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.