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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Encouraging Signs

I'm sorry to have left things on such a bleak note, since, aside from being incredibily busy, the less dramatic parts of our WLM seem to be falling in to place. I have a need for acknowledgment that is at the root of this dynamic for me, and I know that. That's still something of an issue. But taking a step back, yesterday was an interesting day.

We were IM'ing and considering getting together for lunch. Her exact words:

"Wanna come home for lunch?"
"Let me put this another way..."

To which I responded, of course,

"As you wish"

As I've said, the idea of her using these little verbal formulas is not attractive to her; I don't know how she feels about me using them (guess I should ask; my guess is that she doesn't care), but I think they're good disciplines.

The evening was quite different from what we had expected - I had work to do (which is unusual), and she did three different cooking projects (that's called "fun" around our house...) At the end of the evening, she said "I'm tried, I'm going to bed." At which point two things happened:

I got up from work to make sure the bedroom was prepared for her (which, trivially, means turning on her light and setting our her toiletry supplies)

And she left a large number of dishes un-done in the kitchen (though she did a lot of tidying up and running a load of dishes). Dishes have always been my responsibility, so this isn't so different from what would have normally happened, except for the conversation about it later.

One her way upstairs, she thanked me - I inferred that was for preparing the bedroom, to which I replied, of course, "My pleasure" (which it really was; have I mentioned how pathetic it is that in some senses the most pleasant moment of my day is doing that stuff for her?).

And when I came to bed, she apologized for leaving all the dishes. To which I could honestly say, "Thank you for letting me do them." The idea that she would feel comfortable enough to do what she wanted to do (cooking projects) and not worry about the aftermath when she got tired, is exactly the luxury I'm hoping to provide her. Not "I'm such a bitch, I get to be a thoughtless slob" but "I have the luxury of doing what I want, and a loving husband who delights in giving me that luxury." At least that's the direction I think we're going.

Finally, this morning we were trying to schedule a complicated weekend in the future, and she had a plan, which I messed up by having creating another outside commitment. She just said, "You make the calls and arrange that weekend. It's your problem." She alluded to this afterwards in a way that made me think that it was a conscious choice/experiment to see if she could unload a task that has been annoying her. That was thrilling - of course now I just have to figure out how to resolve the gordian knot of the weekend, but I'll figure something.

All of this results from a long talk we had on Sunday, which seemed to have few practical effects on Monday, but which may be bearing longer term fruit. I'll try to remember to post about that soon.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Another Whine, I'm Afraid

Frankly, I'd rather whine on the blog than risk messing up this tender little shoot of FLR that I'm attempting to cultivate. I say "I'm attempting" because at moments like this it seems pretty clear that this is all in my head. So if it's not, we need to communicate better.

I was thrilled when my beloved got home last night. I missed her just the way I used to when we were new at this, and that was bittersweet. I can grasp at straws that as she was walking in to the house, arms loaded with stuff, she said "There's a bag and a backpack in the car." Not an order, not even a request, but I could take it that way and did, happily. But by the time I got back for a second trip for the other stuff, her arms were loaded with junk for her second trip. So much for expectations. I did get to help though.

Somewhere in the process while I was getting the computer unpacked and the dinner made, she unpacked her bag in the bedroom, so it was my unpleasant surprise to find that when I finally got upstairs. So much for expectations.

This morning's routine was knocked off-kilter by her commitment to make sandwiches and drinks for an affair. Her commitment, I did it since she had been out and mentioned that she'd been stressing about it. There were some pleasant moments last night as I was figuring out how to make 10 gallons of drink and she was reading a magazine, but it was slender consolation for the suitcase thing.

By the time I got the sandwiches done this morning (I would have made them last night but she suggested they'd be fresher if made this morning, and I've finally learned not to disagree on points like that), she had made the coffee (which maybe was our "gateway service", so though nice, that hurt. So much for expectations.

And I head the clothes washer going and casually asked our daughter if she'd started a load. As she said she hadn't, I know my beloved has. I swear, there wasn't even enough clothes to make up a load, so I'm frustrated. I'm NOT going to get in to this passive aggressive if-there's-one-piece-of-clothing-then-do-a-load thing. So much for expectations.

Frankly, in the context of an FLR that was "working", I don't think any of this would be an issue. I expect we're still going to be a team, and there will be times when things work best when she picks up what wouldn't otherwise get done until later. But right now, I need (yes, I need) some kind of acknowledgment of what she's doing. Even something like "Here's your coffee, I figured you couldn't get to it" communicates the expectation that I make the coffee. Rather than "Here, I'm a little out of practice." I suppose there might have been a snappy rejoinder to that which acknowledged an expectation, but I'm not good at snappy rejoinders.

I've never been comfortable with submissive male bloggers' posts where they parse their wives' statements - "She said please" or "She didn't order me, she asked me" types of things. But now I think I get where they're coming from. It's about the expectations, not the words. It's about the acknowledgment of what's going on. It's about communication and what means what.

Glad to have a blog where I can vent. We'll talk about our relationship this weekend, and by then this little rant will have cooled a lot, which will be a good thing.

But the happy homecoming, though happy, has been a little more difficult for me than I expected.


Monday, June 02, 2008

The Bicycle

A friend of ours fell off her bicycle the other day and injured herself badly enough to end up in the hospital. When I mentioned this to my beloved (who's away), she recalled the number of people we know who have done themselves damage on bicycles and wondered if riding was such a good idea.

I love riding my bicycle.

Was she implictly asking me to give up my bicycle? Would I?

As for the first, I don't think I'll ever know. She certainly didn't say as much.

Would I? Not the way things stand right now. I'm enjoying the forums over at quite a bit, and they've included a thread on "What makes this real for you" - asked by a woman, lots of replies from men.

Until I get some sense that this is real for her - some sense that she's willing to expect me to give up something and she'll recognize it not just in that moment, but in some way on an on-going basis, giving up something that important would just make me crazy: "Is this all in my own head only?" "Am I just making myself miserable?" etc.

Because if I am, and this is "light recreation" for her, then I'll need to engage in a whole different way. Perhaps that's all it will ever be for her. But I think it's too early to tell where we are yet.

Sure will be nice to have her home. Only two days, but who's counting...