Friday, June 30, 2017

The Forum - Vol. 212 - Decisions, Decisions

"He may have a second rate intellect, but he has a first class temperament." Oliver Wendell Holmes on Theodore Roosevelt

Hello all.  Welcome back to the Forum.  Our weekly gathering of men and women who are in, or interested in being in, Domestic Discipline or Female Led Relationships.  I hope you had a good week.

We didn't get a huge number of posts last week, but lack of volume is sometimes offset by depth of feeling. Whenever we touch on issues regarding public exposure or what our kids (adult or otherwise) should know, it seems to be bring out very firm opinions.  Me?  I'm still on the fence. But, it doesn't really matter.   If ours come to know, it will only be because my wife decides to tell them.  Or, because they already know and have, up until now, spared us the embarrassment of telling us about it.  Only time will tell.

Anna also made a comment about the constraints of talking about only one topic each week, and I don't disagree.  Having one particular topic--and having to be the guy coming up with it each week--is definitely constraining for all concerned.  Though, it's a problem I don't quite know how to solve, other than being flexible when people drift off into things that aren't precisely "on topic."  (I have made the decision, however, that I am not going to put up with it any more when a couple of OCD posters feel compelled to comment every week but have nothing at all to actually say, so they instead leave repetitive comments that are the communicative equivalents of a masturbatory fart.  I'm just taking those down, even if peripherally on-topic, because the commenters are playing this cute game where the first sentence may seem on-topic, then they launch right into their mother-in-law, spanked in front of her friends, facing the wall, leg-locked, little fantasy scenario.  Not putting up with that anymore.)  But, if someone has something truly communicative they want to talk about, I'll usually either let it go, or if it is way off-topic but would be a good one to explore, I'll suggest deferring to the following week, at which time I'll devote a full-blown topic to it.  Admittedly, that strategy is self-preservation at play, because it means I have one less thing to struggle over on Saturday morning as I look at a blank screen. But, I do sometimes get tired of the topical format in its entirety, and I do think about something like a Facebook group or a moderated discussion group for our more regular and productive commenters.  Something where anyone can post a topic and people can use a chat session to talk real-time, would probably be preferable, but I can't quite figure out the practicalities.  Something more like a "club" than a "forum." But, Facebook makes it very hard for people to post anonymously or even to post using accounts with pseudonym identities, and many of us just aren't willing to "out" ourselves to Facebook as a condition of using the service.  I also have been a member of a couple of on-line discussion groups, but running one usually requires some kind of payment for the software or hosting, which again leads to a loss of anonymity at least for the moderator.  So, I am open to all suggestions, but right now I can't come up with anything much better than the current format. 

Now, on to today's actual topic.  In addition to things regarding our family being in a bit of a state of flux, we've been dealing with some issues around life choices.  Nothing earth shattering yet, but we're coming up on that time of life when you may hit a fork in the road and need to make some conscious decisions about which one to walk down.  And, truth be told, currently we are not entirely on the same page.  That has me thinking a bit more than normal about decisions and how we make them in a DD or FLR relationship.  Now, I have never had much use for the notion of female supremacy.  I think some men are good leaders and make good decisions. Others, not so much.  The same is true of women.  I know some who are naturally good leaders who make great decisions for themselves and those around them. For others, it is a learned skill. And, some just kind of suck at it.  I don't think either gender has a monopoly on wisdom.  

I will now offend the female supremacists in the group to the core, by saying boldly that my wife is not a better decision-maker than I.  At least not consistently and in all respects.  If anything, I'm more rigorous and systematic in analyzing issues and coming to decisions on appropriate actions.  But, in some ways that's a result more of experience and confidence than aptitude.  Preparing for my career involved a lot of training in thinking things through in a very ordered way.  And, I have to make a lot of decisions every day.  It's kind of my stock-in-trade, as it were.  

On the other hand, I tend to get in trouble because while I am analytical, I also am temperamental and stubborn, and those qualities can overcome my better judgment.  And, I just do dumb and dangerous things sometimes.  For those reasons, it still makes a lot of sense for my wife to be at the top of our chain-of-command, at least in a lot of areas.  Because, she has a better temperament than I, and one that is less prone to doing dumb shitBut, we both recognize that when it comes to actually stepping up and taking the lead on making decisions for us,  she needs practice.  While she kind of likes the feel of being in charge once she does it, she doesn't always like thinking about that decision being hers to make. The conditioned need to get buy-in from me and others gets in the way of decisive leadership.  And, there no doubt are some conventional social roles at play.  Especially on "big ticket" issues. So, I have from time to time kind of forced her down that learning curve.  

A year or so ago, about the time we started really exploring FLR, she needed a new car.  Now, I am guessing it is fair to say that buying cars is still seen as the man's job in many, many families.  We get the pain of wrangling with the dealer over price, and just as we are patting ourselves on the back for striking a great deal, we get shuffled off to the finance guy who somehow hypnotizes us into buying the upgraded floor mats and that super-special undercoating.  It's an inherently competitive, adversarial, zero-sum game in many ways.  Well, this time, I decided it was her car, and she should get the experience of choosing and negotiating it all by herself, and if she was going to claim to be the Head of the Household, she needed to learn to get a little more comfortable with confrontation.  She was fairly pissed at me for refusing to weigh in on any part of the process, but she did a great job. In fact, she drove a hell of a lot harder bargain than I would have!

We both also have areas we like handling and others we don't.  So, my wife handles most of our bank accounts, but I handle most of our investments.  She pays the credit card bills, while I make most of the decisions on things like household repairs.  We both kind of like it this way, and even after DD and FLR we never really came to any formal allocation of decision-making roles, instead just kind of drifting into areas where we each have more interest and competence.  Even on kid issues, we tend to divide and conquer.  She makes a lot of the decisions involving day-to-day kid issues, while I handle how we manage their college funds, and I'm pretty active in helping advise them on how to succeed in school.  And, most big decisions are made jointly to one extent or another.  

If anything has changed since implementing DD and experimenting with an FLR, it is really the "chain of command" concept.  It an effective chain of command, the person at the top does not make every decision, but they are the final decision-maker.  They get to break ties.  If there is a dispute, they win.  We aren't perfectly consistent in applying the concept, but it is what we are aiming for.

How about you?  Does your DD or FLR relationship involve some actual allocation of decision-making authority?  Does she take on more of the decisions than she did before you went down this path?  If there is a tie, who wins?  If she has taken on more decision-making authority, has that proven to be a a relief or a burden? 
And, when it comes to discipline and punishment, is there any discussion about if, when and how it will take place, or is that totally up to her to decide?

I hope you have a great week.  Be safe out there on this long holiday weekend. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Forum - Vol. 211 - Passing It On

“The more a daughter knows the details of her mother's life [...] the stronger the daughter.” - Anita Diamant, The Red Tent.

Hello all.  Welcome back to The Forum - our weekly gathering of men and women in, or interested in being in, Domestic Discipline or Female Led Relationships.  I hope you had a good week.  Mine was involuntarily restful.  Meaning we are slow at work, which is never a good thing for my mental and emotional health.  While I may be a "bottom" in my relationship with my wife, in the rest of my life I am a top (warning, bad pun about to be explained).  Not in the DD or D/s sense.  Rather, I'm thinking of the child's toy top that spins and spins.  It stays upright and in position as long as momentum keeps it spinning. But, once it slows down, it falls down.  So far this week, I have merely slowed but not fallen. Here's hoping things stay that way.  However, my track record is not good when it comes to staying well-behaved in the midst of a work slowdown.  I get restless, bored and anxious.  But, my wife has learned that pattern well and hopefully will nip it in the bud.

I was hoping that a week off from blogging would yield a flood of new topic ideas.  By that measure, the week was a failure.  But, the family commitment that led me to take a little pause did get me to thinking about at least one Domestic Discipline topic.  It's probably not new, strictly speaking, but I don't recall addressing this particular angle.

We've talked more than once about kids.  Whether they should know.  How to best ensure they don't.  How to work around their presence in the home when trying to maintain a Domestic Discipline or FLR dynamic.  In all of these discussions, it does seem like there has been a pretty strong, though not unanimous, consensus that the DD aspect of our relationships is something best kept to ourselves.  That is what my wife and I have done.  As I have said, however, if we had it to do all over again, I might push my wife to be more open about it.  Especially about her authority and power, because I think it sets a good example and would help her be a great role model.  But, in fairness to our decision making process, it was only recently that her authority started become more pervasive, i.e. something more than the authority to carry out a spanking.  And, it has only been over the last year or so as we have explored a deeper power exchange that I have come to appreciate how hard it is is to grow a real FLR if you are intent on keeping it secret.  An FLR is, by its very nature, more constant, more pervasive, and more outwardly visible than is necessarily the case for DD.  Spankings can be conducted in private, and while keeping them private may be inconvenient, the desire to keep that side of the relationship secret can be accommodated.  That is because spanking is more an "event" than an ongoing process or state of being.  Bad behavior happens, it is addressed, and the partners then go back to their regular roles.  Not so with an FLR.  If the goal is for one partner to be firmly in charge of the other and to be at the top of the familial chain-of-command, then that is much harder to keep secret from the troops.  You can try to keep it from them, but leadership takes communication and practice.  Keeping it secret is tough, and doing so risks inhibiting the HoH partner's ability to really grow into the role and the other partner's ability to become more demonstrably deferential.

But, the impact on the couple isn't really what I want to focus on this week.  Instead, my question is, does the desire to maintain the secrecy of the DD or FLR aspects of your relationship change once the kids grow up and become adults themselves?  More to the point, should it?  Particularly if both parties feel that DD or FLR has been a benefit to their own marriage, isn't that the kind of helpful hint you might want to pass along to your progeny as they go out into the world and face their own marriage and relationship challenges?  And, I'm not limiting the possibility of such communication to moms passing on a bit of relationship advice to their daughters.  While most of the art that I've found on this topic depicts mothers advising their daughters on the benefits of being a spanking wife in a DD relationship, if you had an adult child who was challenged when it comes to personal behavior, or one who might profit from some enforced boundaries, wouldn't you want to pass that along?  Many of the men in these relationships took an honest look at their own behavior and decided to ask their wives to use DD to help them improve. While I don't think I have ever once seen a DD story or drawing with this as the context, it is not hard for me to imagine a caring parent taking their misbehaving adult son aside to counsel him that perhaps he could profit from a strong wifely hand?

Up to this point, I've been more open than my wife is to letting our kids in on the DD aspects of our life, whether my telling them about or or just being more open in her displays of control.  While there have been flashes of such openness here and there, as a whole she has not been very open to it. But,  we and our kids are points in our respective lives where nothing we do is very likely to damage a developing and largely unformed psyche.  And, my wife is very close to our kids. It really wouldn't surprise me if, at some point in the future, one of them might be facing a relationship or personal behavior challenge, and she might decide to impart some words of maternal wisdom.  Or, mothers and daughters sharing in the way they often do, maybe someday a few years from now they are out having a nice lunch and a couple of glasses of wine later she decides to spill the beans.  Stranger things have happened.

What do you think?  Can you see yourself telling one of your adult children about your DD or FLR lifestyle?  Why or why not?  What would your reaction be if your wife did so on her own?

I hope you have a great week.  If you are new to this Forum, please take a minute to visit the Guestbook (tab above) and tell us a little about your DD or FLR relationship or aspirations.

Friday, June 16, 2017

No New Post This Week

Hi all.  I hope you have had a good week and are getting an early start on your weekend.  I have a commitment that is going to keep me away from the computer tomorrow and Sunday, and I don't have anything canned to post today.  So, let's catch up next Saturday.  Have a great weekend. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Forum - Vol. 210 - DD and Stress

If you don't get enough time-outs as a child, you get them as a grownup. ~Andrew Bonifacio

Hello all.  Welcome back to the Forum.  Our weekly gathering of men and women who are in, or interested in being in, Domestic Discipline or Female Led Relationships.  I hope you had a good week.

Some of the exchanges on the blog got a little interesting last week.  I wonder sometimes why I let myself get drawn into exchanges with trolls.  Part of it is definitely my own combativeness, which gets me in trouble from time to time.  But, I also have become convinced that ignoring them often just doesn't work, as many of them are remarkably persistent.  I also just have a big problem with ignoring bullies.  I have never once met a bully who responds to being ignored by going away.  They go away when someone pops them in the nose.  And, while I have taken those comments down because they detract from the topic at hand, the conversation was, in fact, kind of fun.  I don't think I've ever been accused on the same day of being both a redneck sadist-lover and a liberal wuss!

It was kind of a stressful week, though not because of trolls.  We are going through a family transition.  One of those inevitable things that every family goes through and that is a good thing in the big picture scheme of things, but that doesn't make it less stressful while it is happening.  So, emotions are running high and everyone is more than little stressed out.  

My reaction to stress is mixed where DD is concerned.  If it's the kind of ordinary, low-level, daily grind kind of stress that leads to bad behavior, it helps for her to be firm and consistent.  However, if the stress involves feeling like I have too much to do and too little time, I do tend to want to put everything else on hold.  I also find that crises tend to make it even harder for me to submit to anyone.  My response to a crisis is generally to take command, and that can spill over into every aspect of my life.

How does stress impact your Domestic Discipline or FLR relationship?  When outside events are stressing you out or keeping you on edge, do you want your Disciplinary Wife to step up her firmness and control?  

Or, does the DD and FLR aspect of your relationship tend to fall by the wayside in times of crisis?  Do you want it to?  How about you Disciplinary Wives?  When you are stressed out, does it help to be more assertive, controlling and dominant, or do you go in the opposite direction? 

I hope you all have a great week.  If you are new to our Forum, please take a moment to visit the Guestbook (tab above) and tell us a little about your DD or FLR relationship or aspirations.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Forum - Vol. 209 - Soften But Not Weaken

"Are your convictions so fragile that mine cannot stand in opposition to them? Is your God so illusory that the presence of my Devil reveals his insufficiency?” - Marquis de Sade

Hello all.  Welcome back to the Forum.  Our weekly gathering of men and women who are in, or interested in being in, Domestic Discipline or Female Led Relationships.  I hope you had a good week.  Mine was good, though eventful in a lot of ways.  I had one special project I have been working on for a long time that is sort of work-related but not directly.  I don't want to say what it was, because it would reveal a lot more about what I do than I am willing to share at this point, so let's just call it "community service."  But, it was something where t if I succeeded it could have a very important positive impact on another person, but if I failed--and I was highly likely to fail--the consequences would be pretty dire.  Somehow the proverbial rabbit was pulled out of the hat.  It was a team effort, and I could not possibly be prouder of them and what was accomplished.  It has me feeling all warm and fuzzy and has left me incentivized to try to do more along those lines, i.e. looking for ways to help others in situations that don't reward me at all, other than making me feel good.  I say that during a week in which we all witnessed the terrible tragedy that befell two Good Samaritans in Portland.  It reinforces that doing the right thing isn't always easy or consequence free, but I pray that doesn't dissuade anyone from doing it. And, can we all make a pact to stop using the term "Alt-Right"?  These people are White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis and racists.  Let's not water that down by allowing ourselves to be co-opted into using the more benign label they want to hide behind.

It was also an eventful week when it came to observing power exchanges in action, or the consequences of a lack thereof.  I had a major conflagration with someone involving another work-related interaction.  It got pretty nasty, to some extent because we had diametrically opposing interests, and neither of us were willing to give ground.  In this case it involved someone outside my own organization, and there was a competitive aspect to it, but I've seen this happen in more collegial circumstances, too.  There is someone I work with who I consider to be a good friend.  But, every once in a while we butt heads over an issue that is touchy for both of us.  For all intents and purposes, we are peers and that creates a problem when we are on a common project and disagree on something.  There is no tie-breaking mechanism, and no chain-of-command that dictates who wins.  His view is he has more seniority, so in the event of a tie, he wins.  My view is, no, the person who will bear most of the consequences of the decision or be held most directly responsible for it chooses.  The problem is, we both are totally convinced we are right and since the issue is all about who wins in such a situation, we come to a very heated stalemate.  I'm going into this only because it got me to thinking about a point a female HoH made to me some time ago. Her view is that purely equal relationships don't really work in practice, to the extent they actually exist at all.  In most situations, there really does need to be someone who gets to make the final decision. Something that distinguishes D/s and FLR relationships is that instead of drifting through a never-ending series of arguments ending either in stalemate or bruised egos and hurt feelings, the couple has come to an explicit agreement about who makes certain decisions and about what the consequences will be of ignoring the agreed-upon rules.

Which brings me to the other power exchange-ish happening of my week; the little spat that developed with the persistent troll.   Where he and I can't see eye to eye on a very fundamental level is this: I just don't get why another couple's D/s arrangement is any of his business, as long as it is consensual.  He throws around the word "sadist" as if it some kind of sexual epithet, but as long as that couple is OK with their dynamic, why does he or anyone else care whether she enjoys being in charge and doling out punishment or, conversely, does so with great reluctance and self-sacrifice? Is the latter somehow morally superior, or is it just more disingenuous? You know the classic, "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you" and similar platitudes that many of us heard growing up and all knew to be pretty much complete bullshit.

I don't have any problem with the concept that my wife might come to enjoy her role, and I certainly don't want to be married to a martyr who engages in this lifestyle only reluctantly and as a form of "sacrifice" for the relationship.  On the other hand, if that is how other couples approach it, I'm fine with that too.  The problem I have with this particular troll is he cannot or will not explain why he thinks he gets to choose how these women should feel, what kind of emotions are "acceptable" for a female HoH to have, and how others should react to it. At bottom, I don't really understand people who think they get to dictate how other people's relationships must work, or even why they care.  As I said in one of my retorts to him yesterday, I have enough problems managing my own relationships without worrying about how everyone else runs theirs. Moreover, I really don't want everyone to adopt my way of acting and thinking and feeling, because I kind of like the "kinkiness" involved in these power-exchange relationships, and if they were to become the norm they wouldn't be kinky.  Finally, I don't have any problem with people having competing likes and dislikes, including the possibility that someone might like something that I find distasteful.  Hence, the quote above from de Sade, which seemed a particularly apropos retort to someone who insists on having his own way on matters of personal behavior, who has a problem with sadism in particular, and who likes throwing around religious quotes.

Well, enough of that.  One of our new commenters (who didn't provide a name) asked me to expand upon a comment I left on JGirl's Taming of the Shrew blog:  She has just had a week of travel that took her away from her HoH and not having him around to make decisions had left her overwhelmed.  Her post explored the issue of co-dependence--or I guess it could more accurately be called just plain old dependence--in these relationships where one person has voluntarily given up some amount of control or power to another person. My comment on her topic was as follows:

Your posting strikes some chords with me regarding concerns I've had about our Female-led form of power exchange. Submission is really difficult for me sometimes, and part of the difficulty lies in my concerns about whether submitting to someone in one part of my life could have blowback in other parts, including my professional life. I've succeeded in my career to some extent because I impose a lot of control and assume a lot of responsibility. So, if I empower someone else to make big decisions for me in my life and if deferring to someone else's judgment becomes my new normal, will it make me less effective in those professional areas that require taking control and making the decisions.

In practice, it hasn't been a big concern, but that could be because while you and Jason are in Stage 3, we are somewhere in the early part of Stage 2. I don't know whether my concerns might start to have some reality if we were in the stage you are.

Do you think there is any way that you could build independence in some areas into your D/s relationship, such that one of the goals Jason gives you or rules he sets could be about taking control or being independent in certain areas? That way he would be setting the direction and the overall behavior he expects, but that could involve him requiring you to take control and exercise independent judgment in some areas?  Or, it very well may be that Stage 3 does cause some co-dependence that may have negative consequences, but that those are outweighed by the benefits you get out of it. That's a judgment only you and Jason are in a place to make.

FYI, the references to Stage 2 and Stage 3 are to a hierarchy of submission that JGirl uses to describe the phases her relationship has gone through, with Stage 3 being a pretty deep and fundamental submission or surrender of authority to the other partner.  The issue she was raising was basically whether giving up control in that way can have negative consequences for our ability to take control and manage other areas of our lives.  I was in turn raising the possibility that maybe the HoH could order the submissive party to take control and make decisions in certain areas.

As I stated, I have had some concerns about whether being on the receiving end of a DD relationship, and increasingly a Female Led one in which I turn over the reins to her more and more in certain areas could have a negative impact in others.  Particularly at work.  I run teams and am expected to lead, so could the conscious decision to surrender authority at home make me less effective as a leader in other areas? So far, if anything it has been the opposite, and in ways I would not have anticipated.  It's not that DD or FLR has "softened" me.  In some ways it has done the opposite.  I often get really frustrated with people who can't make decisions or do their work without a lot of guidance.  In the past, my way of dealing with them tended to be to get more than a little passive-aggressive, forcing them to make decisions on their own or taking the first opportunity to move them out of the group.  What I did not do very well was just tell them what I expected them to do.  While I am kind of naturally "combative" I am not naturally bossy.  I have a genuine aversion to giving orders.  Being the designated "follower" and watching as my wife works to become the designated Leader has illustrated to me in concrete form how hard it really is to give orders, but how things just work better when the Leader says what he or she wants and expects, without all the pussyfooting around.  It is a challenge for my wife to do that, i.e. to just give me a direct order and make it stick, but she has stepped up  to do it, and watching her do so has helped me learn to do the same.

It also reflects a concept I have come to appreciate more over time: chain-of-command.  In the military, people are expected to be both leaders and followers.  The Colonel bosses around the Captain but is in turned bossed around by the General. And, that works pretty well.  Being subject to direction from above not only does not diminish that person's own leadership, it can enhance it and can make the whole organization work better.

So, with that very long introduction, I'm not quite sure how to describe this topic, but maybe something along the lines of does being a disciplined spouse or being the "submissive" party in a relationship result in a negative co-dependence or otherwise "weaken" that party?  If so, are there things you have done to counteract it?

I hope you have a great week.  If you are new to this Forum, please take a minute to leave a comment in the Guestbook (tab above).