THEORYWhat To Do When Your Captain Won't Lead (self.RedPillWomen)

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So you’ve found Red Pill Women. You’ve read the popular posts. You’re ready to start surrendering and being a great first mate! The problem? Your husband isn’t stepping up. You feel defeated. Why isn’t this working?! It must be him. He isn’t leading like the sub said he would. ‘How do you fix this?’ You ask.

First and foremost, you can’t change your man. You also can’t demand he be the leader and take charge. For one, he probably won’t know what you’re talking about, and for two, that’s called leading from behind the scenes or topping from the bottom. This is not true surrendering, not true following your captain’s lead. So how do we do it? Men are simple, straightforward creatures. They don’t understand subtle or even obvious hints. So cut it out, and stop being passive aggressive when he doesn’t get it. One of my favorite manosphere bloggers, Ian Ironwood, wrote a great article about encouraging men to lead:

It’s not that these dudes are duds, understand. In almost every case they are good, decent, kind men who have dedicated themselves to their families and their wives. It’s not that they lack devotion, understand – most are filled with good intentions and a deep-seated desire to succeed. What they often lack is understanding.

Oftentimes these men have grown up cowed, with distant or absent fathers and strong, sometimes even domineering mothers. They have been taught by society that their masculinity is a stain they must overcome, and they approach their duties as father and husband like penance, not a prize hard won.

Taming of the Shrew

Depending on how shrew-like you have been in your marriage and for how long, you have contributed to your husband’s betafication. So first and foremost, let’s make sure that we have fixed that problem. Always be working on yourself, putting your best foot forward, not nagging, always encouraging, sweet, helpful, a good first mate. Even one slip up in a heated moment can tear down what took him a month to build up. Progress can be slow, based on your husband’s beta tendencies in general, how long/how bad your lack of submission contributed to the problem, and how quickly you internalize RPW. Please remember that this is your husband’s journey, not yours. Don’t rush him or goad him into progress. That will not work.

Based on articles written by Ian Ironwood and the book The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle, here are my tips for encouraging your husband to lead you and your family!

Don’t phrase it as a question

...Rather a statement. “I’d like to know what you want for dinner.” Men are used to deferring to their wives’ wishes and whims in the interest of equality. When you phrase something as a statement rather than a question, you make a decision his. You are deferring and he is put in charge of a decision. Laura Doyle says that if he tries to hand you back the reins, you should simply reply, “whatever you think,” each time he tries to do this. I did this with my husband as he was shopping for his car. It works for any situation! For dinner plans, for buying a car, anything!

Example 1 RPW: I’d like to know what you want for dinner.

DH: I don’t care. What do you feel like making?

RPW: Whatever you’d like.

I will add that your Captain’s personality type (greater beta, alpha, sigma etc) greatly affects the way his leadership emerges and how it appears. It will take you knowing your captain to flesh out whether he is still trying to kowtow to your authority or if he is actually delegating. In the beginning, depending on the degree of beta and how long/how bad the dynamic has been in your household, your husband will most likely be more blue pill and inclined to let you lead but as your relationship evolves, you will need to use your judgement about which situations he is actually delegating to you. Wives may have to surrender a lot at first to fix a husband who stopped leading in the face of her prior overdominance. However, over-submission can become a burden to the relationship once he starts taking control of more areas of life and delegating certain ones to his First Mate. Instead of offering open-ended questions to the Captain about tasks delegated, a good First Mate will offer her Captain choices that contain the information he requires to make a decision.

Example 1a RPW: (knowing there is ground beef) Would you like beef stroganoff or meatloaf tonight for dinner?

Example Two

DH: We have an extra $200 this month. Should we pay down debt or put it into the savings?

RPW: Whatever you think is just fine with me, babe!

DH: I'd really like your input though, especially since you make the payments.

RPW: We have about $XXXX in savings and $XXX with 18% interest on the credit card.

After the decision has been made, you can’t criticize it. This can be the most difficult part, especially when he makes a decision you don’t like. You don’t like what he picked for dinner? Shut up. Think you should have paid off the credit card? Shut up. When you make the decision to make it his decision you have to leave it there. If you take it back and say “I think we should do it this way,” or “No, I don’t like that,” it makes him feel as if he has failed some sort of test in your eyes. Once again, he can’t do a single thing right to please his wife. I like to ask myself “is this the hill I want to die on?” which is basically me asking myself how important this decision is and is it worth potentially tearing down my man by questioning his decisions and setting your captain-first mate dynamic back who knows how long.

"But what if he messes up?"

It is not a matter of if he will mess up, but rather when he will mess up. He is guaranteed to, he is human. You mess up too, sometimes really badly, he just most likely doesn’t rake you over the coals about it. Each time your husband makes a mistake he is learning. He feels the responsibility and any associated feelings (humiliation, fear, failure). He needs a soft place to land, a supportive and loving wife. I know some women are thinking, “I’m not allowed to be upset? His decisions affect me!”

Sure you are. But you don’t get to rip him a new one. You do get to help him dust himself off and watch as he fixes the problem. When he messes up, do not jump in to help. Do not reassume control. This will be hard, especially in the heat of the moment. Resist the urge! Let your husband figure it out for himself. Laura Doyle wrote something that resonated with me early on in my RPW journey: “Your husband manages to communicate, problem solve, and produce in his job. Clearly he has the skills to do the same at home.” What a simple yet powerful notion! He is capable!

Encourage an Alpha Presentation

Ian Ironwood also uses this suggestion for encouraging your husband to assume leadership:

Simply put, a way to quietly encourage a man toward a more Alpha presentation is to put him in situations in which you would like him to display Alpha, and then quietly invite him to do so without judgment or rejection. You can do this in a number of ways. He goes on to tell a story of when he and the now Mrs. Ironwood were dating, she asked him to come along with her to her father’s house to drop off a gift for him. She included that he may have been drinking and that she would appreciate his company in case things got out of hand. What sort of man can refuse a favor like that?! She asked him to go as her protector. Men love feeling needed for the masculine abilities and protection is a huge one.

Helen Andelin, in Fascinating Womanhood lists the traits men love to be noticed and complimented on:

  • his masculine body

  • skills and abilities

  • achievements, goals and dreams

  • masculine traits of character

  • his masculine role

When trying to tailor a situation to your husband that would quietly encourage an alpha presentation, look for ones that will highlight these subjects and you’re sure to get a win.


As you continue with your RPW journey, please remember that not all men are alike and not all men are alphas. There is a wide spectrum of male personalities and truthfully not all of us ladies would do well with an alpha. My husband is a man I would classify as a “greater beta”. He is someone who possesses leadership qualities however he will not step up if someone else is willing to hop in the driver’s seat. The hardest part for me was to overcome the tendency to dominate him and keep myself in my own seat. At first I was disappointed because I thought red pill wouldn’t work for us. But then I realized, I am judging DH based on what I think a leader looks like and how I would do things if I was leading. I need to watch him and how he leads, which is super laid back and almost looks like he isn’t at all. But he does, in his relaxed, undemanding way. I just have to learn to stay out of his way.

Good luck, be patient, and don't give up! This journey is so worthwhile!


[–]QueenBee126 5 points6 points  (1 child)

What a fabulous post! Thank you for taking the time to write this!

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Well thank you so much! Shout out to the mods for the feedback and suggestions as I wrote it!

[–]winndixiedirty 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Also the thing with decisions that there is always room to criticize, anybody can find any reason to criticize a decisions. That's why they are decisions, crossroads with both advantages and disadvantages. The decisions with clear cut advantages are not decisions. I find women automatically have a sixth sense of finding the best way though criticize someone's decision. While the best mode of action is just don't.

[–]violetpiecrisis 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I love this post so much! I especially like (and use with great success) the suggestion of tailoring choices for dinner or plans down to a few options. It really makes the decision making process so much faster and smoother. Now, I can skip the "Well, what are my options?" phase entirely.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I find that it is a great way to ease your husband into taking charge. Now mine will just tell me "I feel like having this for dinner," or "I wanted to do this," so it's a vast improvement.

[–]throwthisshitaway7 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I'd like to ad some insights to this fantastic post as a man who has struggled to "find the alpha." Particularly as a man transitions away from being a beta, leading a relationship is exhausting. You can grow accustomed to it and hit your stride as you progress, but some leeway and tact is required in the early stages.

You might, to use the dinner example, make your statement, get a non-answer, frame it differently, get a non-answer, throw your hands up and go make whatever you were going to make anyway.

A guy who has been beta for a while is going to view this stuff as extra pressure, and if you've been a shrew for a while, as yet another opportunity to screw up in your eyes by making the wrong decision. Try again tomorrow. Be persistent. Don't give up.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you for that insight!! It never occurred to me (and probably other women) that it could be exhausting to a man, but that makes sense. For the first time in x amount of time he has to use his brain instead of going along with orders. Really fantastic insight, thank you!

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (3 children)

This is a very helpful post for impatient women trying to change the dynamic. I like your personal bits too. How long have you been working on it in your own relationship? How long until you started to see a change? Any changes in the kids to their dad? You don't have to answer the questions, I'm just nosy :)

The techniques here would also nurture strong, confident kids (laying back, letting them figure it out, no helicopter parenting).

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Well DH and I dated for a year before we go engaged and were married 3 months later. I found RPW in Decemeber 2014 so we were together like a year and a half at that point, married almost 6 months. I told him about it and what I wanted to work on and how I didn't realize how much modern feminism had permeated our relationship (I've never identified as a feminist).

It really took me another 6 months to know what I was doing, mess up, I gave up at one point and then went back to it. By my birthday he told me that he could see changes and that he felt more of a man than he ever had and more in charge of our family than ever. So about 6-7 months.

Yes we have been making changes with the kids, DH used to let them do whatever, they would walk up and smack him or like treat him like one of their friends and he stopped putting up with that and actually parenting once I stopped treating him like a kid (weird, right?) unfortunately their mother is the type of women the men at TRP fear in every way possible so it's a constant battle to teach them what we feel is proper when she is skating from boyfriend to boyfriend and living off the child support/welfare.

Edited to add: I hate helicopter parents! We let the kids get hurt. We are currently on our way to the beach for vacation and I let them each pack their own stuff with a list I made (the younger one can't read so his was in pictures). They know how to use the library on their own, etc. we are very into letting them learn things.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Well you're very self aware and smart for recognizing what you needed to do to right the ship. I hate when kids smack their parents 'playfully', amazing that he felt respect enough to put an end to that in such a short period. I'm sure you had to bite your tongue seeing that behavior. maddening.

Yep, helicopter parents don't realize all the damage they're doing. I love your picture list idea. Things like that take up more adult effort in the beginning (easier to pack his bag for him), but it pays off.

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I feel so lucky that I found this sub and discovered there's a new and better dynamic to our relationship when I did, rather than ten years from now.

My mom did everything for us growing up and I would have loved to have some of the experiences that I give my stepsons. That's why I do it. I missed out on this like being in charge of packing my own overnight bag /suitcase (idk why I remember stuff like that but I do). Also I had to learn a number of things "in the moment" when I moved out of my parents because everything was done for me. I want them to be highly functioning before that happens.

[–]illtakethatone 0 points1 point  (1 child)

This post is amazing and oh so helpful! I am brand new here and working hard on myself in order to change the dynamics in my marriage and household. I need all the practical tips I can get!

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The biggest thing I did that helped my marriage was to take a step back and let my husband step up. He is a leader, albeit a reluctant one. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

[–]lidlredridinghood 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Appreciating this post very much!

My man is already concious of being alpha, and Captain in our relationship.... but this highlights ways for me to reflect to him that I understand this dance. Thank you!