Come Out on Top -- By Letting Your Woman Call the Shots
It’s a very Latin idea: The man takes the initiative and takes charge when it comes to big relationship decisions.
“In general French men like to ‘have the upper hand.’ They want to be the ones who seduce and govern the rhythm of relationships,” notes Alain Héril, psychothérapeute, sexothérapeute and author of « Aimer » and « Pour l’harmonie du couple ». This practice developed from the basic idea that men are physically bigger and more powerful than women (a concept whose expiration date came quite a while ago). explains Héril.
Just because she wants more command doesn’t mean your relationship is destined to become a battlefield. Giving your woman some room to be sergeant has benefits for you too, soldier. Here are four scenarios where letting her take charge means you win:
SCENARIO ONE: PLANNING THE WEEKEND
Traditionally: You tell her, “Work has been atrocious all week long. I need to let off some steam!”
Woman in charge version: "Same here, the office is nonstop. Want to go rock climbing at Fontainebleau on Sunday?”
Good for you because: You two will get closer if you do physical activities together (and it’s a chance to show off your manly muscles). Plus, letting her make plans keeps things from getting boring. “But,” says Héril, “it’s important to recognize the difference between letting your woman decide how to organize things and you becoming lazy!”
SCENARIO TWO: INITIATING INTIMACY
Traditionally: You get touchy-feely-flirty with her during the day to show you're ready for a late night, or (despite the fact the sun's still out) you tell her you're in the mood right now.
Woman in charge version: She stops you before you get a word out and says, "Hey -- check out the new lingerie I just bought." She’s already wearing it . . .
Good for you because: There's no doubting whether she’s excited by you and you don't have to fear her saying no, points out Jill Bourdais, a clinical psychologist based in Paris who specializes in relationships. Now you're the one who can say no if you want -- so you actually gain some control by letting her initiate. Meanwhile, we'll let you imagine the other benefits of being with a woman who's not shy about her sexuality . . .
SCENARIO THREE: DINNER DATE
Traditionally: “Chérie, come to dinner with me. I won’t take no for an answer.”
Woman in charge version: “Chéri, can I take you out for dinner tonight? I want to pop some champagne and celebrate my new bonus!”
Good for you because: You’re not always the one paying for dates (or proposing them). Says Héril: “If there’s one area where men can release their grip, it’s money. Paying for dinner is just the start: Let her manage the bank account. And you should be accepting if she earns more than you. They’re some of the ways to get out of the old equation that the man brings home the money and the woman takes care of the home.”
SCENARIO FOUR: AFTER-WORK PLANS
Traditionally: "You're meeting up with your Olivier and Gus? Two men and you? No way, not unless I'm joining!"
Woman in charge version: "You have nothing to worry about. And we’d like to keep it at just we three -- we want to spend lots of time catching up and talking about people you don’t know. Why don’t you go out with your buddies?"
Good for you because: You, too, can go out with whomever you want, guilt-free (or just stay home and watch Eurosport without her nagging). "In the past, girls who wanted to hold on to their guy friends and stay in touch with old boyfriends were much less vocal about their desires," says Bourdais. "On top of that, it was more acceptable for their significant others to say no." Today, women feel entitled to spend their out-of-office time as they see fit. So check your jealousy and enjoy the new power-sharing in coupledom -- the night is young!