When She Has Trouble With The Thought of Having a Captain…

Some snippets of Sundaylove from the forum.

“It gets so confusing to me because I read how women are supposed to ‘want’ to be submissive & let their hubby lead, etc..  For me, I feel idiotic & foolish when I imagine myself trying to take upon a lesser role than my husband.  For example, if I allowed this dynamic to take a real hold in my relationship, I’d feel like a kid always asking dad if this or that is okay. It just feels so ‘off’ for me.

I understand many women are fine & good with the Captain, First Officer roles. In fact, in some little ways we fall into this when it feels right- and it’s nice to have that. So I do get it.

I understand it comes down to trust for my man & that I have, to an extent. However when I’ve tried to be less head-strong & allowed him to lead how he wants, he has, on occasions abused the privilege & acted like a jerk. In turn, my defenses go up & that’s that. Other times though, I can defer to him on small things that don’t mean too much to me & he responds well.

But I wonder, if he never took advantage (in an asshole way) of the alpha male position, would I find it easier to sit comfortably in a less powerful position? Could our marriage be even better in this case?”

Athol:  It sounds like you’re actually attracted to the idea of the Captain and First Officer model and have had positive responses to him leading appropriately. But there is a serious problem in that he’s not going to be the best Captain right now. He has flashes of it, but that’s not enough for you… and that’s fine.

As I’ve tried to make clear, there is no requirement that anyone does this. It’s simply a model that I advance and explain because I think most couples would ultimately like it and find it worked well. The more important MMSL principle is that you don’t let yourself be abused or taken advantage of in your relationship.

So if you let him lead and he turns into an arrogant jerk that rides roughshod over you, then that isn’t something you can let happen. In fact I argue that it’s the job of a good First Officer to actually step up and take control if the Captain isn’t taking care of things. I think it’s fairly easy to see that blindly following anyone and handing over control of your life to someone that doesn’t care about you is basically asking to be taken advantage of.

I certainly don’t have Jennifer on a leash. We talk about the big stuff and I make the call and we do it. She has a job and things she likes and total access to the money yada yada yada. She even has 95% of the moderation power on the forum as I do. (To her vast relief she doesn’t have access to changing the coding of the forum lol.)  But day to day stuff, we’re fairly independent of each other. I don’t micromanage her for the same reasons I don’t play Farmville on Facebook. It’s boring as hell and seriously who has the time?

The most important element to being a good Captain is a sense of responsibility to the well being of the marriage and the First Officer. Should Jennifer and I ever split, I would consider myself more at fault than her.

The Captain and First Officer model is also a conscious one. You don’t simply make him your Captain without telling him what you’re up to. That’s all but asking him to misunderstand the dynamic you’re expecting of him. It’s something to talk about together before you agree to it. Also it took me around five years of thought and growth to accept the Captain and First Officer model for myself. Jennifer arrived to acceptance of it before I did. She certainly did before I had language to express it. So you don’t have to accept it by Tuesday either.


  1. Off topic, but have you seen the review of your book in the recently-reanimated Taken in Hand website? (That used to be in Athol’s blogroll.)

  2. as the CEO of my household, i give the manager below me much power because i chose her carefully and trust her to make good decisions. i have ultimate veto power and take the lead when appropriate. in the end, everyone in the house knows who calls the shots. of course, she does control 100% of the pussy so i have to play this game carefully.

  3. Peregrine John says:

    The biggest problem with the feminine fantasy of the dominant male (you can couch that however your psyche can handle it, but we all know the breadth of options we’re discussing here) is that he will naturally and instinctively do it correctly and consistently, and do so from the very first. This is an insane expectation, and yet it is the basis of the fantasized male mystique. Look at any d/s literature and you’ll see it; look at a woman trying to get to a place of following a strong leader and you’ll likely see the same. In spite of the He Should Just Know mind-porn, leadership is a learned thing – and according to Eisenhower (I believe), the most learnable manly ability.

    It’s not instant. It’s not complete. The road to perfection is an asymptote, and becoming a good follower is vastly more easy than becoming a good leader. Be patient and encouraging, and understand that what he’s trying to do is reverse screwed-up social programming that was messed with before he was even born.

  4. There seems to be a trust issue here because I don’t see how a loving husband automatically becomes a “jerk” when she defers to him.

    If she is so scared that he will abuse the privilege or look down at her, she would be extra sensitive to any perceived insult or slight and raise DEFENSES immediately.

    Allowing him to lead on inconsequential decisions is telling because it implies to me that if the issue is important to her, she wants to make the final decision.

    She is a headstrong wife that likes things her way. The husband seems pretty amicable to her wishes ( beta maybe ) He is the breadwinner so he does have that alpha aspect going for him.

    As long as both parties are fine with it then awesome. It would be interesting to see how she reacts if the Husband wants to make a big decision that she doesn’t agree with.

  5. CarolinaGirl64 says:

    If all of the words associated with this topic had the same weight and no emotions attached to it I don’t believe there would be as much hub bub about it. Leadership is what we are talking about (IMO) and leaders need supportive followers that share the same vision and are committed to working together for that outcome. If you struggle with defining it, you probably are not ready to embrace it as being a viable option for your relationship. I have been a “single Mom in control of everything” for many years; not fun but necessary. They are grown now and I could care less about being in charge. My SO and I agree about 98% of the time. The other 2% are handled with respectful listening and if it is something that will impact our relationship, I defer to my leader to make the final call.

  6. @Dasugo:

    “There seems to be a trust issue here because I don’t see how a loving husband automatically becomes a “jerk” when she defers to him.

    “If she is so scared that he will abuse the privilege or look down at her, she would be extra sensitive to any perceived insult or slight and raise DEFENSES immediately.”

    You and I picked up on the same thing, although I think we took different things from it.

    I agree that a loving husband does not turn into a jerk when he’s deferred to. It’s just that, without extra details we may never get, we don’t know if he *is* a loving husband. She could have trust issues, or a domineering, immature jerk of a husband, or it could be a mixture of both.

  7. Boombacca says:

    Men”s Fraternity, helping men to find authentic Manhood, taught by Dr. Robert Lewis teaches this same concept (men leading there families) in a Christian based setting. mensfraternity.com/dr_robert_lewis/

  8. @Liz –

    “You and I picked up on the same thing, although I think we took different things from it.

    I agree that a loving husband does not turn into a jerk when he’s deferred to. It’s just that, without extra details we may never get, we don’t know if he *is* a loving husband. She could have trust issues, or a domineering, immature jerk of a husband, or it could be a mixture of both.”

    Check out the forum thread. I think you will see that she gives no indicators of a bad husband. If anything she has an agreeable man that is fine with doing what she wants to do. Of course, we don’t know the full story.

  9. Flipper says:

    I think my wife might be warming up a bit. I bought her 50 Shades of Gray a few months ago. It sat unread for a few months. I’ve slowly been running the MAP. We took a 2 day vacation a few weeks ago and now she can’t seem to put the thing down. And sex has improved in both quality and quantity. She even asked me if I was going to read it so I think she might be curious.

  10. @Dasugo:

    That’s a fair point. I’ll check it out.

  11. I’d have to carefully consider whether or not the husband being “a jerk” is a fair assessment. Understanding that we have no other data, it has been my frequent observation that when a man starts taking the Red Pill and becoming dominant, there is often considerable backlash by the wife who, while she does enjoy certain aspects of his dominance, starts talking about what a “jerk” he is, too.

    Let’s assume that the husband is, actually, making a good-faith effort to lead without being a jerk. When presented with shit tests and other areas of conflict from a wife used to the Blue Pill paradigm, the dude has to stand up for himself and be firm . . . even when that pisses off his wife somewhat. Being the Captain “as long as it’s OK with you, Dear,” is about as Blue Pill Beta as it comes. The wife might not be comfortable with some of the stuff he says, or some of the attitudes he has to take, but absent compelling evidence that he is generally not a good person, I would have to say that this fear of the Captain is in fact more likely a fear of loss of control of her husband.

    It’s easy to accept him as Captain when he makes the decision “We’re eating at Shoney’s tonight!”, when she really didn’t have a preference and she can bask in the masculine power of his decisiveness. But when things get difficult and suddenly he’s being decisive about things that she would rather control, that’s when “he’s being a jerk!” comes in. In most cases he’s NOT being a jerk. He’s being the Captain. But the wife has been conditioned to see any deviation from her control in meaningful matters as a sign of his disrespect to her and women in general (thanks to 40 years of feminist dogma that says any man who ain’t kissin’ female ass is the enemy). It’s her Rationalization Hamster at work, re-casting masculine power and decisiveness as “being a jerk!” to justify any power retributive responses she is considering.

    Your husband can be your Captain or he can be your lackey. He can’t be both, and an insistence that he try — and that you will tacitly punish him if he fails — is intellectually dishonest and rude. Either you’re in his boat, or you’re in your own. And if you’re in your own boat, then it doesn’t really matter what he does, does it? If you’re in your own boat, then you haven’t really committed to the relationship in the first place, and all this stuff about leadership in the marriage is moot — because the basic trust issue about the marriage hasn’t been resolved.

  12. It’s possible he doesn’t understand how she needs to be led. Some women enjoy being micromanaged. Other women need to have freedom in everyday matters and need to be involved in the decision-making process when it comes to anything big, even if the husband is the one who makes the final decision. I fall in the second group. It would make me very apprehensive to have no input into major decisions that impact my life. Maybe the OP’s husband thinks that she means him to make decisions for them both – without her input – when she says she wants him to lead. Or it could be something else that doesn’t fit eith her personality.

  13. holdingallthecards says:

    Some people are born leaders, others are not. Some people are lazy and childlike, others are driven and smart. You know who you are married to and what their strengths/weaknesses are, so if he is a selfish jerk in the Captain role, then don’t hand over the reigns.

    A good instruction book for being a leader is Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Inflence Others.” He points out the obvious, like you attract more bees with honey, but he also addresses the jerk style: you don’t win the bees by kicking their hive.

  14. Joe Commenter says:

    @Linanati: Advanced leadership is where you realize that being leader does not mean that you have all the answers or don’t ask for input. Good leaders surround themselves with good people and always ask for input on medium to major issues. I lead people at my day job, but I am certainly not the most intelligent person on my team. I don’t have to be. I am simply the person that drives the group to consensus and then I make a decision.

    Leadership isn’t about telling people what to do. It’s about getting others to buy into your vision and moving them towards that vision, 1 step at a time.

    These are difficult lessons to learn and do not come easy. My F/O accepts countless screwups by me, if I am man enough to own up to them and make it right. She does not ask me to be perfect.

    If the OP’s hubs is being a jerk, he is undermining his own authority. Smart people do not want to follow jerks. But the wife here also has to understand that the captain is human and humans are not perfect.

  15. @Joe Commenter
    If there were an “insightful” or “agree” button under your comment, I’d click them.

    Overall I really like the Captain/First Officer model and was super gung-ho about it after reading about it 3 months ago. I had always struggled with the “wife submit to your husband” thing that is mentioned 13 times in the Bible. When I realized that Christ submitted to God before allowing himself to be crucified, it helped me understand that submitting doesn’t mean you are LESS THAN. It’s a decision made by sheer will, to follow someone else, even though you don’t have to.
    So I was cruising along these past 3 months, thinking – this is a breeze! It works so well! Why didn’t I do this sooner?
    Now we’re coming across our first major disagreement and I am finding it SUPER hard to not put my hands on my hips and tap my foot. We constantly renovate whatever house we’re living in, and do most of it ourselves. This current house is very old and I feel husband has bitten off more than he can chew. It’s kicking his butt and sucking the life out of him. I want to hire someone to finish the job and he’ll have none of it.
    Meanwhile, his regular 40hr week job is difficult, and at home he works himself to exhaustion trying to finish this project. I’m not going to win this one.
    So yeah, submitting is freaking hard. Way more difficult than being “Miss Bossy Pants.” That was easy.

  16. Joe Commenter says:

    Shanna, home repairs are a tough one. We men take them very personally. When my wife says “oh lets just hire someone and get the job done”, she has just cut off my balls. Men are supposed to do the home repairs. What if were to tell my wife, “oh you are not being a very good mother/teacher/disciplinarian. Maybe we should hire a nanny and just get it done professionally? How would that conversation go over?

    See, the man is supposed to be the provider. Hubs is saving $$ by doing the repairs himself. Thus he is being a good provider. When you brings up the idea of hiring a pro you have just told your man that he is not being a good provider or that you are unhappy with his provider skills.

    I recommend leading by rewarding him. Praise the work that he has done so far. Acknowledge how tough it has turned out to be, Tell him how you will be so happy once it is done. Tell him what you are going to do with him in the bedroom as a reward when he gets it done. Praise him for how much money he is saving the family.

    Trust me, he fully understands that you are frustrated w/ the pace of the job. Reminding him of this is not going to help your cause. I believe that you win by reminding him how awesome things will be when he’s done. And how awesome you are going to feel when it is done. This will help you see the good side of the situation and dwell less on the bad as well.

    PS. As I’ve aged and my earning power at work has improved, I am less and less opposed to hiring pro’s to do stuff around the house. Your mate might change like this too.

  17. Shanna – tell him what you see as the overall problem – old house, he’s exhausted, you’re tiring of it yada yada yada. Tell him the possible solutions you see – keep plowing, hire out, just leave it be for a month and start up again. Then ask him what he would like you do to, to help him fix the problem.

    The key is not to inject negative emotion into the discussion and turn it into nagging / whining / complaining. You’re the First Officer making a report of a situation that needs to be addressed.

  18. @Joe Commenter
    WOW – your analogy really hit me. I never thought of it like that before. Thank you. Will do.
    Thank you, as well. I *may* have been a bit complain-y when originally broaching this subject. Must reassess approach and be more Vulcan-like while focusing on possible solutions, not the problem. Check.

  19. Joe Commenter says:

    Shanna your situation resonates w/ me, because it happened all the time to us, and I could never figure out why it bothered me so much, the hire a pro thing, until more recently. In the past I just knew that it felt wrong and would get really steamed about it.

    My wife is one of the smartest women in the world. Her method for getting me to loosen up was to focus on how I was overworked at work and at home. She framed it like “sure I know you could do the renovation and it would be great, you have done them in the past too, but I’m worried that you are burning the candle at both ends”. She told me that I was being the manly man just by excelling at my day job. Taking on home renovation would be like taking on another full time job. She said she just could not ask me to make such a sacrifice. She said that if I were worried about the cost, that we could economize in some other way. Brilliant. She gave me a get out of jail free card w/out insulting my provider cred.

    Yes AThol is spot on too. It applies to any problem situation. You must treat the issue as if it were some
    separate entity. Not your fault. Not your H’s fault. It’s just a situation that is open for calm discussion. A puzzle to be solved. IMO, this kind of problem solving skill is one of the most important factors in marital success. Personally I do it very well at work. But at home I sometimes react with emotion instead of reasoning. So I’m always trying to get better at it.

    Good luck. If you wouldn’t mind, consider posting back on the forum in a few weeks to let us know how it works out.

  20. “tell him what you see as the overall problem …Tell him the possible solutions you see …Then ask him what he would like you do to, to help him fix the problem.

    The key is not to inject negative emotion into the discussion and turn it into nagging / whining / complaining. You’re the First Officer making a report of a situation that needs to be addressed.”

    GOLDEN! this really expands on the “reasonable request in a reasonable tone” rule very nicely.

  21. In reading the responses here, it seems to me that a majority of people JUST. DON’T. GET. IT. !

    Maybe it’s because so few have any military service experience, although it would seem to me that experience in management on a business-level would yield the same experience to make the metaphor accessible I guess that too isn’t as common for everyone…

    Ever notice how – whether it’s a cruise-ship, just a sail-boat or The Starship Enterprise, The Captain will say “You have the bridge” and then walk away?

    Where do you think he goes?

    For the unenlightened, I’ll tell you: To SLEEP!

    Granted – not always. He may have other matters to handle, he may … Who knows!


    The Captain *MUST* be confident that the First Officer is capable of handling whatever may happen in his absence, and that the FO will call him IMMEDIATELY if he runs into anything he can’t handle or that he suspects is “above his pay-grade.”

    When Wifey and I first established our relationship, she agreed wholeheartedly that (a) she was most likely to make decisions based on emotion, while (b) I was most likely to coldly consider all the facts and make my decisions based on pure logic.

    Since it’s likely that in the areas that REALLY matter in life – those situations where we have the most to lose – a logical consideration will lead to a better decision, then she agreed that I would always have the deciding vote in the event of an irreconcilable disagreement.

    Oh, you’d be STUNNED at the reaction we got from other people – especially women – when this matter came up. Some even went so far as to tell her she was being “abused” and suggest she “seek help.” Thankfully she’s wiser than those poor, deluded fools…

    Anyone with the intelligence and maturity to really think about it should see that **IN MOST CASES** this is actually the only model that *CAN* really work!

    Since it’s IMPOSSIBLE that two people would ALWAYS agree on EVERYTHING, then SOMEONE must be “the decider” – we simply agreed up front that that would be me – and for what we believed were good reasons.

    The thing is, this isn’t automatically a prescription for “he tells her what to do all the time.” As has been noted here, SHE controls the keys to The Pussy Vault – so the reality is that for nearly all day-to-day business in our household, I defer to her wishes. She wants to watch the Food-network for 12 hours straight? Whatever. I’ll hook up a DVR, record the things I want to watch, and watch them when she’s otherwise occupied.

    She wants Italian for dinner and I feel like Chinese? These things don’t REALLY matter to me, and… I want to keep the pussy-vault unlocked, so… Italian it is!

    At the same time, sometimes there arise situations that I believe are just too important for me to give in to her whims. Example: Our mini-van needed A/C work. $2,000 worth! It’s got a lot of miles on it, and she felt it was time to “dump it” – that we’d be foolish to put another $2000 into it and would be better off just buying a new one. In reality, this was more about her desire for “a new van” than any real logical financial cost/benefit analysis.

    I OTOH looked at it like this: As it was, with no working A/C and the miles that are on it, we’d have been lucky to get more than $500 for the van. Add this $500 in “lost revenue” (the amount forfeited by not selling it) to the $2000 in needed repairs, and the total cost to keep our van at this point would be $2500.

    The first question is “if I saw that vehicle for sale for $2500 with the new A/C system, would I think that was a good deal?” The answer in this case is an unequivocal “ABSOLUTELY!” After all, I also know that it’s got new tires, new brakes and a new Alternator, and maybe 10k miles on new shocks and wheel-bearings, along with some other minor repairs. It still starts every time we turn the key, and is reliable enough that I don’t hesitate to jump in and take off on a 800-mile trip to visit family.

    Further, no matter WHAT happens to the van, it will still be worth $500 later – it’s not as though it can really depreciate a whole lot more at this point no matter how much longer we drive it.

    Yes, a brand-new van would be all shiny and have that “new car smell” – but it would also lose MORE than $2000 in value if I bought it and drove it around the block before selling it!! In reality, other than “looking new” and “smelling new” a new van would give us *NOTHING* that our old one does not already deliver – and it would cost us about $500 per month for 5 years PLUS the additional “comprehensive/collision” insurance that we’re not paying now!

    Ergo, if this $2000 repair extends the life of our “old” van for at least 4 months, we’ll be AHEAD of the game financially!

    My decision should be obvious! It should also be obvious that it did *NOT* make Wifey happy, and resulted in the aforementioned “vault” door being slammed shut for a couple of days…

    The next time we sat down to pay bills however, I took the opportunity to make my point again in a more subtle way… As we reached the bottom of the stack, and were figuring out how much month we had left before the end of our money, I told her “You know, I’ve been thinking about this, and if you REALLY want a new van, then I think you should have one – *BUT*, when you look at our budget you see that we really don’t have the added ~$650 a month to spare for the payments and insurance. I’m sure we could make it work out though if we thought about it…

    “For example, if we were to shift the money out of our vacation-savings, then …”

    “But then we couldn’t take a vacation!” she said

    “True… But this van seems to be really important to you, so…”

    I won’t beat the dead horse any more – she quickly told me that she too had thought about it, and though it would be nice to have something that was shiny and new-smelling, it really wasn’t worth what it would cost us – though she DID think that we needed to face the fact that we were going to need another vehicle within the next year or two… I agreed, but pointed out that it didn’t make good financial sense to buy “new” when we could typically buy a “used” one that was 1-2 years old and save as much as $1-per-MILE on the odometer vs. the cost of buying the same thing “new.”

    This called to her mind my talent for finding “as new” vehicles with 10-50k miles on them for prices ranging from 1/3 to 2/3 OFF the cost of the same thing “new”… Which reminded her of all the things we’ve been able to do with the money *NOT* wasted on “new car smell”… Which reminded her of how LUCKY she was to have a man who wasn’t hung up on such stupid, materialistic things and would rather spend his money making beautiful memories with his wife.

    We then decided to celebrate our good-fortune by “splurging” a little of the $$ we’d saved on a nice dinner, a bottle of good wine and a movie – which led to some fantastic lovemaking as well when we got home…

    Crisis averted, colossal waste of money prevented, happy wife, happy LIFE!

    For the good of all, I don’t exercise my “veto” power often or arbitrarily – but it’s CRITICAL that I continue to have it!

    Being “Captain” doesn’t mean I make *ALL* the decisions – just all of the *BIG* ones ON WHICH WE CANNOT OTHERWISE AGREE OR COMPROMISE. Though she’s often been unhappy AT THE TIME, my record of being RIGHT in hind-sight remains 100% PERFECT…

  22. @Dedicated_Dad- Gold star and beverage of your choice if we ever met for that post.

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