Dating / Marriage / Relationships

5 Baby Steps to De-Shrewing: things you can employ right now to be a better wife

Confession: I am in need of a refresher course in this. We are going through a stressful situation right now (a few, actually) and when that happens I tend to revert to my former shrewish ways more than I like to admit. Nothing too severe but I definitely see my inner Katharina rearing her ugly head. I sat down and gave some real thought to the 5 basic things that self-tame the inner shrew, things that make for a good foundation and that one can implement right at this very second. This is what I came up with and have tacked above my desk as a reminder:

Romeo and Juliet | Frank Dicksee

Romeo and Juliet | Frank Dicksee

  1. Repeat after me: “Yes, dear” and smile, smile, smile. (or “Yes, Sir”, “Of course, dear”, etc.Whatever gets the point across) Be agreeable. Not mindless, not without an independent thought in your head or any emotion but ‘chipper’, but agreeable. Pleasant. Willing to follow his lead without complaint. That last bit is key. It’s easy to mutter a “Yes, dear” and be overall bitchy about it, to not mean it in the least. It’s easy to be sarcastic about it, too. When you say “Yes, dear” or the equivalent you need to mean it with all sincerity. “Yes, dear” is way more than just words. You have to internalize that he is the boss; that’s what “Yes, dear” really means. But even if you can’t say “Yes, dear” without edge to your voice at first I want you to say it anyway. Keep saying it until you believe it, until you believe in it. “Whatever you think is best, love.” said through gritted teeth is perhaps the most important way you’ll ever say it.
  2. “No” isn’t in your vocabulary anymore. When it comes to your man, that is. This is similar to the above but not the same. It also exists outside the bedroom but is important in the bedroom as well (if not more so). Stop saying no. He wants you to wear the blue dress to dinner not the red, he asks if Joe from work can come to dinner, he’s in the mood… No is near completely off the table. I say “near” because there are, of course, legitimate reasons to say “no”. For example, Joe can’t come to dinner because the plumbing has backed up into the house in every room. But I challenge you to not say a “no” but rather communicate the reason why and express your disappointment in having to say no. “I can’t manage sex tonight with this flu. I’m so disappointed but I really should rest.” And maybe try and find an alternative “Why don’t we take Joe and the family out for dinner and let the plumbers do their work?” or take a rain-check “But I promise to do that thing you love just as soon as I beat this bug.” (now’s a perfect time to employ the “naughty grin”).
  3. Butt-out. You’re not his mother quit inserting your opinion into his personal life (as in his work or social life). What he wears, who he talks to, how he manages drama at work, etc, is just none of your business. If he asks your opinion that’s a different matter but even then tread lightly. As far as you are concerned none of that is in your purview (because it’s really not and we have got to accept that). Just leave it alone and let him do what he needs to do his own way. So the next time you see him packing his lunch “wrong” keep walking to the cupboard to get your coffee mug without a comment, sigh, or questioning/condemning glance. Also, remind yourself that he isn’t doing anything wrong simply because he isn’t doing it the way you would.
  4. You now live to please him. This influences how you dress, what you serve for dinner (breakfast, lunch, dessert… you get the point), how you act in the bedroom, what you watch on TV, how you greet him when he comes home from work, your nail color, everything. When it comes to you and your home the first question you ask yourself before making any decision is “What does [the man] like?”. This includes not wearing things he doesn’t like on you (if your man really doesn’t like you in jeans how many pairs of jeans do you have in the closet? Zero is the correct answer), picking colors to wear he does like on you (he always compliments you in lighter hues so fill your wardrobe with them. Not exclusively necessarily but enough to show you value his opinion), making sure he has his favorite meals on the table a few times a week (conversely not making things again he doesn’t like), greeting him at the door with physical affection a warm smile and maybe a cold beer, decorating the home with things he likes and making sure your own style of home decor compliments that, etc.
  5. Praise him. A lot. Show how grateful you are to him. Not in some worshiping way; don’t construct a shrine to him and light candles at his feet (unless you’re into that sort of thing. No judgement) but make a point of saying “thank you” and telling him how awesome he is at his job, fixing that car, that thing he does in bed, etc. This is really helpful when you are upset with him. Still stewing over how he made his lunch “wrong” this morning? Pick something you are thankful for that he does and write him a love note expressing that to place in his lunch when he isn’t looking.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

You’re going to fail. Like all of the time. Just get back on the horse like nothing happened. Don’t stew, don’t think that it makes you a failure at the whole thing, don’t talk yourself into giving up. Know that you are going to fail and strive to fail less not not fail at all. Striving for the impossible sets one up for overall failure. You’re going to fail. Make peace with that right now.

He’s probably not going to buy it at first. It may take a while for him to trust that you aren’t the shrew you once were. Don’t expect him to change to suit the new you right away. This could take a while. He needs to feel safe with being The Boss before he can actually be that and you’ve got a lot to prove.

It’s going to kill you. You’re going to hate it a lot and then less until finally it’ll be completely normal to you. Remember- it’s killing you because it’s killing you. You are killing The Shrew. She’s going to be resentful and fight back but don’t you dare stop hitting her over the head with the shovel. The more you feel her fighting the bigger you smile and the more pronounced your “Yes, dear”s need to be.

Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t make excuses to stop. Just keep going.

70 thoughts on “5 Baby Steps to De-Shrewing: things you can employ right now to be a better wife

  1. As to #4, maybe the one that angers feminists more than any other, what I’ve noticed about this one is that while I am doing these things for him, it makes me incredibly happy to do so. I think a lot of women discover this when they get used to it. It starts out being something you do grudgingly for him and then transforms into something that you truly love. Giving of oneself is incredibly rewarding.

    Readers, please don’t misunderstand, if you go about this with the thought in your heart that this will be great for you, in the long run it won’t be because you would be doing it for the wrong reasons. You are doing this for your husband and your marriage. The consequence of doing so will reward you greatly as well.

    Margery, fantastic post.

    • What I don’t get is why WOULDN’T you want to do something to make your husband happy? And for that matter, why wouldn’t you do something nice for anyone if you could? It’s not like wearing nicer clothes instead of sweats or making this dish instead of that one affects my life in any meaningful way. But having a happy relationship sure does!

    • Yes, #4 was the one that surprised me the most when I implemented it in my life; at first it was difficult, but then I noticed how happy it made me to serve him. On the weekends I basically wait on him hand & foot, almost to the point of obnoxiousness.

    • I think your second point is especially well made. There have been times I thought I was doing something for my husband, only to be disappointed when it didn’t seem like a big deal to him, or he didn’t get as excited/grateful as I thought he should be. Haha. Guess who I was really doing it for?

  2. Good post. :) Always a bar to raise on your own personal level of submission. Absolutely. :)

    #4 is probably the easiest IMO once you get used to it. And then you’ll have to not do your usual pleasing stuff because you have other commitments and you’ll be all sad… ask me how I know. /grin.

  3. Wait, why is he packing his own lunch? Haha.

    Seriously, great post. Like Hearthie said, there’s always a bar to raise. We need regular reminders so that we don’t get complacent about our progress (or fall back in times of stress). For me #3 is the hardest, especially with respect to how things get done, but I’m getting much better. My dad is really bad in this way too, and doing construction with him the past year has made me really notice it. Constant reminders of just how annoying this behaviour is definitely helps me to not do it myself!

    As to #4 and wardrobe, my solution is to dress for him when I’m with him, and for myself when I’m without him. I do think one still needs to uphold a certain standard, to represent him well, so to speak. So I don’t dress shleppy, nor slutty, but I do wear combinations that might be a bit over the top for him, or silhouettes that are not feminine but that I like.

    • I especially lol’ed at this:

      “I mean if I’m going to act like a stepford wife then I better get someone that looks like Ryan Gosling and earn at least six figures.”

      Ironic, because when we submit to our husbands we a- start to be more attracted to them, and b- inspire them to greater achievement.

      Also notice that she says she *would* do this for a high-value man. Overvaluing oneself much?

      • Lol!
        “I would go skydiving, if someone paid me a million dollars for putting myself through so much danger” *forgets that people have to pay TO skydive, and that there are more than enough willing volunteers*

      • I don’t really see the point of a wife that doesn’t act like this, so these women are basically saying they shouldn’t be married at all because they’re unwilling to actually be a wife outside of a meaningless title.

      • What? Women happy to make their husbands happy? THEY MUST BE OPPRESSED BY THE PATRIARCHY!!!!!!!

        It’s amazing that something as simple as pleasing your husband is considered a fetish.

      • I think it makes sense that people choose to imagine this is a fetish. I was first introduced to this way of thinking through Sunshine Mary’s blog. Although I had been raised with sort of traditionalist gender values (along the lines of your average conservative evangelical), I had been gradually rejecting them, at least on an intellectual level (practically, though, I still stayed home with the kids and cooked and cleaned, etc, though my intellectual exercises had made me start to resent my role, even though it was one I chose). SSM’s blog was VERY jarring at first. Honestly, t wasn’t until I found some of the atheist voices (girl writes what, judgy b*****, athol kay, etc) that I began to take it seriously. I think your thoughts are different from the general Christian presentation of gender in a couple of serious ways. I had always heard my role as a woman presented kind of apologetically, as though it was a God-mandated duty because of the fall and it sucked, but if I wanted to please God I had to do it. Women were admired for being willing to honor God and their families by filling such a demeaning and unfullfilling role. The difference here and on the sites I mentioned is that this is actually presented as a way to become truly happy by serving and loving others more than myself. It’s in my nature as a woman to nurture my family and place them above myself (key emphasis there on my own willing placing, not on my being naturally less). It’s only been a few months since I changed my thinking, and my husband and I are already substantially happier. The atheist voices (or people who enjoy submissive fetishes) are less threatening to the average reader, I think, because they tend to be non-judgmental, not make moral claims, and don’t sound at all like the conservative evangelical voices many of us are familiar with. They’re saying, “Hey, if you’re unhappy, think about this. Maybe it will help.” Don’t get me wrong: I’m religious, and I think the religious viewpoint many of you have is good. But it makes sense that, if a new reader finds a site like this, and especially if they find your arguments at all convincing, they might have an easier time imagining it to be part of an alternative sexuality.

        Just my two cents. :) I love your site – thank you all for all your work here!

      • One other quick thought, sorry. :)

        I think it’s also easy for new readers to miss that an awful lot of burden and expectation is placed on the men in these relationships. With authority comes responsibility and accountability, and while feminists tend to think men are being patronizing when they offer us women protection from those things, the feminists themselves don’t seem to really want them either. They want men to bear the responsibility (just look at family court, child support, alimony, “rape culture”, a man’s lack of choice when it comes to bearing children, or even the ratios of men to women in prison) without the authority, and they themselves want the authority without any responsibility. You can’t have it both ways, but a lot of these things have become deeply ingrained in our imaginations.

        Enough theory, I know that isn’t the purpose for this site. Thanks again!

  4. I’m not gonna get into the comments-conversation, & hate to interrupt, but I just wanted to say quick THANK YOU for writing this post. I loved it! I need
    these kinds of reminders. I love finding like-minded feminine sites, who are also very truthfully happy to be serving their husband & learning to be more deeply respectful when society pushes us against it. I’m new to your blog & I’m really enjoying it. Thank you!

  5. Full disclosure: I came here from the reddit thread.

    Just wanted to say that at first glance this was rather jarring, but the more I thought about it, the less “weird” it was. I come from a Christian background, and as a married man I fully subscribe to the notion that if both partners in a marriage are continuing trying to serve the other, that makes for a very happy marriage.

    Reading these types of posts is very much in line with that thinking, and I thank you for your post.

    A lot of times, the general public doesn’t get that because its very easy for us as humans to be very self-centered, and self-seeking. When we’re able to give up that thinking, and open up to someone who is the same way, it is incredibly gratifying. The challenge is to find someone equally invested in such a notion. You are susceptible to abuse, if you’re not careful, I imagine. But that’s why it’s so very important to select a partner who you value highly, and who does so in turn to you.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful and gracious comment!

      I certainly understand how this could be jarring. It isn’t something we see very much of these days and, in fact, is considered something we have fought against for good reason. Of course, we disagree with the latter. You’re right about humans being self-centered and self-seeking. If the self isn’t the first thing you are concerned with it is considered “unhealthy”. But, again, we tend to disagree.

      And it’s really that simple! We disagree. No more or less. We disagree so we live differently, that’s it.

  6. Will y’all please update me? As I’m new to this blog, I’ve read through most of the daily postings. I’ve read the comments here on this post (& Reread the post), which all seems nice & supportive, but I guess I missed something…? Besides me not being familiar with all the acronyms’ meanings, I don’t seem to be able to understand what the issue is. Is there another blog about it? I know it’s none of my business, and please just ignore this if I shouldn’t have asked. But y’all seem so nice & caring & I really like your blog & your topics & how you present them. And I’m grateful that you’re a real person sharing parts of your personal life with the WWW to help others… so I feel concerned… & a wee bit curious as to why & how there is an issue with this post. Please forgive me if I’m _unknowingly_ over-stepping an etiquette line in blog world.

    • In short, people believe that we are giving up “ourselves” for our husbands. That we lose everything we are for him. I don’t think many can comprehend that that is simply not the case and being like this is something we choose and more than that, something we enjoy.

    • Stingray is right, most people think that we are losing our identity when we put our husbands/SOs ahead of ourselves; they just don’t understand that we gain so much from doing so. Society is so firmly based on instant gratification and the “cult of self” that to abandon those to someone else is scary to them. It is an unheard of concept.

      If a person is concentrating solely on their own pleasure, they tend to chase it and settle for short-term fixes to happiness: a new purse here, an exotic vacation there. When you concentrate on the happiness of someone else, and you succeed in making them happy, it’s just a whole new feeling of satisfaction in your own life. It’s hard to describe. You receive double what you give.

  7. Isn’t this a nice unexpected outcome of feminism. Feminism by its nature has pushed for acceptance of all life styles so they can’t say much about women who choose this one. As a matter of fact they should have to support it! It’s our choice. Funny how that always comes back to bite them.

    • LOL, feminists DO NOT support women choosing femininity. They actively fight against it and get really screechy and say vile things about us. They call us a fetish because we put our husbands before ourselves.

      Granted, most of them probably aren’t old enough to remember what it used to be like when wives catered to their husbands. My mom only semi-caters to my dad, but my grandmother did it all the way. My grandparents adored each other.

    • It’s not and if you are wanting to discuss it civilly I think you’ll find some here willing to discuss it with you. We do moderate and will should you wish to deride.

    • Yes, it is a serious post. The women here are very serious about their choices and their lives. It’s a beautiful thing.

      Sarah has an excellent comment up thread about the man’s side of this relationship – living in accountability and responsibility. Also a very good thing.

      FWIW – I’m a guy

      • Glad to know you are here too tj. It’s pretty obvious I am a guy too. I worry about my presence here sometimes, but figure they’ll ask me to not comment if it becomes a problem or just block me. I try to be constructive and sensitive to the dialogue when commenting. I hope to learn somethings to help me grow my marriage relationship and then to help others. I also like encouraging the girls (no sexism here, their term) and offering a male perspective on some of the issues. Being a troll is not part of my mission here. This bunch looks more than willing to call them out. They have already blocked someone whose sole purpose seemed to be to instigate debate on issues that were off-topic. I have no doubt they won’t be shy about giving guys the boot if we become to disruptive to the tea party here..

      • Danny and M3 are here – they’re excellent men.

        Just remember we’re guests and to leave the seat down.

      • I used to live in my own apartment without mom to clean up after me. After two or three toilet and bathroom leanings I came to the conclusion sitting for all functions was so much more sanitary and a lot less messy. We taught all our boys to do it as they grew. It’s just so much more considerate. We men should stand just because we can? And using a urinal is such a delight when wearing shorts. You really get an idea of how messy we men can be then. I apologize to the ladies if that’s TMI, I just think we should rethink the toilet habits we teach our boys as they grow. They all start out on a potty chair sitting. Why did we think it was a bright idea to teach them to stand?

  8. I think the biggest issue with this post is that, coming here as an outsider, I find it deeply offensive in that it reads like a man wrote it. It is completely common for a man to express his beliefs this way (though not with self-awareness) – that women are on this planet to cook for him, run his home, suck his dick, and raise his children. When women are resistant to this, they are told to stop being so frigid, such a lesbian, such a shrew.

    That is my interpretation, anyways, of why this post reads as horrifying slavery to many women who read it. It is very much a mentality possessed by men who would have *all* women act this way, willing or not. Feminism supports women living their lives exactly the way they want to, whether that’s as a powerful CEO or a dedicated housewife. I think the context is lost for a lot of readers – that this post is a guide for women who consciously choose to live their lives in a certain way, and is not a recommendation for women who *do not* want to have this sort of relationship with their husband.

    It’s not for me, but I thought I might explain why others might criticize it so fervently.

    • How many men do you know that are like that, demanding that a woman be that way? And why would a woman be with a tyrant? I don’t know of any men that demand that a woman do that, but I do know a lot of women that cater to their husbands voluntarily and they enjoy it a lot. I live in the reddest of the red states & one of my favorite bars is a biker bar with the most macho and alpha guys you would ever want to meet. None of them are tyrants like that, yet their women gladly cook, clean, and yes, there are a lot of bjs involved.

      Seriously, 98% of women will never have a chance to be in a relationship like this unless they choose it. I don’t see why it is such a big concern. The males of America have already been feminized way past the “Do as I say, Woman!” stage. My husband doesn’t ever demand anything; I’m initiating this in my relationship.

      It’s sad when putting the most important person in your life first is considered offensive to the general population.

      • I just wanted to add, in re: to BJs… (though most of us here already know) that MANY women are truly happy & even thrilled to “give” their husband BJs… & I will say that it is now (as opposed when we were young’uns) a big turn-on for me, too, finally, when I learned how to do it properly & in ways that he likes it.

      • I can hardly wait. I was originanlly typing just “can’t wait” when the pun overwhelmed my sense of propritiy. I really am looking forward to that. Most of us men have a preference for BJs. DUH!? Who knew? I often read comments from women who really enjoy doing it and wonder what is the kick for them? It is unfortuante that it will likely lead to a troll invasion of some degree, but absolutely go for it. I suspedc

      • Stick with MAGERYM on this. Don’t leave her hanging when she does the post. You obviously feel you have a winning combination of skills and are observant as to that which pleases him. You seem like you have valuable information to share. I don’t mean all you know and do will apply for everyone, but that the how you got to that point could be educative. Am I serious? As serious as a guy who has read about 30 books in the last year on sexual and marital relationships. I really want to read some serious, truthful commentary from the female side. I don’t mind sharing from my side if that’s what makes all feel more comfortable, or not at all if that’s what it takes. I just want to learn something new. And no, I am not talking about everybody publishing explicit details that are beyond their comfort level. Speak about what you want in the way you want if this happens. If you want to question a man and it’s me, I’ll try to answer directly and with discretion. I realize this is not a porn blog or chat room. I do respect this site and would do nothing intentionally to harm it or your reputations.

    • This feminine ladies’ blog is theirs & these ladies can say what & how they want. An issue I see, now, is how some who come here to visit can be rude & ill-mannered in these ladies own personal blog (their place), when others have only had a peek into the parts of these ladies hearts that they are so kindly willing to take their time to share with all of us. Many of us (& the MANY more who will find this good-intended & helpful site will also come here to pay a kind visit) are very interested & thankfully care to inquire with good manners & open hearts (at least as far as that can be done on a website).

    • Thank you for reaching out to us and trying to explain, laureljan. I do understand where you are coming from but I feel that this is an inherent problem with how we treat men and their preferences these days. My question is so what if men want this of their women? Why does that make it or them bad? We all have preferences and we all should be allowed to them. Some men having these preferences and some women adhering to them is not the same as demanding it of everyone. And that we can’t fathom that *women* would want this is a real problem. What does that say about the level of indoctrination about what makes a “real” woman in our current society that women who *opt-out* are considered to not exist.

      • When MargeryM said this:
        I feel that this is an inherent problem with how we treat men and their preferences these days…
        It made me think of the a comment I shared (from an unknown source) about submission…
        & how it is the opposite of oppression…
        & how unkind so many women are to men these days… Opressing men… emasculating men…
        doing the same thing to men that some women want to accuse men of doing to women. I’m going deep in my head & heart right now (even thinking harshly of my own pieces of a negative past when I was too against my husband & see how it has affected him & us badly). I don’t even know if I should keep commenting, but I want to learn more. Thank y’all for sharing all that y’all do here! Please keep it coming.

  9. Pingback: Dear Feminists, | Margery + The Man

  10. Thank y’all for clarifying that some (for my mental lack of another word – outsiders?) were having some issues with the true loving & serving femininity parts of this post, I had not realized that, nor had a detailed understanding of why women reading here would so negatively disagree, from the comments I had read at that when I originally commented.

    Ok… this is kinda long… but I wanted to share it, in case anyone else here might like it, find it good & helpful in a positive way for their marriages.

    I feel bad for not noting where I got this (editor’s note: The article is here. Though I do not see the name of an author, the name of the website is . While I whole-heartdly agree with it & have a deep & loving Christian understanding of it, & do my best to live it (often dealing with my own wee naughty rebelliousness & bad habits), I did not write it. I have it clipped to my journal & have so far failed to find the author. I hope it’s ok for me to share it… If not, I understand if y’all delete it. (I’m going to leave of the Christian biblical part that’s the second half of the writing, being unsure if that’s relevant to others here.)
    Only a strong person with an open heart can be submissive.
    Submissiveness is not timidity, it is not servility, it is not subservience, it is not docility, it is not degrading, it is not a sign of weakness.

    True submission is a sign of inner strength, not of weakness. A greater degree of submission requires a greater degree of strength of personal character. As true love is a positive, so is true submission. A positive can only make more positives.

    Submission is an act of the will — it is the “result of a choice” and a result of a decision. The act of submission can only come from a choice and a decision that a person makes.

    Submission is a gift that one person chooses to give to another person.
    “Loving Submission” cannot be enforced upon a person. Either a person submits of their own free will, or they do not “truly submit”, at all.

    By contrast oppression is the act of extracting something from a person against their will. Submission and oppression are, therefore, opposite qualities of a relationship and are not even remotely similar.

    The submission of a good wife is a glorious thing that is intended to help her and her husband to have a contented life together. Problems in life and in marriage are more or less inevitable, but when a wife lovingly gives submission to her husband it is much more likely that those problems can be resolved harmoniously, without unpleasant quarrelling and without bitterness and resentment.

    Those people who look down on submission as if it were something oppressing, demeaning, degrading, or humiliating are merely showing that they have no understanding of what submission is and that they are ignorant of its good power.

    • Wow, I really like that. The contrast between submission and oppression is really good – it’s what I’ve been trying to explain, but didn’t have the words. Thank you.

      • You & I must have been having some ESP about that, as I posted at the same exact time as you, up there under MargeryM’s previous posts.

        The words on submission (that talked about how, by definition, oppression is the opposite) were not mine, but I’m grateful that you liked them.
        I found them a while back & I’m also grateful for them (& the other parts of which I left out of my comment) are very helpful for me & my husband’s marriage to lovingly grow & further develop in a positive & much more fulfilling direction.😉

      • I copied and pasted a line from your article into Google and came back with this. It has some of the same lines as what you posted above but it is much longer. Does it look familiar?

        Also, I have been struggling to describe what actual submission looks like in a marriage at my own blog for a long time and that excerpt you put in your comment says so much more succinctly and eloquently what I have been trying to say. Thank you for adding it here.

      • Yes! That is it! I never knew one could just type in some general words & find an author. Cool, thank you!
        If you’re one of the bloggers here, can you plz go back & add the author’s name to my post?
        Thanks for finding that… I see there are other things on that site that I will appreciate reading, too.

  11. And in return for your efforts you will receive a man who is confident, happy, one that you can respect, a man you are proud to have, a lack of conflict, a functioning household, a relationship free from antagonism and competition, affection, appreciation, satisfaction.

  12. “You’re going to hate it a lot and then less until finally it’ll be completely normal to you. Remember- it’s killing you because it’s killing you. You are killing The Shrew.” Love it! Fake it to you make it. It is so refreshing to read practical advice (thats not mainstream lies or overtly religious) on being a better wife/ girlfriend for your man. Thank you Thank you Thank you!

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