conveys his love for her, conveys a completely different heart.  But, what is to be done if some of those adulating terms and expressions lessen? What if they come less often? What if some of that old vigor he use to have for her moderates? He hasn't gone off the deep end but he's not where he once was. Is that OK? Does the slacking of his verbal appreciation send her an alarm? It should. It reflects a change in his heart.

As a woman, can't you see how important it is to note and address these changes? Your role as leader needn’t require physical work but it's my belief that leaders need to recognize problems sooner rather than later. They need to address changes. By doing so they get to train her man to be the man she has always dreamed of, and keep him that way.  By detecting the little oopses, the small oversights, the imperceptible changes in behavior and addressing them promptly, larger problems are kept at bay.  Active oversight keeps him away from potentially problematic ‘cliffs’ and men have a propensity to find those cliffs readily. They keep the marriage and relationship healthy.

I can't end this post without expressing how important it is for the submissive husband to hear his wife express words of control, power and possession.  I have come to yearn for Katie to express who she is verbally and not just assume I know. I want to hear her words of praise when I do something well but I also need to hear her criticism when I don't do things soon enough or well enough. I love it when she calls me her sub. It meets a deep need that draws me to her. It’s important to hear her express her authority as the leader in our home. For me, it’s not always enough to say, “OK, let's go". That statement implies she’s in charge and I need to follow. I love that she does but sometimes I wish for her to state the obvious. I wish for her to look me in the eye and tell me who she is and who I am and how we will always be. 

For example, the other night we were in bed cuddling.  She grabbed my head and shoulder and pulled me hard against her and said in words full of emotion, "You - are - mine!  You - are - all - mine!"  It was a five second blip in our 15 hour day but that five-second blip stayed with me for several days.  Ladies, am I making myself clear about what your husband needs from you? It's your relationship to gain or lose. Isn't a little bit of your intentional, purposeful effort worth the hours of effort he puts into looking after you and taking care of your home? Isn’t a little bit of intentional leadership worth the love he expresses to you so freely? Doesn’t it fill your heart that he loves you so very much? Can’t you see that when you express dominance you can powerfully influence him in so many positive ways? You cannot ever say enough when it comes to your dominance and if you choose to say nothing, you convey exactly that - that you don't care. You convey what you have isn't that important.  Like the common adage, "people will judge you by the words you speak" I would suggest they also judge you by what you fail to speak." Ladies, the health of your relationship is in your hands. Lead wisely.

Enough writing for now. I’m sure there are other attributes that are necessary for successfully ‘conquering your man’ but I’m going to stop with these few. As always, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m Hers