Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Forum - Vol. 226 - Contracts & Agreements

I am a pretty versatile fool when it comes to contracts. I have signed a lot of contracts in my time, and at sometime I probably knew what the contracts meant, but six months later everything had grown dim and I could be certain of only two things: One, I didn't sign any contract. Two, the contract means the opposite of what it says. - Mark Twain's Notebook

Hi all.  Sorry for the delayed post. Busy morning.  I hope you all had a good week.  Mine started off pretty well, but then degenerated a bit last night, following an all-too-familiar pattern of one drink after work becoming one too many.  My guess is my bottom will be paying a price for that later this weekend.

One of our polls closed last week, this one on contracts and written rules governing the Domestic Discipline aspects of the relationship.  The results were as follows:

We have a written contract:                                                                     22%
We do not have a written contract or rules:                                          62%
We do not have a written contract but do have written rules:          16%

Contracts clearly aren't very popular with this crowd.  But, that is understandable, right?  50 Shades of Grey depicts a formal negotiation process between the parties, and in the context of that relationship, it makes perfect sense.  Because there really was no relationship when they negotiated.  It was two people who barely knew each other laying out the ground rules governing their contemplated kinky sexcapades.  That's not the context that most real domestic discipline relationships evolve in.  Most of them seem to begin vanilla, then someone introduces the idea of corporal punishment after the relationship already is well-established.  That is how it worked for us.  We had been married for close to ten years when I brought the idea of using spanking to discipline me to her.  So, everything was pretty conventional for us in terms of how these relationships seem to go -- I initiated it, and we never felt the need for a written contract, though for a period of time we did have written rules.  But, after awhile we didn't need those either.

Now, the fantasy seems to go otherwise.  With Glenmore's permission, here is a little contract-related artwork that raises some interesting issues:

Although most of these relationships seem to be initiated by the disciplined party, the drawing flips that scenario.  Given that we men generally are the more poorly behaved party, you do have to wonder why the women do not initiate things more often.  God knows many of us more than richly deserved it long before we found ourselves formally asking for it.

 

In an ideal world, this probably would be the ideal sequence.  He is presented with the idea, then she demonstrates what it entails, then he signs the contract newly aware of exactly what he is signing up for.

Now, one obvious issue with the last panel is the legal concept of "duress." Because she is kind of forcing the whole thing on him, it's possible no valid contract was formed.  Though, of course, it's not like there is any enforcement mechanism for this kind of contract anyway.  It works only if the two parties consent and work to make it work.  And, where that concept of consent is concerned, I have a hard time accepting that in a F/m domestic discipline relationship there could be much danger of real non-consent.  It's not like she can physically overpower him in most cases. Even if she threatened to end the relationship if he didn't comply, that still is consent.  Reluctant and grudging consent, perhaps, though consent nonetheless.  And, it does seem like most men fantasize about the relationship having some non-consensual element.

Given that domestic discipline usually is initiated as part of an existing relationship, is there any real reason to have a contract, particularly since it really would not be enforceable anyway?  I can think of a few reasons.

First, it does seem to be a good way to do some of the expectation setting we talked about a couple of weeks ago.  Assuming both parties participate in crafting it, it may help both of them clarify what they want out of this part of the relationship, what they expect to achieve, etc.  They can define the tools used, the severity she intends to use, etc.  Documenting that in writing could bring home to both of them that they are contemplating real spankings that are hard enough to get the job done, with all that entails.  It also could be used to define non-spanking punishments that she can enforce, like grounding, corner time, etc.

Second, it serves the purpose of defining at least some rules and perhaps to set some minimum consequences for breaking them.  Again, this might help bring home to both of them that this is a pretty serious thing they are contemplating. And, if he sees the rules in writing, he can hardly claim later that he didn't have fair warning and could not have avoided the necessity of "taking his medicine" by playing by the rules.

Third, it gives the parties an opportunity to define both of their respective roles and responsibilities.  I think this one is important, and especially the idea of defining the responsibilities both of them are expected to meet.  It's probably pretty common for the parties to define what is expected of him, but I think it might help the wife understand that leadership also carries responsibilities.  A lot of them. Like enforcing the rules diligently and consistently.  Not letting things slide, etc.

Fourth, it documents that the arrangement truly is consensual.  As K.D. has pointed out, this one may be a little legally problematic, since in some states you cannot consent to something the law deems an "assualt." Though, I am not convinced that such laws mean a contract documenting the consensual nature of things would not serve some purpose. It might make it less likely that charges would get filed or a lawsuit get brought.  When you look at the real cases that have been brought in this area, it does look like there is often an underlying issue regarding whether it was, in fact, consensual or whether something happened that exceeded the scope of consent.  I can't see a real downside (other than perhaps the risk of being involuntarily "outed" if the contract got into the wrong hands) to having something both parties can point to that verifies that this is something they both wanted.

So, I do think there are good reasons to consider having a contract or agreement summarizing the DD aspects of the relationship.  And, on the personal front, I recently came up with another reason. When I first posted the poll, I was the first vote for the "no contract" option.  But, that changed last week.  We had come to the end of a pretty long, involuntary pause in the domestic discipline aspects of our relationship.  For a couple of months, there was none at all.  That has happened in the past due to distraction and inattention, but this time we just could not do it for over two months.  When we got to a point where we could start it up again, it was she who initiated it, informing me over dinner that it was time to get back on track.  It got me thinking that there might be an opportunity here to do a really fundamental "reset," one that could come close to resetting the clock, this time with her as the real "owner" of that aspect of the relationship. We obviously could not undo the fact that I was the one who first came up with the idea, but after the substantial break it did kind of feel like we were starting over.  It occurred to me that a written contract might allow her to define the scope of things to come, mentally and emotionally commit to it, then present it to me as if it were firmly her own plan.  So, I spent some time last Saturday surfing the 'Net for examples of DD contracts.  There was not a lot out there, and the ones I did find were pretty simplistic.  But, it gave me a starting point.  I spent a few hours tweaking the draft, then gave it to her with a request that she take it from there and make it her own.  The plan was, once she finished making her changes she was to bring it to me and simply announce it as what she had decided would be happening from that point forward.

That is basically what happened.  After sitting on it for a couple of days, Thursday night she told me to get up to our room and wait for her.  She came in holding the contract, and asked why I was clothed.  I told her I had not understood exactly how she wanted to present things.  She told me she intended to instruct me on the major points of the agreement, but I was going to be standing there naked and vulnerable as she did so.  I complied (of course) stripping off my clothes in front of her.  She then highlighted the major points of the contract, emphasizing that they were what she has decided is going to happen from now on.  When it was over, she told me to bring out her paddles and straps.  She bent me over the bed and delivered a short but hard strapping and paddling that was really pretty excruciating given it had been over two months since my last one.

So, that is where things stand. We will see if the contract makes any real difference, but it was worth a try.

How about you? Do you have any kind of contract or agreement? Do you think it would be helpful?

I hope you have a great week.

Dan

36 comments:

  1. Neither N. (my late wife) or J. ever felt the need for a "contact". Ours always was what you might call a "customary law" - and tacitly understood - agreement that she (N. or J.) was entitled to chastise me "as needed" for any transgression of domestic discipline. The few times I questioned their verdict only resulted in a harsher punishment (which I have learned to avoid)
    L.

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    1. So far, I don't think I have ever fully rebelled against a command

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    2. I have never actually "rebelled", but I have occasionally complained or pleaded... but to no avail -except for a few times when N or J agreed to postpone the "session"...
      L.

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    3. You seem to forget that there was a number of times when your "complaining" resulted in an additional number of whacks with the paddle - strokes of the cane or lashes with the martinet...
      J.

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  2. i just wrote a long response and erased by pressing the wrong key, so I'll skip our history of using agreements, and just say, we JUST redid our FLR-DD agreement, boiled down to simplest terms, a list of twenty rules for me to follow, and her discretion as to what punishment to give if I break one.
    This is along with our current routine of her asking me, morning and evening, "Do you deserve a spanking?" leaving me to decide if I am carrying any guilt about anything, and if so, saying "yes" without necessarily getting into details, then it's her prerogative to choose whatever kind of spanking she wishes to give me.
    So, today, a day off work for me, I've had two spankings already, and it's still early evening.

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    1. Hi Shilo. That last part is similar to something else we've instituted. I told her that I felt like we need to have "face to face" check-ins instead of our past routine of sending her an email or text. I was thinking a weekly check-in. She wants daily.

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    2. Hi Dan! I believe daily check-ins make the bottom/submissive more responsible for their actions. You're less likely to "forget" an incident that is deserving of discipline.

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    3. Hi Merry. I'm sure you are right, and they are designed to be humbling. Given that I feel a fair amount of resistance to doing them, I'm sure they will serve this purpose well.

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  3. I think DD contracts are very appealing to men, as they codify the 'rules of the game', as well as make it feel more of a full-time activity - not just something she does for 10 minutes every once in a while. No doubt being locked in chastity elicits some of the same feelings.
    We've tried some short-term contracts in the past - focused more on weight loss and sexual denial and satisfaction than on DD - but my wife was never particularly happy with them in practice, as she didn't feel the need/desire to manage my behavior so closely.
    As you've proved, though, Dan - things can change! Congratulations on your new contract and your recent strapping - I hope it works out very well for your wife, and provides many intense experiences for you as well!
    CrimsonKing

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    1. Hi CK. All great points, including that locked in a chastity device may be as much about a status reminder as about cutting off orgasm.

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  4. I'm a fan of written contracts/agreements, simply because it sets the tone of the relationship, and it gives everyone a clear idea of what is expected of them.

    When I first started with Shilo 4 years ago, it was a (18 page) Contract with guidelines, but after about a year, he felt that it should be referred to as an Agreement. I reluctantly agreed to it, but it turned into 25 pages! We've updated/changed it about 5 times in our first 3 years of being together. I did a recent upgrade in the past week with only the very basics (some guidelines with rules) and it's about 2 pages long. I recall mentioning here that it was something Shilo and Myself discussed in detail during our Honeymoon last month. I hope this one lasts.

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    1. At that point, the tools and options were included because Shilo asked. We went over a year with no agreement, so having cut it down to only 2 pages is nice.

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    2. WOW 25 pages! 18 pages! 5 pages!
      Ours is a 1 page agreement that gives my wife broad ranging authority and reads:

      This Permit hereby grants __________
      Permission Spank, Paddle or Otherwise Discipline
      Her Husband ___________
      In Whatever way She Deems Appropriate and Effective in order to Assist Her in Maintaining Peace and Harmony in Her Household,
      and to better establish Her Authority in the relationship

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  5. We don't have a written contract per se, but we do have a written pledge from me to her. We also have a written list of offenses, each has a 3 level punishment attached. These lists were developed by both of us after each submitting a list of what we expected from the relationship and the other party. Paring down and tweaking them more than once results in the list we use today. Each year, I recite the pledge to her and we then modify the list of offenses and make changes if necessary. My list of relationship covenants and the use of spanking for discipline has not changed.

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    1. Thanks, SC. In the context of these relationships, I would see a written pledge as about as close as we can come to a contract

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  6. Once the arrangement had been properly discussed up front I would say there is no need for a formal agreement as you progress.However , up front it is a useful tool to set out the rules and formally hand over the power to her.Sitting down with her to discuss and then sign the contract will let it sink in for him that this is not a game and is for real.
    We do not have a formal agreement , but like Cowboy have a written pledge we use for reminders or before punishment.
    If I an acting up she will sometimes say "Remember our agreement" and we both know exactly what she means.
    Thanks for featuring my artwork and blog.Illustration always helps with a topic .

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    1. Yes, illustration helps. And I have to rely on people like you and KD, as I can't draw stick figures that look like anything but sticks.

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    2. Will be pleased to provide you with illustrations on any of your future topics Dan.

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  7. Just curious if your wife made any major additions or changes to the agreement you gave her which surprised you Dan?

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    1. No, she didn't. I was kind of hoping she would, but I think the lack of changes really resulted from the fact that we've been doing this for so long, I had a good feel for what needed to be in it.

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  8. We have had both a contract and a list of rules. It is good to have things clear and on paper, but after a few years, you find that the paper is more of a reminder than a necessity.

    I do strongly believe that they are not a bad idea for new couples starting out and I can't see a downside to having one. Even the legal technicality I cited in the past is more of an FYI for anyone who thinks a contract like this would be a "Get out of Jail Free" card. It could very well help but maybe not as much as one might hope. Still.....it couldn't hurt and could well color things in a way that might be beneficial....if not a little embarrassing.

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    1. Agreed. I definitely don't think a contract is a necessity, but it can help get things off the ground or, as you say, serve as a reminder.

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  9. Dan
    For couples, especially for a wife new to the idea of Domestic Discipline an agreement, contract, and/or
    an agreed upon set of rules and limitations is a great idea. Since we have been at this awhile, at this point
    the only rule we have is that I will spank until....if for any reason Peter stops it then I will never discipline him again. This, comes out of his trust that I will not be irresponsible.
    Because of our boys, we have designated friday evening as the night for discipline. The boys spend the evening with my folks overnight so we have free time.
    You did mention something I feel is an important part of DD. When you mentioned your wife expected in the future for you to wait naked until she is ready to discipline. We do that too. When I take the boys to my folks that is Peter's cue to go to our room, lay out paddles, belt, cane etc on the bed then he strips naked
    and waits till I come back.
    Some friday's I have a glass of wine with my folks other times I come back immediately. Peter never knows but has the good sense to be in position and waiting naked. The wait for him can be as little as 20 minutes or as long as an hour.
    I find that this ritual prepares us both and avoids those sometimes awkward moments. This schedule also assures us both that no discipline is ever given out of anger. After this past friday's session I ordered him to put on his levis and go commando. We then met friends for a late supper. I mention this last part as extending the discipline session. I enjoyed it!
    anna

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    1. Hi Anna. There is a lot of good and helpful stuff in your response. Some thoughts and a clarification:

      (1) He trusts that you won't be irresponsible. This is so key. When all the BDSM crowd insists there has to be some new expression of consent before each session and there absolutely must be a "safe word," etc., it ignores that we are talking about real discipline within the context of a consensual, trusting relationship.
      (2) On the waiting naked thing, her comment was really just about this last session and about being naked as she read me the rules. But, our normal routine is, in fact, for me to prepare by putting out her tools, getting naked and waiting for her to come upstairs.
      (3) Your ritual sounds great. I especially like the point about the wait time guaranteeing that discipline isn't done in anger.
      (4) Going commando: I may have something related to share in an upcoming topic. I totally get how that could extend the disciplinary impact

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  10. We've never put anything in writing. As far as we were concerned, it was only necessary to discuss a few basic principles of how things would work. As far as we are concerned, if we have to start codifying things because one or the other forgets crucial details, things aren't working as they should. One of the underlying principles is that I learn what behaviour will upset her enough to result in a spanking (and therefore avoid doing it): - if she has to codify things, probably I am not behaving as I should, i.e. I am acting like a lawyer trying to worm his way out of something using semantics. Another principle is that I graciously accept my punishment, rather than come up with excuses about not knowing the consequences.

    I definitely think spanking has resulted in us having far fewer marital problems than we would otherwise have: - it has allowed a line to be drawn under things. However, we would reason that if my wife feels she has to threaten spanking to avoid divorce, there are other underlying problems that will take more than spanking to resolve.

    We also never felt the need for documenting my acceptance in order to give her legal protection against accusations of assault. As far as we're concerned, if something like this is a concern, there is not sufficient trust in our marriage. Ditto the danger of being outed: - we should both feel comfortable that neither will discuss things in public.

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    1. This does suggest one potential downside to a contract -- does the receiving party argue it sets the *only* punishable offenses and the *maximum* consequences. I don't have any doubt that many BDSM-oriented relationships do end up looking exactly like that. The one I drafted last week works the other way. It is clear it sets minimums, and everything is at her discretion.

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  11. I initiated DD I thought it would be helpful in resolving marital issues we were having, mostly caused by my misbehaviors. After discussing the Spencer Spanking Agreement with my wife (as applicable only to me) she was totally in favor of putting together an agreement and we discussed all aspects of it for several days before coming to a mutual agreement. We both took the attitude that we wanted this agreement to succeed, to wit, my behavior that was upsetting to my wife would be corrected and she would play an important role in making that happen. Our agreement included those behavior that would result in punishment, Punishments would be bare bottom spankings with hair brush, paddle or strap (we had to buy the paddle and strap), there would be no exceptions (if a rule was broken there would be a spanking at a time of my wife's choosing, that only the buttocks would be spanked, but the spanking would be an experience to remember, and my wife would be in total control of ensuring that happened, that my wife's decision to spank for a violation would be final and that I would comply with her instructions and take the spanking without resistance, that our agreement was strictly private and confidential. I wanted to improve. My wife wanted me to improve. But, unlike some other contributors, I did not want to give my wife carte blanche and exceed her power beyond the rules we had agreed to. I was not interested nor would I agree to turn over total control to my wife. She could enforce the agreed upon rules, and any amendments we made by mutual agreement thereafter, but her authority was limited to that. Nor did she want more authority. She did want to consult on decisions before being made, but was content in giving me the final decision making authority. My wife, bless her, did her part and blistered my backside when rules were violated and I deserved every one I got. But over time I learned to adjust and comply with the rules in our agreement and now am rarely spanked, but they still happen. My wife has seen my improvement, and could not be happier (as am I), and thus our marriage is working on all cylinder. Over the last several years our agreement is natural for us and there is no need to refer to it, we know it by heart and follow it. We have discussed whether we need to continue DD since I have improved across the board and spankings are rare these days. My wife made it clear she wants it to remain as is, because it sets the boundaries and when violations occur there is pay back, and she feels good about her ability to deliver that payback. I look at it as only fair that she can deliver pay back and I've got to take it. So we had a detailed agreement to start with that has become automatic for us without reference back to it and has made us a very happy married and affectionate couple.

    Fred

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    1. Hey Fred. I have no doubt that one of our whiny trolls might object to "pay back" as a legitimate reason for DD, but I have no problem with it. My original motivation may have been a little different from yours, in that I think my initial fascination was more about accountability than conflict resolution. In other words, I felt a need to pay a price for the bad behavior. Not that conflict resolution wasn't part of it, but I think it was more about penance. But, it is plainly the case that once we started, she came to see the personal benefits of pay back, as well as the benefits of humbling me.

      Though we have gone further than you in terms of exchanging power and authority, it's still the case that there areas where she makes most of the decisions and other areas where I do. And, I think we both know that I would not agree to something fundamental--like say, if she wanted me to change careers--just because she wanted it. So, I would say we had a DD relationship, we have been going somewhat in an FLR direction, but within a predominately DD and even "vanilla" framework.

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  12. By common consent, homophobia and some other forms of hate are caused by fear of becoming whatever you fear and despise. So I suppose Norman is afraid of his deepest impulses to turn his bottom over to a woman who will give him the discipline he wants -and I might add really needs. Poor Norman. He is to be pitied. One of the purest joys is to give the woman you love control of your bottom. Norman wants that so bad, but can't pull the trigger.This guy needs spanked and firm discipline even more than most of us. But it will never happen.
    Alan

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  13. Hi and as I think I may have said before we don't use a contract or even a set of written rules. We did used to have written rules but they all boil down to respect for my Lady. Anytime I show disrespect - arguing, rudeness, staying out too late, moods, etc - I run the very real risk of a intense Friday PM or Saturday AM 'reset', the format of which I am sure you can visualise. If the offence creates particular concern or anger then the 'reset' can take place at any available opportunity.

    Every spanking (or more usually 'strapping') is preceded by what I can only describe a an 'inquisition in position' during which I have learned (been trained!) to be completely truthful. And as a follow up she expects a journal or email to share how I felt/ feel on appropriateness / severity / duration / etc (and will casually mention if she has not received it).

    So I would suggest that we have an unwritten, implied contract!

    Oh, and for complete clarity I have never once felt 'abused' in any way - I feel more loved, more secure, very clear on boundaries and the only changes I would welcome would be increased control / severity rather than less. TB

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    1. Hi TB. Disrespect does seem to drive a lot of rules and consequences. And rightly so. It's been awhile since we had a discussion about severity. Might need to that one again soon.

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  14. I wanted to clear up a misconception that some people may have:

    Not all BDSM relationships include the use of a safeword. Even in those that do include one, when somebody is being punished or disciplined for something, safewords are generally not allowed to be used.

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    1. Thanks, Merry. Good to know. I need to stop harping on BDSM issues. I just feel like it is so rules-based, and then people who are into come here and it becomes all about their MUST be consent before each session, there MUST be a safeword, etc. Thanks for the clarification.

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    2. The one thing I've learned over the years is that there is no one true way to do things.

      When I "play" with someone other than Shilo, I will negotiate the scene and give them a safeword. This happens every time until/unless we negotiate something different.

      My relationship with Shilo is a CNC (consensual non-consent) or "blanket consent" relationship. He consented once, and now he no longer has the option to refuse.
      This isn't for everyone, but it works for us.

      I also know him well enough to know when he's had enough. I feel it's my job to be aware of his body signals such as a change in breathing.

      On the rare occasion that we play in a dungeon, I always inform the dungeon monitors that we play heavy so we aren't interrupted by a well-meaning but misinformed person.



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