Thursday, October 05, 2006

She's Back

Just a quick update on events of last night and today. Back from her business trip, we had an uneventful evening last night, though perhaps a little more flirtatious that normal for a pair of 50-somethings. In bed, we got quite passionate. I got to pleasure her orally, which is my favorite thing, and she sounded quite enthused about it. She decided to finish with me in her, so it doesn't look like I'll be asking about the necklace any time soon.

With a lot of work to catch up on, I got home late today; talking about that she said, "If you get home that late, I don't think you'll have time for exercise before dinner." I said, "I've been slacking off about that recently anyway." Which is true, though I'm not sure why - I really do need it for my health. So she said, "That's OK, I'll make you do it tomorrow."

In my head, I said, "Whaaatttt???" But I think I responded, "OK."

Oh my sad fantasy that this would mean what I want it to mean. But who knows....

The Man Watching

I came across this poem last weekend. I was struck by the last verse particularly. I know I'm taking it far at variance with how it was intended, but I still enjoyed it, and imagine that it does have something to do with how there can be growth in surrender.

The translation of Rilke from German (which I do not speak) is by Robert Bly. I've found his translations from the Spanish (which I do speak) to be quite "poetic" in the sense that they work as poetry in English, but also aren't necessarily totally faithful to the original. I have no idea how this would compare for a speaker of German.

The Man Watching

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape, like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively
by constantly greater beings.

Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Robert Bly

What's normative? What's true? And why write?

This started out as a reply to Saratoga and Polyfetishst's comments on my last post, but quickly got out of hand, so I guess it gets to be a post of its own.

I find that Saratoga has a very prescriptive style of writing which I suspect some people find off-putting. It certainly makes me read things twice before I (think I) get what he actually means.

I found Candace's writing titillating and amusing, and some of the questions she raised about her relationship, interesting. A long time ago, I tried to cultivate the habit of suspending judgement on the "truth" value of stories which I couldn't verify anyway. The "truth" by which I evaluated them became more as I evaluate fiction: "Does it speak to an emotional reality that I couldn't easily gain access to otherwise?" If so, then, there's a "truth" there worth considering.

As someone who's been struggling with this issue for oh, say 35 years now, I found Ms. Rika's writing clear and from a striking different point of view, and thus appreciate it. I don't think I find it "sympathetic" (to borrow Polyfetishist's term), but it feels like a tonic to me.

I certainly don't mean to give either of them normative power, but my goal in reading around the blogosphere is get as many points of view from real experience as I can. And there's a certain voyeuristic thrill to it, which I find actually detracts from the clarity that I'm seeking.

I'm writing about my exploration and my process of bringing this in to the open in my relationship with my beloved wife. So I do expect that the whole thing will grow and change, and even that it will change markedly before we get to being explicit about it; that's OK with me.

I think the "She comes first" formulation is rather simplistic, but sometimes I find, strong simplistic statements are good for changing my point of view. I agree with your friend "V" that a domme with a "I come first" attitude would probably have a short run on relationships. But from the sub point of view, that's probably a valid point of departure. From the Dommes point of view I suspect it's something like "I get a strong claim on this person's time and attention" along with "I'm responsible for how I use that claim." But that's wild conjecture, since I'm pretty far from that mind set.

It looks like perhaps Polyfetishist and I share this trait that makes is a little more focussed on the needs of our partners than of ourselves; this is in general, not a good thing, I think. Or can certainly lead to problems, while it also provides benefits of empathy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What do I want?

MistressLaura's Boy describes what happened when Mistress Laura wanted him to get through an activity of hers that he wasn't comfortable with. Read about it in Dealing with jealousy femdom style.

After reading that, I was laying awake at night with the question that so often bedevils me: What do I want? What am I asking for? What do I want to try.

The process of figuring that out has been (psychologically) much complicated by reading Ms. Rika's site - it's very well written, but disturbing, or actually discouraging, in ways I couldn't figure out. I finally came to look at it like this: her writing is a very needed tonic to the "do me" school of sub-wannabes, who think that "submission" is about getting their partners to be their fantasy of the whip-wielding leather-clad Dominatrix. On the other hand, I think her writing comes close to a dominant's fantasy of the same kind of thing: following her advice, the submissive will become darn-near the perfect helpmate and service person. But, (to turn her question on it's head), what's in it for the submissive?

She alludes to the fact that she enjoys doing "domly" things to her submissives sometimes. It's the thing I've always found unsatisfying about her site: there not enough of her there, nor any of her husband and stable of submissives - I forget, one live-in and a couple of part-times or something... There's not enough of anyone there to get a sense of what their relationships are like and why this works for them. Why aren't they all highly paid personal assistants to powerful people, if they like serving so much?

Clearly they're getting something back (psychically) from the relationship. Clearly, as Ms. Rika says, there's a relationship there. I'd love to know what it is, only because, having said, "Your relationship is not going to look like this fantasy," it would be encouraging to read, "My relationships look like this; this is one model that's working for me and my submissives."

Many thanks to StrongNSubmissive for pointing out that all relationships are quid-pro-quo. It certainly was the thing that I found difficult and challenging about Ms. Rika's site.

This digression about Ms. Rika happens because, after reading her stuff, the question "What do I want" isn't even relevant. I think it's taken me this long (and about four attempts at this post) to figure that out.

So, returning from our digression, I came up with two answers to "What Do I Want?" One keys off of MistressLaura's Boy's experience. The most succinct way I can sum up that post is that "she took him." And, for whatever reason, I want to "be taken" that way. I suppose I could (and probably will) try to figure out why that is. And, more productively, what that means. But the experience he describes, of being with someone who is so secure in her relationship with him, and he so willing to go where he's uncomfortable when demanded to by her, results in his being "taken" there. Psychologically, I find that as irresistible as a moth does a flame.

The other thought occurred to me on the way home tonight: "How do you tell someone you want to make them the center of your life?" Because that's what I think I want to do with my beloved. I want to be comfortable enough in our relationship that I can make her the center of my life without demanding that kind of detailed attention from her - without being her being "the mommy" and "responsible" for me. I clearly still find that dynamic a dangerous shoal.

I realized this when I realized the ridiculous number of things I do - trying to get exercise, learn an instrument, be on a couple of community boards, and be active in our church (and just so you get the right idea, it's a big part of our lives and it's a hyper-liberal church). Would I give some of them up if it meant that I could focus more time and energy on her and the things she wants? You bet.

Would I do that if we didn't have some quid pro quo in place about what was happening and why? No way. Not because I'm selfish (well, maybe - I supposed that's best left for others to judge) but because those things feed me, and if I'm going to give them up, I need to be fed other ways. And I thing being in a committed submissive relationship is a way to do that.

What I want back in that quid pro quo is an acknowledgement of what I'm doing, and and acknowledgement that it's important to my beloved that I be aware of what I'm doing. It's all those little rituals that some submissive husbands describe, and which have meaning because those in the relationship give them meaning.

For example, WhateverSheSays points out that he "forgot" to make the morning coffee and that this little incident became a moment whose dynamic I suspect they will return to until they figure out their mutual expectations about it. I make two double-lattes every morning (or very close to every morning) here in our house. It's not a submissive act - we like good strong coffee. When I used to leave in the wee hours for a long commute to work, I'd leave hers on the counter and she has said it was like a little lovely reminder from me. But she expected it only out of habit, and its absence would be seen as WhateverSheSays' wife saw his lapse with the coffee: as the intrusion of other events on to life, and a reasoned decision on his part (too tired) to make the coffee. Whereas his expectation/hope/fantasy was that she would make her convenience/expectation of service more important than his judgement about the balance of other events in his life.

In other words, I'll venture to say that WhateverSheSays, and certain I (at this point in my thinking) are saying


...before my convenience, before my "being tired," and in fact, before everything except my best judgement about what is good for us, our relationship, and our family. That I've agreed to subordinate "what I want" for "what she wants," "what is convenient for her" in return for her agreeing to expect that, acknowledge that, remind me of that, and make me acknowledge that.

Phew. I don't think that's exactly right. But this is my fifth try at this, so up it goes and maybe it will break the log jam and help things get clearer.

On another note, I'm sorry about the demise of Candace's "Woman Rules Roost" blog. I don't know if it was an experiment of hers that failed or whether she got hacked, but which ever, it seems to be gone. Any info appreciated.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Crazy Busy and Unsettled

...or caged by circumstance. I'm on a few too many community boards, minorly involved in a theatre production which takes a fair amount of free time for about 2 weekends, and sick enough to have effectively "lost" last night to sleeping and recovering. But a quick update because I think things are freshest if written sooner rather than later.

Our little experiment with the "chastity necklace" is working out well, I think. It was 10 days ago or so that my beloved last put it on, and we had a great discussion about how it should work - our first frank discussion about sex and approaching even this small bit of kink in a long time. Needless to say, when I wasn't in community meetings last week, I felt a little like a kid with a new toy. But, trying to be honest about it, I decided to wait until I wanted relief, not just to "test the system."

And lo and behold, Saturday morning ended up with a very pleasant romp in the hay in which it pleased her to have me inside her, and relief was not an issue. As I often do, I apologized for makeing that part of the event so brief, for I find, as Candace has noted, that longer intervals lead to less staying power. She said, "That's just icing on the cake, the main event is already long over." Which I obviously knew, but wasn't sure of the relative importance of the two parts of the event. I still like it that my being inside her happens when it pleases her; I'll have to remember to thank her for that if the opportunity arises and emphasize how much I like it that way.

It did occur to me that if I didn't get relief while we were having our romp, I could have immediately asked her to take the necklace off me, and that didn't seem right. I'm wondering if we can add a 24-hours-after-she-cums-and-I-don't piece to this arrangement. But no urgency on that (I think).

Wednesday morning, between not feeling well and being a little stressed, I thought some relief might be in order, so I asked her to take off the necklace. I had no expectations of what she might say; I knew she'd say "Yes" (I know her that well), but didn't know if she'd be peeved, not want to provide a time to put it back on and so have me use the dice, provide some long amount of time, or what. To my surprise, she said, "Bring this back to me after you shower." Well, that was pretty explicit. So I did. That worked out well!

I'm still mulling over the contents of Ms. Rika's site - I've written and discarded at least one post on it. In one sense, I wonder if her site is a Domme's version of the sub's "do me" fantasy - Originally, I was wondering what was in it for the sub. On the theory that this has to be a relationship (and I appreciate her emphasis on that) there has to be something in it for both people. And there is, as she writes it, but only implicitly.

Which brings up the whole "Is submission a quid pro quo?" question. A big one for later.

Also have been musing on the depths of submission, and what it means. When I'm mindful of it, I find myself deferring to my beloved far more than I used to, and I think that makes things work well around our house - no big news there, as that seems to be part of the point of an "loving female authority" or "Venus on Top" kind of relationship. More on that later too.

Finally, thinking a lot about the "female superior" versus different-but-equal (assymetry) models of men and women relating in relationships that deal explicitly with power. Thanks to Saratoga (or rather, I guess, a friend of his) pointing out that either we're not dealing with "power exchange" here, or the term needs to be defined carefully. More on that latter as well.

The point of all this "more on that later" business is that all these threads have kept me from posting anything, and I wanted to break the log-jam. So we'l get to that stuff, but life and this peculiar experiment go on.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Powerful poem: "And The Men" by Tony Hoagland

Garrison Keillor - sometimes I love him and sometimes I hate him, but I love the fact that he reads a poem aloud every day (even though sometimes I hate the way he reads it, and sometimes they work so well). Today's was one that worked so well.

Absent permission, some excerpts form Tony Hoagland's "And The Men":

And The Men

want back in:
all the Dougs and the Michaels, the Darnells, the Erics and Josés,
they're standing by the off-ramp of the interstate
holding up cardboard signs that say WILL WORK FOR RELATIONSHIP.
Because being a man was finally too sad—
In spite of the perks, the lifetime membership benefits.
And it got old,
Always holding the fear inside
like a tipsy glass of water—

The whole thing might be archived at The Writer's Almanac for the week of September 18, 2006

I've been thinking a lot recently about the relationship between self-esteem and femdom and service. Paradoxically, the more I think about service, and the more my beloved and I play our little game (I don't really know what to call this chastity thing otherwise), the more (I think) my self esteem improves. And the less the "worship the Goddess" "all Women are superior to men" capitalization thing and all, the less it makes any sense to me.

I'm actually a little relieved at that because it conflicts with some of my deeply held values, which talk a lot about the inherent worth and dignity of every person. And while I could twist a "female superior" ideology around so that it seemed consistent with that, it always seemed kind of tortured (pun intended, I guess...)

I think maybe this also opens up possible lines of communication about this with my beloved, who believes in that stuff even more fervently than I do, and for whom I know that has always been a barrier.

As I've gotten older I've ended up looking kind of distinguished - especially if I dress up. I mention this only because I have definately noticed that it creates a set of expectations in people, of how they think I expect to be treated and how they expect me to treat them - expectations that are usually quite at odds with who I am. So Hoagland's lines about "being a man was finally too sad — in spite of the perks, the lifetime membership benefits. And it got old..." really resonated. Fortunately for me, I've never identified (much) with those expectations that people create for me, at least around the older white male part. But if it was your identity, I can see how it could be very painful to realize it's limitations.

On the other hand, "Always holding the fear inside like a tipsy glass of water" - as good a simile as any I've seen for knowing what I want, yearning for an explicit power dynamic in a relationship, and not being able to have it, and being afraid that it would "get out."

I'm enjoying this experiment and its subtle, and not so subtle, effects on my "real life."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Wonderful Gift

The Fantasy
The Reality
Sunday mornings are a little busy around our house. We both teach sunday school occasionally, so my beloved often leaves around 8:45 so she can catch the early service before she has to teach. This means that Sunday mornings often to not afford leasurely moments for pleasure (and sometimes they do, which is quite fun). I always enjoy watching her change out of her night-shirt, and though she's not going to be in anyone's fashion magazine any time soon, to me she's beautiful and a pleasure to see. Imagine my surprise when just afterwards she walked over to the bed, and put her hand on my necklace and asked, "Do I need to take this off while you shower this morning?" You could have knocked me over with a feather.

In fact, I was speachless. Before I could respond, she said, "I didn't know if you were going to ask; we have to figure out what the protocol is for this." I told her that the whole question kind of fried my brain and I didn't know how to respond - I didn't have a moment to tell her (though I have in the past) that being caught between phyiscal pleasure now and psychic pleasure over the long term, I don't know how to choose. I think it's a dichotomy that's familiar to many men who have indulged in orgasm denial.

(Early on when orgasm ceased to be a fore-gone conclusion for me when we had sex, she would ask me if I wanted to cum. I said I always preferred it if she would decide, since I win either way: either I get the immediate pleasure, or I get the "slow burn." Actually, she hated the "You decide" answer, even though I think she saw the logic of it. So I don't answer that way anymore, and she's stopped asking, which is very satisfying. Now I just cum if it would enhance her pleasure, or if I ask.)

The asking part is very important for me. She said this morning, "I didn't know if you were going to ask, or what." I mentioned that I was, but I was waiting for the right time. I didn't want to do it at a moment when she would find the whole discussion distasteful. And Friday night she initiated a love-making session that didn't work out for her (this happens sometimes; I think we agreed "nothing ventured nothing gained," and that though it wasn't immediately satisfying, maybe we just learned a little about what works and doesn't). At that point I didn't want to ask because I didn't want it to come off as "You got me all hot and bothered and now I want mine."

In fact, I've had the worst case of blue-balls for a week now since it's been two weeks and she was away for part of that time. So asking was definately on my mind.

I said I would love to have a discussion later one about the protocol around this necklace - (are you kidding, I get one of my big fantasies to happen in real life?!?!?!) So i get to go off and have a shower and get some relaxed relief, and the prospect of an interesting discusion towards the end of the day.

Yesterday was one of those moments in small submission - I was going to clean up my desk and stuff, but she suggested, "You could work on that project" (the one we started last weekend). No question there. And it was fun to do, knowing that she had requested it. Which is the answer in my life to WhateverSheSays' question of "if my wife adds changing the sheets on the bed to the "honey-do" list, ... do I include the time changing the sheets" as submission?

There's an ending to the discussion about the necklace. Late on Sunday when (mirabile dictu) both kids were out of the house, I brought the necklace downstairs and asked if we were going to have a discussion about this. I can't reproduce the discussion verbatim, but it included questions like, "What does this mean to you?" and answers like "That I don't get to cum as long as I'm wearing it." The hardest was probably the heartfelt "What does that do for you; why do you want this?" I took my time thinking about that one; for reasons I don't understand, the words were very hard to come by.

I settled on, "It gives me a feeling of being controlled, and I like that. It gives me a feeling of being connected to you, and I like that too." That doesn't seem to capture the emotional weight of the thing, but was the best linear straightforward rational-sounding explanation I could articulate that was consistent with what I felt.

I can't remember if she asked why I felt that way; I don't think so. Which is good, since I couldn't have given her a good answer anyway.

We proceeded on to "How should this work." I was concerned that we come up with something that did not require her to guess about my state of mind, nor that had "right" and "wrong" answers from her (shades of the "do I get to cum" question during sex). Since I'm much more interested in this than she, I suggested that I ask her when I want the necklace removed, which I guess is a wierd definition of "chastity," but it feels like the most realistic thing I could think of. I told her that ranges of answers that worked for me included "Yes", "No", and "Sure, at thus-and-so time." (I think that pretty much covers the waterfront, so to speak.)

What I asked of her was that she name the time at which I had to put the necklace back on. It's that control thing again. Again, the range of answers that work for me range from "One minute from now" to "Sure, in two weeks." Though I pointed out that the longer away it was, the more that felt like something she'd do if she was angry with me. So far, as simple as I could make it.

I figured there might be times when she didn't want to think about the whole thing, and rather than make her feel obligated to do so, I suggested she could choose a dice game to set the time instead; rolling two dice for the number of hours, with some special cases for long and short amounts of time. It seemed simple enough for her as an alternative to being "responsible" for getting the "right" answer, though I have no idea if she'll ever choose to use it.

She (I think) suggested that I bring the necklace to her for her to put on me.

Overall, I think this will be a very satisfactory arrangement, and perhaps is illustrative of the difference between fantasy and reality. I guess we'll know more the first time I ask her to take it off me, but I don't know when that will be. Some time yet, is my guess, as my rate of (self provided) "relief" varies wildly from several times a week to twice a month or so.

I am deeply appreciative that she is doing this thing "for me," having no idea why I could possibly want this, and getting no (apparent) emotional impact herself from this. Which I why I attempted to structure it as minimally intrusive upon her as possible. Paradoxically, it really is a concrete illustration of how much she loves me and is willing to do for me. And I do appreciate it and hope that I express the love I feel as well.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

There Is No Such Thing As Stealth Submission (A little history, a little lament)

Much of my recent thinking around submission and where this is going was catalized by a post on Ms. Rika's site. Most of her site is an extended essay on how real service-oriented submission might work for a woman and her submissve man. But she also has a forum that gets surprisingly little traffic, and it was there that I found this gem. The whole thread is worth reading, but what she said so succinctly, was

Guys...there is no such thing as stealth submission. Let's end this notion. It's not submission if it's not received from a position of dominance. It cannot be received from dominance if it's not known.

Communication is the key to all aspects of a relationship - including D/s.

D/s is a power EXCHANGE. It's not a one-way street. It is not something you manipulate your partner into - it's something you share. Most importantly you share is not hidden.

To be fair, after reading what she said, I refined my idea of "stealth submission" a bit. I absolutely agree that submission without dominance is not submission, it's something else. But that's not what I'm trying for. As I said earlier, I'm trying for a "habit of mind" that will make real submission easier.

But I'm trying two other things two: becoming comfortable enough with myself to acknowledge who I am and what I am interested in. And learning to ask for what I want.

I've talked about the former several times - it's why I'm writing this blog. It's giving myself permission to think about what in fact I've been thinking about since I was 12 years old. It's not having to hide that from myself, even if I do not yet have the courage to share it with my beloved. It's letting myself explore, at least in my thoughts. It's reading and sharing with others who are exploring. And it's letting this fascination with power dynamics in relationships be part of my life instead of being opposed to my life. Where was it I read recently that anything you oppose and make "other" will end up controlling and owning you.

Learning to ask for what I want is paradoxical, and is, I think, a paradox that confronts many submissives. Sort of by definition, the act of submission is (or appears to be) the ceding of control. That's why there are all these fantasies about being abducted or enslaved or becoming someone's servant against one's will. But of course real life doesn't work that way.

I can't tell you how many streets I've wandered on how many continents (I used to travel a lot for work) on how many nights, waiting for that to happen, waiting to see "the person," waiting for the situation to occur. In all fairness, if that had been now rather than 35 years ago, things could easily have been different. Power dynamics and fetish are far more out in the open now than they were then. But that obscures the real point, which is the simple child's maxim: good things come to those who ask. If I don't take responsibility for asking for the things I want and creating the life I want to have, that life is not just going to happen.

Which also doesn't mean that if I ask for what I want, it is magically going to happen either. Some time I will write some of the story of the travails my beloved and I have gone through around this subject. In Dan Savage's adage, she was "good, giving, and game." But I didn't know what I was trying to do, and 20 years of repression just came erupting out of my psyche - not a pretty sight! It wasn't horrible (well, there were one or two horrible moments). It clearly wasn't blissful (and I use the term advisedly, although there were one or two moments of great peace and satisfaction). Honestly, of the several (four?) runs we've taken at this, I remember the denouments of only two. In each there was enough unprocessed "stuff" to founder the experiment.

Each little moment of asking for what I want is a little step in the right direction; each one is a little brink I can put on to the ediface of my self definition. Suggesting that I could paint my beloved's toenails is that kind of step. Answering honestly about how much satisfaction I get from having intercourse only at her pleasure is that kind of step. Telling my beloved how much I enjoy the necklace that is our symbolic chastity device is one of those steps. And the more of those steps I take, the close I come to being able to do what I really must do.

Ms. Rika is absolutely right that without conversation and interaction, there is no submission; by extension I'd say there is no wife-led marriage or loving female authority.

I also think that there will be no conversation between my beloved and myself. I'm sure I didn't start it, but I've been a great fan of that meme; I've used it in a couple of discussion groups and I think I've mentioned it here. I think it's a mistake.

It implies that at some point we sit down and I say "Honey, I've been thinking about all that power exchange stuff and I think it's really important to me, and we need to do something about it." That raises all sorts of questions about who it is I want her to be, while she just wants to be herself.

I think what actually happens, is that we find one thing at a time that works for us. This requires patience on my part, and if personal (figuratively) masturbatory fantasies form a part of that patience, I don't think any harm is done - why despite Ms. Rika's dismemberment of "stealth submission," I think the concept still has some utility for me.

I suspect that many/most/all of those early things will be service things for her. If I get to paint her nails, I got a treat; I'm happy and if it doesn't do violence to her sense of self and it isn't a hassle for her, she's happy. If I just follow her leadership on everything that calls for a decision (after doing my due diligence and obligation to give her all the information and best options I can think of), then even if that isn't the authority that I say I want, I think I can be happier doing that and acknowledging to myself, who I am, than I was denying the whole thing and shoving it away.

I keep using the necklace as an example that could grow and be acknowledged because it's the thing we're closest to talking about. But it could end up being something else. And, I suspect, for this to work for me in the long term, I am going to want more than just that. The kinds of "standing rules" that Saratoga and Mistress Laura's Boy refer to in Saratoga's post on "On The Domina's Firmness vs. Yielding in a FemDom Relationship" and their partners' acknowledgement of them occasionally are what give life to this kind of relationship. But that's far in the future.

What I'm Doing and Why

Saratoga published a lovely post that basically came in two parts: some reflections on why men have such a low "success rate" in enticing their partners in to a femdom relationship, and the story of how he revealed to his Domina (to be) that he was interested in "this kind of stuff." In his case, he used pictures to accompany his contention that there was a level of intimacy that would be unattainable otherwise. But if you want the whole thing, read the post for yourself.

I bring it up because it sparked a slew of comments, starting with oldbear's sharing of the fact that "Sometimes my shame and desperation to be free of what I am almost made me suicidal." As I mentioned in my comment, "Been there, done that, have the Doctor's bills to prove it." But more, I realized that where I am in my life, I have to become more comfortable with myself around this issue. Writing has been a good way to do this. From that place of comfort and acceptance of myself, I need to express, in smaller or larger ways, and to greater (or, actually, I suspect lesser) degrees, this aspect of myself. If I don't, I'm pretty sure I'll either go nuts or die, either figuratively or literally -- from one of those stress-related "Wow, he died from that and he was only how old?" diseases, or from one of those thoughts of suicide that are not total strangers.

Having started on that cheery note, I was trying to "unpack" the concepts of femdom as it relates to female-led relationships. A wife can lead and a husband can follow without explicit submission; leading and following are what you do, not what you say or how you feel about what you do. And you can follow someone's lead without their explicitly choosing to lead. It reminds me of a game we used to play as kids: if one person didn't want to play follow-the-leader, they automatically became the leader and everyone followed them. (Talk about non-consensual!)

Authority, however, is something you have to take, and something you have to be given. I can give you authority over me, but if you don't take it, it doesn't happen. You can assume authority over me, but unless I choose to accept your authority, nothing happens. And authority is what a femdom or submissive relationship is about. And that's the transaction that the submissive male wants to make happen. And unless he and she, my beloved and I, can find a way to make that transaction satisfying for both of us, I fear we are in a hard place.

I love having this necklace as a symbol of her control over my sexual release. But if she does not use that control, if she doesn't say "No" some time when I ask to take it off, if she doesn't ever refer to the fact that I have given up some authority by taking on this necklace, then I'm not going to be satisfied.

I can do all the "submitting" I want, in terms of taking suggestions or not masturbating or trying to figure out what my beloved wants. But until there is an acknowledgement of what I am doing, until there is an acceptance on her part of the fact that I want, crave, must, am compelled to, am obsessed by the idea of, ceding real authority to her, the whole thing is a masturbatory fantasy in my head.

I could wish it were otherwise. I could pretend it was otherwise. But it's not.

I do have some inkling why. I need that stroke that says, "I control you" because that stroke says to me, "I love you," and I want, more than almost anything, to be loved by my beloved. More than almost anything, but not more (as the cliche goes) than life itself, and not, moreover, more than sanity itself. And I fear that that is what it started coming down to.

Coming soon.... how I might get that acknowledgement...

In other news, I've been reading StrongSubmissive's blog, particularly the early posts. In some ways, I want to say "Dude, you stole my life." So many of those situations are so familiar, and while we haven't gotten to separate bedrooms yet, it's not like I haven't thought about it.

A Service Vignette

When my beloved is out of town, things get a little hectic around here, doing the day job, keeping the home business running, and getting two teenagers to all their committments.

Right before she left, we were in the middle of a little vignette about painting her toe-nails, something I dearly dearly love to do, and have had the opportunity to do only a handful of times in the last 24 or so years. In fact, I was surprised when a year or so ago when she started painting her toenails - influence of my sister-in-law, I think.

That worked out both better and worse than I might have hoped. What happened was that I realized that we just had time to get to a historical event I knew my son would like, so I suggested that we go. That meant we probably wouldn't be home by the time my beloved had to leave on her business trip. So we said our goodbyes, and as I was driving down the road, I did a dope-slap and realized that the opportunity for my little toe-nail adventure was gone. No regrets there - my priorities are firmly in place and my kids come way before my little personal dramas.

Before we left, I tried just a little intimacy - a hug in the kitchen while life was going on, with a very subtle subtext of "you're leaving for three days and what am I going to do for intimacy." At least that's how I interpreted her interpretation of my body-language. And what I got back I interpreted as a slightly exasperated "please leave your fantasies out of this and get a life." So while we were out, to the extent that I thought about this at all (which wasn't much except during the boring parts of the drive), I was pretty discouraged.

In the event, we came back before she had left, and amid all the pleasantries, she remarked that she was glad we had, since the leave-taking seemed a little odd as we left for our event. I noticed that she had done her toenails, and remarked that I was sorry I hadn't been able to help out. She said something to the effect of the fact that there will be another opportunity.

It sounds almost pathetic to me, but that qualifies as a small victory: the idea of me doing something for her is not totally out of the question. I know it's all mood-dependent (hers and mine) and that mine is not so hot right now, but I hope it's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What Does "Serving Her" Look Like?

It doesn't look like this picture, much though I wish it did. In fact the The Northern California Ladies Tea and Discussion Society pretty much has captured my fantasy of recreational service. They appear to be dormant, and in any case, they're not around here.

The last couple of days have felt like they've been a little low of service opportunities. That's probably because I haven't learned to look the right way in the right places. What I have figured out is that for me, "serving her" in the context of a wife-led marriage (or a female-led relationship) is about figuring out what she wants, and doing that.

Yesterday, it came in the form of a long-deferred home improvement project - actually one of the last steps in a project that's been pending for years. She's suggested we work on it on several occaisions over the past several years. It's the kind of project I dread. Yesterday she mentioned it - she didn't exactly ask, she didn't "demand"; in her typical way, it was along the lines of "We could work on..." My only question was "Should we do that before or after I mow the lawn?"

So the project is done; there was a certain amount of scruffling around a dirty basement; we worked together on it because it really was a two person project, and we are a team (see Saratoga's post on teamwork and my perhaps excessively long comment); and I got to feel a little "buzz" while doing it that this is what my beloved wanted to have happen, and it was happening.

So was that "service" (or submission), or was that just "not being an asshole anymore." That's putting it a bit strongly, since I do enough stuff that it is occasionally remarked upon. But the point I'm learning is that a wife-led marriage is not about fantasy and kink. It's about listening and serving.

It's important to distinguish this, for a moment, from

  • what I think she wants,
  • what I'd want if I were her,
  • what I want her to want from me.

Some of this I've figured out by reading other postings. There is this whole concept of "stealth submission" out there. I've seen it credited to either Elise Sutton or to the Addisons. The theory is that you start doing submissive things, and somehow the whole situation starts to resemble your fantasy.

Ms. Rika trashes that notion pretty thoroughly, in my opinion, in a brief thread on her forum. She concludes with the questions:

  • What's the difference between chivalry and service?
  • What's the difference between acts of kindness to a mate and D/s?

While I don't entirely agree with Ms. Rika on this, here's an example of the kind of thing that I think misses the point. I read this post on a mailing list I'm on, and for me it's pretty much a caricature of this approach (reproduced without permission):

Stealth Submission: 1st Night
1. Washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, after he made dinner
when I came home.
2. Did the laundry and folded the children's clothes.
3. Prepared the kids lunches for school the next day.
4. Cleaned the kids room last night, with their help of course.
5. Bathed the kids and got them ready for bed.
6. Set the coffee maker to brew her morning coffee..decaf only.
7. Made the bed this morning while she went on her daily walk.
8. Prepared the kids breakfast this morning.
9. Dropped off the dry cleaning on my way to work.

Don't get me wrong, these are all fine things to do. But this strikes me as kind of zero-to-sixty in nothing flat. I wonder if someone starting from nothing is going to be able to maintain this pace. Apparently, the poster thinks so:

2nd Night of my Quest:
1. Cooked dinner and Cleaned the Kitchen.
2. Cleaned both children's room after dinner.
3. Did the laundry. She said that this was her job, but came back
and asked her why this is defined as her job or role. I could hear
her mind thinking as I said that.
4. Put the kids to bed.
5. Washed her lingerie in Woolite--this blew her mind.
6. During the day, she asked about certain, small decisions like
weeding our front flower-beds, dinner with her folks, etc. Told her
it's her decision and happy with whatever she decides.
On the other hand, we haven't heard any more from this fellow on that list, and there was some evidence (and much discussion from the women on the list) that his wife had the obvious "What the hell is going on here?" reaction. At which point much difficult conversation is necessary, for which perhaps the necessary relationship groundwork has not been laid.

I hope "stealth submission" will work for me by creating a habit of mind to listen to what my beloved wants, and to realize that I'm happier doing that than imposing my own will on the situation. And, paradoxically, that this makes it easier to ask for what I want (ultimately, in the long run). This brings up the question of whether male submission is a "quid pro quo," about which I'll have to write another time.

Today's example (a very little vignette still unfolding): She needs to either re-paint her toe-nails or take the polish off. She knows this and is going away on business for a few days. So in the midst of a busy morning, she appeared downstairs in the kitchen with the polish remover.

I did not say "Please, please, can I possibly do that for you, I'd love it and it would make me so happy." All of which is true. A little while latter she said, "I need to take the polish off my toe-nails before I go; it isn't looking very professional right now."

I said, "I could help you with that."

She said, "That would be fine."

If it works out that way, small victories (in many senses, I think).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Communication and Satisfaction

For the sake of narrative completness, if nothing else, I want to write a little about Monday morning.

Actually, there's another reason as well: sex is the one place were we are having a certain amount of success with a female-led relationship. I say "we" because this aspect of our relationship has developed more-or-less organically and it seems to meet most of our needs. Also, it's the one place where we talk most about the control/power dynamics of our relationship and that seems to work. Which is encouraging: it suggests that talking about this in a larger context may not be altogether a futile effort.

While trying to thread the needle between "kiss and tell," say what needs to be said, and provide some (moderately) entertaining reading, here's how it went. I love to snuggle, not only when there is sex involved. But if we have a relaxed morning, as Monday was, one thing can usually lead to another. If she's interested, she'll kiss me and respond and let me know that she's interested in something more. If she's not, that's the end of that.

As she was, on Monday, I'll usually look for ways to please her. Like any intimate couple, I have a fairly good idea of what she likes and we communicate about what's working and not working. If I haven't gotten off in a while, one of my concerns will be avoiding too much stimulation.

She climaxes much more satisfyingly if I'm using my hand or mouth on her wabbly bits. I get to come in her if she's still feeling unsatisfied, which seems to be about half the time. The rest of the time she used to feel "obligated" to provide me some "relief", but I think she understands that for me, it's much more thrilling if sex is about her satisfaction, than if it's about mine.

I don't know about all men, but for me the act of "release" is so mechanical that in some senses it's a let down. THat isn't to say that the physical sensations are mind-blowing at times. But they're relatively brief, and the relaxed satisfaction afterwards is only seldom more rewarding than that feeling of being "on edge" and the focus that I keep on my beloved when I've been brought to the edge and then kept there.

For a while, I think she was offended by this, feeling that I wasn't finding intercourse as much "fun" as something else. I don't think we every actually spoke about this, but that was my impression. I've taken pains to tell her how enjoyable sex is with her, regardless of whether or not I orgasm.

This week, after she came, she popped the "Penny for your thoughts" question; we do that some times. Occaisionly in the past if I've been deep in some fantasy, I've answered in generalities, but I've determined not to do that any more and in this case I didn't. Rather, I responded (100% truthfully),
"I love it that I only get to cum in you when it's what you really want; it makes it very special." Now in truth, I wouldn't mind if it were more seldom, and hence more special, but the fact that it's her choice and in response to what she wants is what's best of all.

One issue is that we haven't (or I haven't) figured out how to end a love-making session when I haven't cum. We were lying there comfortably, and I commented that, will the pre-cum, I had managed to make something of a mess anyway, and she said, "Well, why don't you finish it." The tension between wanting to cum and wanting to stay on the edge is always a difficult one. In the past, I might have wheedled a bit and tried to manipulate her in to "telling" me to cum, or "telling" me not to, but I think I actually have learned something (cue Robin Williams from Alladin: "He can be taught!"), which is that "Why don't you" or "You could" or "It would nice if" are the kinds of "commands" I'm going to get, and I'm going to listen to them. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons I think things are going so relatively well.

So I did, which was pleasant too.

Somewhere in the previous days (I can't remember now exactly when, which is a shame) I had the opportunity to comment on my gold "chastity" necklace, and how much I like it and what it represented. I feel like I only get to put one of these kinds of comments two or maybe three times a week at most, so having the opportunity to actually say how I'm feeling is very satisfying.

Now I know this may sound kind of pathethic to those who have relationships in which communication is better, and in truth, ours was one of those relationships, which is why I think it will be again. But with the stresses of parenting and economics, we've gotten waaaaay out of the habit. And with the fact that among the things that are most important to me is this whole subject that has so much history to it between us, it's going to take a while and some work.

And for me, this blog is part of that work.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why I'm Here

Thanks to all the wonderful people who commentted on "out of sorts." It was a good way to get started on a reflection as to why I'm here, what I'm trying to do, and what I'm learning.

VeezKnight, who I respect a lot, pointed out that what I'm doing here "is less than honest." I can explain; I can't excuse: at least one thing seems to be coming clear to me with regard to this aspect of my personality...

I am a coward

Not proud of that, but it does explain a lot. And I don't expect it to be permanent.

Lady Julia hit the mark, as this has been the first place in 10 years or more where I've really felt I can "be myself." Part of that is exploring how I feel about all those pieces of myself, how I choose to express them, and what they mean in the larger context of my life.

When playing around with this with my beloved wife and interacting with others at "munches" and such, things obviously get much more complicated. One of the critiques of on-line relationships and communications is that the "bandwidth" is much narrower than in "real life" and much is lost.

In this case, I think something important may also be gained, as we act and are judged by our words, rather than how we look, or what our body-language says. I suspect it also helps some of us (that would be me) avoid doing stupid things out of desperation, or out of the "kid in the candy store" effect, or out of the "I've never been here before and I may never be here again, so I want it all NOW!" All things that I think I've fallen prey to.

So what I'm looking forward to is the constancy that coming back here every day brings, and the perspective I gain on myself from looking at where I've been. The absolutely fabulous comments from people and the sense of community have been an unexpected and wonderful bonus.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Are You My Mother?

Ever insightful, Candace responded eloquently to a commentator who suggested that men in a marriage characterized by loving female authority were in fact looking for their mothers. The gist of her comments were that the relationship is sensual and respectful, but not (as I read it) subservient. But read it yourself and make your own conclusions.

But it struck me because, on our recent vacation, I came up with a list of topics I'd like to write about, this was one of them.

My beloved and I have taken a number of runs at a relationship that involves asymmetrical power dynamics - which is what I think I'd actually perfer to call this kind of relationship, except that it's so unwieldly. The most serious were more than 10 years ago, so my memories of the specifics of how we got to just this arrangement or that is a little hazy. But I remember that we had established a few things around the house that she just wanted done, some of which I didn't remember to do quite so well. One or the other of us kept a log of infractions, and occasionally we would have a little ritual where I would strip and kneel, and she would take a ruler or crop to my rear. It was plenty painful and (as I recall) somewhat cathartic.

Also as part of this we did weekly "de-brief" sessions, which were very useful. There was quite the ritual to them, with elements gleaned from some of our pagan friends - it was an exercise in practical magic and worked well. It was, I think, during one of these that she finally said, rather exasperated, "I am not your mother." Wow. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I don't think I had enough self-possession or insight to tease out how this was and wasn't different from a relationship I might have wanted, at some subconscious level, with my mother. It's true, she was the one who inflicted the corporal punishment, but, and at that point I don't think the "service" aspect of what I want to do in this relationship was clear to me. Certainly the Lady and Knight metaphor hadn't occured to me at all.

So for now I'll take this as one of the rocks of Scilla and Charybdis that we'll want to navigate between.

Out of Sorts

Holy smokes, have I been feeling out of sorts. Let's start with the simple. When I want to connect with my beloved, I have a bad habit of going over to her and saying something like "Are you OK?"

Which she totally doesn't know how to interpret, and which annoys her. I did that Friday afternoon and go snapped at, and felt very snippy back. I stomped out and went running, and came back and mowed the lawn. At least some useful work got done out of the thing, but it was a bad bad moment.

Long ago I heard the maxim "Don't go to bed mad," but I'm afraid time has dimmed the good sense in that aphorism; I went to bed mad and got up early Saturday and started doing projects; it was too rainly to finish the lawn, as it has been on-and-off all weekend. Unfortunately, I did a bunch of technical projects, none of which worked out very well.

So the proximate cause of being out-of-sorts was a miscommunication with my beloved, but I'm afraid the slightly deeper cause was twofold:
  • I hate having to hide things from my beloved. So when I'm working on this blog, or indulging myself surfing the net, I hate it when I stress about whether or not she'll see what I'm doing... and
  • Writing this blog has made me start to accept myself as I am in a way that I haven't in many many years. And not being able to share that is incredibly frustrating.
This was, in my mind, very possibly going to be the weekend of the conversation. But it got off to such a bad start, and evolved so badly that that idea went by the way side. I've even started a post of "What, exactly, am I asking for?" Which I should keep working on.

But my very disquiet makes me think that this is a conversation that has to happen. I wonder if I could show her this blog? Big risk, but I told myself, at least, that I wouldn't gild the lily and that I would be completely honest here. So I have been; for better or (mostly) for worse, what's here is me. If anybody wanders by and has been through this pass before, I'd love a pointer or two.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pulling the Tiger's Tail

I should write a quick note on how last night transpired. While I had no particular desire to go out and run an errand for my beloved's friend, I did, out of submission as much as anything else. And of course we had a wonderful conversation, so my predjudices manage to get debunked again. Always a good thing.

I didn't get nearly as many things done at home as I had hoped before she arrived from her meeting out, but we worked together on some home-business that needed to be done, until we went to bed. So no relief for me, and little change to get all "lathered up" surfing the net. At least I chose to get a start on the work that needed to be done before she got home.

Re "Pulling the tiger's tail", my fantasy was that she'd put the necklace (our chastity indicator) on before I went to bed and I would have lost my chance. I knew there was little probability that this would happen, and it didn't. Rather I got up in the wee hours to use the bathroom and took the opportunity to relieve the biological need, though I can't say it did much for the psychological one. Too eliptical? I wanked off but it didn't do a lot for my head-space. There, better?

Back to sleep for another couple of hours, and in the hurly-burly of getting kids to school etc, I put the necklace in my pocket and asked her to put it on before I left. That was actually an almost sweet moment.

And off we went on to another day.

Which ended up not so well, but about which I'd rather not write while I'm still ticked off.... but I'm afraid things may get a lot less interesting around here...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Unlocked - and Hint at the Truth

No deep thoughts, just an anecdote:

I mentioned in "Tip-toeing" that my beloved presented me with a necklace as a virtual chastity device. We haven't talked much about it beyond agreeing that it means what it used to mean, which is that I can't masturbate with it on, and I can't take it off; she has to do that. It was a brief, all to telegraphic conversation to be really satisfying, but infinitely better than nothing - sometimes I feel like a prisoner struggling for a glimpse of sky.

I decided to test this theory today as she was giving me a haircut, and asked if I could not wear the necklace this evening. She responded "Why?" and I said, "Well, if it means what it used to mean, I have some activity I'd like to engage in." She said "OK," but I suggested that "it would work better" if she removed the necklace and put it on again. So she took it off. My, how heavy it felt. As she left, she said, "Have a nice shower" with a little wink.

I decided to wait - she's out tonight. Our conversation would have been a little longer had my sister-in-law not driven in to the driveway - bad timing! But I'm glad we talked about it at least a very little anyway. I'll take my pleasure after doing an errand or two and getting thoroughly "lathered up" surfing the net.

And I don't know how the necklace is going to get back on; most likely I'll have to ask her, which will be OK.

In the meanwhile, I'm running an errand for a female friend of hers (who is not a particular favorite of mine - my beloved called in an off-hand manner just after she left and asked if I would). And doing a couple of things around the house that I hope she'll notice.

I'm probably not very good at this, but so help me I'm going to try to get this to work this time.

For reasons I'll try to remember to explain soon, the old Chris Williamson song "You can know all I am" is running through my head.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Habits, Compulsions, and Bliss (Oh My!)

Being on vacation has been a wonderful tonic for looking at the habits of my life, particularly since this vacation has had two very distinct parts. The unprecedented one was five days along together - a first since the kids were born. The second was four days at "the beach house" - my father in law's, and one to which we have been going for close to 40 years (yikes!). And I found my mind-set was very different in both places.

While we were traveling around, it was just the two of us, and we were in places we hadn't been before - one of our favorite things to do. As I mentioned earlier, I most definately was not going to make this about what I want to have happen in our relationship. We had a wonderful time punctuated by a couple of interesting and fun things. We were distressingly close to where Candace's and Chris' profiles say they are. I wish we had been in a place to say "Hello," but we're far from there yet and I can't imagine that they'd have had any interest. The Venus On Top folks have monthly "munches" (as do many "alternative lifestyle" organizations). Perhaps we could brew something like that up. But not for a while, at least for us.

The fun stuff: lazy sex on a vacation morning, ending with a lovely orgasm for her and none for me. I'll have to admit, that was my idea (the sex, that is), because once we get started, it usually unfolds in whatever way works for her. Sometimes that's intercourse because that's what she wants. But about as often, it's her climaxing other ways and our figuring out that we're done. I always find that fun, and so it was on vacation.

While we were on our own, it was (I think) relatively easy to maintain that attitude of submission and service. Even just sitting around a camp site, there were about five times when stuff needed to be gotten from the car. I just went up and did it (as opposed to that subtle dance couples do - "I went last time..." "Do you want to get..." "Do you suppose we need...") That felt good.

I laid off the shaving at the camp site, but as we were leaving, she said, "I like it better when you shave." I said, "I figured I'd wait till we got to the hotel tonight." And then I went "DUH - Hello?!?!" and got my shaving stuff out of the car and shaved in the camp facilities. Little things, but fun.

And then at the hotel had really great sex - at least by 50+ year-olds standards, and managed to be fairly late for breakfast. It's fun being this age and a little irresponsible. In fact, one of the things I'm hoping will emerge from making the FLR nature of our relationship more explicit between the two of us is a sense of shared adventure and excitement exploring something new. And there were one or two things I'm not sure I would have done otherwise that did make sex great. That ended with a rollocking climax for me (as well as for my love), which certainly changes my mind set about this stuff - often not for the better.

And then we dropped back into family life with a vengence: picked up the kids and went to my father-in-law's beach house. Wow - in-laws, friends, kids, a mob and a half and we all had a great time. But not a place to be particularly intimate, and not a place where I can find much in the opportunities in the way of "service" or "submission." Partly, I suppose, that's a good thing - life here is so relaxed that no one ends up doing much that they don't want to do. Partly, I think it probably is a result of my being so "satisfied" (so as not to say "sated") - I wonder if I'm looking for those opportunities as carefully as I might otherwise.

So what does that say about my "Bliss?" Saratoga reflected on bliss and (I think) it means rather a different thing to him than it does to me. But it's just the kind of post that I love reading his blog for - I read it, don't think I "get" it, and find myself thinking about the ideas in it a couple of days later.

Saratoga used "bliss" as a jumping off point for a contemplation of whether male submissives find the idea of the "femdom" relationship much more interesting - "blissful" - than the reality. As he so succintly put it, "that idea is, as conceived, more fetishistic and toppy than truly submissive." And I think the point is very well taken - the idea of the femdom relationship is very different from the reality. And most male submissives have much more experience with their fantasies than they do with reality (present company included, I'm afraid).

In fact, I think there are three aspects of a male submissive's (or at least this male's - I'm becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the "submissive" label - more on that later I hope) fantasy or longing: the fetishy part (leather, boots, whips, etc), the cosmological part (women are superior to men, which might also be called the self-esteem part), and the relationship part (as in wife-led marriage or female-led relationships). Unravelling the relationship among those three things will be, for me, key to figuring out what I'm looking for.

Back to Saratoga and "bliss" - in the end, he wonders "whether something as-yet unattained, such as a prospective FemDom relationship, which depends upon a compatible, uncontrolled element, one's Domina, can actually be a person's bliss." I take Campbell to mean something different by bliss. My understanding of it is that "bliss" is the place that you go that recharges you; the place that when you go there, you're more energized after doing the work that you do than you were before you got there. Put another way, it's the place that you have to go, whether you want to or not.

It's true that your bliss could (I suppose) be completely internal; an internal fantasy that doesn't involve anyone else. But "following your bliss" is, I think, a lot of what the Web is about: enabling people to conceive of what's important to them, express it, and (most importantly) interact with other people who find their bliss in the same general corner of the congnitive universe. That's what makes the Wikipedia happen, and I think it's what makes all these blogs happen.

Is this my "bliss?" Well, here I am, so I'll go with this definition for a while.

This post has been written in parts, and since I started it, several opportunities have come up for "service" - fetching things on the beach, carrying things, doing dishes. It feels good. And it makes me think that the opportunities are there, I just have to look for them.

I'm somewhat dreading the return to "real life" - too many committments and too much to do.

I got so wrapped up in writing this that I forgot where I was going: Habits. Seeing the difference in my attitude and interest in submission in three different contexts - vacation , family, and everyday life - I wonder to what extent this interest is a "habit" - part of the way I've structured my world. It goes back, in some ways, to the comment I made about a meditation experience I had in which I couldn't conceive of "every day life" without my interest in submission.

If I changed my every-day circumstances, would this interest go away? "In my younger days" I thought that. But I've come to see the wisdom of the saying "Wherever you go, there you are" - it's still you. And though all the changes that have taken place in my life, this interest still returns. So I don't think it's just the circumstances of my situation, nor just "habit". I think that habit got created (in some way) from who I am. And that's the vaunted thread that I want to weave in to my life.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tip-toeing towards the dance floor

...or maybe just tapping our toes. A little bit of background, though. Five or more years ago my wife and I were talking about chastity and chastity devices. I actually ordered one of the first "production" CB-2000's. Alas, my anatomy and the CB-2000 aren't compatible, and it was nothing but a curiosity. My wife was somewhere between mystified and displeased by the whole thing, but was willing to go acquiesce.

The conversation continued very sporadically over the years and we came up with the idea of the "virtual" chastity device. I don't remember how it transpired, but in the end she bought me a gold necklace, and I (I think) came up with the idea that it would be our "chastity" device: I would neither put it on nor take it off, but would ask her to, since she gave it to me. But that I wouldn't get any sexual relief while the necklace was on unless it was in the context of sex with her.

That worked... sort of... for a while. But then the necklace developed its own kink (literally!) and in the end it came off for repairs. Which proved impossible and there it languished for several years. Lo and behold, for my recent birthday, another gold necklace appeared, this one more durable. Though the presentation was low-key, after a thoroughly enjoyable morning of connubial bliss, I asked...

"So, does this still mean what it used to mean?", to which she replied, "I don't see why not." It turns out the presentation was a little lower-key than it might otherwise have been due to the otherwise delightful presence of my sister in law, who dropped by for the birthday.

So here I sit, satisfied, so as not to say sated, not particularly attentive (for which I'm not particularly proud, but the day has been filled with domestic and work-related pandemonium), and wondering how this little scenario is going to play out.

I wish I could remember better how it came a cropper last time - I don't think it was just the necklace getting messed up.

I do remember about a year ago deciding to ask for permission to masturbate one morning and getting the reaction "It actually doesn't make any difference to me whether you do or don't." Which was actually true, and not meant in a malicious way, but cut me to the quick. I don't think I responded well. Since then, I haven't brought it up. Which made the necklace thing a little more surprising.

The domestic pandemonium will continue until we leave for vacation on Friday, so I don't expect I'll be posting much until we get back on September 1st.

Thanks for all the comments, and I guess I'll have a lot of reading to do on everybody else's blogs when I get back.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Two to Tango



Sooo frustrated.

This experience really has made me realize that it takes two to tango. There certainly are things that I can do to prepare the way for a relationship in which my wife is the dominant partner. Like practicing submission and getting my ego out of the way.

But for me it's hard to keep that attitude when there's nothing coming back. More pointedly, when I fear that if she knew what I was doing, she'd be pretty pissed off. Doesn't that sound counter to the whole point?

So if her wish is for me to forget about anything related to femdom, isn't that what I as the submissive, should do? On the one hand, of course. On the other hand, of course not. Were I able to wave my magic wand and have had (or even just have from now on), no submissive thoughts, no frisson whenever a femdom topic came up, I'd probably do that. It certainly would make my life simpler, and femdom is not making my life more satisfying right now.

Right now, it's making it more painful.

There is some scenario of the "perfect submissive" that makes submitting by not submitting perfect. For some reason, I'm reminded of an old Fassbinder movie, "The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant", I don't know why, or even if it's relevant; I haven't seen it in years. But regardless, I am not that "perfect submissive", though I'm sure the story of one such would make a pretty good piece of art. I'm not a novelist either.

I tried "being cured." I really think I gave that a good faith effort. Several thousand dollars worth of good faith effort, along with many many hours. Maybe therapy is a longer process than that, but that seemed to be all that was going to happen in my life, for time and money reasons.

And for a while, it worked. Why? Even at the time, I didn't know. But for a year or so, while perhaps not totally gone (or perhaps so), this wasn't around. It was neither a particularly good or bad year, as I dimly recall it.

But it's been back for a while (four or five years) and I'm going with the theory that 40 out of the last 50+ years say more about my life than one does.

There as another moment in which being submissive went totally away. It was in the context of a very deep meditation experience, the details of which I won't go in to. However during it, I heard the voice of the meditation teacher say, "I can take that away, you know. Do you want me to?" And for a split second, I say "Yes," and I saw what my psyche would look like without being submissive.

And there was this huge hole. And I was terrified. I honestly and totally could not conceive of myself without this aspect of my persona. And I "ran" in the other direction.

I have always thought of that as gift that was offered me, that I spurned. But writing this, I've come to think of it more as a challenge that I was issued, that I couldn't accept.

It is a moment of grace to be offered a "healing" without all the interior work that makes the healing happen from within. And it takes a certain kind of strength and faith to accept that healing. I'm honored that it was offered and disappointed in myself that I lacked the strength or faith it would have taken to accept it.

But that leaves me with having to do the work to build the foundation, and then the building, brick by brick, as it were, until that hole becomes filled and becomes part of what makes me stronger, rather than weaker, (at the risk of mixing metaphors...)

So how do I do that? It takes two to tango.

We're taking a vacation soon, one that will bring us tantalizing close to the location listed by a prominent blogger on these subjects. I'm not ready for a conversation even in the remote chance that one were possible with this blogger, so that won't happen. More to the point, I want this to be a care-free vacation. It will be more fun for her than for me because I know this will be on my mind, but this is the first kid-less vacation in 12+ years and I'm not selfish enough to turn it in to psychotherapy session about myself.

When we come back, however, I think what I've been calling the conversation has to happen in some form or another. For now, I have to think lovingly and constructively about how that could happen.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"To live as that grey creature in that grey world from before I let myself dream"

I don't often post about other people's posts (I figure that's what comments are for), but this post by "lenora" really touched a nerve. She comments on the remnant of a blog about spanking, which the poster removed, leaving (among other things) the note that forms the title of this entry.

It's a subject that's been rolling around in my head for a while: "Can I not do 'this'?" My current working answer is "No, I have to do this." Or, in other terms, "It's part of who I am and it's not going away."

This was the realization that impelled me to start this blog

Among the men who are interested in power relationships (sheesh - some time I'm going to have to do an entry on terminology - "power relationships" vs "D/s" vs "wife-led marriage" vs "female-led relationships") there is this common theme: "I threw all my 'stuff' away; I'm done with this now." Some call it "purging." But it clearly doesn't work for some large number of people.

[OK, the logician in me feels compelled to point out that millions of men could be doing this, 99% of them successfully, leaving only us disgruntled 1% to bitch and moan about it. But somehow I don't think so...]

One of the comments at "Lenora's" referred to it as "trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube." Can't be done.

So those of us, all of us, who have a desire like this, for something "different" from main-stream sex or intimacy, are we all nuts? Dysfunctional? (OK, so I talked about this before. I'm clearly still not at ease with it. No surprise there - the venture of this blog is to become at ease with it.)

I really really think not. We got this way somehow - endless debates over nature and nurture may be interesting to some, but don't do a lot for me. (Another aside - there are those who say that if it's "nature" then we must accept it, but if it's "choice" - or maybe even "nurture" - then we don't need to. Thus making the debate very important. I don't think I buy that line, though.) Our goal, all of us, is to live a fulfilling happy life. Our challenge is to find a way to get from where we are (in that "grey world") to where we want to be - and maybe even discover that place as we go. And by doing so, make it easier for those who come after to live in a world colored the way they actually are.

A while ago I read "Babbitt" by Sinclair Lewis; an excellent portayal of life between the World Wars in the U.S. At the end, "Babbitt" says to his grown son:

I've never done a single thing I've wanted to in my whole life! I don't know as I've accomplished anything except just get along. I figure out I've made about a quarter inch out of possible hundred yards... Don't be scared of yourself, the way I've been.

Babbit wasn't at the end of his life, but he wasn't talking about transforming himself, either. But I'm done "living as that grey creature in the grey world."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

This seemed so easy and self-evident a week or two ago.
Just Submit

... I wrote in a post that I seem to have edited out of existence.

But the opportunities for doing that seem to feel few and far between. Partially, that's because we live almost insanely busy lives. But partly it's my waxing and waning attention to details.

Last night I was contemplating this post, and I gave myself the proverbial dope-slap and went up and did a load of laundry. Laundry is perhaps something I should do more of (our division of labor is that I do the dishes and she does the laundry). But right now I'm trying to keep this to something I can realistically do.

Today we were figuring out how to get to the movie we want to see amid all the other commitments. I think she said that she didn't want to eat out, but I still mentioned that I was interested in Chinese food. As I said it I realized I shouldn't have, and she suggested bringing home take-out if I wanted. I think we'll just cook at home.

This is a funny area because we work together well and tend to get along best when we're engaged on a project together. On the other hand, if I'm serious about a wife-led marriage, I'm going to need to learn to defer instinctively on all the stuff that is just preference. Submitting to her preferences seems to me to a good long term goal for a wife-led marriage, and in the short term about as much satisfaction as I'm going to get. On the other hand I think she has a right to expect that on things where a second set of thoughts would contribute to the best possible outcome, I have an obligation to contribute that, and once I think the point is understood, let her make the call. That should be a fun mental exercise.

We're planning a vacation - just the two of us - for the first time in since-forever, and it has been an interesting process trying to figure out when to defer and when to say what about my preferences. We probably won't go to this particular place more than once, and I'm figuring out how I feel about letting go of some of the things I always thought I'd do there. Mostly this is because there isn't time to do what I want, so I think her judgements are good ones. But even if they were just differing preferences, I would love it (well, I think I would love it) if they just went her way in the context of an explicitly defined wife-led relationship.

Maybe someday.

For now, I advice to myself is to remember to look for the little things; pick up on the "you coulds" and "why don't you's". I know I missed at least one yesterday; who knows how many more went right by me.

So I guess the opportunities for submission are endless if I just look for them. That will be a fine exercise.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


One of my biggest frustrations in my forays around the blogosphere is finding a wonderful entry and forgetting where it was. Or even posting a comment to it and forgetting where I did that. Hey, maybe it's a 50+ thing - or actually, I think it's all the activities that get packing into everyday life at this point.

Anyway, even though it's out of the chronology of the thing, I hope to come back here and link to my favorite posts in other blogs.

  • I commented on UHC's AllForHer blog, regarding the dynamics of communication and wives who choose to help their husbands on this adventure even though it's not their top preference, at "Feeling frustrated and happy"

  • In the context of discussing cuckholding, an activity far off my personal "radar" screen, Mistress Laura's Boy talked eloquently about how important and satisfying it is to be controlled. As this is the center of what I love (as far as I've been able to tell), it was very satisfying to see it in someone else's words.

  • Tom Allen wrote the best account of how submissive desires got brought in to an existing marriage that I have ever read, bar none. It's in two parts and very very much worth reading. Scary. Moving. Inspiring. And something I could see sharing with my beloved. Currently one of my favorite posts of all time because I want the courage to do the hard work he describes, so that we can get our lives and relationship to a place like that.

  • I haven't read all of Ms. Rika's site in along time, but I remember her essays well: one no nonsense attempt to separate fantasy from reality. Googling, I happened upon a short thread that, in her characteristically direct style, makes short work of the "stealth submission" concept. The nut of it is here.

  • Saratoga wrote a couple of amazing posts on teamwork and femdom relationships. Which brought up all sorts of thoughts for me on equality, equity, and sameness. He also mused on whether FemDom relationships were more intense than FLRs and vanilla relationships. Finally, a question about submission versus the "Knight and Lady" metaphor. I commented, with moderate coherence, but there's a ton of stuff here.

  • Candace wrote an interesting post on communication and language, and the effect of moving to an FLR in a marriage. The comments were good too - mostly reinforcing my feelings about how differently we tend to communication, and making me hopeful that moving to an FLR might have beneficial effects on the communications issues my love and I face.

  • "Her" wrote a post on "training" "pet" (aka "him" I guess). In what was almost an aside, she mentioned "it is his job to tell me what care he needs." It was enough of an aside that I didn't focus on it at the time, and I was more struck by her care and concern for him. It really felt like the kind of relationship I'd like to build. But other commentors noticed the "needs" piece and posted eloquently about it. And "Her" said that it was one of the more difficult areas of their relationship. Certainly it's one of the most challenging ones for me in my relationship.

  • Candace wrote an interesting post questioning the relationship between sex, love, and submission. It started a good comment thread, including a very insightful comment by Queen'sKnight1 on agape versus eros. His comment included the following:

    It has been said that sex leads a man to love and love leads a Woman to sex. i think that in a good relationship, the two are intertwined. my birthday passed recently and W/we celebrated on Saturday night. i had to lay completely still as my Wife tickle tortured my entire body with Her tongue. Then, for six or seven times, She impaled Herself on me and brought me to the edge, withdrawing at the last moment. When She withdrew for the last time, i lay cuddling Her, literally shaking all over, almost in tears because of the overwhelming unrequited lust i felt for Her. Yet it was a sweet mixture of eros lust and agape worship at the same time. With the lust unsatisfied, the love of Her as my dearest friend is helped to remain in full bloom as well.

    My birthday too recently passed, alas with no such interaction, though that's been my fantasy for years. That feeling of "overwhelming unrequited lust" for my wife is what I get a hint of when she chooses not to have me release when we have sex. But it's all to seldom.

  • "Lady Julia" writes about masturbation and control. That kind of control I find incredibly erotic.

  • "her" on why she trains "pet". Beautiful and sweet and somehow close to what I want.

  • "Saratoga" writes the best description I've ever read of what it feels like when pain and pleasure intertwine. This is so hard to describe and this post really sums it up for me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Follow Your Bliss

Joseph Campbell popularized this phrase in his interviews with Bill Moyers in the early 1980's (I think). Here's the quote from the Joseph Campbell Foundation:

If you ... follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.
My general formula for my students is "Follow your bliss." Find where it is, and don't be afraid to follow it.

I always hated it.

I mean, the sentiment was all well and good, but like Karin Kinsella's reaction to the voices her husband hears in Field of Dreams, my reaction was "I hate it when they talk like that." In other words, what does this mean? And like so much else having to do with enlightenment, the answer was right in front of me, and I never saw it. Right now, I'm going with:

Femdom is my bliss.

How did I come to this conclusion? It's the "place" where I go when I'm tired, or when I need to recharge. It's the place that I'm almost never too tired to think about or pursue.

It also reminds me that "your bliss" is often not something that's comfortable or something that fits in to your life, or that fits in to the conception of who you think you are. Often it requires giving something up. So the only question I have is, "How does this differ from an obession?" Or a compulsion? Or an addiction?

Over on "Candace's" blog she's been doing an interesting inquiry into the limits of dominance and submission. Along with that came an inquiry into dignity and trust. Buried deep in the comments to that post was my first attempt at setting out some thoughts on this: that the same act can be functional or dysfunctional, loving or abusive, depending on how it plays out in the psychies of the people participating. So it's really much less about the behavior than about how the behavior plays out for those involved.

Back in prehistory I did a modest (I think - by the standards of these things) amount of therapy with a guy I really liked, about my interest in femdom. I think he liked it enough to put me in one of his books; I'm not sure what kind of flattery that was! Through whatever process, we ended up at an "addiction" metaphor for this interest, and it's one I've carried around for about 6 or 7 years. It gave a special sense of immediacy to those I know who are dealing with alchohol addictions, and I've seen what it's done to their lives. It wasn't something I was happy carrying around, but also wasn't something I was ready to address - as in going to "Sex/Love Addicts Anonymous" - yes the 12-step model for "sexual addiction."

As a result of reading the blogs I've come across (mostly, but not all yet linked over on the right) I think I'm changing that metaphor. The reason I'm so reluctant to take so much of this at face value is because it challenges that metaphor. If you really can have a loving, caring, functional relationship that strongly explores power exchange, dominance and submission, then the addiction model becomes much less relevant. And what does that say about me and having had an unfulfilled life not "following my bliss?"