When people talk about power exchange, one of the first things that comes up is fairness. If one person has control over another, then it must mean the situation is inherently unfair to the submitting member. In many people’s minds control is associated with unfair treatment. The reasoning is that the person in charge does what they want regardless of the wishes of their partner. Therefore it is unfair.

I’ve most often heard this sentiment expressed by the dominant partner, not the person who is supposedly being treated unfairly. There can be a lot of guilt associated with strict control. How many women in female led relationships have anguished over being unfair by being in charge? We’re taught from an early age that if we fail to give people the opportunity to participate in choices that affect them, we are being unfair. We seek agreement before acting. We want to be fair. So, as Archie Bunker said, “ipso fatso,” if we remove choice, we are unfair. I think this conclusion is completely wrong.

Let’s look at the concept of fairness. At root, it means that the needs and sensibilities of others are considered as part of a decision. The dictionary says that fairness is the quality of making judgments that are free from discrimination. OK, we read a bit more into that word. Bear in mind that there is no part of fairness that requires offering a choice to anyone.

So you are the dominant partner in a FLR. Your partner wants you to provide a great deal of structure and make  the decisions that govern his life. You agree that he is happiest and most productive when you take strict charge. Then why isn’t it easy to just grab the reins and go? Why do you worry that he may not like what you decide he must do? Why be concerned that he doesn’t want to go to the movie you pick, or eat what you want for dinner? Because you want to be fair. Right?

Presumably, you know what he does and doesn’t like. You know what he needs to do to be the best man he can be. Well, if you don’t know, at least you have some idea. You don’t need his vote to be fair. All you have to do is consider what you believe is in his best interest. You can be both strict and fair. You agreed to your role because you want him to be happy. He wants, even needs, you to call the shots and discipline him as you see fit. Didn’t he ask you for that? Of course he did.

But, you might say, he’s unhappy because I punished him. He’s angry he didn’t get to go out with his friends. He’s not happy. I must have failed as his disciplining wife. No! He didn’t ask you to be his amuser-in-chief. He asked for you to control him and use discipline to keep him on the path you have chosen. That’s what he needs. More importantly, he trusts you to be fair. You are, in a very real sense, his parent. You want him to be happy of course. You also want him to behave properly and follow your guidance to the letter. That’s what he asked of you.

You can make choices for him that give him what he would have asked for if he had a choice. You don’t have to decide to go to the movie you like. You might tell him that you are going to one you know he wants to see. It’s your decision. It’s also fair.