Why I Love a Woman Who Takes Charge

I have no idea how it all started.

Probably when some ultra-hairy dude peered out from under his unibrow one morning long ago, staring coldly into the eyes of his “lady friend” (who he had taken by blunt-trauma force from a neighboring village), and let a couple of masculine snorts and grunts fly — and that was enough to get the unspoken message across.

“You stay here and tidy up the cave and cook something — and maybe have a baby while you’re at it — while I hit the forest to do whatever the heck I feel like doing.”

Either way, the whole idea of men being in charge of just about everything took a nice, firm hold,and stuck around for the next gillion years. It’s one of the modern marvels of progressive history, really. It never fails to blow our collective minds that we humans have continually managed to get SO MUCH WRONG  for SO LONG.

Lots of us guys are born into this world thinking we’re tougher than the opposite sex. We are raised up believing that since we’re more physically-suited for fairly useless stuff, like the NFL or, I dunno, sumo wrestling, then we must be the right choice to also “man” the helms of just about every other ship out there.


You know and I know that after a while, history kind of refuses most blatant lies and ends up spitting them out slowly, like a gross green wad of steamed kale. And truth be told, judging by what most of us have experienced in our lives, women have likely been the unseen driving force behind way more history than any textbook will admit.

So c’mon and join me. In honor of Sadie Hawkins Day, I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a little slideshow to illustrate my own decade of love and life with just the kind of lady I am talking about.

The kind who marches to her own drum.

The kind who helped make me a better man than I ever thought possible.

  • I love it when you boss me around. 1 of 20

    Click through to find out how I changed by life forever by falling in love with a one-of-a-kind woman.

  • She’s willing to think for herself. 2 of 20

    Life isn't easy, especially for a woman who was born in to a very religious community where change and difference are often unwelcome. From the moment I met my wife Monica in Salt Lake City, Utah nearly a decade ago, I could just tell that she was a person who had taken charge of her own world, even if it meant turning her back on so much of what she had been told is right. She was a girl who had chosen to move away from her church's teachings in order to find out some truth for herself. And I knew right away that I was in love.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She leaps before she looks. 3 of 20

    Lots of people need to ponder decisions and moves for a seriously long time before they make up their minds — for better or worse, I am guilty of this myself. But meeting my wife changed my mindset on a lot of that. I met her in the middle of a cross-country road trip with my band, and just a few days after I pulled away from her home in Utah, she spontaneously decided to call in sick to her job, drop her dog off at a friend's, and drive hundreds of miles through the night to meet me in far off El Paso, Texas. I had never met anyone with that sort of beautiful recklessness. We got married six weeks later.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She’s not afraid of change. 4 of 20

    After meeting each other one night in August, and then getting married six weeks later in October, my life and my wife's life were suddenly thrust together. There were no long term joint plans, no big future that we had dreamed up together. I had been wanting to move to New York City, and Monica had never lived anywhere but out west. But when I mentioned the possibility, she not only dropped her entire existence (job, condo, friends, etc.) in order to go with me, but she also pretty much orchestrated the entire move. How's that for taking charge?


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She helped me become a grown-up. 5 of 20

    As a a full-time musician in my early 30s, I was not the most responsible person in the world when I married Monica. I didn't know jack about keeping up with my bills, and I didn't even have my own place to call home — I'd been couch surfing for years. My new wife, upon figuring out that I was a clueless man-boy, could have easily bolted for the hills, but instead she patiently took charge of the murky situation and gradually helped me sort stuff out. I like to think that I grew up a heck of a lot in the process.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She turned a dream into reality. 6 of 20

    Monica was a free-spirited, progressive, creative woman when I met her, and that had a lot to do with why I was crazy about her. So one Sunday shortly after we had moved to Brooklyn, NY together, I saw an article in the New York Times about a young woman in the city who had started her own personal blog and found a huge readership writing openly and honestly about her life. I told Monica that she should do that, too. A few months later, she had started her own blog and was having pizza with that very same blogger from the article. A decade later, she now makes her living writing on the internet, a dream she honestly had from the moment she started writing as The Girl Who.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She took charge to make our marriage work. 7 of 20

    New York City was a dream come true for both of us, but when life got in the way and our marriage was being tested by work and stress and a million other things, Monica looked me in the eye and said, "I'm going back to Utah. Are you coming or not?" It might seem blunt and cool in writing, but the truth is, that choice was one of the most important ones I have ever made in my lifetime. We went back to Utah together, and Monica called an old friend of hers with a thriving business. Before I knew it, I had found my first real job outside of music in 12 years, learning construction. I was so proud, and once again, it was thanks in no small part to my wife taking charge.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She created the best life possible for us. 8 of 20

    As our lives were changing rapidly, I began to really notice that so much of what was happening to me, to us, was pretty wonderful. I also began to recognize that most of it was a direct result of this fascinating girl I had met in a Salt Lake City bar one night and married soon after. Monica's commitment to finding the best life possible for her and me, no matter how scary or overwhelming the prospects seemed, wasn't something that she was even aware of, of course. And that is what was, and still is, so attractive about her take-charge attitude to me to this day.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She knew when we were ready to become parents. 9 of 20

    We began to hint to each other that it might be time to start thinking about starting a family. I thought that my wife might want to think about that for a while, maybe ponder if I was ready to be a dad. To be fair, knowing me, I probably wanted to procrastinate about the entire issue as long as I could, too. But no. Not very long after we first discussed it, Monica presented me with a wrapped present. It was a copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting with a positive pregnancy test taped to cover. She had worked her take-charge magic once again.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She stands up for herself and others. 10 of 20

    While she was very pregnant with our first child, Monica never lost her keen social consciousness. In fact, I think the prospect of bringing a baby into this world drove her even harder to stand up for the things she believed in. She marched through a bunch of cold nights to support gay marriage and was so proud that she could bring our baby-girl-to-be along for the journey. I remember looking at the many thousands of people marching and not seeing a single one who was pregnant like my wife was. She was a thrilled, and I was enamored.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She raises our kids like a champ. 11 of 20

    Violet came into our lives, and our lives were forever changed for the better. Monica immediately took to motherhood, which didn't surprise me or anyone who knew her. Still, her reveling in her baby girl and her fierce commitment to being the best possible parent she could be was still inspiring for me to watch. Nothing tests what a person is really made of like first-time parenthood. Everything you have ever known is turned completely upside down. But I watched as my wife embraced her new role without ever missing a beat, and the gravity of love hit me square in the chest. Even now, she is still my role model when it comes to raising kids.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She inspires me to be a great dad. 12 of 20

    Coming from broken homes and non-traditional families, Monica and I had known our share of sadness and "missing out" when we were kids. Still, I am forever grateful that once our Violet was born, my wife constantly pointed out to me just how much she and I, as parents, were moving in the opposite direction from certain things that we had experienced growing up. She recognized early on that we shouldn't and couldn't ever doubt our own abilities as a mom and dad to our baby girl. She urged me to go for greatness, to try and be the dad of the century. And I'm still out there trying.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She’s not a beauty traditionalist. 13 of 20

    Of course, it's not as heavy as some of the other stuff I'm talking about here, but it has always impressed me that my wife, Monica, has never been too preoccupied with one hairstyle or "look." Throughout our time together, her hair has been blonde, brunette, platinum, and even a bit pink. She'll just wake up one day, disappear for a few hours, and show back up with a totally transformed physical appearance, no questions asked. She even chopped off her super long locks on a whim one time. I find it all exhilarating and sexy.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She decided when our family should start growing. 14 of 20

    When we first began talking about having a second child, something we both wanted, I expected that we were supposed to wait for some kind of "right time" or something before we started really trying. Of course, I was dead wrong. Monica began keeping a very detailed calendar of star charts and moon phases and fertility stages, and the next thing I knew, my take-charge lady was waking me up in the middle of the night for a bit of fun (it was a dream come true). Not long after, we welcomed our son, Henry, into our life.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She pushes through the toughest of situations. 15 of 20

    We eventually made our way back to my native Pennsylvania, largely due to the fact that Monica really wanted to raise our kids near the cities and culture of the East Coast. We found a house on Craigslist and rented it, sight unseen. We drove across the country, Monica in our Honda with a two-year-old and an infant, me in a moving truck with our stuff and our dogs, and right away we fell in love with our new home. Then six months after we moved in, it caught fire. We were devastated to have to move. I never thought we could return there; Monica never thought we wouldn't. Eventually, worn out by the blues, I let myself in on her big optimism. It felt good just to believe in something again.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • Her unwavering optimism keeps me strong. 16 of 20

    She was right, by the way. Monica never doubted we could live in this house again, despite all of the fire damage, and today, I'm happy to say it is our home once more. Through some really tough times, I learned from my wife that optimism, no matter how hard it is to conjure up, is pure strength.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She maintains peace within our family. 17 of 20

    Living and loving a take-charge kind of woman has taught me a lot about myself, especially when it comes to being a dad. My wife seems to have a firm understanding, an almost sixth sense even, that yelling and screaming at kids never amounts to much, and her decision to exile that stuff from playing any part in her interaction with our kids has led me down the exact same path. That's a pretty cool and powerful influence to have on a person you love, I think.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She knows exactly what she wants. 18 of 20

    Monica was always sure she wanted three children. After two, I was a little less certain that three was our fate. It wasn't that I didn't want a third, it was just more that I couldn't even get my head around what having one more child could actually be like. Still, as this picture indicates, Monica took the bull by the horns again, and I'm pretty damn glad. The little guy will be arriving March, 2014.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She’s taking the reins in her pregnancy. 19 of 20

    Because my wife was induced during her first two pregnancies, and due to the fact that she only ever experienced what a hospital birth was like, she kind of surprised me by announcing that it was her wish that this third kid of ours was to be born here in our home. I was way into the idea. So she went and found the best midwife in our area, and now, because of my wife's commitment to experience and her strong belief in the power of home birth, we are super excited, patiently waiting to experience something very awesome that most parents will probably never experience. And no, we aren't scared at all.


    Image: S. Bielanko

  • She is confident and strong to the core. 20 of 20

    Look, I don't think I can overstate how vital and powerful it has been for me to have actually married a woman like the one I married, a woman whose ability to take charge of any kind of situation you can imagine isn't really even a conscious one anymore. It's just the way she is. Long ago, she made the decision to live life according to her heart, and now it's evident in every move she makes, every word she writes, the way she talks to the kids. So listen, if you ever get lucky and find a girl like that, trust me, and marry her on the spot.


    Image: S. Bielanko

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You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.

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