Monday, September 22, 2014

Response To A Comment On Anti-Feminism

I got this comment on my "Feminism: This Is What's Wrong With You" post, and my response was too long for the comments, so I decided to post it here.

Here's the comment:

I know I'm late to the party here, but having just been shown this post I want to make one thing absolutely clear: the fact that many of us are now *against* what mainstream feminism has become absolutely does not mean we're *with* the likes of you. 
We're not against feminism because we disagree with its purported goal of true equality of opportunity among the sexes, or our absolute right to self-determination and bodily autonomy, or with dismantling gender roles and the expectations and assumptions they impose on individuals. 
We're never going to stand with anyone who believes anything, ever, gives a person the "native right" to use another's body sexually without their ongoing enthusiastic consent. Or dehumanises men by insinuating that they are such slaves to impulse that if they can't rape their wives they'll inevitably cheat on them. Or generalises the nature of individuals' sexuality based on their sex alone. Or does not support an individual's right to end a relationship on their own terms. Or espouses the sexist view that marriage is somehow a pillar of femininity more than one of masculinity. Or implies women (but not men) must choose *either* a career or a family. Or believes that when partners each choose to keep their own names in an equal relationship this is somehow emasculating.
We're "against feminism" because yes, the mainstream feminist movement ignores and derides male issues, because it adopts stances that are fundamentally sexist, because it fails to address intersectionality with issues of race and gender identity, and because it manufactures victimhood and fear, among other things.
But we're still for true equality. Not for tired old sexist bullshit like using women who don't wear what you think they should wear as a simile for being clueless and out of touch. 
A woman with three advanced science degrees. 

And my response:

I think you characterize our position.  Please allow me to rebut.

Let's look at what "the likes of us" have actually been saying here, not what feminism has portrayed us as saying.  At no point have I (or most in the Manosphere - I understand that there are some exceptions) endorsed or espoused any denial of equal opportunity or equal treatment under the law.  Nor has their been any serious suggestion of impairing any of the rights women currently enjoy under our liberal democratic system of government.  I myself am politically a Progressive, meaning my political philosophy stems from Humanism.  Most folks in the Manosphere are adherents to this philosophy, which advocates the legal, moral, and ethical equality of all people.

With me so far?

Let me be blunt: the Red Pill does not advocate anyone ever doing anything non-consensual, sexually or otherwise.  It never has, and to say so is a gross mis-characterization of the praxeology.  What you portray as a "native right" is actually a biologically determined pattern of mating behavior that belies the feminist perspective on sex and sexuality.  When idealism collides with the realities of science, idealism usually suffers.  Just ask the Marxists in Eastern Europe.

Far from "dehumanizing" men, the Red Pill approach to positive masculinity acknowledges the deep importance of sexuality to the average man's life and attempts to help him realize his goals in that regard. It is the feminist perspective, that all men are aggressive sexual predators, that dehumanizes men.  The Red Pill uplifts them to a more profound understanding of their own masculinity.  And yes, sex is a valued part of that equation.

But some of your other issues demonstrate a lack of regard for masculine culture and masculine behavior - as men determine to define it, not women.  For example, the refusal of a wife to take a husband's name IS emasculating, and indicative of her eventual desire to end the marriage.  It's a legitimate warning sign men who fear divorce (and what man doesn't?) need to be aware of before marriage.  That's a pragmatic, not idealistic perspective.  Nor does the Red Pill demand that women choose between career and family or ask that men do; Mrs. Ironwood, and most other RP women, do have careers of their own. The difference is that they have demonstrably put their family life ahead of their career goals in a way that makes feminists cringe.  Most RP men would also say they share that perspective: their careers are a means to support their families, not the other way around.

The fact that marriage does advantage women more than men - and that divorce punishes men more than women - makes it a far more desirable goal for women than men, nor is the burning desire for wedding cake a common discussion in male circles. Men control commitment in our species, however, so marriage and commitment are important issues for us . . . just as they are highly important to a large number of women.

If we generalize sexuality, that's because we look at science, for which generalities - that is, aggregate data - show patterns at work from which useful data can be used.  Knowing such "generalizations" can steer men away from dangerous and unproductive relationships.  If that means a few innocent girls get dumped along the way, I think greater femininity can take the hit.

But refusing to acknowledge the scientifically-studied biological truths that underlie the patterns of human mating in our society, namely the prevalence of Hypergamy and Polygamy as the primary mating strategies of humans in nearly every human culture, is seeking to place the rosy ideal of equality above the brutally pragmatic reality that most people face every day. Men do cheat.  Women do cheat. We explain why, and what to do to avoid it.  Post-feminism, marriage is bad for men.  We explain why and how to deal with it.  Divorce is very bad for men.  We explain why and what to do to avoid it.

Marriage used to be the negotiated exchange (yes, by any scientific definition) of sex and security; without the security of consensual sex and real authentic commitment, men are simply better off avoiding commitment altogether.  It's not a matter of ideals or ideology, it's a simple, pragmatic fact.  Women are more aroused by more dominant men, therefore teaching men how to be dominant gets them more of what they want, sex.  There is no oppressive ideology here.  There is only a praxeology of how to fulfill a man's vision of his own masculinity.

You see, while you celebrate the ending of gender roles, you fail to appreciate all of what that entails.  Not only did it liberate women from the expectations of pursuing family instead of a career, it also liberated men from the social obligation of verbally pandering to an ideology in the hopes of social acceptance. Once you add the sexual element into the equation - and you cannot NOT add it in - and men start pursuing their issues and interests as THEY define them, then all ideology falls by the wayside.  One thing we know about the Red Pill is that desire cannot be negotiated.  Ignoring what men and women find arousing and/or attracting in favor of pursuing an abstract ideal and allowing that to determine your personal course is the road to folly, misery, and divorce.

We may deride the flood of bitterly-unhappy women who are discovering that their ideology, which promised that there would be a long line of decent dudes waiting around for them when they were done "exploring themselves", but that's because they are a product of their own self-inflicted ideology.  We snicker at those women who discover, to their horror, that the intended future involving a good caring man and children (sometime after 35 and, say, 3 degrees) utterly fails to materialize, because she was more inclined to believe feminism's promise  than the "patriarchal" system of assortative mating that insists you lock down a dude before you're 25 or get what's left over.

We snicker when we hear feminists and other women talk about "true equality", and then dismiss the fact that Selective Service registration is mandatory for one sex but not the other as "men's fault".  We laugh when we hear about our "male privilege" and then read how yet-another friend blew his head off, or ended up on the street, or got assaulted by his girlfriend again but no one will take him seriously because he's a dude.  Or a pal who hasn't seen his kids in 8 years because his wife thinks he's a danger to his children - and he's a Quaker.  These men will never have "equality".  They live in a system that lauds their "privilege" while demanding yet-more sacrifices of them, then subjects them to the emasculating humiliations and shame that feminism dumps on them for the crime of having a penis.

I understand your anger against feminism, and I share it.  But you're right, we aren't approaching the matter from the same place.  You are determined to fight for a world of equality.  I understand, because of the nature of my gender, that we will never truly achieve it.  I don't think that women will allow us to achieve it.  If you truly understood what social and cultural responsibilities and expectations men are subjected to that women are not, you would not be so eager to press for "equality", for that is a dreadful burden that most women would reluctant to "share".

Feminism has denigrated and derided masculinity and male-ness for so long, no number of perky pop princesses lecturing us about it at the UN are going to change the fact that when our culture and civilization are in peril, it is men, not women, who are expected to give their lives, liberty, and property up for the common good.  Men are expendable, and we know it.  We're told that from the time we are boys.  While feminists fret about "male privilidge", that priviledge includes baggage that most women just choose not to see.  Yet it is a burden that must be borne, if by an ever-decreasing number of us.

You can thank feminism for that.


A man with plenty of useless degrees, twenty-five books, three kids, and a wife who understands and supports him because he's a great man, not because of the ideology of "equality".

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Breaking Beta: Removing The Tree

As I deconstruct the process of De-Betacization, it occurs to me that, after dealing with and conquering your fear, one of the hardest elements of breaking Beta is understanding your own power to affect change in your own life.  This one is subtle, fellas, so you might want to read with both hands for a minute.

One of the lessons I teach my religious students (disclaimer: no demons were consulted in the composition of this lesson - it's pure Earthly Wisdom, usable without risk of damnation by all denominations) is that one of the fundamental ways in which we can exercise personal power is by recognizing our role in the context of the universe, and then recognizing that the absolutely easiest way for them to change the universe at large is by changing themselves and/or their context.

I illustrate this point with the exercise of having my students try to sink a basketball in the hoop with a tree in the way.  (Thankfully, just about every home in the South, especially around Tobacco Road, comes equipped with a portable basketball goal of adjustable height, along with a couch for display on the porch of your choice)

Of course they try mightily to do so, at first, using bank shots off the trunk or hurling the ball into the canopy and hoping a Plinko-like descent manages to get it in the basket.  I tell them to "move the tree with their minds" and they try their very hardest to literally do this for a while.  It sinks in pretty quickly that magic doesn't work like on Harry Potter.  It's a lot of fun to watch, and after a while they focus so much on the difficulty of the exercise they forget why they're doing it.  Think about that.

At that point, I come back and demonstrate that simply by taking two steps to the left or right, the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of the tree no longer obstructs at all.  They have "removed" the tree, for all practical purposes, by literally changing their perspective. Sinking a basket at that point is as easy as making a free-throw.  Then I smugly tell them "the power was within you, all along!" in my best Glenda The Good Witch voice.  It's highly annoying.  One of the perqs of being a spiritual teacher.

The lesson, of course, is that by changing your own perspective you have, by definition, changed the nature and expression of the equation.  Schrodinger's Cat and it's various kittens have demonstrated the observable truth that the observer by the act of observing affects the destiny of the observed -- how much more does an agent in the equation affect the course of events?  

Too often, we forget that we have that power: the power to change our own perspective.  Especially if we have suffered Betacization, we come to feel trapped by our circumstance or our nature, doomed to our fate with no hope of escape.  And often that captivity must become unbearable before a Beta decides to cast aside his cherished rationalizations for his lackluster behavior and even consider making a change.  Otherwise it's just too easy to play it safe, keep your mouth shut, and do what she tells you to do.

But you don't have to hit "rock bottom" to make this realization.  Often you can do so just by changing your perspective.  That could entail something as simple as an unexpected flirtation, a road trip, a meaningful artistic or literary experience, a chance meeting, an unlikely opportunity, a birth, a wedding, a death, a crisis situation, or any other sudden departure from the normal, expected, mundane course of your daily life.  At some point, in order to start Breaking your Beta, you have to gain the perspective that you have, indeed, the innate power to Break your Beta.

From the Betacized perspective, the fear of losing what you have outweighs the fear of losing what you might win.  You make a cost-benefit analysis and decide that it's just easier to maintain the status quo, and not take the risk.  Plus, your fear has often convinced you that you are, indeed, incapable of being successful . . . often because you've been criticized and condemned for your perceived failures in life so much and so often that you've accepted the opinions of others over your own honest self-assessment.

Maybe it was your mother who started it, comparing you to a weak or absent father.  Maybe it was a shrewish girlfriend who started it, and you never quite recovered.  But we rarely self-betacize.

In my religious tradition, one of the spiritual technologies we use is ritual.  I'm not talking about the wand-waving-candle-burning-dancing-around-a-bonfire kind of ritual (although, honestly, as religious services go it beats the heck out of Sunday School), I'm speaking here of ritual in the psychological sense.  From a technical perspective, when properly performed, a rite or ritual will affect a psychological change on the subject by creating an artificial psychological crisis in a safe and controlled environment.

While such a crisis is ideally guided and led by someone experienced with such things, i.e. their priest/shaman/psychologist/druid/pastor/preacher/guru/celebrity, the fundamental element is giving the subject the opportunity to voluntarily change their perspective when faced with such a crisis as a means of coping with that crisis.  Sure, it's the "throw 'em in and see if they swim" method of psychological care, but it has the twin virtues of being highly effective and cheaper than extended psychotherapy.

Now, I'm not suggesting you ladies burn down your house to see how hubby Alpha's Up - that's not
the sort of "crisis" we're talking about.  While tornadoes and tragedy can certainly provide the needed kick in the ass for the change of perspective in a man, more often than not Fate will kick a few helpful crises in his direction to provide the impetus.

For example, a friend of mine -- a howling Progressive, hyper-liberal scholarly hippy -- was biking home from his low-paying job at a book store one day when he got mugged.  It was a simple exchange: gun, wallet, and gone.  While unusual, such things are not unheard of in my gritty burg.  But the effect this brush with mortality had on my friend was profound.

Understanding for the first time that another human being had the power of life or death over him, regardless of the Law or Rights or Community Spirit, and he was utterly helpless in the face of that, was enough change in perspective to institute a massive personal lifestyle shift, with accompanying shift in attitude and direction.  He's a lawyer, now.  And while I wish that story could have ended more happily, it points out that one little existential or moral crisis can be enough, if a man is ripe, to begin the process.

And a process it is.  You cannot merely flip a switch (in most cases) and see the Alpha emerge, fully-formed.  Betas are broken, remember; the crisis experience begins the healing process, but it's a long and difficult journey.  Painful.  Unpleasant.  Permanent.  If you don't keep your eyes on the prize - becoming a Better Man - then it's all too easy to backslide into comfortable mediocrity, once-a-month IV drip sex, and never making plans for yourself because they might conflict with your wife's calendar.  Changing your perspective can remove the tree from the process . . . but you still gotta sink that free throw.

Being faced with death can do it.  Being faced with birth can do it.  Even something as simple as looking at old photos can trigger it.  A man has to see himself, and then see himself differently, and then be able to compare the two to be able to challenge his thick Beta coating.  He has to be able to envision a better life, a better man to be, a future in which happiness is possible and regret isn't a daily indulgence, or he can never get out of the dungeon he's put himself in.

Some people think the essence of Breaking Beta is challenging the role of your wife . . . and it's not.  If you're in a Blue Pill marriage, then your wife's power over you is not actually a result of her natural domineering nature . . . it's a result of your failure to assert yourself properly, because of your fear.  Challenging your wife's role becomes a by-product of the transformative experience of changing your perspective, because once you get that damn tree (your own tepid rationalizations for your crappy masculinity) out of the way, it might take you a couple of shots - but eventually that's a basket you can make.

Some things to consider, Gentlemen, that might help you find the courage to do this:

1. Yeah, it really is your fault . . . because if it isn't your fault, then you can't change it.  You CAN change it, so suck it up and own it.  That's a sign of mature masculinity, not a capitulation to guilt.

2. As bad as you think your relationship with your wife/woman might be right now (if you have one), the fear that they will somehow become worse if you challenge her dominance in the relationship is wrong.  They might get real interesting for a while, but usually you'll see a change in HER perspective in reaction to your change in perspective pretty darn quick.  Don't believe me? Check out the Field Reports at the r/theredpill and r/RedPillWomen subreddits for testimonials.  It's like they're . . . responsive or something.  Remember, you can realistically challenge her position if you are in a place of strength.

3. What she says doesn't matter one tenth as much as what she does.  Basic Red Pill truth.  Engrave it on your XY chromosome where you won't forget it.  Let her say whatever she wants.  Just do what you have to do to make yourself right, and she'll either deal with it, or she won't.  That's known as Holding Frame.  Also known as Not Being A Pussy.  This takes practice, but it's an essential part of your recovery.  She will respond by her actions.  And if she doesn't . . . you can find one that will.

4. Lose the baggage.  If you don't currently have a woman and are the "victim" of a past actually ahead of the curve.  You don't have a real woman to contend with, which means that all of your issues are the Ghosts of Relationships Past.  You aren't the same person you were then, you're the person you choose to be now.  If this describes you, then a) forget every past girlfriend and her expectations and shrewish criticisms you ever had because, like, she was a real bitch anyway and b) realize that you won't put up with that shit from your next girlfriend.
Betacization, then you are

5. Evaluate your relationship with your mother.  Often if a betacized male has been beaten into submission by a girlfriend or wife, his mom spent years making him vulnerable to that . . . and his dad wasn't able to instruct him how to avoid it.  If your mother still has more of a presence in your life than she should -- even psychologically -- then challenging that relationship is going to be essential to progress.  I've seen men who appear to be solid Alphas collapse like little girls when their Mama starts yelling.  If you can't respectfully stand up to your mother and keep her from exercise undue influence over your life, then it's going to be orders of magnitude harder to stand up to your girlfriend or wife.

(Note that you don't actually have to get into a fight with Mom, you just have to realize that you're a grown man and while you might appreciate her advice, she is not the infallible Mother Goddess she was to you when you were six.  She might have been an expert on potty training and table manners, but when it comes to being a man, expressing your masculinity, and living as a mature adult male, she knows jack shit about how to cultivate that.  Love her for her unconditional love and flawless Tollhouse cookies, but ignore her bitching, complaints, and criticisms.  Hell, if you don't have a girlfriend at the moment, you can even Game your mom, in a non-sexual way.  It's great practice.)

6. Come to terms with your own mortality.  Yes, you're going to die.  That's inevitable.  Life is funny that way -- no one gets out alive.  One of the most fundamental signs of a mature masculinity is the ability to accept your mortality, and live your life anyway.  If you haven't really thought about death because it's creepy and scary and you're not that old yet . . . then you have some catching up to do.  If you have kids, this will take you down one psychological road.  If you don't, and don't want to, then that takes you down another.  And if you don't, but do want to, then that in and of itself may give you the perspective you need to change your perspective and therefore your life.

7. Quit worrying what other people think.  Seriously.  If you only value the opinions of the people who value your opinion, that simplifies your perspective dramatically.  The fear of mis-perception (or worse, accurate perception) is almost always far, far more potent an agent in your life than the actual condemnation you might  ever get.  My brother, Andy Ironwood, came to terms with this by being scrupulously honest.  By being utterly truthful, he never fears other's perceptions of his behavior, because he feels capable of defending his actions before the throne of any convenient divinity . . . because he doesn't try to lie or rationalize his way through life. (BTW, he's decided he's going to put himself back on the SMP.  Fair warning).

We worry about what other people think because we are fearful of their judgement, and worried that they will reject us.  Often the people we fear this from the most are the people least entitled to render judgement on our lives, or be in a position to meaningfully reject us.  By understanding that the power of their judgement and rejection is limited to that which we, ourselves, choose to grant them, we can take that power back from them by ignoring even the possibility that their judgement or rejection is important to us.  That can be a hard perspective to change, but it's one of the most profound you can make.

8. Change Who You Present As.  This is a biggie, and a hard, hard thing for most Betas to contend with.  Betas have been trained to play it safe.  The thought of going all ALPHA all of a sudden is just too shocking, and they fret that other people will judge them (see: 7, above).  But one of the basic ways in which we can affect our own perspective is by making a visible or nominal change and demanding it be accepted by the rest of the universe.

I've got two examples of this.  In college, one of my bosses at my work-study assignment had signature muttonchop sideburns which he'd had since he was in college . . . back in the 70s when they were cool.  Now, this dude had always been a "Super Nice Guy", everyone loved him at work, but he was constantly having problems at home, it was rumored.

Then one day he showed up to work for the first time in 20 years with his cheeks shaved.  The signature muttonchops were gone.  I passed him in the hallway without recognizing him, at first, and when I asked we talked about personal transformation and human fulfillment and such (Religious Studies major, so I was professionally intrigued) but the upshot was, he'd realized that his sideburns had become a symbol of the preconceptions and history he had bound himself with from his youth.  By getting rid of them, he was symbolically walking away from all of those years of folly.

(After that, interestingly enough, all the ladies who worked with him and thought he was such a "Nice Guy" started talking about the disturbing change, and how he just wasn't the same "Nice Guy" anymore.  The dudes he worked with thought he got a LOT cooler, once he shut up about the Human Potential Movement.  Yeah.  It was like that.)

The second example is a kind of Uber-BETA I knew at one of my many, many temp jobs.  Also in middle-management, this guy, Bob, was the typical White Knight Gamma who spent most of his time doing other people's work . . . and he just could not say no to a woman to save his life.  But he was a "super nice guy" that none of the office women were willing to date.  "Get Bob to do it" was office shorthand.  He had the Gamma Curse bad.

Then (and I honestly don't know what inspired it) Bob came to work and started to stiffly correct anyone who called him "Bob" anymore, asking instead to be addressed as "Robert."  He started signing himself that way on his correspondence, had his nameplate on his cube changed, and sharply corrected anyone who slipped.  If they slipped more than once in a conversation, Robert would have a brief, intense conversation about how he preferred to be addressed that left most of the recipients uncomfortable.

That freaked out several of the women in the office, including his supervisor, but after a consultation with HR she was forced to concede that Bob could, indeed, choose the name by which he was addressed and they had to go along with it.  Some women actually complained that they didn't feel right calling Good Ol' Bob "Robert" because (and I quote) "it's like treating him like a grown-up or something".  

It was a very, very small change.  But it led to others.  Over the next eight weeks or so, Robert lost weight, started working out, grew a beard (which further freaked out the office ladies - one almost demanded he shave it because it "made him look sinister") and quit being asked to do other people's work . . . and when he was, he politely declined.

What I was witnessing, had I known it, was Bob de-betacizing, or at least beginning the process.  I was only at the job for about eight weeks, so I don't know how it turned out, but five weeks into his journey the visible change in Bob - Robert - was startling.  The social change was just as pronounced.  The many, many women in the office started complaining that they missed "the old Bob", and how Robert just wasn't nearly as nice.  Some even had the nerve to ask him why he had "stopped being nice".  He held frame and didn't give them any answers.  There were even murmurings about talking to HR about Robert again, since some women in the office felt that his changes were bad for morale.

Nothing came of it, to my knowledge, but there was something intermingled with that sudden distrust, suspicion, and anxiety about Beta Bob's transformation toward Alpha Robert: respect.  Once Robert quit agreeing to take on extra work and responsibilities out of a misplaced desire to be "a nice guy", they may have missed Bob's utility but they respected Robert's new boundaries, after he established them.

And it all started because he told a room full of Chatty Cathys "My name is Robert, not Bob.  Please refer to me that way in the future" one rainy Tuesday morning.  Not quite "Get your hands off of me, you damn dirty ape!" but as far as betacized Gammas go, it was about as close as you can get.

Changing your perspective is one of the first invaluable steps on the road from betacization to realizing your full masculine potential.  Figuring out which tree is in the way of your goal is the first step.  Figuring out which way to step around it is the second.  And sinking the shot is the third.  But you have to start by making a gentleman's agreement with yourself about rationalizing in favor of your Beta and taking that first, significant step . . . around the goddamn tree.

Red Pill men, what was your "Alpha Moment"? What did you do that changed your perspective and began your journey?

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.