Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lines, Context, and Communication

Lilly made a comment when I posted about "Writing lines", asking "How do you feel when you are writing lines?" I seem to be rather backed up with things to say here, so rather than answer in the comment, this turned in to a post.

To start with the direct answer, if I had to sum up how I feel while writing lines, it's "very very content." It's best when I'm writing lines while something else interesting is going on - people watching a movie or something. Meanwhile I'm upstairs writing. Or my beloved is relaxing reading and I'm writing.

It's a feeling like I'm just where I'm supposed to be, doing what my beloved has set me to do, with a set of obligations and priorities and role that is different from the people watching the movie or from my beloved.

I've been thinking a lot and writing a little about "context" - what it is that makes one feel like something different is going on in what might be a very mundane situation - men who want their wives to dress them in maid's outfits or keep them naked while they clean the house. How is that different from just cleaning the house? It's how the guy feels because he is cross-dressed or naked.

I think there is an element of this same thing here. I am doing something I would not otherwise have done, that has no intrinsic value to me, because my beloved wants me to do it.

It's the difference between submission and service. Service is practical. Certainly, there is an element of submission in it - doing what she wants when she wants it, rather than when I want to do it. And the more it serves her the more submission is in it. So Service is doing the dishes and taking out the trash and doing the finances. All things that need to be done in our house, and if I don't do them, she will. But they are really service for "Us" (our household) rather than for her.

On those occasions when I get to do something for her, it's much more satisfying. For example, the other night she was at a meeting and realized that she'd forgotten her knitting. When I got her text, I didn't hesitate and stopped what I was doing to deliver that to her. That was service for her, and it was wonderful.

Writing lines is the same only more so: while bringing her knitting has practical value to her of entertaining her during her meeting, my writing lines has no practical value other than to focus me on how I should improve for her, and reenforce to me that her desires, how ever non-sensical they may seem to me, are more important than mine - an opportunity to submit. What's not to like.

I'm describing this all from the point of view of "before" - before my beloved pointed out that she'd much rather have me doing something practical than writing lines. So my conjecture that the "writing lines" task meant that she wanted me concentrated on how to improve and how to please and how serve. When in fact it was some kind of compromise on consequences for my failing in my commitments.

And that's why shared context is important: doing the dishes means getting the housework done. Doing the dishes naked, or doing the dishes after a little "tease" that says "I'm going to sit and relax while you do the dishes" means "You are doing the dishes because you serve me." Doing the dishes in a mundane context means doing the dishes. And doing the dishes, after the context of the relationship is firmly established, even if there is no outside indication of the context (no "naked", no "tease"), is submission, because the submission suffuses the relationship, once both people really belive that it is the context of the relationship.

It's related to the Zen aphorism: "What do you do before enlightment: chop wood, carry water. What do you do after enlightenment: chop wood, carry water."

If you're not an asshole, what do you do before you're in an FLR: like the good relationship advice says, give 110%. What do you do after you're in an FLR: give 110%. Only it feels different.

Which leads me to believe that those external markers, whatever they are for the couple, that exstablish the context, are really important as the relationship is changing. After the relationship has changed, they're less important.

So doing the finances nude with a butt-plug means that I'm definitely doing them from a point of view of submission and service. But once that's established, the nudity and butt-plug aren't necessary. What is necessary is that both people accept that the context of the relationship is different, and that both people feel certain, comfortable, that their partner feels that the context is different. In the line-writing case for us, I felt the context was one thing, and my beloved felt that it was another.

For a submissive male like me, with a beloved wife who's figuring out how she wants to relate to leading our relationship, there is always the fear that, once the external markers of the submission are removed (the nudity and the butt-plug for example), my beloved is breathing a huge sigh of relief, thinking "Thank goodness that's over..." Because the external behavior is the same (chop wood, carry water, do dishes, do finances).

That's why communication is important in our relationship.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My brief career line writing, and observations on gender roles.

Once again I was musing on the metaphor of preparing a lovely barbecue for a vegetarian. The short version is that I was, as you may have gathered from my previous post, all enamored of writing lines. By not fulfilling my commitment to keep our financial records in order, I ended up with the writing assignment I listed in my previous post. As B?, the expert, pointed out, that was a significantly large assignment, larger than I had anticipated.

The idea emerged from the fact that in our lives, time is the most valuable thing that we have. I took that to the conclusion that by forfeiting my time as a consequence for not fulfilling my obligations, I would establish a big incentive to stay current on them. So when my beloved was seriously annoyed by encountering some unupdated records, I thought I needed a consequence of similar magnitude.

So I was all happy with the thought that every waking moment not otherwise commited was going to be spent writing lines. I was content. Why? I don't know, but I must speculate a little. I was losing the ability to do what I wanted, because I had created a situation that displeased my beloved. I was incurring inconvenience because she had become upset. In essence, all the time I spent writing (2.5 hours more or less) was time I spent expressing my desire to please her. All of the things I gave up doing (watching movies, reading, web surfing, doing e-mail) were things I couldn't do because I hadn't fulfilled my commitment. It was a sacrifice and a form of communication, I felt, with my beloved.

She, perhaps not surprisingly, took this to a completely different conclusion. "All that time you're spending writing lines? You could be spending it doing what I really want done: getting the financial records in order." It's really hard to argue with logic like that, since it's so self-evidently true.

(In my own defense, I wasn't completely oblivious to this fact. Another part of the consequence for the state of the financial records was my obligation to work on them for a half and hour each and every day without fail until release from that obligation by her. But the fact remains that all the time I spent writing I could have spent working on the records.)

So she's given me what seems to me to be a more-or-less symbolic additional number of lines to do, while taking lines off of the menu of consequences. Perhaps they'll reemerge as a reward, I don't know.

To the vegetarian metaphor, if knowing that I am being denied something that I'd like to be doing (reading, hanging out, etc) does not give my beloved any frisson, I got to contemplating what value this whole dynamic might have for her. Frankly, the only non-contrived one I can see so far is the sex, which I think has improved dramatically for her. Sex is all about her pleasure now, and my desire for her. As a result, she has it when she wants, which can be three days in a row, and then not for two weeks. But there's no pressure.

That got me to thinking that my most effective course of action was to become as sexually desirable and stimulating for her as possible. Which is, of course, a complete reversal of our societal sexual roles. Given who we are, this is perhaps not surprising. For most of my adolescence, I harbored strong thoughts of being transgendered, and this was 40 years ago, when the concept was quite exotic. Christine Jorgenson and Jane Morris were my hero(ine)s. My beloved, on the other hand, was one of the first women to graduate from her university with a technical degree. So we've been wandering around those sex role lines for a long time.

I did ask her if the idea of sexual allure or suggestiveness, by behavior, dress, etc had any attraction for her, and she didn't dismiss the idea out of hand. Given that women and men get aroused by different things, I'm thinking that the kinds of displays women to do attract men are not going to be the ticket. Even so, based on her attraction to my anatomy, I was wondering if sexier underwear was in order. Perhaps. Or perhaps this is just another misguided idea on my part. But a cheap one to test out.

So the evolution continues, sometimes at a dizzying pace.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Update, and perhaps return to blogging

If you notice the pattern of posting on the blog, you'll realize that winter seems to be a difficult time for me to post. My desire for an FLR, and for sex generally, seems to wane and return with the sunlight. It wouldn't stun me if it were something like seasonal affective disorder, but I've never investigate. I self-medicate with St. John's Wort and that seems to help. But mostly I wait for spring.

This can make growing an FLR pretty difficult, especially when the impetus comes from me, and then suddenly goes away as it does in the winter. This winter, though, my beloved has given me the wonderful gift of being steady when I can't, and has maintained the basic structure of our FLR, even when I would have let it go (only to know that the desire would return again, as it has).

Every night, we check in before bed time. Often, the only thing I've done for her that day is to make her coffee. I've missed a few of my nightly e-mail performance reports, but only a few. But many of them have been very brief, when it's felt like not much had happened that day.

Occasionally, I've missed on my responsibilities doing something around the house. Back in the late fall, we settled on writing lines as a method of reinforcing my awareness of what I need to be doing. I find it very effective.

Recently I discovered the Line Writing blog, which has given me a whole new perspective on lines. And for failing at one of my household tasks, I now have a dauntingly large number of lines to write:

"Keeping faith with my beloved is important. If I am unsure whether I am fulfilling my commitments, I will ask for guidance." 500 times by Thursday evening. In a new journal she gave me for the purpose. It's daunting, but satisfying. Which is why this won't be a long post - I have lines to do.

Also, from some blog or other I discovered the idea of standing against a wall holding a coin with my nose. To which I added repeating a phrase related to the failure that earned me the consequence.

I know these possibly sound outlandish, but in both cases, the intent is to get me to focus on what needs to be done, and what I need to be mindful of. Because, although I'm very enthusiastic about FLR, I'm often not very steady or diligent about it. These things help that.

It also helps me to know that my beloved cares whether I'm diligent or not, and her consequences enforce this - they help me know what's important to her. The down-side is that she is very deliberate and conscientious, which means that coming up with a consequence for something takes her more thought and time than she'd like to put in to the project.

We've addressed this by coming up with "Make a consequence" - something she can say when she notices a failure, or "MAC" if we're in public (which hasn't happened yet). I then submit the consequence for her approval in my nightly reports.

I've also read the "The Marketplace" - first book in the series by Laura Antoniou. I'm thrilled that my beloved is reading it as well.

Thanks to all those bloggers who blog more steadily than I do. You're a lifeline.