Thursday, September 4, 2014

Girl Game: Encouraging Your Captain To Lead

I love visiting the Red Pill Women reddit (and the venerable Red Pill reddit) to wallow in the trenches, so to speak, and see what the biggest concerns various folks have might be.  In RPW there were so many posts concerning how a wife could coax a husband to break his Beta and be more Captainy that they declared a moratorium on that type of question.  Fair enough - that's not the venue for that.

This is.

I’ve been asked the question “what can I do to encourage my man to be more dominant/Alpha/Red Pill?” repeatedly over the years. That’s a serious question, because (thanks to Solomon’s Dilemma) coming out and demanding dominance from their dudes just isn't going to work for either party.

But ladies, you aren't without influence over the man in your life.  Just going utterly passive is NOT the answer – it communicates your helplessness, not his ability to lead.  So I turned to my resident expert this morning (Mrs. Ironwood) and asked her to lay out what she did, back in my Blue Pill days, when a rousing chorus of “I dunno – whatever you wanna do” was far too frequently heard around our digs.

If you want your man to lead you, says Mrs. Ironwood, you have to encourage him thusly:

1. Establish expectations: “I want to know what you want for dinner tonight.” 

Not “what shall we have?” Not “what do you feel like?” Tell him you want him to decide.  By establishing your reasonable expectations for his leadership by directly or tacitly communicating an expectation of leadership, you give him the permission he needs to be decisive without worrying about encountering an argument about his decision.

If you make being decisive unequivocally HIS responsibility, he will eventually do it right. But if he doesn't know that you expect him to lead, he will be more likely to defer honest leadership in the interests of "equality" or respect for your autonomy.

2. Communicate by GIVING HIM CONTROL of the situation in no uncertain terms.

Men act tentatively when they are uncertain of themselves.  Once you’ve established the expectation of his leadership, make certain that he understands that there are no wrong answers.  You have abdicated any responsibility for the decision-making process and you will be content and supportive of his leadership regardless of the results.  If he asks what you want to do, volley back.  Anything from “I have every confidence in your ability to decide” to "I trust your judgment" to “You got this, babe.” 


Once you have ceded control of an issue, do not be tempted to revisit it to check his “progress”. Do not offer “helpful suggestions”.  Do not inform him that he’s “doing it wrong”.  Once you have told a man that he’s responsible for making a decision, doing a task, planning a policy, or what have you . . . don’t try to take the wheel out of his hands.  If you were smart, you included a deadline in your original establishment of expectations.  If his performance is lacking, you can observe that without interfering and perhaps even offer support to the process without making yourself involved in it.  This is sometime known as the "make sammiches" phase. Sometimes the most effective thing a woman can do with her man is to back off and let him figure it out on his own.

And sammiches are always a boost to morale.

4. Avoid criticism after the fact.

This can be very hard for some women, so be mindful of your own tendencies to second-guess or criticize a man’s performance after he’s made a good-faith effort, and keep your criticisms to yourself.  He is not your employee or your child, remember, he is your husband.  Give him an adult level of understanding about his performance.  And if it needs improvement, which it undoubtedly will, provide the assistance he needs to improve without being tempted to direct the course of that improvement.

Keep in mind that the process of encouraging him to take initiative is a slow one.  He has, in all likelihood, been steeped in a culture in which his initiative and decisiveness have been penalized, and it takes a while for a man to re-learn that confidence.  If he fucks up any particular thing, don’t harp on it; he knows he fucked up.  If you can gently encourage him to do a post mortem of his fuck-up, you might be able to suggest some ideas for doing things differently, but DO NOT re-assume control.  Failure is part of the process.  It is from our failures that we learn.  When men fear failure more than they desire success, they stop trying.  Your job, as his First Officer, is to ensure that his failures are not so painful, so distracting that he fails to learn and withdraws from his own ambitions.  You encourage him to always be trying, because the sweet reward of success is far greater than than the thoughtful balm of comfort in defeat.

It’s a hard job, I’ll be the first to admit.  Particularly as women have been encouraged to “speak their mind” and “communicate” exhaustively for the last forty years.  It defies your training to withhold criticism and offer suggestions – that’s what you would do for a good girlfriend if she failed at something, correct?  But not with your husband.  He doesn’t need your advice.

He needs your Caritas.  Desperately.

5. Reward and Support

Victories should be celebrated and generously rewarded.  Defeats and failures should not be rehashed and examined to the point of humiliation.  If you have a job as his First Officer in relation to your husband’s happiness, it is to bolster his emotional support at such a time.  If he wants your specific advice (and he may) he will solicit it.  If he has had success in leading and accomplishing, then rewarding that achievement improves his perspective tremendously.  If he fails, knowing that you still have his back, uncritically, is more important than the fact that you know EXACTLY where he went wrong.

Encouraging your husband to lead without taking the wheel yourself can be frustrating, but ultimately highly rewarding.  Sometimes the most frustrating moments end up being the most instructive.  Sometimes the worst fuck-ups end up being turning points toward a better man.  But you can’t FORCE him to lead, and you can’t DEMAND he lead.  Quiet, thoughtful encouragement, strong loving support, creating the space and giving the permission, and enthusiastic follow-through give him the ingredients he need from you to be the kind of Captain he’d like to be.  Hopefully one that you want to follow.


  1. I admit it: I was angry at this post. I'm angry at all of your posts, Mr. Ironwood-at the naivety and the cynicism, at the way you contradict yourself at every turn. But when I took a look at it again, I realised that it was funny, for it sounds (when placed in a proper context) like a training guide for a seeing-eye dog.

    You want the creature to lead and take care of you. You reward it with treats when it reaches the goals you set for it, and when it slips up you go easy on the criticism. The creature, meanwhile, relies on you for emotional fulfillment, for belly rubs and sloppy kisses.

    I'm not usually so unprofessional, and I apologise. Still, surely even you can see the funny side.

    1. As if the woman should heal MR NICE GUY. He must heal himself! Its not that easy if you are MNG.

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  2. If you desire to reduce your relationship dynamic to pet training advise, by all means. Let me know how that works out for you.

    But the fact of the matter is, for all of the feminist "sophistication" about relationship equality, partnership, etc. such ideals royally suck scissors when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of running a real, live heterosexual long term committed relationship. Snicker if you will - and you will. But this is solid advice put in easy-to-understand language concerning one PARTICULAR question that arises repeatedly.

    You can laugh. You can be angry. You can think I'm cynical and naive.

    But I've also been happily and faithfully with the same woman for 23 years. My kung fu works. Cynical and naive? How about realistic and straightforward?

    Of course, if a wife doesn't want her husband to lead, she may continue to wrest the wheel from his control and deride his efforts at real partnership. By all means. Divorce lawyers need Porches, too.

    1. Well you Dont seems to be a Mr Nice Guy. Its a problem and not fot the woman to take care of. If you are a MNG its very frustration to handle as a woman...

  3. Great advice. I would also add that whatever this man needs in his life to be strong, happy, and healthy, that I can provide, I put all my energy into becoming an expert at it so that he does not need to micromanage or otherwise concern himself with it. No work is too lowly, tedious, or degrading if I can lighten his load such that he can use his superior talents without being distracted by grunt work. In short, I become an excellent employee. I feel it is a shame that so many women devote their energies to careers that they ultimately find unsatisfying while giving their impersonal boss a freshly dressed look and smile each morning. I'd rather make coffee, clear tables, type letters, run errands, etc. for the man I love. Is my appearance neat and pretty for him before he even wakes up in the morning? You bet. And the coffee is freshly brewed and his clothes are pressed.--Caprizchka

    1. It's sad that you (yes YOU) degrade the role of wife like that. Mrs. Ironwood is a leading professional in her field with a career that saves thousands of lives every year. While that's admirable, it has NOTHING TO DO with her abilities as wife and mother. How many feminists do you know whose careers are spectacular . . . but their personal lives are a wreck? How many are divorced, never married, and never will be?

      Let me lay some Cosmic Wisdom on you: when you're 80 years old, you aren't going to give a DAMN about what kind of brilliant career you had. No one else is either. What you are going to focus on is the importance of your family and your spouse . . . if you have one. So mock the women who approach their relationships with some modicum of seriousness, but understand that your perceptions at the moment are betraying your chance at long term happiness and fulfillment.

      If that's the life you want to accept, fine. Not everyone is so myopic.

    2. Okay, good column, Ian. Of course, I kind of skimmed because gosh darn it, as usual, too many words!!! But I got the gist of it.

      I’ve seen so many instances of marriages where the man becomes a little boy, afraid to make decisions, afraid to do anything without the mommy/wife directing every move and in general behaving like the boss from hell. And these same women then bitch that their husbands don’t care to give any input on any decision and act like one of the kids, not the husband! WTF, ladies? What kind of outcome did you expect?

      It’s a sad truth, that so many women treat their co-workers and bosses with respect and politeness but their own husbands like absolute shit.

      As an “old” lady who’s been employed her entire life, yes, I can vouch that no career compares to a long loving relationship. I’ve been laid off, stabbed in the back, hung out to dry, but my husband has never let me down; 36 years of marriage and counting.

    3. Great point. Your quote here is so true: "It’s a sad truth, that so many women treat their co-workers and bosses with respect and politeness but their own husbands like absolute shit." Why do wives do this? No respect for their husbands. They simply aren't family leaders. Dudes. Fight your screechtard wife, set the course and stop being a lazy shit. And watch your life improve. AMD out.

    4. Agreed! For some women the thought of having/keeping a career just isn't as important to them as family. Nothing would make me happier than doing everything I can for My Darlin'. I don't think there's anything degrading about it.

  4. Good post. I think the hard thing for a wife is being willing for her typically-a-screw-up husband to take the reigns and watch what happens. When I began to take my role as leader of my home seriously I really needed my wife to back off, like you said. I would ask other men for advice rather than her. It was easier to take their input as advice whereas her felt more like a "do this or else". That was on me, not her. Now I get her input far more and understand the areas she is strong and I need and value her input.

    Also, women can't influence men to lead like other men who lead. Getting yourself around men who lead their's contagious. Wives, don't force those relationships, but encourage them.

  5. "a sad truth, that so many women treat their co-workers and bosses with respect and politeness but their own husbands like absolute shit."

    Why? It's because they want power, and in the work environment, getting power (or even keeping the job) requires treating co-workers, bosses, customers, etc, with reasonable politeness. These women assume they already have power over their husbands by virtue of being married, and that the way to gain more of it is to ensure the husband stays suppressed. Sometimes works with a husband, almost never with a boss.

    Al the Anonymous

  6. Also, I think the following happens in many marriages: when starting out, the husband lets the wife take the lead on things she cares about but he doesn't particularly: what color to paint the walls, what silverware to choose, what to have for dinner most nights. But when he tries later to assert his opinion on something he really DOES care about, she pushes back hard, because she has assumed, subconsciously or consciously, that she is effectively the leader in all things.

    So I think it's important for new husbands to assert themselves frequently, even if it means taking a position on things they really don't care much about.

    I think many men would be happy with a genuinely egalitarian relationship, but what I observe is wives attempting to dominate like some stereotype of a (probably-mythical) 1950s Alpha Male. The conversations I overher sometimes between upper-middle-class couples out in public are in the grocery store: "Put that down! We don't need that!"

    Wives are talking to their husbands like no one should talk to an employee, a child, or a good dog. (This seems to be an upper-middle-class and above thing, I don't hear this with working-class people)

    Al the Anonymous

  7. A good point was made over in the forums at MMSL - this article is bad advice for women who have lazy, underperforming husbands. A man who cannot hold a job, or who is irresponsible with money, or who has a medical issue, depression, etc. A man with these kinds of issues will not be able to be captain, no matter how sweet, unassuming, non-confrontational and supportive a wife may be. He will usually not Alpha up and change without a serious reason to do so.

    1. Good point indeed - a growing number of men that marry seem to end up looking to their wife as a second "mommy" to take responsibility for life's major issues. But I wonder how many husbands are "lazy and underperforming" because their attempts to lead, or even take some initiative, were met with strong pushback from the wife and after awhile they just got tired of fighting her over every decision. In other words, how many of them gave up even trying to lead because they didn't have the Married Game skills to deal with wifely opposition?

    2. Men BECOME lazy and underperforming when their wife's cut them off, belittle them at every turn, and take charge of every aspect of the household. As Ian and MacNut explain: When men try to assert themselves they meet opposition from society and their empowered wife's to the point it is just not worth the battle. Better to immerse yourself in X-Box and let the wife go to work and support the family if that is how she wants it.


  8. I really believe that RP-Women are dead wrong that a submissive woman cannot make their husband more "Alpha." "The Surrendered Wife" and "Fascinating Womanhood" deals with this issue at length and assures us that a submissive woman who TRUSTS her man creates a more dominate man. Yin-Yang and nature abhors a vacuum and all that. Like the man says: If you step the fuck back and let him- no EXPECT him- to take charge and solve the problem (even if it is with your help) then chances are he will step up.


  9. "What do I want for dinner? Ham."
    "We don't have any ham."
    "Pot roast, then."
    "The pot roast is frozen and will take too long to thaw."
    "Orange chicken."
    "Will you run out and get us the orange sauce, and I'll give you a list of other stuff we need."
    Point is, even the little stuff can blue-pill a guy when it's just circumstance. It's not a red/blue pill issue that he didn't know what was in the kitchen, available, or not. Still, he loses. But he doesn't care, since hot dogs are just great, too.
    "Hot dogs are okay."

    And a shrink buddy of mine went pretty strong on how caring about the small stuff, from what's for dinner to what the temperature of the house is. You've been a grunt, done heavy construction.... Your temp comfort range is 66-78. Meantime, the family is arguing about 70 or 71.
    He said he thought it would be a good idea for guys, at the last, to pretend to care about something, anything, and insist on it. But it's against the canons of the profession or something.

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  11. Is there a way to do this broken down in small steps?

    What I mean is, I'm not doing great at any of the steps listed but I don't think I can simultaneously pull them all off at once, is there a gradual way for me to back off and let him take over? (i have a neurotic control freak side that I recognize needs to go, completely separate from whether I need him to lead or not)

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