Talismans, Prayers, and Self Help Books

My wife bought "The Surrendered Wife" a couple of weeks back. I don't have any expectation that she'll actually read it. I think it was more an impulse buy than something she'll take anything from. But it got me to thinking about the concept;How surrender and submission transform people and those around them.

Looking at review after review I saw a few things:
1. Women taking parts of the book and improving their lives and relationships.
2. Women bashing the book without trying.
3. Women trying the book, seeing success, and then panning the whole thing as stupid anyway.

Here's what it comes down to; Control is an illusion. You only have control over you. If you assume you have control over anyone else you are lying to yourself. Surrender and submission is an extension of that control illusion. The wife submits to the husband in a manner that makes him solely responsible for their wellbeing. He assumes that he has control but really doesn't have any more control than he did the day before the wife submitted. Not wanting to be solely responsible, or potentially overloaded with the amount of decisions, he learns how to delegate responsibilities back to the wife and the relationship balances.

Could any two reasonable people have a logical discussion and just divvy up responsibilities based on their skill set and time availability? Sure! On Vulcan! Seriously? Where have you ever seen two reasonable people have a conversation like this and come out as equals? In some feminist dream diary? It doesn't happen. It can't happen. There will always be competing ideals, always be some level of conflict, always be some argument that can't be resolved.

So what submission does is avoid the main areas of conflict and come around the rear in a sense. The woman wants control, the man wants control. But control is just a means to an end. The reality is they both want to be involved, want to feel needed, and want to feel like they're progressing in some self deterministic way. Submission brings that for some couples because suddenly one starts to rely on the other more heavily, the other partner starts to feel trusted and yet overwhelmed. Trust goes both ways and so the second partner decides that it wouldn't be such a big deal to trust their partner with some of the burden and voila EQUALITY (maybe).

Unless you hear the feminists start at it. Wow!

Of course there are some caveats. Not all men will reach the same conclusion. Some men will simply see the power and grab for more. The thing to understand is, that kind of relationship is abusive, and any man going in that direction is signaling his spouse that it's not a healthy relationship and it's time for it to end.

Other men will take what they were given and do nothing with it, no power grab but no sharing either. Maybe they'll be awesome and god like and wield their power in amazing ways that allow the woman to pursue other interests. Or maybe they just struggle with the weight of it all and the relationship is just as miserable. I haven't seen many of those in discussions, but I would expect that they exist.

Then you have the self described feminists that want to prove a point. So they try the experiment for awhile. They submit and the significant other laps it up like the dog that they are. Things go great for a couple of weeks until the woman figures out that the man is perfectly content with the arrangement. This of course just proves what idiots men are, weak and child-like! Not only does she call the experiment off but the relationship too. Being single's great anyway WOO HOO!

At the end of the day submission is just another tool in an arsenal of tools. All the tools have their time and place. The key is learning which tool to use when. The funny thing is that I've met some "submissive" wives in the traditional sense. Muslim wives from arranged marriages. They all aren't the little servants they're made out to be.

One story comes to mind about eating dinner with a friend and his wife. On the surface its a very traditional marriage. She stays home with their daughter, cooks, cleans, etc.,. He has the final say in all things. But then we sit down and we look at the photo album and he starts bragging about how she loved him at first sight and things along that line. She just giggles and pokes and pinches him. That was her demure way of saying "stop lying". It was obvious to anyone without being spoken. It didn't need emphasis. At the same time it was subtle enough that it didn't cause my friend any grief and me and discomfort. I teased him a little and then we continued talking about how beautiful the wedding was and onto other topics. It made me understand what we're really lacking is any subtlety.

One of the things that "The Submissive Wife" advocates is for a woman to say "Ouch" when the husband says something hurtful. Not to go into the details of that hurt, why it hurt, how he could do better, or any of the myriad conversations that would usually come up. Just a simple "ouch" and then he'll figure it out.

Why would it work? Because it has subtlety and nuance. It gives a simple signal to a man just like if he stepped on someone's toes. Simple signals are responded to with simple actions. If a pot is hot don't touch the pot. If you do something to someone and they say "ouch" apologize and don't do that again.

Instead, in our modern "equal" world, the woman would detail exactly what the man had done wrong, explaining ad infinitum how to avoid and rectify the situation. It should be perfectly clear to the man from that point on what he should do. Except that it takes all thought and empathy away from the man. He doesn't have to think about what he did wrong. He doesn't have to put himself in someone else's shoes to understand how it felt, he just has to listen to the set of instructions. Thus he'll continue to do stupid things without thinking and keep collecting piles of sometimes conflicting instructions forever.

Imagine the scenario with my Muslim friends but with a Christian or Atheist progressive couple. He brags about love at first sight and then she in her "keeping it real" modern vernacular begins to talk about what an idiot he was when they first met, how she never thought they'd actually get married and how he really screwed up the marriage proposal. Everyone laughs, it's all good, and a little piece of that man dies inside. No subtlety.

Our lives are filled with that same lack of regard. So submission is really about subtlety as well. It's about relinquishing control to gain control and doing it in a manner that everyone understands but no one has to detail out specifically. It's an interesting thought. I'd like to see the experiments and double blind studies though. I'll be first in line.