Identifying a transgression poses an implied demand for her to change it.
Readership: All; Men; Married Men;
Theme: Feminine Submission
Author’s Note: This post was inspired by an email exchange with Red Pill Apostle.
Length: 2,800 words
Reading Time: 15 minutes
In its simplest form, setting boundaries entails being honest in evaluating the terms of a relationship. This honesty would require one to know one’s self and one’s Christian identity well — including one’s desires, wants, needs, values, and whether or not certain things are deal-breakers. Boundaries are enforced when deal-breakers are identified and appropriate measures are taken. This honesty allows both parties to assess the nature, strength, and value of the relationship (actual or potential), and to keep the relationship running in good order, no matter how close or distant the relationship it might be.
Depending on other contextual factors, setting boundaries can take the form of a demand or a negotiation, depending on how important the issue is. In this post, we’ll review how demands can be made in different ways, and how these can contribute towards enforcing boundaries and correcting bad behaviors.
Types of Demands
Making demands is a topic that we’ve discussed at length in many previous posts.
- Σ Frame (Jack): Conflict Structure and Marital Satisfaction (2017-11-15)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Disciplined, Submissive, Happy Wives (2018-02-15)
- Σ Frame (Jack): How To Get A Better Response From Your Girl (2018-2-27)
- Σ Frame (Jack): The Challenge of Demanding Excellence (2018-3-11)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Don’t Admit Her Argument (2018-3-19)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Man as the Middle Manager (2018-5-21)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Models of Courtship and Marital Structure (2018-10-3)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Women Rely on a Man’s Frame for Redemptive Introspection (2021-6-28)
- Σ Frame (Red Pill Apostle): Lessons on Life and Marriage from Matthew 10 (2021-9-20)
- Σ Frame (Thedeti): What can a husband do in response to a rebellious wife? (2022-1-31)
Since I started learning about this dynamic, I’ve come to see that a husband can make demands in a number of ways, some verbal, and others nonverbal. Here’s a summary. I’ve introduced descriptive names for each kind of demand to foster an efficient discussion.
Making Demands: In general, making demands is essentially when a man takes a directive leadership role that enforces or invites her submission and works towards establishing a Headship structure.
Direct Demands: The man directly asks the woman to change her behavior, or to do things differently. For example, “Would you wear your black dress instead of the red one?”
Implied Demands: Pointing out her failures, sins, and transgressions carries an implied demand for her to change her ways, or confess and repent. Women who don’t believe they have the responsibility or the agency to change will resort to labeling this as “judgment”: “Don’t judge me!”
Intuitive Demands: When the man states his plans or expectations (i.e. for the marriage), then he is inviting her to step into his frame and cooperate with his plans. To do this effectively, the man needs to first make these plans/expectations crystal clear. Some examples include these lists of expectations from Derek, Jack, and Red Pill Apostle.
Circumstantial Demands: The man changes his schedule or behavior (e.g. the man gets into shape, or adopts a new habit), then she is forced to respond somehow.
Contextual Demands: The man is engaged in an activity in which his intentions are expressed through the context. It is up to the other to respond by cooperating with him or supporting him in the activity. For example, if you throw a ball at her, then it is naturally expected that she will catch it. Depending on the context, this may devolve into a delineation of his and her responsibilities. For example, if someone leaves a dirty cup in the sink, who will be expected to wash it?
Teaching: By its very nature, teaching imposes a fundamental demand for improvement. A man should make a regular habit of giving his wife (and daughters) Moral Guidance Based Feedback. When men take the effort to make their wives aware of how her false notions and unrealistic expectations (i.e. her Covert Contracts) obviates her exercise of agency and reduces her to the moral equivalent of a child, then a multitude of blessings will become manifest.
Name it to Change it!
There exists an interesting metaphysical phenomenon; in that when any certain behavior is called out, it acts as an ipso facto forced confession and an implied demand to change that behavior. In biblical language, this is described as “shining the light of truth into the darkness” (Matthew 5:13-16; John 1:4-5; 2 Corinthians 4:2-4; 1 John 2:9-11). This works not only with wives in marriage, but also for anyone in any kind of context.
I’ll offer three case studies to illustrate how this works.
Case Study 1 — A Workplace Environment Shifts to a SMP and Back
EarlThomas786 told this story at Spawny’s Space a while back.
“So she called out her female colleagues for dressing to entice and they didn’t like it. The hypocrisy is so thick, you need a knife to cut it. Women love to dress to entice but hate being called on it. In the end, it is not very businesslike.’
It pops the bubble of the narrative “women good, men bad.” And “blame the men for everything bad that happens to a woman.” Women have seemed to lose all common sense and decency with feminism. Men are going to look at cleavage and tight fitting clothes and most women already know this… They aren’t fooling anybody.
And they always retort with “the 50s called, they want their narrative back.” Perhaps if somebody put into their brains that dressing modestly shows off their dignity and ’empowers’ them it might change minds.”
This scenario is interesting because it is loaded with conflicting demands. By dressing to entice, the scantily dressed colleagues are making circumstantial demands for both the men’s attention and for other women to compete with them for that attention. They’re also making a contextual demand to turn the workplace into a SMP. The conscientious coworker who called them out is making a direct demand for them to tone it down, an implied demand for them to be more professional, and an intuitive demand for them to focus on their work and keep order and decorum in the workplace environment.
The hoettes threw a hyssy fit because they could not have their fun after being exposed, and then they unwillingly complied.
Note that in spite of all the forces working in the h0es’ favor — men’s lust, women’s natural desire for attention, the default prerogatives of hypergamy, and the conflicting demands — calling out the behavior caused the behavior to change.
Case Study 2 — The Narcissistic Mother-in-Law
Eutrapelia2001 wrote about the woes of having a narcissistic mother-in-law.
“For the past 11 years, even longer if you count the last part of dating where I started to see these issues, my wife has been embroiled in a two-front war with the fronts never occurring at the same time. She has a certifiable NPD mother with all the typical consequences of that situation, i.e. golden children, scapegoats, and the infamous flying monkeys. My wife has often been the scapegoat except when my wife is feeding her mother drama about our marriage.”
First of all, it helps that Eutrapelia recognizes that he’s dealing with a family (or “generational”) curse — that is, it’s a destructive dynamic that has a life of its own, it spreads from family member to family member, and gets repeated from generation to generation. Here, certain expressions of love are withheld (by scapegoating in this case), causing other family members to suffer, and then a reprieve of the suffering is used as a ransom or a method of control. IOW, it plays off of emotional needs (through a carefully controlled balance of drama and scapegoating) and ego affirmation (through conditional acceptance).
“This dynamic starts off with a fight with her mom or one of her sisters. The family turns against her and she turns to me for guidance and comfort. I help her deal with the situation in a healthy fashion, working to establish healthy boundaries without cutting ties, but being willing to do so, if necessary. This setting of boundaries then becomes a source of family drama. However, after a time, my wife’s mother will stop the scapegoating and slowly bring my wife back into her circle of influence. The price of admission, so to speak, is providing the mother with narcissistic supply by recounting examples of me putting my foot down on something (like where our daughter is to go for First Communion classes) and how dictatorial I am, etc.”
It seems like Eutrapelia has come to understand how this destructive dynamic works. That’s good! The identification of the problem is the first step towards correcting it.
“This dynamic goes back and forth where my wife comes to me for comfort with family drama and then throws me under the bus with family and friends without a second thought, looking for comfort for her own ego and need to control. Then it is the “boundaries” that I attempted to have her set for her family are set against me under the advice of her mother. What makes this effective against my wife is that her mother never gave her approval or much love growing up. She is always seeking after it, even in adulthood. It doesn’t matter if she has to create fissures and destroy the reputation of her husband in a way that only a woman can. I would also add that the mother-in-law is only too happy to split her daughter away from me in subtle and explicit ways because the MIL has come to realize that I have her number and won’t allow her to manipulate me.”
As you can see, the locus of the MILs power is in calling out the various behaviors of the other family members, labeling them as either a golden child or a scapegoat. She thereby changes and controls the faux truth narrative running in the family at any given time. All she has to do is affix blame to one person or another to create a twisted version of the personalities and motives involved, all in her favor of course.
“It took me a while to wake up to this dynamic for a couple of reasons. First, no men in my past would talk about these kinds of dynamics or didn’t understand them themselves. Second, I had never come across this level of skilled and deliberate manipulation. In a twisted fashion, I am awed by their prowess and have learned in many ways. Not being a naturally manipulative person, it has been a difficult path to understand this mentality and then learn to navigate it.”
In writing these words, Eutrapelia is calling out his MIL’s bad behavior. But he needs to call it out to his MIL’s face for it to do him any good. Nevertheless, the fact that he is talking about it with other men is helping him gather his thoughts and words together, and this will gird him up for such a confrontation.
Next, he needs to make his wife understand this dynamic from an objective viewpoint, such that she will stand on his side when that confrontation occurs.* He needs to explain to her what he sees happening, just like he described here. Name it to change it! It will help if he does this at a time when she is in a better mood, and he will need patience and perseverance too, as it may require him to talk to her about it many times before her eyes can be opened, and even then it might take a while to see results. But when she begins to recognize the pattern, then she’ll be able to view the situation more objectively, and see how unhealthy and damaging it is. And don’t neglect prayer!
I haven’t heard anything from Eutrapelia since this event, so I’m hoping that he’s made some progress since then.
For those readers who are facing troublesome situations with their MIL, Dalrock wrote about how to deal with a troublesome MIL in two classic posts. Reading these are a must for men in this situation.
- Dalrock: A wife’s best defense against a troublesome mother-in-law. (2013-3-13)
- Dalrock: Revisiting the question of a troublesome mother-in-law. (2015-5-29)
* Dalrock’s posts make it clear that it is of crucial importance to get the wife on your side.
Case Study 3 — Bad Influences
I’ve mentioned this situation that my wife had with her mother a couple times before, most recently in Riding the Raging Rivulet (2022-10-13), but here I’ll describe it in terms of making demands and setting boundaries.
My wife and her mother used to have this emotional enmeshment. (Not sure if that’s the correct psychological term, but it is a good descriptor.) My MIL had this long running habit of controlling my wife’s behaviors and general opinions of things by playing the blame-shame-game. My wife kept coming back for more because she wanted the attention. IOW, it made her feel loved. They were like this ever since my wife was a child.
I discovered this problem like this. After we married, my wife talked to her mother on the phone every day, sometimes for more than an hour. At first, I didn’t think this in itself was a problem, but every time she talked with her mother, she was angry and distraught for several hours afterwards. I assumed my wife was upset about something they discussed, so it took me a while to figure out that her mother was the cause of her distemper. It only became clear to me when I saw that practically every time she talked with her mother, she was gritchy for the rest of the day. Once I identified her mother as the cause of her negativity, and not the content of their talk, I pointed this out to her. “Every time you talk to your mother, you’re in a bad mood for the rest of the day!” Of course, this made her angry and she said I was hating on her mother and so on. But I continued to point this out every time it happened. After a few months, she started to believe me.
Name it to change it!
Eventually, a day came when I pointed this out to her and she asked me what she should do about this. (I waited until this time because it was important to her for me to let her see this dynamic for herself and desire a change, rather than for me to try to force a change of her behavior. IOW, I had to be patient and let her grow at her own pace.) So I told her, “Limit your phone calls with your mother to 10 minutes, once a week. If she calls more frequently, then don’t answer, or else, answer and tell her you’re too busy to talk right now and hang up.” She didn’t want to do this at first, but as the emotional turmoil continued to drag her down (amplified by my bringing her attention to it), she became more willing to follow my advice, and she made some effort to spend less time on the phone with her mother. As a result, she spent more time talking with me, and she was in a better mood too. Whenever I pointed out this change to her, she became more convinced that I was right about her and her mother. Not long after this, she really stuck to the “rule” of “10 minutes, once a week”. Within a couple months, she was practically a different person! Eventually, a day came when she realized she was much happier than she was before and she thanked me for this.
Name it to change it!
Now we’re on to the next thing — being thankful for the small blessings in life. I’m handling this in pretty much the same way. I started off by explaining to her how happiness is tied to thankfulness. Then after that, every time she complains or is stubbornly negative, I point out how the situation could be viewed as a “glass half full”. She is slowly catching on.
In summary, I urged my wife to draw boundaries for herself, rather than me setting boundaries for her. It took time and patience, but now she’s able to do this for herself.
To reiterate what I’ve said earlier, if men would call out bad habits and behaviors, and explain to their wives how the bad dynamic works, and how she can get control of the situation by drawing boundaries, then you’ll be giving her a clear choice to do the right thing. (So many people continue doing the wrong thing or let bad habits continue because they’re not sure what the right thing would be, or because they don’t have the courage to face the situation, or because they don’t know how to face the situation.)
Be that objective voice in her life, calling out directions for her to find her way out of the woods. Again, it takes patience.
Name it to change it!
- Σ Frame (Scott): We Marry Our Own Cross (2020-5-18)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Women Rely on a Man’s Frame for Redemptive Introspection (2021-6-28)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Elements of Spiritual Maturity (2021-9-15)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Headship Authority Takes Work (2022-8-12)