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: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.
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.
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).