I hadn't been at my exploration of power-based relationships very long when the book, Surrendered Wife, by Laura Doyle, burst onto the scene. While Doyle declares that she does not advocate that women be "submissive," but rather that they surrender the urge to control OTHERS, the book gained a huge following -- especially among devotees of the Domestic Discipline model.
I never read the book, so this is neither review nor critique, and I have no deep opinion about what Doyle espouses, but others do (Leanne Bell):
... includes keeping your mouth shut about everything. Everything. If it occurs to you, don't say it. If it's a belief you have, stifle it. If it contradicts your husband's ideas or actions in any conceivable way, just repeat "surrender" like a mantra and smile. Whatever you do, don't ever call him on a mistake he's making, don't ever offer your opinion about a possible better way to do things. Don't gasp in the car when he's about to rear end a pick up truck, don't get angry when he fails to do something he expressly said he would do, and don't ever question how he relates to your children. Don't let him think for even one minute that he's a human being like you are. If you want a happy marriage, just shut the hell up and let him do whatever he wants with your life.
Some, who take exception to the whole Surrendered Wife way of doing things, have likened it to "slavery." And that is the only reason that I am talking about it here -- because "slavery" is what I have attempted to do and how I've tried to live for these last 8+ years. Along the way, there have been skeptics who have challenged me -- asking if it wasn't my desire to escape adult responsibilities that made the idea of slavery so attractive. Of course, my response to that sort of inquiry was to deny and assert that the questioner simply didn't understand.
But I think I was kidding myself on that score. One of the most important bits of vocabulary within an adult relationship is "no." Partners, in a healthy relationship, ought to be able to say "no" to one another, and have that be a valued and respected part of their ongoing dialog. To give up that "no" is to give up the right and the responsibility to use all of one's best faculties and critical judgment in service to the relationship.
From this vantage point, I can see that there were many places along the way, where I had the right to say, "No." More importantly, I had some real responsibility to say it. Instead, I was quiet, acquiescent -- maybe submissive, but surely foolish. My silence when I perceived faulty judgment or immature behavior or just plain nastiness, fed into an increasingly narrow view that caused the man I loved to look at the world through an internal lens that only focused on himself.
Sometimes we question whether the trait of dominance leads to or maybe extends from selfishness. I don't know the answer to that, but I do believe, based on what I've seen and experienced, that we can create a form of self-centeredness that is harmful to the partner and to our relationships.
I knew, absolutely, when I was raising my children, that it was important that they not grow to believe that the world revolved around them. I understood that helping them to develop some frustration tolerance was a good thing. I was convinced that they needed to grow in competence and self-reliance, and I worked hard to give them skills and the freedom to practice that . I never wanted them to be dependent on me beyond what was necessary for their years. Sadly, when it came to "slaving," I forgot all of that and lived and served in a way that made my "master" less than he was when I came to him.
Whatever happens, for me and for us, if there is an "us" over time, that will need to change. If I am given the opportunity to walk this path further with him, then I will do better. I will be more responsible. I will refuse the urges to behave like a child, and love like a woman.