For me, the first sign was an increasing tendency on my husband's part to avoid conversation. Not that he had ever been exactly a chatterbox, but this was extreme even for him. Then, he began to show an increasing tendency to get irritated over relatively minor things. Sensing that something was really getting to him, I asked him if there was anything he wanted to talk about. Of course, he said that everything was fine and there was no need to talk about anything. This went on for some time and I was beginning to get genuinely worried. Then, he finally came out with those words that no woman likes to hear from her man, "Honey, we've got to talk."

When a man says, Honey we got to talk," like the mountain has decided to speak. A sense of foreboding drops like a curtain, and you just know it's a catastrophe in the making; the end of life as you know it. Fully expecting to hear that he was planning to leave me for some babe in his office, or maybe that he was a secret ax-murderer, or perhaps some sort of gay/bi-sexual child molester (or something), I put on my most cheerful, non-committal type smile and said, "Why sure, let's talk."

It all seemed to come out in a jumbled rush, and as I listened, my reactions went from surprise, to bewilderment, to shock, to real worry about his sanity, and finally, to a faint bit of disgust (my mistake, as I was to later learn). Basically, what he was telling me was that he just couldn't take the "pressure" anymore, and he wanted me to take control over our personal relationship. At first, I didn't really understand what he meant. It was when the full impact of what he was saying finally hit me that I began to have problems. Not only did he want me to take control over our home life and many of his daily routine activities, he also wanted me to take complete control of our personal and sexual relationship as well. Then he dropped the other shoe - not only did he want me to take control, he wanted me to do it in a very strict, authoritarian, and decidedly dominant manner.

My mind leaped in panic to images of snarling, black-booted, whip-wielding "Bitch Goddess" types, with sniveling slaves groveling at their feet. Just as quickly, my mind tried to reject everything I was hearing. All I could think of was "Why me?" "What did I ever do to deserve this?" I wondered how I could have possibly known and loved this man for so long, and never have had a hint of any of this. Struggling to maintain my composure, I said that this was all pretty new to me (understatement of the year), and that I needed some time to sort things out and think about it. I spent the next week or so at the library in the abnormal psychology section, as well as in bookstores which carried periodicals and books on this subject. I was trying to get as much information as I could before I made a decision to have him committed.

What I did find was a lot more than I expected, and that what he was going through was not at all unique. It seems that in today's society, men are being placed under more and more stress in the workplace and at home. It's not enough that a man get a good paying job, he must worry constantly about keeping it in the face of ever-increasing competition and the threat of downsizing. Oddly enough, this is most prevalent in the so-called "white collar" professions where a man usually has a fair degree of authority and control at work. What happens is that his requirement to make constant, high-level decisions is beginning to burn him out. After a full day of this, it's off to home where a new and different set of problems is waiting. Today's society also places a heavy burden of outdated "macho" requirements on a man, and any hint that he is actually not a strong, silent, super-stud-type is going to be his most closely guarded secret. This is why I suspected nothing until the burden became so great that he either had to tell me or blow a fuse.

Armed with my new knowledge and intuitive female understanding, I was confident that I could handle this new situation with my usual effortless aplomb. I began to have doubts when we talked further, and more "details" began to come to light. Of particular concern to him was that I needed to take absolute control over our sex life, as this was a major source of stress for him. Like most women, I had always assumed that men had absolutely no problems with sex; that for them, it was mostly a "wham-bam, thank you ma'am" type of thing. But for the already stressed man, he now worries whether or not he is going to even be able to get an erection at any given time. Because he has been led to believe that he must live up to society's "macho" requirements for men, he feels as if it is vital that he be able to perform as that strong, silent, super-stud. He worries whether he is actually pleasing his partner, or whether she is just lying there, faking it.

To any woman who has never been through any of this, it may sound like a bunch of whining over some really petty problems. But to the man caught up in it, it's a potentially serious, disabling condition that if left unresolved, can lead to major problems within a relationship. Even long-married couples have been known to split up because these matters were not brought to light and dealt with. You would probably never guess it by just looking around at others, or even your own friends, but this issue is becoming more and more common in today's society. I can practically guarantee that if you know 15 to 20 couples (married or not), then at least one of them has gone, or is going through this to one degree or another.

Even if there has never been a hint of a problem, women need to be aware of the possibility that this may affect them sometime in the future. To avoid being hit in the face "cold turkey" like I was, every woman should have some plan as to how she will deal with this should it arise. This is why I'm grateful that XXXXXXXXXX has agreed to publish this article. Somehow I don't think that Cosmo or Redbook would find it quite their cup of tea. Since every case will be different, I can't possibly tell any other woman exactly how to handle this should the situation arise. I can only say that whatever you do - DON'T react like the cat just dragged something in (my original mistake). No matter how strange it sounds, how weird, or even "kinky" it seems, try not to panic. Try to keep an open mind and avoid snap decisions. If your relationship, whether marriage or something else, is worth saving - then listen to what he's trying to tell you. Remember, he's been keeping this bottled up inside for a long time, but because of the nature of the subject, he's been ashamed to tell how he feels. So, the pressures have been building and building. You might notice that he may start drinking more, or if he didn't drink before - may start. He may have begun staying out late or avoiding the home scene. His frustrations can take any number of forms, and if you ask if anything's wrong, he'll usually deny it. But these things don't go away by themselves, and he's eventually going to have to break down and spill it.

This is going to be very difficult for him and will take it's own emotional and psychological toll. Don't be surprised if he even cries; it's that painful for him. As women, we all like to think that we can pretty much handle whatever comes along, but when (or if) this happens - you're going to have to make a decision. "Do I care enough to deal with this, or is it simply not worth the trouble?" Only you can answer that question, but I should now mention that from a purely unbiased point of view, there are some real benefits in it for you. Most of his needs for you to be in control are fairly easily dealt with. After all, it its most basic form, what we're looking at is a symbolic return to "carefree", semi-childhood. Stress has gotten the better of him as an adult, and now he's looking for an authoritative "mommy" figure to tell him what to do and take all those frustrating decisions away. But, like a semi-child, he also needs firm limits set on him, and real enforcement of those limits. The degree of control needed will vary widely from situation to situation. Some men may require only a slightly heightened sense of awareness that the woman has taken charge, while others might require that their lives actually be "micro-managed" in every detail.

Although they may overlap somewhat, there are three major areas that you're going to have to deal with. One is making the rules for his day-to-day routine. This could include how much and to what extent he will have to involve himself with the housework (finally!), where he goes, what time he has to be home, and things of that nature. Right up front, I can tell you the housework aspect alone makes all of this definitely worthwhile. Another area is sex. You'll probably find that he now has a greater need to please and satisfy you than previously. All of a sudden, he's eager to do the things that you may have been trying for years to get him to do. Go figure. All I can say is make the most of it and enjoy. You might also notice a need on his part to limit his own sexual activity or pleasure. This appears to be some sort of atonement or sacrifice that he feels he has to offer up to you. Whether or not you overlap any of the typical "BD/SM" elements from the discipline area into your sex life will be up to your own feelings, his needs, and your willingness to accommodate.

The third area is discipline; the area where the lines blur between needed control and outright BD/SM, and this is where most women panic. After all, how do you discipline a grown man? A lot of women find themselves unable to carry their new role this far, and because he is now largely unable to function without discipline, the relationship is bound to suffer. At first and for most, discipline for rule breaking, disrespect, or for most any reason usually takes the form of a real, old-fashioned, bare-bottomed spanking or whipping. Why bare-bottomed? By requiring this, he has to let down his defenses along with his pants. Subconsciously, he actually becomes that naughty child I was speaking of. But, whatever form your discipline takes, it is vitally important that it be real and that it provide enough genuine discomfort to actually make him want to avoid it in the future. This is the only way he's going to be able to make permanent changes in his behavior and attitude. If he could have done this by himself, he would have and spared himself the embarrassment of having to tell you. And one thing more - because you're going to have to make discipline hurt enough for him to want to avoid it in the future, he's going to want to avoid it while it's happening. Let's face it. Most men are simply igger and physically stronger than most women. Should he just decide that he doesn't want to accept your discipline, he could easily end it if he isn't physically prevented from doing so. He must NOT be able to do this. For discipline to work as it should, he must know with absolute certainty that he's not going to get out of it, and that it's going to hurt. Realistically, the only way to guarantee this is to put him in some sort of bondage for discipline. This is precisely why many women have such a problem with discipline, they feel it's just too "kinky", or even sick.

From personal experience (yes - I've been through all of this), I know it's hard, especially at first. It goes against all your upbringing and education, not to mention your previous expectations of "togetherness" with this particular man. But as I've said, if you have decided that your relationship is worth it, you're just going to have to learn a few new tricks. At first, try to keep focused on the desired results of discipline, not on the discipline process itself. Remember, you're now the authority figure and he's the naughty child. Most women as mothers usually don't have any problems disciplining a naughty child to correct his behavior. You just have to get used to the idea that this particular naughty child may be bigger and older than you are. You can be as creative as you want in this area. After a year of plain old spankings, I got bored and decided to have some fun of my own. I began to gradually experiment with other forms of punishment particularly "suited" to the male anatomy. I'm not going to go into detail, but the use of clamps, weights, and variably severe electric shock are now a part of my standard discipline repertoire in addition to plain old spankings. Do I feel that this is "sick?" I'll admit that at first, I felt a little guilty when I found out that I could actually enjoy providing the discipline that he now needed. You just have to keep in mind that you're not going to be inflicting unbearable agony, just a carefully measured amount of moderately severe discomfort. But again, I stress that whatever your form of discipline, it must be real and he must know that you are serious about it.

When you get right down to it, it's not really different than training a puppy. You just have to set the rules, see that he stays within them, and discipline him when he strays. You'll probably find that he (like kids and puppies) will occasionally test you to see if you're serious. Believe me, he's hoping that you are, and that you're not going to let him get away with anything. If you live in one of the larger cities, you may be able to contact one of the "professional" dominant women who advertise in various publications and personals ads. They are a good source for tips and strategies on the sex and discipline areas, and how to keep things running smoothly. Larger cities also have clubs and associations where dominant women and their submissive "other-halves" go to meet and exchange ideas. Whether or not you ever get into this far enough to be interested in joining one is up to you. Remember though, what works for someone else may not work for you; it takes time to find your own "style" and the routine that best fits the needs of your particular situation.

If you do manage to get through the first few months, things will get easier for the both of you. You'll begin to become familiar with your routines, and if you're like most women, you'll start to realize that there is actually a lot more to like than not about your new role. Believe it or not, some women would give anything to be in your shoes. The old saying that "If life hands you a lemon, just make lemonade", was never more true than in this situation. Just look at the real benefits to you: 1) He is going to be far more attentive to you, your needs, and your wants. 2) You can/will get much more help with the housework (yes, yes, yes). Just assign him the specific jobs or tasks you want him to take over, give him instructions and directions on how you want them done, and how often. Hold him strictly accountable for quality and timeliness. 3) Because you do now set the rules for sex, you get it how you want, when you want, and for as long as you want. Never let his own satisfaction come before you have been completely satisfied. Actually, when or how often he will be allowed anything for himself is going to be up to you and your policy. 4)All women have at least a small touch of the "bitch" inside them. This is the perfect opportunity to "indulge", and yet have positive results. 5) You get to mold him just the way you always dreamed of doing (don't deny it); a chance that most other women will probably never have with their men.

So, if this situation should ever come up in your life, don't think of it as a crisis. Try to look on it as an opportunity to not only improve both of your lives, but as a way to strengthen your personal relationship as well. Last, but not least; even if he never brings it up, maybe you should be the one to break the ice and try to get him interested. You never can tell. In any case, I say "Try it - you just might like it."