Dominance and Submission in Marriage: The Captain and First Officer Model

The world we live in is quite removed from The Time Before Writing. For the modern world learning and understanding appropriate dominance and submission are key life skills for both sexes. Whether you are male or female I suggest you submit to your work supervisors male or female, and be dominant towards your work subordinates male or female. With your work peers you will likely have an ebb and flow of dominance and submission.
However in the context of marriage I believe for most of us a pattern of male dominance and female submission has a basis in Body Agenda. Women respond sexually to dominant men and they can become quite aggressive towards men that seek sexual access that do not evoke feelings of submission in them. The Body Agenda literally thinks “if he can’t handle me, he can’t actually protect me from anything”. Often a woman will tear her husband apart over quite minor things seeking…
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  1. Stephanie says

    I totally agree with this post! When we first got married my husband was also into "equality" and it turned me off a bit and made decision-making very confusing. But I soon called out his inner alpha-male and we are both happier for it. It was confusing for him at first, just as it sounds it was for you, because he was brought up to believe that male-dominance in a relationship was disrespectful. But I grew up in the South, and Southern women like their men big and strong and in-charge. And furthermore, it's a choice, as I think you pointed out, and it also worked wonders for his career. He soon realized that manning-up made me woman-up and well, there you have it. Let's just say that we have a great sex life and he's glad he married a Southern girl whose femininity can run wild as a complement to his masculinity. It has been my observation that SOME couples who do not allow this dynamic to emerge end up dissatisfied with their marriage. I think that this is a very misunderstood and under-communicated issue in Western culture–thanks for bringing it up.

  2. sconzey says


    Love the Captain/First Mate analogy. I too used to be the "equality" guy in the relationship; fortunately I think I'm starting to figure this girl out >_> only took me five years ^_^.

    Love the blog. Keep it up.

  3. Meg at Demanding Joy says

    So interesting! My first reaction was to disagree with you…"No! It's about equality!" But as I kept reading, I found that you're right on the money. As a career woman with a type-A personality, the LAST thing I want at home is to be in charge. I can be the alpha when necessary, but it's extremely sexy when my husband takes control of anything from dishes to romance.

    Thanks for the insight!

  4. Athol Kay says

    Thank you all for your kind comments. This is one of the hardest concepts to discuss without either sounding apologetic or a monster.

    Much appreciated.

  5. Deansdale says

    "This is one of the hardest concepts to discuss without either sounding apologetic or a monster."
    You found the perfect analogy which makes it easy.
    Being apologetic about dominance, though? That's a funny oxymoron.

  6. piterburg says

    Excellent post, kudos!

    I do want to note in passing though that "dominant" is not the same as "domineering":
    being dominant is about leadership, while being domineering is about control.

  7. Anonymous says

    Funny how you also link to Taken in Hand… do you plan blog about this particular site?

  8. Athol Kay says

    Possibly. It's one resource among many. I found it quite useful for myself in breaking the barrier of feeling being an active leader towards Jen was "wrong".

  9. Athol Kay says

    I would try making it exceptionally clear that you enjoy being submissive to him. You may need to ham it up a little until he gets the idea. It does take some time for most men to "get it".

    Also talk about it with him.

  10. Anonymous says

    Hey Man,
    I like your blog a lot.
    This concept is actually biblical and often misunderstood. I think your aviation example is a modern day recast of Epesians chapter 5 which talks about Wives sumbitting to thier husbands, which has been used to dominate woman. However, before the part about wives submitting comes verse 21 "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." This mutual respect and submission is where its at with the Husband having a tie breaker but always taking prudent input from his first mate. I agree that men who won't lead abdicating thier role just makes woman angry and is just as bad a treating them like a third mate.

  11. Anonymous says

    Interesting idea. I'm glad you've found what works in your marriage. It won't work for all women, though. Human beings are vastly diverse.

    For myself, I do like a man who is strong and will be protective of me. However, I do not find it attractive when a man wants to be dominant to me, even if he is respectful, considerate and truly cares about me. A sexually dominant man is a turn off for me. He doesn't make me angry. He just doesn't do it for me.

    Obviously, there are many women out there who do like their men to be the leader in the relationship, but it's important to be aware that it's definitely not universal. So if a man feels it important to be the leader in the relationship, he should make sure that he looks for a woman who is on the same page as him. He shouldn't assume that every woman he ends up with would be fine with it.

  12. Athol Kay says

    I was fairly clear that it wasn't for everyone but once you take away the women that want submission and the men that want dominance, there's not very much left over to play with.

    It's much the same as saying "men are taller than women". Obviously there will be some very short men and very tall women. But most men are taller than most women, and in nearly even couple the man will be taller than the woman. There will only be a tiny percent of couples where the woman is taller than the man.

    It just gets so tiresome to repeat that every post as a disclaimer lol.

  13. Anonymous says

    Hi Athol,

    I love your blog — thanks for writing.

    Just for grins, I typed "i want my husband to" into my Google searchbar. I got only four "pre-fills":

    … come home
    … love me
    … cheat
    … leave

    Nothing about domination, not even when I steered that way a bit: "i want my husband to d".

    And what's up with that third pre-fill? Come back, love me, leave, I get all of those. But cheat????

  14. Athol Kay says

    Considering that there are 179,000 results for the search term "I want my husband to dominate me", the reason it no longer shows up as an auto complete answer is because very likely Google has manually edited it out as an auto complete.

  15. Anonymous says

    Fyi, Google search results will vary by location. You will more than likely not see the same pre-filled results as the author. It's not because the author is 'doctoring' the results to support the article's message.

    Very good post!

  16. Anonymous says

    You said "I want coffee" and she agreed, therefore it's better for women to be the first mate? Hilarious. You can say "I want coffee," get some coffee, and still have a totally egalitarian relationship. Your boring "I don't know, what do you want to do?" interpretation of equality was just that: A misinterpretation. From this description, it sounds like you do have two captains taking turns flying the plane. Just accept it. You don't have to try to make a case for submission.

  17. Anonymous says

    In bedroom most woman want bad boy hot sex but outside bedroom they want a good boy to fill other needs. Hot passionate sex is best with man in charge in the bedroom.

  18. Anonymous says

    I agree with most of this post. I don't know that I always want my H to be the one in charge or the "captain." With MAJOR decisions, it's not me supporting his decision like you described, but the 2 of us having a discussion and deciding together. I don't know if I would support him if he just made a decision to buy a house or have another kid or whatever. I feel like those things make the marriage into a democracy and unless you're unanimous, one person can't just go ahead and get what they want without some consequences.

    With everything else though I agree completely! When we first started dating it was always "I don't know, what do you want to do?" SO FREAKING ANNOYING. After a while, I started saying, "I want you to make a decision." This pissed him off. He said "well if you want to do something then you plan it." And I was like uhhh I plan stuff for myself every day, I want to be taken out. I felt like he didn't care enough about me to put in the 5 min of effort to make a dinner reservation somewhere. It took like months before he finally got the memo. It's funny though b/c like you he was always so assertive with sex and that's what kept me attracted to him and able to deal with the frustrating lack of leadership in other areas.

  19. Athol Kay says

    Anon above this comment – I wouldn't make a major decision without consulting her. As Captain Picard often said on the shows when facing an issue… "Options Number 1?"

    Jennifer is a smart cookie. Sometimes on the big issues I have to make a final decision after we've talked, but it's always considered with her in mind.

  20. LunaRose says

    Awesome Athol,

    We've been searching for a way to explain/define our relationship, H wasn't comfortable with the IDEA of being dominant, although he was fine with me being submissive.

    Thanks, explaining it this way helped him be a little more accepting of the roles we so naturally fall into, but he seems to want to fight on principal.

  21. Athol Kay says

    Hi Luna – well it took me about five years to come to terms with this. We're still learning how it goes too.

  22. Anonymous says

    Wow! You get it!!! I have been reading posts that my son ( a grown man now) has been posting from other blogs wherein these men seem to really hate women and yet they write about every supposed evil we have and are intrinsically and will never be cured of and they ( the man) are perfect creatures having to some how put up with a woman…
    I say all of this just to say…Thank you for getting us women folk…you have great advice here and thank you for not being so negative and spiteful.
    Thank you for being so loving towards your wife and sharing how she works and enjoying her talents and strengths.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  23. Athol Kay says

    Thanks for calling me a liar on your blog Maria. We've already discussed the answer to your question here in the comments.

  24. Maria says

    Considering that there are 179,000 results for the search term "I want my husband to dominate me", the reason it no longer shows up as an auto complete answer is because very likely Google has manually edited it out as an auto complete

    Google edited it out manually? Really? Then how come it showed up as the third "auto-fill" when I added a "d" into my search criteria after "I want my husband to"?

    And you admit that it got only 179,000 hits, so why would it show up as a first auto-fill? 179,000 hits does not even come close to the MILLIONS of hits that "I want my husband to leave" gets as an auto-fill, or "I want my husband to die," either. The ways of Google are srange indeed, if an auto-fill that gets millions of hits shows up BELOW an auto-fill that merely gets a couple hundred thousand hits.

    When I added in the "d", "I want my husband to dominate me" came in BEHIND "I want my husband to dress as a woman."

    Frankly, I'd like to see you address the popularity of the "I want my husband to dress as a woman" auto-fill in an upcoming post. It doesn't seem very consistent with the whole "Game" dogma, does it?

  25. Obsidian says

    I just got wind of this tempest in a teapot over at Escapist's blog where Maria and I are having at it:

    Now, here's the deal – I don't know Athol Key though I've heard of him; this is the first time that I have ever had words with the Man. From what I understand, he is a guy who likes to apply Game principles to his marriage, and writes from that angle. Last time I checked, there was no law against doing that, and as I recall above, he makes it quite clear that what he's talking about ain't for errbody. So, I really don't see what the problem here is. Maybe Maria can explain, since she seems to have a near pathological hatred of Game?


  26. Athol Kay says

    Obsidian has it right. Ultimately this is a marriage blog and I've adapted game thinking for marriage.

    She's accused me of doctoring the Google image, so I've given it to her so that she can prove that. Until then, she's simply accusing me of lying, with no proof.

    It's an auto-complete, they vary all the time anyway as we've already discussed on this comment thread.

  27. Jaa says

    "My realization is that most wives want the First Officer job."

    …and from my life , what i do as escort girl and my specialty is being dominant for men who want to be submissive, there are so many men who want wife to be first officer like you say but so shy or afraid to ask.

    i'm so busy because of that

  28. Deborah says

    I love this post! When I was just a child, my best friend and I used to watch Star Trek:TNG and daydream about what it would be like to live in that world. She always talked about wanting to be a captain; I never wanted to go beyond first officer. Now she's married to a guy who lets her boss him around and make poor decisions for her family, and I'm married to a wonderful man who leads and provides and protects. We're geographically separated right now–we live in Egypt (he works for the State Department), and our daughter and I were evacuated while my husband had to stay–and I'm doing fine with my decisions as "acting captain," but I really want to get back to first officer status ASAP!

  29. Jonathan Manor says

    Really great post Athol. It seems that when in the company of women it's always great to have that conspiring sense of direction.

  30. Anonymous says

    A man that gets it and can spread the word. Too bad my ex husband didn't read this.

  31. Anonymous says

    Love it as a woman! I have completely changed and so has our marriage. I now:
    Keep the house clean
    Try to wear dresses daily (I love dresses)
    I jump at all of his request (he does not take advantage of this)
    Ask Permission to spend our money- we both work (he use to ask me, I hated it)
    Sex is open 24/7- no more alone shower time. I am his wife use me (I get plesure from it too ya know).

    I use to be in control of our relationship I hated it, I began to resent him. I told him I did not want to be an equal in the marriage I wanted to be his wife and support him – not make the decisions. He finally got this when I stepped up my game. Sometimes I ask his permission for stupid thing just b/c I love it when he takes on the dominanting role, it makes me feel sexy and wanted. It is a joy to be submissive to my husband. Keep up the good work!

  32. Kitty says


    I like your blog, even though it's mostly geared toward men.

    My husband is dominant and always has been:). I love to be submissive to him.


  33. Kitty says


    I shouldn't be ALLOWED to vote because I love to be submissive to MY husband?!?!

    That's crazy. I have my own opinions and thoughts on many subjects. I'm not a doormat. My husband treats me like a queen. He is the head(boss) of our home and I'm the manager. It's a great system.

    One example of his love is he gave me the opportunity to become a pilot. I hadn't even considered the idea. I took him up on that offer and now am a pilot(hubby has four airplanes). Another example was when I ran a half-marathon last year he was my biggest cheerleader and encouraged me that I could do it.

    I'm not abused…far from it. He loves me and would never hurt me. We just celebrated our 26th Wedding Anniversary recently. He is my best friend and I'm proud to be his wife. He tells me that I'm his best friend, too!


    P.S. I would never want to be married to a wimpy guy that wasn't in charge of me. He doesn't force his authority on me. I give it to him out of respect and love.

  34. Anonymous says

    Your type of submission is the ultimate low for me, Kitty.

    Mutual submission is not supposed to be about both people doing nothing, but about both caring about the other's opinion. That doesn't help if neither spouse has one.


  35. Kitty says


    I really don't care what you think about my submission to my husband, but I have to wonder if you even read my last comment. I guess reading comprehension is not your strong suit.

    "I have my own opinions and thoughts on many subjects. I'm not a doormat. My husband treats me like a queen."

    Where did the whole mutual submission idea come from? My husband doesn't submit to me. I submit to him.

    He is man enough to concede when he's made a mistake and he'll tell me that I was right and he was wrong if that is the case. He's not a domineering tyrant.

    We both have strong opinions on many subjects and just because I love to be submissive to him doesn't mean I'm a mindless robot.


  36. Anonymous says

    I'm sure you don't care, kitty, and my reading comprehension is quite sharp. I know what it means when you make a blog called "Sweet Surrender" and call your husband "daddy".

  37. Anonymous says

    I'm sorry to have sounded offensive, though; I'm just so much the opposite and I've seen extreme submissives promote/cause/endure so much abuse, even if not the lethal kind.

  38. Athol Kay says

    Anon 10:25 – First Officers don't tolerate abuse.

    Everything I teach about behavior management can be used by women too.

  39. Anonymous says

    LOL So true, but I'm not talking about your own methods, Athol. You couldn't make it more clear that your stuff is about what makes you two personally happy. No, I'm talking about men who almost force fierce spankings on their wives; even a woman who loves it writes these sick, sasitic stories about women being abused. That's just why I'm wary about the "daddy" thing; that and the warning I got before trying to enter Kitty's blog.

  40. Anonymous says

    "I want my husband to dominate me" got 977,000 hits in my search, but
    "I want my wife to dominate me" got 1,680,000 !

  41. Darren says

    So, my wife is a serious hard-charging alpha type. I find it sexy, but pretty quickly our sex life fell apart and I have been trying to put it back together. I am doing my best to step into a more alpha role, and she is fighting me the whole way (oddly, more about little shit like holding the door, and less about bigger shit) Anyway, I'm struggling to move into the alpha place, but she's pushing back hard. Advice?

  42. gothchiq says

    *sigh* Am I really the only woman out there who is naturally dominant without being either a fetishist or a slave-driving battleaxe of some sort? The more I read, the more I feel like some sort of freak of nature. It’s taken years upon years to find a man who wishes to be *my* first officer (and understands what that entails; not someone lazy or weak, which is all too easy to find).

    So many years of people trying to shove me into a submissive role simply for being born female. I’d rather spend my life alone than force myself to be what I’m not.

  43. Anonymous says

    Awesome article. I consider this to be the natural order of the universe. I am a very opinionated, free thinking woman, NOT at all subservient in the way most people would consider, and I LOVE it when my husband takes control. In fact I have come to the realisation recently that I want him to take more control, I trust him in every way. I know he knows me and I can trust that he will be considerate of my feelings and preferences with all decisions. I know I can submit happily, and he knows that I trust him implicitely. I think that is key, trust. If you don’t have that in your relationship, you won’t understand how this dynamic can work.
    Also, I just want to mention that the whole argument over the google auto complete is not relevant anyway. Who gives a f@$k, it’s a valid and interesting article. Some ppl need to get a life.

  44. Zelda says

    BS. I like being dominant in the bedroom. I also like being submissive. I was in a relationship once where the guy told me that men are the “tiebreakers” in relationships. I secretly tried it out as an experiment with him. As soon as I tried, the relationship ended 2 weeks later. Before that, he was talking about moving in with me, and marriage. He said I wasn’t myself anymore which is why he broke up with me. I’m not naturally dominant, I’m naturally fair. Sometimes I like it when he takes the lead, sometimes I like it when I take the lead. Am I a freak for this? I can understand why the bible says for women to be submissive. Women were not educated, and were naive back then. It made sense. Now that there is a bit of equality, it doesn’t mean shit. Some women like to be naturally submissive. That’s perfectly alright. But just because your wife enjoys it; it doesn’t mean the majority of women do. Your wife does not represent the majority of women.

  45. Lilian says

    I think you are right in many ways. I am a feminist, and I know how men can be real jerkes with the most lovely and sweet woman. This has made me very alert and I am very aware of any type of disrespect in a relationship. One thing woman don’t like is that their men are apathetic and not able to go through with their plans. I had a boyfriend who took the initiative, he would book the hotel for us without me asking where or how it looked like. He would take me out to eat to a place he liked. He would make me surprises and he could be the dominant in bed. I didn’t care because I knew he respected me, and my opinions. I didn’t have to shout for attention and respect and ” power”. We were almost never fighting, I just let him to his stuff while I did mine. Now I have another boyfriend. He doesn’t take the initiative, and if I do I get to hear ” well, it doesn’t really call my attention”. And then the fight starts with me sayin” But then you come up with a better idea, I am in the mood for that, but then let’s do it your way” And he doesn’t come with any better idea and we might end up staying at home. I feel like I am thinking for 2 people and it is tiresomme. I would not mind if he at least would then do his part and follow up, but no…I kind of have to complete the tasks too. First come with the idea, then do the research, then do the phone calls and then book or do the paper works in his name” And then I do my own job after. I get tired tired tired, and miss my ex more and more. The conclusion is that most woman as well as men want respect and to feel loved. If love and respect shines through every action a woman would in most cases be happy about being a copilot. I would enjoy that role again, and see that my boyfriend takes control and puts his good will and intentions into every detail and makes me feel totally loved and respected. Woman like to see love through a man’s action, nothing is worse than when a man puts 0 effort into the relationship. A man should be confident, outgoing and good at handelig tough situations.

  46. Lilian says

    And one more thing. I see my recent boyfriend more as a boy, less as a man. I love him a lot, but I have become more like a mother to him than a girlfriend. I am sad to say this but I don’t admire him that much. I have come to take the role of giving advices, listening to all the troubles, helping with money and doing the research. At night I kind of solve his screw ups in my head to come with ideas on how to fix things. A woman is eventually going to me a mom, a loving caring mom, and then she needs a man to make some decisions, and be helpfull. If a man is only in the way and becomes a berden she might find another man or they will be alone.At least that’s how I have seen relationships like that.

  47. tuchipie says

    Wow, what an interesting topic. I have been married for 17 years and only after the last 2 years have we morphede into a more dominant/submissive role. We have found we are well suited for this type of relationship and it has brought us closer in love. We have taken it a step further and have initiated a DaddyDom/little girl style as well as a Domonant/submissive style and have incorporated it into our lives 24/7. We are much closer, more in tuned with each other and have a much stronger relationship than before. Of course, we have also found we tend more toward the ‘kink’ side as well in regard to spankings and whippings and such….but that is for us. And I have met some beautiful women who are NOT submissive, they are wonderful Dommes who have found submissive men who they love dearly. To each his own we have learned. Not all women are submissive, as not all men are dominant….but finding your own way is wonderful and should remain YOUR OWN WAY regardless what ANYONE else thinks. Enjoy the ride!

  48. ¡george! says

    Right now I can see that number 1 is “i want my husband to cheat” followed by:
    to have an affair..
    to wear a bra..
    to die. . .

    well more or less, dominance is always number 1 on the list

  49. Xayadvara says

    Hi Athol,

    I have been in the manosphere for the last couple of days & it had opened my eyes like nothing before. So no surprise hearing this from Ian Ironwood before coming & seeing this blog for the first time. I liked it.

    But technically, I have heard this particular advice before entering manosphere only once & it was more or less an accident. You see, in our culture for marriage photos & a lot of poses like that, the woman stands left to the man – didn’t know why it is but it was always like that & not anyone notices it like that, even if they do they don’t bother about it or anything. So I never knew the answer. But then later on, I came across some of our ancient religious texts & THERE I got the answer. Thing is, during the olden days, the commander used to stand to the left of the king in court – family dynamics was defined in this manner, a man was the king with the woman as commander. And the man being the king that he is had to think of all others in the family first, the commander second-last & himself as the last.

    And in battle, unless going for an all-out charge, the king led the offensive while the commander kept the bulwark or main resources intact. This meant that king was powerful and ruled from the front but he relied on the commander to know about the details that is required to bring under his notice as he can’t spare resources to concentrate on it himself. This is translated as the man sets the tone of the family & bears on him the reputation of the name but the actual data which shapes his & his family’s stance is provided by the woman along with himself. And for the king, his foremost priority is the survivability of his army even as his head rolls on the ground – meaning he has to ensure the strength and command of someone nearing his own levels to ensure the family is intact – his own woman.

    There is little difference between this concept & your own captain/first officer take!!

  50. malcolm says

    I assume this post is truncated because of

    I’d just like to point out that this post is used as a the “Classic Post” for here:

    Since the “Take the Red Pill” section is what new readers probably read first, it might be a good idea to either make this post a full post again, or change the “Classic Post” to something else, that way the new reader can get an idea of the Captain/First Officer dynamic.

    (I just bring this up because I just recommended the blog to someone, and told him to start with the “take the red pill” section. I was just checking to see what he would see)

  51. valor says

    i’ve learned to be more dominant as time went on, and women do respond very well to it. my new problem is what do i need from a woman who resents making decisions as if it’s some sort of curse? if i want sex i could become a player or even hire escourts. what i wanted is a partner to enjoy life with but basically every woman seems to hate behaving like an adult and making her own decisions like a big girl. how am i supposed to respect yet alone love and want someone like that in my life??


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