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.


At all Times said...

Jamie - I am not sure what to say.

Commnication is great but there's a danger that you may always hear somethings that you didn't want to hear. That's why I have always shied away from too much direct dialogue. In part because I have never been able to find thr right words but mostly because it has taken me almost a year of constant thought, practice and inter action with Jane to understand not only what motivates her but also how best I could present my submission to her in such a way that she would respond to positively and acknowledge that she has this power to control, and when ready, would be willing to use it.

I am currently writing an entry on how best to approach this whole thing which you may find interesting. Obviously everyone is different and no two couple is the same, but it certainly seems true that the majority of men on here seem to have a common problem just getting their wives to understand and accpet, what in theory you would think would be seen as a gift, not something to be resisted.

I will finish the entry sometime next week, but I have to go now and prepare Jane's breakfast or I will be late.

Hang on in there.

Lady Julia said...

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

Sometimes, renting can lead to buying. Isn't the idea of her even renting the concept something that you would thought would not happen some time ago? I know you've wanted this for so long, but I think it's true when they say "softly, softly, catchee monkey".