Wednesday, December 31, 2008


and not the sexy service kind either...

I've had lots of thoughts of things to blog, but things have been very very busy, so I haven't. FLR-wise, things have been pretty quiet as well. In fact, I can't say as I've been of any use at all to her. Or rather, I've been doing more things around the house, but also having a good opportunity to contemplate what relationship "being a dutiful husband" and "being in an FLR" have with one-another.

I think it all has to do with expectations. If I just make the coffee because it's what I do, then there's no buzz to it. If I just pay the bills or empty the cat litter or take care of the animals because it's what I do, then there's no buzz to it. But if I do the most mundane thing - take out the trash, say - because she told me to, then FLR is happening.

What's that about? I think (as Ms. Rika says), it's about accepting service from a position of power. I think it's about wanting to be recognized for who I am. I think it's using every-day things to reinforce the fact that we have this "different" kind of relationship - or that we have a relationship at all.

Now after 20+ years of relatively happily married life, wouldn't you think that I'd know that we have a relationship? I think it's some kind of emotional "deafness" that makes it hard for me to hear that we do have a special relationship, that makes the reinforcements of an FLR important to me. Call if some kind of emotional insecurity, if you will. So possibly it should be addressed other ways (therapy, anyone? - been there, done that, got the canceled checks to prove it - not a bad endeavor, but in the end not one that seemed to get to the root of the issue).


I like wanting her. That's her giving me permission to love her - her being amused that she's that important to me. I think she got that.

This is more important to me than to her. In fact, the only reason it's important to her is that it's important to me. So my not getting in to bed without her permission in fact, I think, means nothing to her. But it means something to me, and she's would notice if I didn't ask, and she'd know what it meant to me, and so would be displeased. Kind of indirect reasoning, but she doesn't really care for her own sake, but for the sake of the state of mind I'm in.

Why I Ask

One recent morning, I asked my beloved if I could have an orgasm. This whole "asking for sex" think kind of puzzles her, I think. The part where she gets to set the sexual agenda and say "No" whenever she wants, or say "Yes" and get just what she wants - that part makes sense to her.

The part that I don't think makes sense to her is the "me asking for permission to have an orgasm" part. One recent morning, a different way of explaining it occurred to me. I said,

"Listen, I get my pleasure from serving you. If I don't get to serve you, I'm not having fun." All of which is true, with some caveats.

"Asking for permission to have an orgasm means that I get my sexual pleasure from you as well. If I've been serving you well, and you decide to say 'Yes,' then my pleasure again comes from having served you. And if you say 'No' for any reason, because I haven't been serving you or because you feel like it, I'm obeying you, which is as much fun (or more to be honest) as serving you."

I think she kind of got that, and I think I said it better at the time, which is why I usually like to to write these blog entries sooner after the fact.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Link to a post that says it all

I happened across Domme Chronicles via a link from someone else's blog - I don't remember whose. But this post says everything I think I could say about rules, why I crave them, and why I so want my beloved to care about all this.

Perhaps it will resonate for you as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tough Night

...and not in a kinky way.

I'm not particularly good at buy presents for people. I have this fantasy that the perfect gift is something you would never have bought for yourself, but which you find you use every day once it's given to you. Last year, I got my beloved a jewelry pin - she doesn't wear much jewelry, but this wasn't a formal piece; it was the kind of casual thing that you could wear on a sweater (which she does wear lots of).

That turns out to have been a mistake, which I only found out about now. She was really upset about it, viewing it as indicative of how little I think about her and who she really is. Time was that I would have tried to rationalize and explain, but this clearly wasn't a moment for that. I just apologized and accepted it - there is, after all, much truth in what she said.

She was also upset at the prospects for this year's gift. She's shared her gift list with me, and I've made sure to get as many items on it as possible. There were also issues about the guest and shopping schedule for this weekend - issues I don't even remember now given that it's ten days later and I'm just finishing this post.

That night I dreamt that she appreciated the fact that I still had my necklace on and that I respected her wishes by not sexually satisfying myself while she was away. But there was no way to share that, particularly with the bad feeling that remained from our conversation.

I really really want her to care about our "arrangement" and I have not sign that she does. Without that, isn't this all in my head? And haven't I written that before? There's not much more to say about that.

While we were happily shopping away, we had one of those misunderstandings that just happens when people are doing stuff together - I thought you were done with that, why didn't you show that to me, etc. She got short and ticked off with me. We worked it out OK, but I want to solve our problems in the context of our arrangement, not have our arrangement be icing on the cake, happening only when it's all going well. Isn't there some way we can do that? Some time, I hope to ask her. Actually, I did start to ask her, and she seemed to be thinking about it, but we got interrupted by kids or telephones or family or something. Tis the season...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What Do I want?

I was going to title this post "Why can't I get what I want" when I realized the answer: I don't really know what I want.

Or rather, I want different things at different times.

There are times, like yesterday, when I want to be "taken in hand." I'm sorry the submissive-wife crowd have appropriated that phrase, because it describes very much how I feel sometimes: I want my beloved to just use me - practically (stuff around the house), for her own good ends (do stuff for her), and kinky-ly (for her sexual satisfaction and my frustration). At times like that, I'm not thinking critically or particularly maturely about the give-and-take of relationships. I'm not thinking pro-actively, about what I can do to serve her (which is mostly in those practical ways), or even what I can do for her (like foot rubs). There's just this need.

I have some ideas what this need is about. I think is is largely as WhateverSheSays put it in his comment to my last post: I want to feel connected to her and I want to feel wanted.

Other times, I want to just know that she wants me to be submissive to her. Kathy gets this dynamic when she describes how her husband is trained to come to her and kow-tow when she snaps her fingers. She knows that he's submitting to her, and she wants him to know it. And there are times when that's all I want: to know that she wants me to be submissive, to know that she wants me to know that I have no choice but to submit to her.

And then there are times when I just want to do stuff for her - around the house, for her, and for her pleasure. When remembering that she mentioned "We should probably get X done" is enough of a command for me to actually do it, and know that I'm doing it because it was her desire. This last is obviously the place I prefer to be. Although without the occasional scenario just above, I don't think I can stay there.

And when I'm in a funk, I think I get to the first above.

If all this is confusing to me, I can just imagine how confusing it is for my beloved. It's amazing she puts up with me.

But I'm very glad she does.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rituals and Formulas

There's something incredibly erotic to me about rituals and formulas - being made to say something or ask for something. So it's funny that the going to bed ritual we've adopted does not involve my asking to go to bed, but just waiting until it's convenient for my beloved to review my performance for the day.

Which she doesn't, really. More like asks me how the day went, which is not very satisfying. The discussion is good, and is the only reason I had the link to WhippedIntoShape's solitary blog entry up for so long: the discussion (and the one we have when I arrive home from work and wait for her pleasure) doesn't end until she decides that it ends.

That in and of it self is rather satisfying.

But I can't help but want some ritual or formula around it. My fantasy of having to ask her if I can come to bed, or being required to refer to it as "her" bed, or including a phrase in my response to "how was your day?" (her preferred and my least preferred opening to this conversation), like "I served you by...". I could of course do this myself, but it she doesn't care, I don't.

The simplistic formulation is that it's all about what she wants, but of course it's really all about her wanting something that will reinforce the reality of my service to her in our relationship in my mind, which in reality may or may not be what she wants.

I think we'll get places on this, though a combination of my asking for what I need, and my being really really patient and not pushing stuff. But that's hard.

Serving her is a privilege

Yesterday we were apart all day, and by the time we got to bed, it was late, and we would be getting up early. And I've got a whopper of a cold. So the prospect of kneeling by the bed doing whatever it is that that does, seemed kind of odd.

In the event, it didn't matter because she was tired and just wanted an embrace before we went to sleep, and so that's what she directed to have happen.

But that made it occur to me that kneeling by her bed to ask for permission to come to bed is a privilege that I have to earn by, in fact, serving her. And that serving her is, in some sense, a privilege as well, which I would be well advised not to throw away by ignoring it and not doing it.

Today's not looking much better service-wise, mainly because I'm sick. I guess that's real life, so I won't complain about it. But it's frustrating.

She Doesn't Make This Easy

I've been meaning to write a post about this for a while because it reveals how we are almost tragically working at cross-purposes with each other.

She expects perfection. Wouldn't I not want her to expect any less? Of course. And she knows that. But what it means is that she doesn't nag, she doesn't suggest, she doesn't remind, or even seem to notice. She knows that I know what needs to be done. So if I'm not doing it, it must be because I can't (which is why this is really a post-script to the previous post below...)

So she does what is necessary and waits for me to get to doing what I can. We experienced the real fallout from this when we picked up the pieces over the accounting - I let some things slide for three months, it got a little ugly to fix (all fixed now), and she said that it was adding to her stress level once I had said I would do it but then didn't.

Of course adding to her stress level was the last thing I wanted to do. And I'm trying to be better about that. Hmmm, in fact I ought to be doing the accounting now....

But of course what I wanted was even a "Where are we with the accounting" and a "Go work on it for an hour now, it doesn't matter how tired you are" or "Go work on it now, the rest of us are going to the movies" or something. Perfection is just knowing that it's supposed to be done so it will be done, and my beloved not worrying about it. Which ought to be more fulfilling for me rather than less. I think it would be easier to be like Her Knight and have a "Princess" who corrected me on all the details. At least I'd know she cares.

And my beloved does care, and I do know that, but I have to learn how to hear that emotionally.

Actually, it occurs to me that I just need to learn how to ask for that. Saying things is hard for me, but incredibly satisfying and erotic. So what would happen if I asked her, "Do you care about this arrangement? Do you care about whether I serve you or not?" We'd probably have a really good discussion about it. I may be a little too under-the-weather today, but soon.

Potpourri #2:"Don't beat yourself up about it"

I really try not to be a brat. I know I don't have to go over the ground about how stupid and self-centered it is to provoke the woman in your life just so that you can know that she is "in charge."

But I am far far from perfect. The other day there was a 25 pound bag of feed that needed to be moved to the animal shed. It was easy to construe things such that I didn't have time to move it, and I didn't. But later that night as she was on her way out the door, she said, "Oh, and I haven't seen to the animals yet." I looked at the work room and noticed that she'd moved it. I said, "Sorry I didn't get to moving the feed." She said, "Don't beat yourself up about it."

My beloved is wonderful. My beloved wants me to come to terms with the life and the commitments I've made and the time we really have to do things. My beloved wants to be supportive.

What I can't figure out how to say, is Do you care about this? Does it make any difference whether I do stuff or not?

I did a double-take - she did, after all, use the word "beat..." But she clarified: "You've got to find a way to do what you can and not beat yourself up about the stuff you can't do." Which is, it is true, a theme in my life, but not one which I want expressed in this context, frankly. But it really did make it clear how she feels about it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Potpourri #1: Why Being Denied Works

Since I've been to busy to post anything coherent, I figured I'd catch up on random thoughts before any more of them flee my brain.

Over Thanksgiving

We were at the obligatory relative's house sleeping in (for a change) when one thing led to another (as it so often does in bed...) and my beloved said, "I'm going to cum and you're not." Uhhh. Wow. OK. Not like that's unprecedented or anything, but her thinking about it in advance and saying so certainly is. That was very fun, as I love making her feel good. And I got to have that submissive buzz all day.

But what's more important is the conversation that happened afterwards: "Isn't this the part that would drive most guys nuts?" she asked. In a sudden flash of insight, I realized that the reason I like not reaching orgasm when we have sex is that it gives me permission to desire her. As I've written so many times in the past, there's a lot in this about "permission" for me.

So when I desire her,and orgasm, and lose that immanent desire (lust?), it's like it don't desire her (at least not in the same way) for a while. So when she facilitates that process (by letting me cum), it's like she's saying, "It's not important to me [her] that you desire me." And that's disappointing.

So I told her, not reaching orgasm, wanting her all day, was like having her permission to be in love with her, to desire her. And that is more satisfying than a quick physical pleasure. I was surprised, because I didn't intend to say that, but there it was.

And I think she got it; it was the first formulation of this stuff that made sense to her.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Some Sort of Slow Evolution

I'm sorry I left the previous post at the top of the blog for so long, because things aren't as dire as all that. And the challenges that face me and my beloved in this process seem to be as much of my making as anything else.

There are weeks when I don't want to do this at all. That's a simple way of saying it, but it's actually much more complicated than that. It's not like "I'm cured!" (that wonderfully ambiguous last line from the movie version of A Clockwork Orange). It's more like I have no desire at all - sexual or for whatever passes for "fun" or much of anything. It's more like being dead (or deadened) than being cured. What it is, actually, is being depressed - I know, I've been there.

(Certainly the economic news doesn't help; certainly the rush of family obligations around the holidays don't help, surely the distraction of the political news doesn't help, but in the final analysis, I think what's going on inside is more important than what's going on outside.)

Normally, though, in the context of a dysfunctional sexuality, that's a good thing, because it means that I'm not lusting after what I can't have - whatever that satisfaction is (or I think would come from) being in a deeply submissive relationship. But now that my beloved and I are exploring what this relationship might be for us, it's very problematical.

I am, for sure, NOT going to say to her, "Could we put this all on hold for a minute, I'm not in to it right now."

No, instead, as a discipline, I kneel beside the bed every night because I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed in without her permission. I do it for my self as a symbol to my self of the fact that I am committed to doing this thing, even on those days when I don't exactly know what "this thing" is, or why I'm doing it, or whether she even cares or notices.

And that minimal level seems to keep things alive enough for me.

No fool, my beloved, she said early on, "What are we going to do when you don't want to do this?" She's known me for a long time. I replied that I hoped that what we were doing was at a sustainable level, even during those times, or even enough to prevent those times from happening. Sure enough, it was the former rather than the latter, but that's by far good enough.

Now desire revives, which I'll take as a lifting of whatever depression was upon me. And a couple of comments by my beloved and a bit of unexpected play from her makes this all very much (and mostly gratifyingly) alive again.

Oddly enough, feels good to be back.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Just Doesn't Work

The whole purpose of having a blog for me is to write down stuff I think up so I can remember it later. Here's one of those insights:

It just doesn't work if she doesn't expect me to do stuff.

Here's what I mean: My beloved is a do-er, not a complainer. So it can be my "responsibility" to do the laundry or pay the bills, and if I don't do it (which I don't, or I do it sporadically), she picks up the slack. It's true that the more of these things I do, the less she has to do. I thought that was OK - not in the sense that the slacking was OK, but our relationship has always been cooperative. So if I'm doing as much as I can, it's natural for us, as has been for the last 25 years, for the other person to pick up the slack.

I realize now that this totally doesn't work because it doesn't create any reduction in what she's "responsible" for. In the sense that we're both responsible for keeping the household running. So if I do more stuff, she may do less stuff (or she may find other stuff to do), but the psychological weight of being responsible for getting all the business of running the household done is not reduced.

Let me also say that it's not a matter of my just doing more. It really needs to be an attitudinal shift on her part. Because she works at home. So no matter how much laundry I try to put through the system, she's going to be home when the stuff on the line gets dry, and she's going to be able to fold and put that away and start the next load. Nothing wrong with that per se, except that it means that she's still responsible for the laundry.

[It occurs to me that we could get to a place, once the expectations were right, that her doing the obvious practical thing like the laundry wouldn't do violence to the arrangement. But that depends on where we are and what our attitudes and expectations are. We could get there, but we're not there now.]

The other part of expectations is that it provides a standard by which to judge how good a job I'm doing. I'll make no secret of the fact that I want to be held to account by her and have her exercise her authority over me by assessing how I'm doing and providing or withholding privileges based on that, whether it's something "fun" like orgasm denial, or something un-fun like sleeping on the floor, or something mundane like no desserts or wine, or what. It really doesn't matter. What matters is a connection between what I'm responsible for doing to make her life easier, how well I do those things, and any other mudane part of life where she chooses to exercise her authority.

There are two stages to making this process "real" in my mind: doing something I'd rather not be doing, like being tired and working on the home business or the bills or a chore she's set out. And her assessment of the outcome of my work at some point - good enough or not good enough. It's not so much the reward and the punishment as her ability/authority to provide the reward or punishment. It's not even anything she has to do - just saying that I'm free to have an orgasm or not free to drink or have sweets until such-and-such a time. Those really do fall into the mode of Ms. Rika's quick reenforcements - the positive and the negatives. She need only take the time involved to assess the work and determine the outcome. I'm happy to do all the executing of the reward or punishment. It's the "she cares" part that I crave.

we'll have a long drive (to which she alluded) this weekend perhaps during which we can talk about this stuff. I'm also strongly inclined to show her this blog, because I really don't want there to be any secrets, and this is the last one.

Should be interesting.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Working the Ground

Last night we had a long car ride. I can't tell you the number of these car rides over the years that have passed in tortured silence as I thought over what I really wanted to say, about how I wanted whatever the fantasy of the moment was. THe vast majority of the time, unless we were in one of our handful of episodes of trying to work something out, those car rides passed in silence.

Last night was headed in the same direction, since I'm very sensitive to the argument, "All you ever talk about is this stuff." But thinking about "this stuff" got me started thinking about how couples deal with conflict, and whether we argue more or less than other couples in long relationships. So we talked about that, but then moved on to how couples handle conflict, and whether we argue less because we're both conflict averse.

At which point there was a silence and I *had* to bring this up in the context of a power exchange relationship, which is what I think this is. I suggested that having a very structured way of dealing with disagreement would allow us, as two conflict averse people, to deal with disagreements rather than push them under the surface, since they would imply conflict. I really hadn't intended to go there, but in all honesty, if we're actually doing this, felt that I had to.

And it was a great discussion. My beloved said things like
  • I don't want to just decide things, I want to hear what you have to say around them.
  • I don't want to ask for your opinion if it doesn't count
I said things like
  • I give you my best input; you take it in to account; you decide

She brought up a large house-hold task that hasn't been done because there are about three different solutions to the problem. "I want it to happen this way," she said. We didn't nail that down (although I internally acquiesed) as we set about dinner and other reasons for our trip.

Arriving at the restaurant, she looked at the specials and said, "You could have that..." Feeling uninhibited, I said that one of my long term fantasies was for her to order meals for me. I don't know why. I don't even really "care" about it the way I care about the big dynamics of our relationship. I just think it would be fun.

She just laughed and looked at me and said, "I just think you're a woman incarnated in the wrong body." I just said that it was nice to able to say this stuff even if it wasn't important.

During our nightly talk, she asked, "So what about that large house-hold task." I said, "As you wish" and that I just hadn't fit that into the conversation earlier. After she was done with our conversation and invited me to bed, I pointed out that I haven't been offering back rubs or foot rubs because the offering seemed to annoy her. But I had made that observation before she's come to enjoy the foot rubs.

She "interviewed her feet" and allowed me to rub them until she turned out the light. That was very fun. My beloved is very good to me.

Over the course of the evening, I had wondered, "What could she do that would make me really believe this is happening?" Then I realized that the right question was, "What could I do to make her believe this is really happening." A question I thought I might ask her. And then I realized that the right answer to that question was to do the little things, over and over, and to let her know how much I enjoy doing them, and to acknowledge and thank her for the things she does for me. Less dramatic, longer, harder, but in the end I suspect, more effective. I got a little taste of that reward today:

The IM conversation went like this:
  • Her: I prepped food X for dinner. Can you cook them or will that take to long?
  • Me: I think it will work
  • Her: Good, let's do that. And you'll get milk.
  • Me: As you wish
Life's small pleasures.

Monday, September 29, 2008

She is wonderful, my beloved

She is wonderful, my beloved.

Monday, after I wrote the preceding post, it was bed time.

I went up and we did our normal thing, with me kneeling beside the bed waiting for her to find a convenient moment to talk. Truth be told, I don't remember what we talked about - a hazard of writing these posts some time after the fact. But I'm pretty sure I said that a day in which things conspired so that I didn't get to say "As you wish" or "My pleasure" more than once or twice wasn't a great day in my book. Not complaining, just communicating as we try to figure out what will work in our lives.

Much to my surprise, she invited me to pleasure her sexually (which is the best way to describe it - much fore-play and manual stimulation for her, her orgasm, and her decision as to whether she wants me in her or not, which she does based on whether it would enhance her pleasure at the moment. In the event, it was late and she turned off the light. I thanked her for the fore-play and the whole event, which I very much do enjoy, and we went to sleep. I, a very happy camper. And from the sounds of things, my beloved a happy camper as well.

My beloved is wonderful to me.

What Would Be Different If...

I think somewhere back in this blog, I mentioned an insightful question my beloved asked me many years ago when we were poking around the issues of my submission. She asked, "How would today have been different if you had been my slave" (the terminology we were using at the time. I was stymied for an answer.

Today was one of those days. So far, today, it's hard for me to say what would have been different. One little interaction on IM, which I closed with an "As you wish" instead of "Sure, be right there." A little interaction over dinner as to who was eating what. And perhaps just a moment ago when I offered her a taste of what I had been cooking and she ate almost all of it. That latter being perhaps the only sign from her.

Yes, I did a couple of things I might otherwise not have done - laundry, chores - but nothing that a considerate spouse shouldn't have done, though he mightn't have.

Another vivid dream last night, which I've put off writing about long enough that I don't remember it clearly. My ex-sister-in-law, who is gay, mentioned something about "those of use who are secure in our sexuality" and looked pointedly at me and said, "and I'm including you in that group..." and we had a positive discussion (in the dream), which I don't remember. But the affect of the whole thing was very positive, which for me is a really important way I assess dreams.

Last night due to kid homework, we got to bed very late, so she just patted my side of the bed and said, "It's late, why don't you come to bed." It is her prerogative not to be in to this on any given evening. But I woke in the morning jonesing for something submissive. So by no choice of our own, it's not my prerogative not to want it - I'm stuck with it. Nothing to be done for that, though.

Busy week to come, we'll see how it evolves.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Foundations

Last night I had a dream I think - hope - choose to believe - is worth remembering.

The first term paper I ever wrote, in 6th grade, was about a large 18th century building in the town where I grew up. Last night I dreamt that I was walking around the site of that building, and it had been excavated all the way down to the foundation - practically disassembled, in fact. And down below the building they had discovered and unearthed a series of brick barrel vaults that were holding up the whole building.

The challenge was to preserve the here-to-for unknown foundational structure of the building while rebuilding for the future. [There were other elements of the dream, but they are now muddled in that dream sort of way. Perhaps they'll become clearer and relevant...]

I chose to see this as metaphor for my relationship to my beloved. Last night as we were driving home from my sister-in-law's house, I realized that this whole venture is going to me much more challenging than I thought. I'm used to picking things up and being fairly good at them - doing "things" is not that much of a challenge for me.

But re-imagining my own state of mind, and learning how to "live" a submissive relationship, rather than fantasizing about one, is a challenge. Even in the face of practical and non-fantasy advice like that in Ms. Rika's book and at the She Makes The Rules web site.

Those of us who read blogs (like this one, and like the ones I read) may be doing ourselves a disservice. It's so easy to read about someone else's relationship and think, "That's what I want" or "My relationship would be perfect if it just included that thing that they did." But the only relationship I can live is the relationship with my beloved. That relationship can be informed by what I read, can be improved by what i read, and to the extent that I read examples of behavior that don't work out, I can view them as cautionary tales, and to the extent that I read examples of things I think could work, I may be spared some trial and error. But the interior emotional reality must be my reality, constructed jointly by me and my beloved, not the emotional realty of what I read and what I fantasize.

Which is why I suspect I will ask my beloved to read this blog - if the "inputs" are the same, there is more likelyhood that our realities will converge, and that will work well for both of us.

Walking around this morning, I realized how deeply this affects my daily and minute-by-minute existance.

Honestly, I don't know if I'm asking my beloved for this dyanmic to have that much importance in her life. There is no doubt in my mind that I would like it to. But I'm not going to ask her to change, nor to restructure her world any more than necessary (and for better or for worse, some restructuing is necessary, as I mentioned in my last post - I'm not the person she's spent the last 25 years living with).

But I realized how deeply - to the foundations - this change affects me when I was on my buisness trip last month. Looking out the window as we were landing, I realized that I didn't have the breathless sense of anticipation that I've come to expect over the last 35 years of traveling. Traveling for me has always had the implicit promise that in a new city, in a new country, on a new continent, I would magically find who I am, find a place to fit in. I can't tell you how many night's I've walked the streets of how many cities looking for that last puzzle piece to fit in my emotional make-up. And, of course, never found it.

Landing this time, I realized that I've found it. Or I've found a real way to work on it, doing this relationship work with my beloved. And my attitude towards my trip was completely different: I'd rather be home (and in fact, I postponed this trip once for that very reason). And as a result, I think I worked harder and was more productive on this trip than I've been in many years.

I shared this with my beloved and she's referred to it several times since. And also reminded me that many years ago, I told her that I liked walking the streets of cities I was working in, looking at all the people, wondering what their lives were like, wishing I could be them. And that I don't feel I need to do that anymore. I think that touched her.

Service Recently

Since our conversation, I've tried to be particularly attentive to her oblique requests and suggestions. Tiny things, like "what would it take to do that bathroom project" (that has been sitting around for six months). Being mindful of "As you wish" and "My pleasure." Those are still hard and I'm far from perfect at them.

There have been a couple of fun things recently. I was crashing on a project at work and needed her to do something on my home computer in order to finish it. She hates my home computer password and IM'ed back: "Please change your password to something I can remember." "As you wish..." "Like xxxx" "As you wish..."

So now every time I sign on to my computer, I get to type the password she assigned me. For those of us in need of reenforcement, that's very satisfying.

There have been other opportunities to serve as well. Yesterday was pretty much all projects she had in mind, including an early wake-up to get kids to where they were going, laundry, a long-deferred home improvement project, and, late in the day, an "I'm going to run an errand. Come with me." That was satisfying.

Along the way in there I asked her to remove the gold chain I wear so I could relieve some sexual tension myself, and she told me when she wanted it back on. Later, she changed her mind and told me she wanted to replace the chain far earlier than she had originally said. I commented on this to make sure I hadn't misunderstood originally, and she said, "I know, I changed my mind." That was encouraging.

Earlier on in the week she allowed me to give her a foot rub after we had our bed-time talk. That was really fun, especially as she was relaxing in to sleep as I did so, and I was pretty tired. Following up on one other blogger's experience (AAT?), I took the liberty of planting one kiss on each foot when she told me I could "wrap up."

I also suggested removing her rather elderly toenail polish one morning this week, which she allowed me to do. Great fun there.

So overall, on a day to day basis, I guess things are encouraging. I'm certainly still trying to achieve a balance between what I need in terms of reenforcement. And I'm still searching for a little more feedback from my beloved as to what works for her.

It's also interesting to understand what I give up in this arrangement - the little things perhaps more interesting than the big things. I special-ordered a video from our local video store this week. I didn't ask my beloved about this, and so have never had time to watch the video. It's not that she said, "No", it's that there have been too many other things for me to do for her. If we had planned this together, it would have been something she wanted to do, or we wouldn't have done it. And we/she would have made time for us to see it together. But since it was my project, it just didn't happen.

Frankly, right now, I probably could have said, "I'd like to watch this movie" and she would have said, "Fine." Which I would find discouraging. So, on the "Never ask a question you don't want to know the answer to", theory, I just didn't ask.

What We Really Meant?

Every night, I kneel at my beloved's bedside, after she's gotten comfortable, and wait for her to get to a point where she wants to talk about how my service has been that day, and how my submission to her is working, and to a lesser extent, how she is feeling about it.

It as during one of these discussions - which often happen too late at night to be truely useful, but are way way better than not having them - that she mentioned that she was "just renting" and, a subsequent night, asked me how long I preferred to kneel there to compose my thoughts (as I indicated to her would be useful at one point). Which totally "broke" it for me.

The following night, I just asked her if I could get in to bed, and did. I mentioned that I thought we needed to talk about what that whole ritual means.

Much to my surprise, several (two? three?) times in the following days, she asked when we were going to talk about it. And with our busy family life, the moment didn't come until unexpectedly on Monday night, both of our kids were at activities and we were facing eachother of ther dinner table.

We talked.

Here it is Sunday, and I'm just getting around to writing that down, which means I've forgotten most of what we said.
  • How having that conversation be about "how was your day?" does not work for me; that's not what it's about
  • How I can't remember how we got to this ritual, but if it doesn't mean anything to her, then it doesn't mean anything to me
  • About how it's not how long it takes for me to reflect and get centered, it's about when she wants to have the conversation.
  • About my fantasy that some day she'll just decide I should sleep on the floor - not acknowledging me or not inviting me to bed
  • About how, on the day that I asked her if I could go upstairs and she said yes, but then didn't come up for a long time, I got a pillow and blanket and went to sleep, or dozed, waiting for her. And she felt that this was a rebuke, I said quite the opposite: it was an acknowledgement that I would do what I needed to do, and she can come to bed on whatever schedule works for her - she needn't worry about me.
  • About how asking me "what have you done for me today" as part of the nightly formula is difficult for her. I asked her if that could be her "growing edge" since, (thought I didn't put it this way), I'd like to encourage her sense of entitlement to my service. Which doesn't me she can't appreciate it. In fact, not appreciating it now, or not expressing that appreciation, is one of the problems - one of the things that makes me feel ignored or like I'm doing this as a "one person fantasy" in which she's a passive but acknowleged and acquiescing actor.
  • I appreciated her strong statement that this is not just my fantasy and she is just a prop in it. She strongly said that to do so would be intellectually and emotionally dishonest of her - another shining example of her incorruptible integrity, which in this case forces her to engage in this pursuit with me, even though it's not her preference.
  • I acknowledged that I erred in suggesting that I prefer a certain amount of time to compose myself, and we became explicit (I hope) that it's about when she's ready to talk, not when I've completed some process.
  • How much I like the aspect of this ritual and the "coming home" ritual (which only works out about once a week, but that's OK), where the conversation has 100% of my attention until she decides she's done - similar to "Whipped into Shape"s solitary post.
  • How I really don't intend to "not do things" so that she can complain, but that in reality, it would dishonest of me to claim that this would never happen. And perhaps we need a better way of communicating when I feel I need feedback - I called it the "I need a cookie" moment after the Seasame Street bit, and the web browser's use of cookies.
  • About how this is so similar to many aspects of spiritual paths. It requires surrender on my part: surrendering the fantasy I had, surrendering the wilfulness that says "I want to do this now" (but still have some fantasy relationship), surrendering joyfully to her.
  • Mindfulness is another spiritual practice I'm bad at. Really saying "As you wish" when I'm doing things because she asked or suggested. And saying "My pleasure" rather than you're welcome when she thanks me for what I've done - as she does. Both of those she said were useful to her because they give her a sense of where my head's at.
  • About how much I appreciate being made to do the hard things - how fulfilling it is to be dead tired after our talk and have her say, "You can rub my feet now" - which I'll do until she says stop.

Net net - we agreed to continue trying this. I say that rather than "try this again" because it is a continuous process; we'll get it righter and less right as time goes on. But as long as she's egaged in it with me, we are doing to together and it is our process.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Just Renting

So the veil has dropped. Last night as we were talking, I asked my beloved if she was at all invested in this arrangement of ours. This came up because I don't feel like I have enough discipline to do this well without some input from her, and I don't feel like I'm getting that input.

Her reply was that she wasn't interested in doing this if it was just another way for me to feel bad about myself, which I very much appreciated. And reiterated the theme - I think a good one - that there has to be a way to provide feedback and interaction around this that does not just involved "you didn't do this well enough."

That's what I think I like so much about HerKnight's blog - his Princess clearly is in to it, and is not just satisfied to passively receive service.

If it was just about "service," then I wouldn't need any relationship involved in this. There's something about the structure of the thing that I find very satisfying. Long ago, my beloved mentioned, "You should have been in the Army or something" in response to this need for structured relationships - a comment she says she doesn't recall. And an ironic one give my problems with authority - simultaneously another story and one that is probably relevant.

But it's true - if it wasn't about relationship, all these submissive men out there would just be very successful personal assistants to rich powerful people and be doing fairly well themselves to boot. Or they'd be butlers, etc. And the reason that's not satisfying is because there's no relationship involved. Or in the terms of my previous post, the object of the service just doesn't care or doesn't notice.

The Remains of The Dayis one of the most affecting movies that I've ever seen, because it illustrates what total service - to the extent of total denial of self - can turn in to. Anthony Hopkins' character (the butler) is totally unable to separate his service to his household from himself - even to the extent that, when he finally has the opportunity late in life, he can't express his love. While that's not me, there are elements of the movie - particularly in terms of service - that I find very affecting.

"Is that who you want to be?" asked my beloved? I said, "Of course not. Though there is something very affecting about the film and Hopkins' character." She asked if there were any other movies I could think of that were instructive, and I immediately said, "No," because I know if I had them in mind, I would immediately know what they were.

She suggested "Secretary" (Maggie Gyllenhaal & James Spader) and I said that I need to see it again - it was far to hot on the first viewing for me to be able to evaluate critically. The fact that the power-exchange relationship works for them, but works to help Gyllenhaal's character avoid her self-destructive behavior made my beloved say, "Then if that's relevant, we go with the 'psychological issues' approach to this." That was a little disheartening.

I suggested that every relationship is a shared fantasy - we build the rules and expectations of our relationships as we live them. And the more we invest in an relationship and a way of being, the more the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of our expectations becomes important. So that, even though all these ideas of "service" mean relatively little to my beloved, over time, with the investment in our relationship "being" this way, they acquire their own value.

That's when she mentioned that she's not investing in this aspect of our relationship, she's just renting.

And that was pretty disheartening.

I think I've put aside my fantasy for today - and that's what it now appears to me as to what's been happening: she's been very accommodating about my indulging in my fantasy, believing whatever I need to believe to be happy, but not sharing in, investing in, building, that fantasy which I believe is the basis of *any* relationship.

Instead, she's got a great deal of investment in the fantasy of the last 24 years of marriage and 15 years of relationship before that. Only, despite the occasional peeks out from under the covers, that fantasy wasn't all of me - ahh, that's why that movie, and particularly its theme song are so very affecting to me.

And I certainly was complicit in building that not-quite-all-of-me fantasy - I mislead the investor, so to speak. So I guess it's largely my responsibility. Sounds like material for a Dan Savage column, and not a line of reasoning that's going to go any place satisfying anytime soon.

I don't know what happens next.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What Says, "Submission"?

Yesterday, I

* Made the coffee
* Did a couple of loads of laundry (sorted, washed, hung to dry, folded)
* Got a car problem checked out
* Did the grocery shopping
* Cooked dinner (quite the gourmet meal, I might add...)
* Took care of the animals
* Worked on the bill paying
* Gave my beloved a back- and foot-massage

I didn't

* Check that her wallet had money in it
* Finish doing the dishes
* Turn on her light in the evening
* Set out her vitamins
* Find and set her handbag where it belongs.

Did she care? I don't know.

Did I enjoy it? Sort of. I hate paying bills and I suspect I do it more slowly than she does, which I suspect she finds frustrating. Back-rubs are a discipline because I get to do them so seldom that I'm not sure I'm good at them. Feet, no problem.

Did she enjoy the time I freed up? Not really, I don't think. She's not one to loll about, although I think she's getting better at deciding to plop down and read a book when she wants to. But last night she used it to work.

Was there any overt indication that I was doing this for any reason other than the "dutiful husband?" No.

Over on, Her Knight talks about being required to exercise "Active Submission" - being proactive in doing the things he thinks his Princess might enjoy. She, on the other hand, has included among the things she enjoys, little pieces of dialog like "My Princess, may I wear a tie for you today?" And I get the impression from his blog that there are other moments like this through the day that explicitly acknowledge the power dynamic of their relationship.

I crave that kind of dialog.

It's been interesting identifying the kinds of things that say "I am in control; you have submitted to me" to various men in FLRs. A quick list (in no particular order), would be

* Orgasm control
* Cross-dressing
* Wearing women's underwear
* Doing domestic chores

There seem to be men who focus more or less strongly on one or more of these. But for me, it is the simple acknowledgment that she is in control. I crave bits of dialog like "You'd like to come right now, but you can't unless I allow you." Or "I'm going to go watch a video, enjoy cleaning the kitchen." Or "Are you tired? You know you can't go to bed until I'm ready." Or anything else that explicitly says that she's in control. Having figured this out, I guess we'll have to talk about it.

She doesn't make this easy - her "demands" are couched so subtly. I know that this is a character thing, and I'm not going to try to change it, but it does make it more difficult. It's easy to forget a "I guess it's about time to change the sheets" unless I explicitly rewrite it in my head to "You have to change the sheets tomorrow." But if I'm doing the rewriting, to what extent is this any different from all the years I just fantasized about stuff. To what extent are *we* doing something, and to what extent am I just being explicitly allowed to live a little fantasy.

Scary thought. More food for conversation.

P.S. A post-trip update needed just to catch up to where we are; that's yet to come. And no, I didn't indulge in any of the fantasies in my last post. But I was on the road, and that's what they were, fantasies.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Service, Supportiveness, Expectations, and "Being good enough"

So I'm on the road. I get to have my fantasies. Based on my beloved's comments at our last check-in, I fantasize the following:

How about if at our check-in, it is my responsibility to list all the things I'm supposed to do for her today. And because it's my fantasy, I get to say that it's only the non-regular-household stuff that get's listed. Or maybe that stuff get's listed in a separate category, like "being a good husband." [Of course, reflection reveals that these categories aren't as different as they might seem, but I think I'd still distinguish them as below, as a first cut.]

It's just the kind of ritual that I think I like - and might actually hate. And, I'm learning, might actually have trouble doing with a straight face. Unless she cares about it. But wait, that's getting ahead of myself.

I wonder how she would react to a formula like the following:

When you let me serve you, it means to me that you love me, and that's important to me. I appreciate it that you let me
  • Paint your toe-nails
  • Shave your legs
  • Trim your hair
  • Check-in with your after work
  • Meet you when you arrive home
  • Give you foot rubs
  • Give you back rubs
  • Recite this list for you every night
  • Get your permission before going to bed
Thank you for letting me ... whatever it was that she let me do, personal service wise, that day. On days when that's nothing, I guess I'd say the honest thing, which is "I'm sorry there was nothing I could do for you, but thank you for expecting me to do this ritual; it's important to me."

That's a good moment to bring up things like: "I'd like to paint your toenails soon; I think they need it" or "I'd like to shave your legs soon, I think they need it." The point of that is to address what's happened occasionally recently: I don't suggest those kinds of things in a timely enough manner, and she does them when she decides they're needed. To me, that's an "I screwed up" moment, and I really really need to know that she cares about them. Not necessarily in a "You need to come here right now and do that" kind of way (which I'd love, but what if I'm out), but in a "I'm disappointed you're more in to your fantasy than the reality of this" kind of way.

I don't think I've written about the idea of not being allowed to come to bed, but being required to sleep on the floor at her side of the bed. The kind of thing that sounds trememdously sexy but would become tremendously tedious in about 1/2 hour, I think. Since that consequence would so quickly follow the night-time disclosure, I would love to try it. I mentioned it to my beloved, and she explicitly wasn't repulsed by the idea, but if she were ever to actually do it, I'd be stunned.

The second half of the evening's recitation would go:

As an attentive husband, you have the right to expect that I will make your life as easy as I can by making it so you don't have to worry about routine things like
  • Making coffee in the morning
  • Making sure your cell phone is charged
  • Making sure your wallet has money it in
  • Making sure the random receipts are out of your wallet
  • Paying the bills
  • Taking out the trash
  • Doing the dishes
  • Caring for the animals
  • Putting our your vitamin
  • Doing the laundry
  • Making sure the floors are swept
  • Making sure the counters are clean
  • Making sure the cars are maintained
  • Mowing the lawn
I know the following need to be done, and I'm planning to do them on...

Is there anything you noticed today that I should have done, or anything you did today that you'd rather not have had to?

And at that point, we get to have the conversation about our days.

I'd love for her to attach a consequence to failure - either things I should have done or things she had to do. Things I should have done(or things she did, some of them): do (or re-do) them now, before coming to bed, for example. Or not-being-able-to-come-to-bed time. Or anything. Anything that says, "We're doing this and I care enough to want to motivate you to do better."

This whole thing is a psychological drama, I know, and writing this post reminds me that one of my psychological prime-movers is "Not good enough." And this all plays with that dynamic in, I think, a positive way, because it's acknowledged and explicit, as it has never been before. If, as I intellectually but not emotionally believe, I am in fact "good enough" I'm hoping that playing with this dynamic will get me to a place where I do emotionally believe that. I'm not sure how, I'm not sure what would happen to all this if I got there. But this feels like a way of finding out.

On the Road Again....

No, I didn't kill my blog, and no, we didn't give up on our WLM. I'm just went on the road for a couple of weeks. But the weeks prior to that were kind of interesting, and being on the road always gives me time to reflect, so here's where I think I am.

First off, my beloved asked me what we should do in the time I'm away. I pointed out that I'm still wearing the necklace, and that means what it means (see this post if you're new to the story). But that beyond that, I couldn't think of much. I suppose - I know - if she had suggested something, I would have lept at it. But it seems pointless to me to say "It would mean a lot to me if you could arrange it so that it meant a lot to you for me to ..." What means a lot to her means a lot to her, and I think there are only very limited ways in which we can grow towards a more satisfying collection of things that mean a lot to both of us.

That having been said, I think we have some opportunities to refine our communication in ways that will benefit both of us. Our nightly "check ins" have devolved into "how was your day." Which is still very satisfying, and reminiscent of the so-far solitary post at the nascent Whipped Into Shape blog. And is particularly satisfying when she leaves me kneeling beside the bed while she finishes whatever it is that she's doing - but which has only happened for about 30 second or so - but what a 30 seconds of contemplation they were.

I've been on the road a week now, and the leaving was somewhat hectic, but one detail I remember from our last check-in could have knocked me over with a feather: I was talking about how I didn't feel like I'd been living up to my commitments to her, and she alluded to how she has been bringing things in from the car when she arrives home - one of the things I said I'd do for her.

It turns out that this was as much from a lack of communications on our part as anything else. She said, "I don't know whether to tell you to come over when I arrive home, or what. I just figured you were busy." I've said before, and I'll say again, that I do not intend to be one of those submissives who falls down on his responsibilities just to see if my beloved is paying attention. But what I did respond with was, "Gee, I didn't think that you thought about this during the day. I still have this impression that the entire arrangement is distasteful to you and you want to put it out of your head." To which she replied, "No, I think about it occasionally during the day."

Holy smokes. There's lots to work with there.

Friday, August 08, 2008

In the doldrums

Well, it is summer, so I guess doldrums aren't too unusual. But they're still not fun.

Thanks for suggestions about how to approach my beloved in this "getting home late" issue. In the event, the question never happened and the conversation never happened, but for a modestly encouraging reason.

I called her on the phone to ask about this as she was going to leave before I got home, and as I was working up to the question - which I think was going to be along the lines of #5 below - "Can I go to bed before you arrive?", she said, "I don't have time to talk to you now. Goodbye."

She refers to this as "mean, arbitrary capriciousness." I'm thrilled. It's the second time she's done something like that, and I'm working to convince her that it isn't "mean." But as a "good girl", I'm pretty sure that anything that sounds to her like putting her own needs first (or even recognizing her own needs before the pain becomes extreme) feels "arbitrary and capricious" or even "mean" to her. She said, "if we do this, you're going to see more the mean side of me." I'm encouraging her to do more of that, not because I want her to be mean and capricious, but because I think she really needs to explore getting her needs met, and doing so will give me more of an opportunity to serve her.

I know that "mean" wouldn't work in the long run, but if we have to pass through "mean" for her to find herself, I can be very patient with that.

And though I don't think I'd be able to stand "thoughtless and capricious", I think I'd love "teasing [and I don't necessarily mean sexually] and capricious" or any kind of "I'm-in-a-relationship-with-you-but-I-get-to-do-what-I-want-and-you-love-it capricious" - basically, any kind of capricious that acknowledges that we're in a relationship characterized by power exchange.

That all being said, thinks are pretty low right now, wife-led-marriage-wise.

Yes, I'm doing what I'm doing.

But I think our evening ritual needs to be fine-tuned because I, for one, am not getting enough sleep, and neither, I think, is she. This is something to do with going to bed late (duh!), which I fear is motivated by not wanting to talk about the WLM. Which makes me really tired, which makes it hard to do this. If I were cynical, I'd say she was doing it so we'd fail; if I were deluded, I'd say she's doing it to make it harder for me so I can prove that I really want to do this. But I actually think it's avoidance.

And I'm realizing that without some input from her acknowledging that we're doing this, and having that acknowledgment be part of everyday life, I don't think I can do this. Gee, sounds like At All Times and Jane from SheIsInCharge. Gee, are we back to Give the Dog a Bone?

Or maybe I just need to get more exercise and a couple of good nights' sleep.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How Complicated We Make Things

So she's going to be out tonight. And I don't get to come to bed until she invites me in. Do I
  1. Not mention anything and just hang around the living room until she gets back
  2. Not mention anything and just go to bed
  3. Not mention anything and sleep on the floor until she arrives
  4. Say something casual like, 'Should I wait up for you?'
  5. Say something explicit like 'May I go to bed before you arrive?'

Numbers 2 and 3 seem manipulative to me, so they're out.

Number 5 risks the "rolling her eyes and 'give it a rest'" type reaction. But it also is the honest explicit question, and does give her the opportunity to say "Yes" or "No" clearly, and gives me the opportunity to submit to whichever she says (which I know would be "yes" and I'd be disappointed - that's my challenge).

Number 1 seems the worst - no opportunity for her to 'disappoint' me by saying 'Yes, go to bed', but no opportunity to say that this is not a game and we're actually doing something. The cowards way out, I think.

Number 4 is the low-risk way of asking. But I think too "low risk" - if she says "Nah, don't bother" then I have no idea if she's acknowledging this WLM power exchange thing or not.

So after writing all this, I'm leaning towards number 5. Stay tuned.

In other news, last night she let me rub her feet. Yippee. It was very fun. She was reading and we were talking (philosophy of science, if you must know). Not kinky, not excessively "subby" as she likes to put it. Just fun. I did let her know that I would enjoy doing this any time. I was stunned when she asked. No time limit, just as long as she wanted. I forget what she said when she was done, but it was nice being in the space where I would have just gone on doing that.

Oh, and she asked me what I wanted for my birthday. In the past, I've always fantasized about something kinky - being denied sex for a few weeks and orgasm as birth present, or a chastity belt, or getting pegged, etc. Knowing that this could never ever happen. Now that it could, I was kind of speechless. I don't have a specific "stuff" that I want, but I don't know what kind of "kink" I'd ask for if she felt she wanted to give it to me as a present. I did acknowledge this to her. Still don't know what, if anything I'll ask for.

Life is good.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Work and Play

There seem to be two kinds of activities in our arrangement: things that my beloved has been doing that make our household run, and things that I can do for her. I've mentioned this before, I know. But now that we've been living with our arrangement for a while, I want to reflect just a little on them.

Prominent among these reflections is wondering what in fact the distinction is between a hen-pecked husband and service-oriented wife-led marriage. Distressingly little, it seems to me. As far as I can tell, the sine-qua-non that distinguishes them is the woman's acknowledgment of the arrangement and her communication of that to her husband. I'm sure these two sides of the balance have been juxtaposed before, but I don't recall having seen that in a post.

To be clear: Unless she explicitly agrees "Yes, we're doing this," and unless the couple together comes up with ways of communicating to the husband, "You're doing this because we're in a wife-led marriage", then I don't think one can distinguish a WLM from a hen-pecked husband.

Wow - I'm not prone to absolute statements, and I certainly wouldn't defend that one to the death, but without those two things, it's hard for me to imagine how this could work in the long term.

So the fact that I'm paying bills at 11:00 at night, when I'd rather be reading or sleeping is work. Doing the laundry at 7:00 in the morning is work. Both become play when/if/were-she-to acknowledge that that's why I'm doing it.

Frankly, I can't make any useful progress on the question of why I shouldn't just be doing these things regardless, just to be a considerate spouse. I can see no logical reason why I should get "service" credit for doing these things, when they just need to be done. To her credit, when I mentioned this yesterday during our evening check-in (me kneeling by the bed before being given permission to enter - favorite moment of my day - how pathetic is that?) my beloved said, "You're doing this so I don't have to, and that counts for me." I guess I'll take that.

How will I know that we've "gotten there?" - to a WLM? OK, I acknowledge that it's all about process. VeezKnight said it better than I could, over on She Makes The Rules (though the link to the posting won't come up unless you have an account - get one, it's worth it). But I'll know that we're walking down this road when my beloved says to me, "Why didn't you ..." during one of our nightly check-ins. Or "You need to ..." about something I haven't gotten to. Basically, when the expectation is there, and there's a consequence for not meeting the expectation.

And frankly, we're getting there. Sunday night, I was exhausted and I thought I had covered all the bases when a voice rang out from the bathroom: "Hey, where's my vitamin?" Oops. I'm supposed to do that. But she bought my silver-tongued excuse about being tired.

And then we were on the phone while she was out of town; I was eating dinner. Sometimes our conversations are good and sometimes they're strained. Strained, in this case. Which she finished off by something like "I don't want to be listening to you chew, goodbye." It was kind of peevish and I was a little ticked off. Next morning she called to apologize (that was nice), and said "If you're asking me to be capricious, you're probably going to get some 'mean' as well." Could have knocked me over with a feather: She was thinking about this. First time I can remember that happening (which is maybe why I need to blog more often).

I said that was totally OK, and reiterated it last night at our nightly check-in: distinguishing "mean" from "capricious" and learning how to do what she's comfortable with is going to be a task for her; she's always been the "please others" sort. I told her I was happy to be part of that process and if it seriously wasn't working over the long term, we'd talk about it. I hope (and think) she took that to heart.

The challenge for me: last night I said I was coming to bed, and she said she'd be in shortly. But she got involved in a movie. I wasn't going to bug her by going back and saying "What about me, I'm exhausted." Inspired, perhaps, by Her Knight, I thought to myself, "This is what you wanted. She's doing what she wants to do and you're waiting for her convenience." So I sat on the floor beside the bed and dozed for a half hour until she came to bed. And thanked her for doing so. She seemed a little ambiguous over whether she decided watching the whole rest of the movie would have brought her to bed too late, or whether she was concerned about me. But I think that means she thought about it and decided that I could wait. If that's true, that's wonderful.

So what do I need? Isn't that that constant refrain of the submissive husband trying to seduce his wife into a WLM? Acknowledgment and communication. And, as I read this, we do seem to be getting there.

It's all about the journey. Right.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's Possible?

I love AAT's blog SheIsInCharge for its unstinting look at the successes and challenges of bring and FLR into an existing marriage. In "Despite much advice and discussion", he talks about the frustrations of feeling half-way to an FLR - much satisfying activity in the bedroom and occasional expressions of FLR outside the bedroom, but nothing consistent enough to feel satisfying to him.

I'm afraid I left him a rather flip comment about his ambiguity as to what is enough, but thought that he deserved a fuller comment.

Over at subservire - Diary of a Female-Led Husband, subservire has given up on an FLR. While the whole story isn't relevant here, his valedictory post (with comments, here) is worth a read.

And now I find that I'm in an ambiguous place with the FLR my beloved and I are exploring. I think there are common themes from all three of these things. I hope I can find them.

Regarding AAT's sense that whatever is happening is not enough, I think that we who are pursuing FLRs are doing so for some reason - a reason that isn't, I think, directly related to the FLR itself. The way I characterize it is that we're trying to scratch some itch. The "Female superiority" crowd deals with this by asserting that there's an objective reality that says that women are superior to men, so FLRs would be the natural order of things - it has nothing to do with they themselves. Maybe that works for them, it doesn't work for me, so I can't go there.

For me, we're trying to build relationships that work. I need to serve my beloved for a number of reasons, some of which I understand and some of which I don't. But honestly, it's about how I feel. Total contrary to the "ideology" of the FLR but true. If it were all about how my beloved felt, we wouldn't be doing this at all.

So what makes me feel better? Her allowing me to serve her. Her telling me what to do. Her wanting me to be lusting after her.

How does she know that these things make me feel better? If I don't tell her, there's no way. But if doing these things is offensive to her, then we have a problem. If doing these things is a chore for her, then, as someone who wants me to be happy, she'll indulge in them for me. But the addiction metaphor AAT uses in his post is apt: I'll want more and more of that drug until I drive her away. Not a good plan.

Only by finding things that work for her and work for me do we get to a place where our FLR is viable.

We're not there yet.

As Subservire puts it,
Forget the advice of the female supremacists who espouse that the way to a successful female led marriage is to give yourself to the Domme totally with no regard to your own wishes. It simply doesn’t work that way.

Most submissive men have a sexual desire to be submissive. Unless that sexual desire – or need - is met, very few men are happy to simply cook, clean and concede for their wives or partners.

Again, it's the mutuality that is missing.

He's pretty pessimistic about this working out for him. I've read his post over and over again trying to pick out the relevant threads of the argument, and I think it comes down to four (very good, IMHO) points:
  • Most male submissive's submissiveness revolves around their sexuality
  • Most males aren't "service submissives" where the serving itself is the end
  • Most women are happy to have "their guy" do more around the house and dote on them in some ways
  • Most women aren't (and don't want to be) sexually dominant in the way most submissive men fantasize about
Regarding this list point, "P" (the dominant wife of describes a woman's approach to a d/s relationship as very different from a man's:
a D/S relationship is often far out of the context of how you might normally think of approaching and evolving within a relationship. I think women inherently come to the relationship table with needs and perspectives which are very different from their male counter parts; namely that they want an over the top romantic version of reality, a manly man to take care of them (in all senses of the word), to be adored, cherished for all time, the list goes on and on....

Dunno. This isn't hanging together as well as I had hoped it would. But I thought subservire's comments were distressingly relevant.

More later on Work and Play.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Unexpected Chords

Every once in a while, a post from someone whose life and relationship is quite unlike mind nonetheless strikes a chord. That's why, by P and her submissive husband M, and why have links from my sidebar.

And it was M who wrote about punishment in Punishment Resumed that struck and unexpected chord. I should mention that the whole conversation with my beloved in my previous post took place before I had read M's post. His relationship to punishment bears no relationship to my desires, and indeed, my beloved and I have raised two spectacular kids (OK, we're biased...) who didn't know the meaning of the word punishment until they heard it in school. There were consequences and expectations, but punitive punishment was just never something we needed to have. YMMV.

So when my beloved mentioned the word "consequences" in connection with our assessment of what happened yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised.

And late the evening, when I thought about what would motivate me to to serve her, I realized that the kind of consequences we had talked about would in fact serve some purpose - to provide that extra "kick" when things get tough.

So I do find some commonality with M's thoughts on this after all.

This is what life looks like...

Much water over the dam since my last post, including a week at a family retreat center we've been going to for years, and now some time at an extended-family vacation. So I'm not going to try to maintain narrative continuity, but thought I'd write up the random thoughts that occur to me.

The one I'm craziest about is that this woman loves me to a fault, I think. This morning in bed we were chatting and I appreciated the fact that she's doing this even though it means something so much different to her than to me. She talked about how it is important to her that I be happy and that if we can find a way to do that that works for her, why not?

At another point over the last several days, she said, "I'm not making this easy for you, am I?" And she meant it in the best possible way: challenging me to do the things I said I'd do, without nagging me to do them. Nagging me would be totally contrary to the point. But the absence does does make it harder. A total absence of feedback would make it impossible. But more on that in a minute.

Yesterday was a day in which I did nothing and things fell apart. That was the impetus for our conversation this morning. I guess I needed to feel tired and depressed. At the end of our day, she tell asleep and immediately went to bed. I followed sometime later, but she was asleep - no opportunity for our nightly ritual where I kneel naked by the bed and we discuss how our arrangement is going.

That nightly ritual is the soul of what's making this work: feedback for me in a form that is not coercive and is comfortable for her. Only on this night I just fell in to bed. So it was the following morning - this morning - that we talked about how things were working.

She said that I had looked tired and needed to kick back. I said that the whole point of doing this is to do it at the hard moments, and that I felt I had failed rather totally yesterday. I wasn't overwrought about the not-checking-in part because life happens, and our arrangement needs to be flexible enough to deal with that. What I was over-wrought about (a little) was the fact that there was no overt sign from her that my slacking off made any difference to her.

We talked a little about what's important to each of us in why we do this - to me service and submission and surrender (gee, the three S'es). And to her helping me be happy. And being willing to pursue whether any of this could be interesting and useful for her. As she acknowledges that it could be, and to some extent is now. [Drat - there was something more too it, but I can't remember it exactly - I was after all 1/2 asleep]

In the end, I realized that the most effective way to deal with a day like that - in my minde, was to pick up on what Ms. Rika said in her book: losing the ability to serve her and losing her affection. I would hate that - not being able to serve her for a day, and not being able to be close to her for a day - to approach her for the little moments of affection throughout the day. Then I hesitated with something that was very fetishy but I guess I'm in the place where if I can't ask, I won't get. So I mentioned that sleeping on the floor beside her bed would be exciting for about 10 minutes, then a total hassle.

Much to my surprise, she didn't dismiss this out of hand, but net said, "Let's see how today goes."

And it has been a much better day. Mostly little things. Some weeks ago I had the opportunity to shave her armpits - what a hassle to do yourself, it was one of the most fulfilling things I've done. She was surprised, but allowed me to do so again today. And there were a handful of little things during the day. An amusing one (to me): she saw me eating something for lunch and said, "I'll have one of those" and got up to get it. DUH. I offered to get it for her. The little lightbulb went on and she said, OK.

On the other hand, earlier in the day, as I'd been making lunch, she said, "I'll have one of those" so I gave her one of me plate. That worked.

Overall it was a good day. A good day is one where I get to serve her. I like that.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A Little Reassessment

If we're doing this and it's what I want, how come I'm not happier?

Let's deconstruct that statement....

Are we doing this?

Is it what I want?

Am I happy?

Are we doing this? More deconstruction are we doing this? Pretty much, sorta. The comma is important. The major parameters are in place: I've committed to picking up much more of the work around the house, and I have been. There are a tiny, countable number of things that I can do for my beloved (as opposed to for the general running of the household), which are the thins I find most satisfying.

Is the "she" part of "we" doing this? Well, she's not not doing it - that is, she's willing to put up with me doing it, and she knows it's happening. I'm trying to be very conscious of those "We could do ..." or "We should ..." household-type things, and make sure they happen. She's not making it easy, being very subtle and non-directive about these things, but I'm trying.

We've done three evening check-ins, with me kneeling beside her after she gets in to bed, this being the gating item that has to happen before I can get in to bed. We have some logistical details to work out about that, but right now that part is working well enough.

The check-ins themselves are terrific, both in the satisfaction-for-me sense, and in the working-on-getting-this-right sense. I get to thank her for doing this, in a heartfelt and true way. I get to talk about what I've done for her, and we end up sharing our reactions about how this is feeling for both of us. If we're going to figure out if this can work for us, we're going to have to do that, so the fact that we're doing it every night is really constructive.

[Aside - 15 or so years ago when we tried something similar, the high point was a weekly ritual we did assessing how we were doing. Helped make that unsucessful attempt at least in to a positive learning experience rather than a resentful dud.]

The down-side of this is that I perceive of her body language and facial expression last night and to a lesser extent the night before, as being moderately put-out by the whole exercise. Sometimes I read her spectacularly wrongly, so I guess I have to ask about it tonight. Which is the great part about having these checkins.

I also said last night how much more I prefer doing stuff for her rather than stuff for the household (though I gladly do both). But in her way, she turned it around and said "That makes me feel like an uncreative lump since I have nothing that I want you to do for me." I actually think we both have issues there that we'll have to work on.

My fantasy is that we're in the "First we try, and then we trust" phase (to steal a quote from one of our favorite movies...), and that some time she'll start requesting/expecting more. But that could just be a fantasy.

She is concerned that I not take on more than is realistic. And, having paid a couple of bills last night (supposed to be my responsibility), she expressed some disappointment at my not having done it. It was clearly an effort for her, and I didn't say the right thing (dammit!) - which would have been "I'll try to be on top of that in the future," but rather something mealy-mouthed about how I wasn't sure how those worked. Oh well, learning experience for both of us, I guess.

Is it what I want?

I think so. Or rather, nothing in the experience so far makes me think it's not. I know I was hoping that it would decrease the distance between us that has grown up in 15 years of raising kids and being civicly active and having two lives. I'm not sure it's done that, or what the prospects are that it will, but there's nothing to indicate that it won't. Certainly it has at certain moments.

Do I regret the loss of control or autonomy? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Actually, that part seems like a mindfulness exercise in letting go of petty ego and trying to focus on what's really important. (Which is what I failed at doing when I responded to her comment on the bills - more room for improvement [grin]).

Am I happy?

Sometimes. I exercised my right to ask for permission to relieve myself sexually last night, and after an intimate several moments of consideration, she said "Yes." I realized that what I cherished was that intimacy, not the act it self. Which I didn't pass up anyway, but it was the first time I contemplated what I really wanted there.

I honestly also realized that for a number of reasons I've been reading way to much of this FLR blog/discusson board stuff during the workday. I think I've pretty much gone cold-turkey on that (except for posting during my lunch hour), and that feels good. Hard. Don't know whether I'll succeed over the long term (though being on vacation for a couple of weeks starting tomorrow should help - no blog updates then either, by the way). The web reading part has many of the hallmarks of addiction, which I don't like.

Hmmm... I was feeling pretty negative when I started this post, but reflecting on all this stuff, by now I'm feeling rather more positive. I'm still concerned that this is all just a vexatious hassle for my beloved. And I'm seriously considering letting her know about this blog, frankly so that I can let her know about If she chose to read it and engage with some of the women there, at least I think it might be helpful for her. But none of that till after vacation.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Positive Reenforcement

No, and not in a "Dommme-ly" "I-can-make-you-want-to-do-this" kind of way.

Only with the slowly dawning realization that every time I go to talk to my beloved about this, the conversation goes so much better than I expected. She is wonderful and loving and I'm incredibly appreciative.

As I implied in my last post, a conversation was in the offing. When nothing manifested by Sunday afternoon, I brought the subject up. We've both been incredibly busy and spent a surprising part of the day napping.

I started with "We need to find a time to talk about this stuff, and not during a walk." Which is where we've talked often in the past, but is an activity she likes, and which I don't want to 'pollute' with the idea that every time we go for a walk, we have to deal with "that..." And not right before we go to sleep, because we're too tired.

Coulda knocked me over with a feather when she said, "I've been thinking about this."

"You have???"

"I think before you come to bed, you should check in with me and tell me the things you've done for me today. That will remind me that we're doing this."

We had a long talk about my ambiguous feelings about "getting credit" for house work. And she said she understood them, and that perhaps in the future we would exclude them from the list, but for now, they should be included.

I said, "Jeez, if we're talking frankly about fantasies, can I do that naked at your bedside." She smiled indulgently and said "Yes."

We tried to line out the practicalities of things - what if she goes to bed before I'm ready (I drop what I'm doing and go up anyway, and afterwards leave the room to complete whatever's keeping me up) - what if I want to go to bed before she does (I ask if it's OK to go to bed, she either says 'Yes', or 'Wait a couple of minutes, I'm going too,' or 'Go and wait for me.') I'm sure we haven't covered everything, but we'll work it out in time.

And after watching some TV, she was tired and wanted to go straight to bed. So we did, though I scurried around doing a couple of chores before I went to the bedroom - in retrospect maybe I should have gone to the bedroom, done the whole ritual, and then done the chores. But we'll figure that stuff out.

Have I mentioned that I love rituals?

Have I mentioned that I really love rituals?

So I have great hopes for this.

On the other hand, I had great hopes for our "coming home" ritual, where I'd wait to be acknowledged by her, but that only worked out once in the last two weeks. I suggested that we really need to fine-tune that one for more situations. We agreed on the possibility of deferring conversations for up to 24 hours if the moment didn't seem right, so that's what we did with this subject.

Which is actually very liberating, because it gives me permission to bring it up again and not feel guilty about it.

I was actually pretty tired during our discussion and not feeling all obsessed and sub-ly, so it was a good moment to have the conversation.

In the event, the ritual last evening felt a little awkward, as well it might the first time through. But I appreciated her doing this all, listed to paltry things I had done yesterday for her, (though I forgot the project about getting the work-stains out of her slacks, which took a while; I'll have to get better at remembering). I also noted that this was also her opportunity for feedback to me, though she didn't have any, she didn't seem burdened by the concept.

Much to my surprise after the light turned out, I spent more than half an hour pleasuring her, at her express request and direction. Mistress Matisse has a riff somewhere on her blog about "Who's running the fuck?" - who's setting the timing and pace of intercourse. That has almost always been me in our relationship, even when I'm pleasuring her with no prospects for myself.

That definitely wasn't true last night, as she repeatedly told me to slow down. I was worried because in the past she's said that if things go on for too long, they're not fun for her, but I guess that was a long time ago...

I was concerned that we had sex after having these discussions because she felt it was "part of the package." But last nights was so "Her in charge" that I'm beginning to wonder if there's an alternate explanation - that she's really turned on by the whole thing. Seems too much to hope for, but a pleasant thought anyway.

So we'll see how things evolve with our new ritual, and our talk today about the "arriving home" ritual.

Life is good.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again?

So today we were snuggling in bed and my beloved reached up and fingered the chain I wear as a commitment to not masturbating without her permission. I asked her if it meant anything to her, since we seem to have left all the FLR stuff behind.

She said she'd feel so betrayed if I cheated on her that way, because she'd feel like a fool - she believes that I will hold to this agreement because I said so. I was releived to hear that, since, after our last conversation, I was ready to belive that none of this made any difference at all to her.

I don't remember how the conversation went, but she (I think) said we'd have to do something about my list of obligations around the house, since she can't remember them. I was surprised because I didn't think we had an arrangement any more.

She commented that it had been a bad moment there, and not to read to much in to it.

I told her that the comment that kills me the most is when she's doing something that I am "supposed" to do, and I either thank her for it or try to help, and she says, "Oh, that's OK." That's the killer for me. If it's OK, then why the fuck am I trying to do it?

We talked about this some, and realized that my apologizing for not doing things doesn't work for her - it's an issue that I apologize too much, a character flaw on my part. I agreed, and said that I've been trying for "I'd like to do that" as a response to the observation that she's doing something I feel I should do. Or "I was intending to do that." We also identified three possible reactions of hers to that, each of which communicates better:

1) I want to do this, so I'm doing it

2) Good, then do it

3) I don't think so, or you would have done it. Go do something else.

This last is the "punishment" option - the not being able to serve her as the incentive to stay on top of things. I think we have more work to do around this - for example, I expect I'll mess up and apologize, since it is an ingrained habit. And while we never punished our kids, there were consequences for undesirable behavior. We haven't come up with any consequences for my behavior, so we may just not go that route, other than inability to serve.

We also realized that if we're going to do this, we need to talk about it a lot in the early stages, as we set our expectations and learn what works and what doesn't. I also commented that it becomes real when it is inconvenient - Her loving response is to say "Oh, you were tired, so I did it." While my response is to say, "I want you to remind me to do it, or tell me to do it even though I am tired." Her relaxing and my working is one of my little fantasies, and the small handful of times that that's happened have been very fulfilling.

So she did tell me to wash her feet which I gladly did. And later to shave her legs, which I gladly also did. At which point she indicated she wanted oral sex, which I also gladly performed - her with the comment "You could do that for hours" (which would please me just fine). No indication of sex for me, which is also fine. But I actually do worry that this is all about sex for her.

No question but that sex is involved, but "all about" would be skewing the thing a bit. We'll see how that evolves.

I mentioned that the idea is to help her feel entitled, which, just as apologizinging is a charcacter flaw for me, not feeling entitled is a character flaw for her - she's bad at asking for things. So in this way, we both work on ourselves.

Later in the day at a reception, I was happy to offer to get her wine and hors d'oeuvres. IT was a little thing, but satisfying.

We'll see where things go from here - perhaps a converastion during tomorrow's long car ride.
Here it is after tomorrow, so "perhaps not."

The total insanity of our lives has settled down a little bit for a couple of days. I will motivate a conversation about all this before the end of today - I need to know that the conversation we had a couple of days ago means something. And we'll see where that leads.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

... About The Wife Whose Husband Though He Was A Chicken?

"Have you heard the one about the woman whose husband thought he was a chicken? She took him to a therapist who said he had a fool-proof way of curing the husband. The wife looked thoughtful for a moment and declined the offer. She said she didn't want to lose the eggs."

That was the story my beloved told me last saturday. We were in the middle of a typically stressful morning, this one involving a dying car. She broke down weeping and said that it was just impossible to do this, as it colored every conversation we had, even those about the practicalities of dealing with a dead car.

Which was ironic since FLR was the last thing from my mind at that moment.

But I said the only gentlemanly thing to say, which was, "Well, then forget about it." "But you'll be miserable, she said." I said, "We'll talk about it in a week or a month when it's a better moment."

And my little dream died.

So I wasn't a total jerk about it, and I said that I intended to keep doing the more around-the-house things that I should have been doing all along, but laundry became an "us" task instead of as much of a "me " task as she would let it be (which was never 100%). Ditto for bill paying and animal care and kitchen care. So we were pretty much back to status quo ante, with me picking up some of the slack that (frankly) had resulted from my having had a job with a long commute (but that was a long time ago).

Monday, June 16, 2008

You said what?

Father's day was busy, not with particularly celebratory events. The commemoration was low-key but satisfying around our house. But at the end of the evening, after cleaning up from the 25-person pot-luck event, I plopped on the couch beside my beloved and said, "I give up, I'm not doing a thing." And she said, "Is that an ultimatum or a request?"

What? You said what? I didn't even know how to take the question.

In the end, I replied, "A request." Seemed like the lesser of the two evils.

"Granted," she said.

Needless to say, I read beside her on the couch for a while, and then got up and put the laundry out to dry and finished the dishes.

I'm still trying to figure out what to make of that.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Give the Dog a Bone

I'd say our FLR is on hiatus. There are several reasons for this. Last Sunday we had this terrific discussion. I thought we had addressed a lot of stuff: the extent to which my beloved does and does not want anything to do with this, the need I have for some kind of acknowledgment that "something's happening here (even if) what it is ain't exactly clear..." and some little things we could do that might work for both of us.

It was a great talk. I'll probably post it because one of the things that has been helpful to me is to read real-life interactions between husbands and wives working this stuff out.

And then nothing happened. Nothing.

And I realized that I can do this with no feed-back for only so long.

So the things I've said I'm doing, I am certainly doing. It's a modest list, but it's keeping me busy, and I know that paying the bills is something she's really happy not to be doing. But the mind set is different (and perhaps mindset is everything). I'm doing this because I said I'd do it, not because I get a huge submissive buzz from it. Without feedback from her, without that vaunted "acknowledgment from a position of dominance," it's all in my head. And I don't get energy back from "it's all in my head."

About those things, there's nothing inherently submissive or FLR about them. A guy who's not a jerk would be doing as much as he can around the house. A guy who's not a jerk would be doing the laundry. A guy who's not a jerk would be paying the bills. A guy who's not a jerk would make sure that the kitchen is clean. So why am I trying to get "credit", consideration, a buzz, some kind of acknowledgment from her for doing all these day-to-day things. Doesn't seem very justifiable to me.

I guess that leaves the vitamins and the light, as tiny little symbols of the fact that perhaps something else is going on. But Tom Allen's comment was spot on: It may be that she really doesn't think about this stuff at all, and she's happier that way.

Tiny tiny little things - there's this gulf between the practical and the submissive in my head. "Scratch my back" - that was a pleasant (but practical) surprise. "Do you want to shave my legs?" to which I did thank her profusely when we were done.

I am tired of dissembling, so I won't not say that.

Wonder if she'll ask me in private what I want for father's day. Because if she does, I'll answer, one of these. Because I'm tired of dissembling. Not like I'd expect her to do anything about it, but as far as I'm concerned, now that the subject is no longer taboo, she's going to end up hearing what's in my head. [Not sure about all that, just trying it as a possible theory]

But I'm not going to push this noodle either. At least not right now. Maybe just doing these things will get us somewhere. Or maybe it won't, in which case something else will have to happen.

A couple of caveats: I think I'm kind of depressed - something I discover when I notice that I don't have any desire to do anything. Even sex. Even writing this blog entry, which I've been thinking about for a couple of days has taken this long to do.

Usually cooking is therapy for me; I intend to do more of that this afternoon.

Also cleaning up my desk, which makes me depressed just to look at it.

Another caveat: I think I'm almost disfunctionally obsessed with this whole thing. It's hard not to be since I've been fantasizing about it for the last 40 years. But it can get in the way of life and work. I'm trying to figure out how to make it not do that.

OK, tiny little deliberate steps to the future.