The following is a portion of a conversation with Carla Anon (nom de plume) and chair of an academic department at a southern university. Carla is the lead in a FLR or Female Led Relationship. Our conversation in part focused on what might be considered as conjugal expressions.
Frank: Thinking of what we have discussed over time I’m reminded of something the French philosopher and writer Michel de Montaigne once observed – there’s much ado about interpreting an interpretation rather than interpreting things. Or perhaps one must be careful in how one interprets another’s interpretation. That humbly said, I’d like to expand on a conversation we had a while back and begin with ideas you interpreted about conjugal expressions.
Carla: (Laughter). Well, I think of my marriage as an improvised conjugal expression. My husband is my attentive companion and one of my best friends. My first article for NPJ describes the nature of our companionship and explorations in order to stabilize our marriage. Relationships are not mathematical. There was and is no marriage equation whereby there are or were two expressions being the same. It’s an adventure of pleasure and pain. There were and are always variances, as if to tighten or loosen the parts that supposedly created a better vehicle for the long term. Nothing in life is absolutely equal and seldom for the total length of a person’s life unless you have outside interests to balance the interior life. Law and custom are applied unequally depending on gender, skin color, class, money, education, looks, and so forth. The pressures of times in which we live are causing irreversible change.
I think traditional marriage as played out in certain films is a form of cultural hypnosis. The traditional marriage is less so for an increasing number of people I come into contact with. The people who make money from all the ingredients associated with marriage tend to express their concern by lamenting the loss of tradition…it’s about loss revenue under the mask of biblical phrases and so forth. Religious ritual can be hypnotic and offer a false sense of stability. If it works for you fine. It didn’t for me. I had experienced a couple marriages made in heaven. (laughter)
Religion and ritual has a hypnotic effect, and social pressure…add the political condiments of legislation, contracts, prenuptials, and a slew of other controllers and things get cooked into a thick soup. So, as I wrote about before I wanted something different and so did my husband. He agreed to our changes.
Frank: Can you expand on that?
Carla: Sure. I have two other colleagues, one at this university and another at a different college who have explored along with me a female led relationship with their husbands. All three of us have explored variations of it. My colleagues are in different disciplines and created their own unwritten and unsigned agreements. The question we had to work out was how beneficial was it for each of us, both wife and husband? We all experimented with a female led relationship…my partner agreed on it, as did my colleague’s husbands. We all were married before. And we are all in touch with each other to compare and contrast. Affirmation I suppose. Our personalities vary. In my case, I had requested my husband to be loyal to me though I have enjoyed another person irregularly, not just for sex but for intellectual and social wishes. It’s mutual consent. My husband and I experimented with his chastity for some time and that opened the door to his further attentiveness and for both of us it opened the door to increased communication. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worked for us. We are using chastity less while I have taken the lead in family and money matters.
My husband and I share our thoughts but I have the final agreed upon say in the matter. I don’t always exercise it. We are in love with each other companionship wise and that transcends the exterior noise. He submits to me when he is not working in research and teaching.
The experience in an FLR has resulted in me not wanting to turn back. Part of that is I tend to be dominant at home and he isn’t…and prefers that I take care of the home and I call upon him at any time, that I need him. Conflicts? Yeah. He says our arrangement is a relief for him from the pressures that he feels at work…and home is a release. Once I exercised my dominance there was no turning back…my colleagues have said the same thing about their roles. And like other couples we have the usual concerns but the thing we have in common is that our husbands talk to us a lot more and the converse. He takes care of my needs and I his…and I love to lead without being pushy or bitchy. Our roles have continually opened doors for us. I will mention our conversation to my colleagues if they wish to contribute.
Frank: Thank you.