In traditional marriages, the man is seen as the leader of the relationship. Even though times have changed, the idea of a marital relationship with a man at the front of it is still relevant for many of us. We view men as the breadwinners and the family’s decision-makers, while women are often considered as caretakers and homemakers. This traditional and patriarchal notion seems to date back to the beginning of time and across multiple cultures. Indeed, the idea that a female could lead a family might seem silly or offensive to some of the more fragile men out there, who may see it as an attack on their masculinity or the long-standing traditions of male-led marriages. However, a female led marriage is not an attack on manhood, nor is it some insulting deviation from generations of traditions. It is simply a new approach to marriage that views the roles of the man and the woman more flexibly and less rigidly.
A New Paradigm
Female led marriage overturns the old paradigm of man-as-breadwinner. Many men might feel threatened by a woman who earns the family’s income or feel awkward acting as a parent and homemaker. However, this relationship model works strikingly well in the right circumstances. For a female led marriage to work, both marital partners must agree that the traditional marriage model is not to their liking. Instead, the woman takes on the traditionally ‘masculine’ role of working and making decisions while the man takes on the traditionally feminine role of keeping house, parenting, cooking, etc.
Female Led Marriage: Lifestyle or Kink?
Many people view female led marriage as being all about power inversion, almost as if it were a kink built on the power structure. Some people talk about ‘training’ their man into a completely submissive role using a system of punishments and rewards. These relationships view men as submissive in terms of income and decisions and terms of sex and independence. Men might be given a list of behaviors to adhere to, or a checklist of household tasks to accomplish. Some couples even carry the dominance to sex, where the man is controlled by the woman for her pleasure. This kind of relationship is firmly in the kink camp. This is an extreme form of female led marriage that will probably not find its way into the mainstream anytime soon. Most female led relationships will not be built to the extreme level we’ve just described, but if this model works for you and your partner, go for it.
The Continuum of Female Led Marriage
Female led marriage can be described on a continuum. On the one end, we have the extreme power dynamics described above: the woman is entirely dominant in the relationship, and the man exists to serve her needs in terms of domestic labor, social expectations, and sex. On the other end, we have a relationship where the partners are more or less equal, but the woman works while the man does the housework.
Like in any relationship, the keys to success in a female led marriage are communication and boundaries. The woman and the man should clearly understand what their roles are and what the boundaries are. Some men might not mind keeping the house clean, taking the kids to school, and cooking dinner, but draw the line at sexual control. Others might want to have more say in financial decisions, even if the woman is the primary breadwinner. These specific boundaries and limits should be discussed by the partners and respected by both once established. While these relationships exist along a continuum, we can divide them into four specific categories based on power differentials.
In a low-control, female led marriage, there is a relatively low power differential. The husband and wife are involved in decision-making, with the wife taking the lead in certain situations. The woman might be the primary breadwinner of the family. She may have a powerful or prestigious job, like a surgeon, a business executive, or an attorney. Her work responsibilities may consume a fair amount of her time and energy, which is where the male partner comes in. He might cook, clean, keep the house orderly, and do the most parenting if the couple has children. The woman might control household finances, keeping track of bills, payments, spending money, and so on; she may also drive many “steering” decisions for the family, such as where to live and how to invest money, although she will get the opinion of her partner. While the woman has control in this marriage and is the breadwinner, the couple is more or less on equal terms. The man gets a voice in family decisions, and the couple collaborates to decide on things like where to go for a vacation or major purchases. While the woman is dominant and earning most (maybe all) of the money, the man is not subjugated or controlled as much as embracing a non-traditional gender role. This is likely the most common kind of female led relationship, especially as newer generations who are more comfortable with perforated gender boundaries enter adulthood and start families.
Moderate-control female led marriage involves a more dominant role for the woman. She may make more unilateral decisions, especially significant decisions regarding money and lifestyle. The woman in this relationship will likely delegate specific tasks to the man. She may ask him to clean the garage today or have him manage upkeep on the family’s vehicles. These expectations, or areas of freedom, will be clearly defined. However, she is the definitive decision-maker. She may get her partner’s opinion, but at the end of the day, she is the authority figure in the household, and what she says goes. There is discussion, perhaps opinion gathering, but the woman is the decision-maker, and her word is final. She has assumed what many might consider a classic “masculine” role: she is the leader, breadwinner, and decision-maker of the family, and her husband is right behind her as her support system. The couple’s sex life may or may not revolve around the woman at this point
In a defined-control relationship, there is a clear pattern of female dominance. The woman is not only the breadwinner and the leader but very clearly the head of the household. She makes all important decisions, coordinates what happens in the household, and issues clear imperatives to the man. She decides what happens and relies on the man to keep the household running in terms of cooking, chores, and raising children. The man is subservient to the woman in almost every way. However, he does retain some degree of independence — this is part of the boundaries that the couple will discuss and set in their marriage. Sexually, the defined-control, female led marriage revolves around the needs of the woman. Her kinks, interests, and needs will come first in the bedroom (or the kitchen, or wherever she wants.) The couple may begin to enter BDSM territory. The woman, who has the dominant role, will take sexual control of the couple. This may involve blindfolding the man, restraining him, or otherwise taking control of him. The man, in the submissive role, does as the woman commands. BDSM is not a necessary part of a female led marriage — the couple could continue to engage in traditional male-centered and male-controlled sex — but BDSM play engages in the same kind of role-reversal, or power play, as a defined-control, female led marriage.
A complete-control relationship is one in which the couple is wholly immersed in female domination. The woman controls everything: how the man spends his time, where the money goes, how the household operates, etc. The man is, effectively, a servant to the woman. He will dress as she likes, act as instructed, and do as he is told. He will cater to her whims and act with unquestioning obedience. This level of complete control extends into the bedroom, where the woman gets to decide what kind of sex is had, where, and when. It may even extend to control play (NSFW), where the woman controls when the man is allowed to reach climax. This kind of relationship may involve a reward/punishment dynamic, where the man is given rewards for submission and punishments if he crosses the line. Like any relationship, as long as the couple has clear boundaries and both parties fully consent to what is happening, these relationships can be quite successful.
Why Choose a Female Led Marriage?
So, why would you choose a female led marriage over? The answers vary from couple to couple, but they distill down to one point: comfort.
In our modern world, many women are comfortable leading. This comfort may not stop when they leave the boardroom or the operating room. A strong, capable woman may like to express her strength and competency by leading in a relationship. This, intuitively, makes sense: if you are flying a 777 or performing heart surgery by day, you may not be the kind of person who likes taking on a submissive role by night. At the same time, many men are not equipped to lead just because they happen to have external genitals. The presence or absence of a penis doesn’t necessarily translate to leadership ability. Many men thrive when given a clear set of expectations by women.
Many men enjoy female led marriage because they do not fit the traditional, hyper-masculine role expected by society. Indeed, there has been more discussion of toxic masculinity in the zeitgeist of the 21st century. Many men are eschewing the silly gender norms of the past in favor of lifestyles that work better for them. Not every man is a born leader, and not every man wants to deal with the hassles of running a family. Happily, many women are quite good at running families and being leaders. This mutual understanding that “traditional” roles are silly makes the female led marriage viable.
Some couples like a female led marriage because it removes any perceived power struggle. When a couple has an open discussion and sets clear roles and boundaries, it effectively sets the expectations of the relationship upfront. This is the secret to any successful marriage, but especially a female led marriage: the couple must be able to communicate, establish defined roles, and collaborate when needed. In female led marriages, the couple has decided that the woman is best suited to lead the family.
Drawbacks of the Female Led Marriage
Female led marriage can be a successful model for a happy marriage. However, not everybody is equipped for this kind of relationship. Some men may become insecure or jealous in a female led relationship. They may be jealous of their partner’s career or money. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed to be engaging in “woman’s work” like cleaning, cooking, and child-rearing. Even today, society expects men to take on a dominant role, and social or peer pressure might lead to feelings of insecurity in some men. Family dynamics can also become complicated: a man’s family, especially his father, might be uncomfortable with their submissive role in the relationship. This may affect the man’s ability to thrive in a female-led marriage.
Failure to establish clear and mutually agreed upon boundaries can also threaten a female-led marriage. A man might be secretly insecure or otherwise hurt by his role in the relationship. Boundaries must be established in a mutually agreeable way. Both the husband and the wife should agree on terms; for example, the wife may be the breadwinner and be responsible for the bills and money management. However, the man still works outside the home or is consulted on major decisions.
Secrets to Success
How can a couple succeed in a relationship where the woman is in charge? As with any relationship question, the answer boils down to communication. The couple must be honest and transparent with one another. They must have an open dialogue where they can each truthfully speak to the other about things that matter to them. Their roles must be established and mutually agreeable.
One of the best communication methods in any relationship is active listening. Too often, one partner might zone out while the other speaks. A man might be daydreaming about the football game or his new shotgun. A woman might be thinking of how to save money for that new luxury item or thinking about calling her friend. If any relationship is to succeed, the couple must communicate with one another.
Active listening means paying attention to your partner when they speak. Make eye contact and avoid the common mistake of thinking about what you’ll say while they’re speaking. Observe body language. Use your own body to show your interest by keeping eye contact, nodding, and maintaining an open posture. Provide verbal feedback, perhaps by rephrasing what they have said or otherwise indicating your attention. Avoid making judgments or responding emotionally, but be honest with what you say. Above all, be respectful. And put down your phone.
Finally, take it slow. Rather than diving into a completely female-controlled or female-dominated relationship, many couples establish specific areas where the woman leads the family. For example, both partners might work and help with the kids, but the woman manages the household finances. Or, the partners might share responsibilities, but the woman is the decision-maker on major things. The woman’s leadership of the relationship can then expand organically, as the man realizes what a blessing it is to have a competent woman steering his ship.
Female-led marriage might seem like a kooky or unusual idea. That, however, is backward thinking. In many cases, traditions are valuable, but in other cases, they are just peer pressure from dead people. The notion that women are frail, delicate creatures who require a man’s leadership is not always true. While many relationships thrive on traditional gender norms and male control or dominance, others can thrive and succeed on an inverted power structure, where the woman takes command of the relationship, and the man acts as her support system. Even in a traditional relationship, men joke about how their wife runs the show. The saying “happy wife, happy life” reveals that even the most dominant man knows who calls the shots. A female led marriage just brings that dynamic to a newer, more honest level.