Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Club - Meeting 257 - Panties, Aprons, Etc.

There are moments when one has to choose between living one's own life, fully, entirely, completely-or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. - Oscar Wilde

Hello all.  Welcome back to the Club.  Our weekly gathering of men and women who are in, or interested in being in, Domestic Discipline or Wife Led relationships.  I hope you all had a great week.  Mine was probably best described as an . . . epic fail.  At least where personal behavior and resulting discipline were concerned.  And, the fault kind of lay with both of us.  I really should have gotten spanked last weekend for bad behavior the preceding week.  Didn't happen, for various reasons.  Then, we had a session scheduled for Tuesday night, but the clock kind of ran down and then she decided to let me off the hook because I had a crazily early morning appointment the next day followed by a business trip, so going to bed early was preferable, so she "tabled" our session.  To be clear, I did not ask her to do that, but I didn't try to talk her out of it either.  Then, the business trip turned into two nights of carousing.  Because of the combination of early meetings, travel and last nights, I worked out only one day, and my dietary choices were appalling.  My inclination toward rabble-rousing at work also was on display, though in a context in which I can defend the decision to do it.  And, to top it all off, my wife is now gone on a trip of her how, so none of this will be corrected until next week at the earliest, and given our pattern of "punishment delayed is punishment denied," there are good odds it won't happen at all. So, once again, the very best intentions have been thwarted by distractions and, frankly, not following up on our commitments and making this the priority that we keep saying it is. 

It sounds like I'm not the only one.  ZM noted:  "We have fallen down in a big way on weekly check-ups because of a full house during summer and I can clearly see the impact on my productivity. I think self reporting is very difficult and for me it really isn't that effective."  Amen, brother. 

I do think our weekly report card idea is worth continuing, but I think for some period of time, we really need a daily regimen.  A few weeks ago, I posted a "report card" we were contemplating using for daily reporting, and we do need to explore it, then use the Saturday reports as more of a summary or weekly review to check in with each other address anything that wasn't taken care of during the week.  While weekly check-ins serve a role, it may be more about role enforcement than making sure bad behavior is addressed.  As new commenter Helen points out in a comment to last week's post, the ideal really should be addressing bad behavior when it happens.  Now, to a big extent that was not an option for us this week, thanks to the independent and overlapping travel schedules.  But, as a general matter it should be the goal.

There were a lot of interesting comments going on last week. In relation to the discussion about weekly sessions and their potential downsides, Helen observed:

"If it was part of a weekly grade, no way. For the same reason, we don't do maintenance spankings. We both believe that punishment works best when it is visceral: Misbehavior, correction, lesson learned. When we have to delay it because of the circumstances, we deal with it as soon as possible. And we do not combine behaviors; when I have to address more than one misbehavior with Andy, I spank for the first thing, send him to the corner to contemplate, and then put him back over my knee to spank for the next thing. I know it may work differently for other couples but that is how DD works for us."

That part about not combining behaviors has been on my mind for a while.  When I have weeks like this one, where one bad behavior follows another follows another, there does come a point where, when faced by the next temptation, I just think, "Well, what the fuck, I'm going get spanked already anyway . . ."  Making sure that separate offenses are addressed with separate spankings would fix that, though the challenge becomes the commitment on her part to take the amount of time required to do that.

DJ, Alan and I had a series of exchanges regarding the prevalence of DD and the extent to which the culture may be more judgmental of F/m discipline than when it is a male spanking a female.  As we discussed, I don't think that is entirely true.  I think the vanilla culture may be more tolerant of F/m spanking but not F/m disciplinary spanking. In the disciplinary context, all sorts of concerns arise about domestic abuse and "politically correct" concerns about male dominance.  In the F/m context, the condemnation is more about whether men in DD relationships are "manly."  More on this below, but I do think Alan raises this interesting prospect: 

"I can envision a moment when F/M discipline becomes very PC as female power and authority increase in society as a whole while awareness of domestic violence mostly against women increasingly shocks and disgusts. Outside of cult films I don't believe there has been any film project depicting an F/M relationship that is comparable to 50 shades or Secretary, 9 and a half, etc. (I am excluding the dominatrix films ) When that does happen we are entering a new era." 

There also were a series of exchanges regarding "manliness" and "humbling."  ZM observed:
"There is no doubt that the actual punishment sessions aren't very manly, and in fact I think the effectiveness of the punishment is directly related to how much I feel like a little boy (or girl) during the process. If humiliation is included, then it even more humbling and less “manly.” This humbling can be hard to accept and is probably hard to watch, but I do think it is important and even though it may not look or feel very manly at the time, it is playing a key role in making me a better man. There is good precedent for this methodology as it is similar to the philosophy of military boot camp... Break a person down and rebuild them from the bottom up... I guess my wife and I are just focusing a lot on the “bottom” part. ;-)"

Another commenter accused me, wrongly, of having a problem with men who are part of a dynamic involving "unmanly" dress, stating: "Sometimes manly men get spanked. Sometimes they wear aprons too. And I don't think the ones who get spanked should cast stones at the ones who wear aprons." 

As I pointed out, I had not said any such thing and had, instead, made a more general point about Domestic Discipline being focused on improving male behavior and performance, while some forms of Femdom may actually reinforce the idea that men are weak and, instead of seeking to make them perform better, seek to reinforce his weakness and her supremacy.  
But, the comment on "aprons" actually got me thinking about a topic for this week, particularly in combination with ZM's comment that for him "the effectiveness of the punishment is directly related to how much I feel like a little boy (or girl) during the process.

A few years back, I posted a topic about gender roles and balancing male and female energy.  I had been reading a book on Tantric philosophy(not the Americanized sexual stuff, rather the real philosophy that has a lot of similarities with some forms of Buddhism). This particular book posited that posited that within each of us there are elements of the opposite gender, and that one goal of Tantric practice is to bring out and develop the inner woman within each man and the inner man within each woman.  My question for the group was, to what extent is that part of what is happening with F/m domestic discipline and Female Led Relationships?  In your own relationship, does submitting to a spanking involve some reshaping of your male gender role and allowing some more feminine element come to the fore?  Conversely, if you are a female disciplinarian, does giving a spanking or taking control of the relationship involve some channeling of your inner man?  To what extent is switching up the gender roles an explicit goal in your DD relationship?  

And, I got a whopping four comments.  It was one of the biggest flops I've had with a topic.  But, that may speak to the strength of the taboo itself, and today we seem to have a group of commenters who are a little braver, a little more "out," and a little more self-aware and open to exploring what lies within that was the case back in 2013.  So, let's try answering those questions again.  But, let's also add a more specific one:  Does your Domestic Discipline or Wife Led Marriage include some element of "feminizing" or humbling by wearing female clothes or clothes more generally associated with females, such as aprons, panties, etc.?  If so, was that at her instigation or yours, and is being put in such gender-bending clothing or accessories considered part of punishing you, or is it something you are into and want to do in order to express your female energy?  Or, is it just about being naughty and kinky?
Have a great week.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Club - Meeting 256 - Update on Report Cards, Zero Tolerance, Manliness, etc.

"At the heart of every frustration lies a basic structure: the collision of a wish with an unyielding reality." - Alain de Botton

Hello all.  Welcome back to the Disciplinary Couples Club.  Our weekly meeting of men and women who are in, or interested in being in, Domestic Discipline or Wife Led relationships.  I hope you all had a great week.

Mine was a little schizophrenic, and I'll warn everyone in advance that this will be another week in which I'll probably ramble a bit and a topic may or may not emerge.  We began on a very strong note for the week in terms of moving forward with more "Wife Led" principles in our marriage.  I want to give my wife full credit for  stepping it up in terms of exercising control.  In fact, in addition to just acting more like a Dominant Wife in many ways, she really wore my ass out last week.  As you will recall, last week we discussed our new empty-nest status, her new resolve, our efforts to really take the plunge, etc.  In the end, I kind of made the first move.  I had come up with a weekly report card, summarizing each day's compliance with some core rules, some of which focus on my relationship with her (showing respect, obeying when she tells me to do something), etc. and some that focus on my own self-identified areas needing improvement, like being productive at work, keeping up with certain work tasks, exercise, diet, etc.  On Saturday morning, shortly after drafting my most recent post for this blog, I filled out the report card, and left it on the kitchen table for her to see before I left to run some errands.  When I got back, she brought me her comments on the report, moving pretty seamlessly into Dominant mode.  The form I came up with includes a place for me to state whether I think a spanking has been earned; another for her to state whether she is ordering one; and, a choice between levels of severity.  We both agreed one had been earned, and she chose "moderate," which probably was appropriate, given that my week included a few slip-ups, but nothing really bad.  

As it turned out, she wasn't able to carry out the sentence that same day, but did so on Sunday.  But, what she delivered really was not "moderate."  I don't know whether I would classify it as "severe," but it seemed a hell of a lot more than "moderate."  I was definitely still feeling it a couple of days later.  The fact that she had chosen the "moderate" box on our form had given me some hope; not just about avoiding a very sore bottom but because I do feel like there really should be some scale of punishments to fit varying scales of crime.  Yet, my wife has always, from almost the very beginning, been very binary where severity is concerned.  I'm either not spanked at all, or it is very hard.  Nothing in between.  We'll see if that changes over time as our new reporting system takes hold, but perhaps it won't.

"Zero tolerance" was in the news a lot this week, and it's also a concept we are working through in our new reporting system.  Originally, I envisioned an actual grading system similar to that used in thousands upon thousands of schools, with a graduated scale from A to F.  Since some of the criteria I was going to be graded on were personal goals around work and fitness, I was going to be self-grading involved.  And, that is where things always seemed to break down.  On few days (probably none) was I absolutely perfect, and on some but not many the only truthful grade was an F.  Averaging things out every day, except on those occasions when I clearly earned an F on a criteria, I usually found myself gravitating toward something in the C to B- range.  Which, if you think about it is probably about where most of usually live our lives.  In fact, before the educational establishment decreed that anything but an A for showing up would hurt a kid's self-esteem, a "C" grade was, by definition, average.  But, I'm not aiming for C-level performance at work or on things like fitness and health.  So, I decided that maybe the grade choice should be far more binary -- I either met the rule or I did not.  So, the filled out form I submitted to her ultimately had only pluses and minuses.  I think that is similar to the system ZM has been experimenting with.  I asked which she preferred, and she agreed that a straight up or down is better than a more nuanced A to F.

So, that's what we're doing.  And, I do think that over time, knowing that I have a binary choice to perform or not perform and that anything in the middle may get me spanked will lead to better outcomes. Yet, despite putting this great new system in place, this week I went on to have several instances of carousing too much, missing workouts, and blowing off my diet.  How do you reconcile those two?

Well, part of it is our system has been in place for only a week, and I was traveling much of the week so there were limited opportunities for her to keep me in line on a daily basis.  Conversely, there were lots of opportunities to misbehave.  This was a week that was just chock full of opportunities to misbehave.  I was traveling on business for multiple days.  I had multiple client dinners with clients who were just not teetotalers.  And, we are depressingly slow at work, so my lapses in "productivity" were basically inevitable because I just didn't have much work to do.  So, I am filling out my report card this morning, and it looks pretty damn bad, yet I think over time this will go in a better direction to the extent we get it firmly set.

I also had a couple of conversations this week that touched, in very different ways, on where things may go as I go further down this road of experimenting with a more truly Wife Led relationship.  I had another one of those work opportunities involving speaking truth to power and, once again, after feeling deep inside that gnawing resistance to giving offense or going against the crowd, I spoke my mind.  I wasn't mean or aggressive, but I made sure my view (which was contrary to the majority of the other execs I was engaging with -- that happens a lot) was fully heard even if it was ultimately rejected. I've been trying really hard to get more comfortable with uncomfortable encounters, which when you think about it is what most of us are hoping for from our wives.  It's the essence of the conversation we had a couple of weeks ago about being "not nice."  It's about setting aside your personal squeamishness and insecurities around doing things that may result in someone taking offense or feeling they are being treated unfairly, and instead simply doing what needs to be done.  We want our wives to step up to that kind of "taking care of business" approach, yet I know from personal experience that it is not always an easy thing to do.

As I've noted previously, I am fully "out" to only two other people (other than my wife); one a vanilla friend and another is someone in this lifestyle but on the other side of the paddle.  I talked about my current work situation with the latter of those two recently, telling her that there seemed to be some irony in the fact that at the exact some time I am consciously stepping down in the pecking order at home, I've been rising in the chain of command in my career.  She didn't see it as paradoxical at all, for a couple of reasons. First, she pointed out there is a natural human tendency toward compensation, and she found it not at all surprising that as I started taking on a more humble role at home it might manifest in becoming even more driven and assertive at work.  Second, if being held to standards and becoming more personally disciplined works as planned, then it really should result in elevated performance at work, which at certain levels does come to demand increased levels of "straight talk" and also more comfort with operating among people with very strong opinions.  Therefore, it should not be surprising that being subject to more discipline is yielding higher performance.  Duh, that has kind of been the idea all along.  But, it plays out in an interesting way at my level, because performing among my peers requires speaking up and advocating positions vigorously while respecting the contrary views of your peers.  

Having thought about it more, I would add a third factor to her observations, namely that being subject to strong leadership actually provides the follower with a strong, positive example that they inevitably take with them to those instances in which they themselves are leading.  She leads by example, and I end up emulating that behavior at work.

If done right, this could lead to a virtuous circle in which being subject to strong leadership at home actually helps me become a stronger leader at work and in which being disciplined by someone else helps me exercise more self-discipline over time.  

I was thinking about this more this morning, in relation to a somewhat nasty exchange I had a few weeks ago with a commenter who was coming from a much more Femdom orientation with its usual fixation with "topping from the bottom."  It occurred to me that one reason I am comfortable with Domestic Discipline but have a visceral, negative reaction to Femdom is that on some level the two really are mutually incompatible.  The goal of most DD wives is not to have more submissive, servile weakling in their house, but a more competent, more responsible, more highly performing partner. When done right, Domestic Discipline and being "led" by one's spouse but not dominated by them, actually reinforces and helps build real manliness--which is or should be all about being a strong individual who displays everyday heroism and hard work and performs as a strong role model for his sons and daughters at home and his peers and superiors at work.  Femdom, on the other hand, at least the strong versions of it (there are gradations in all these power sharing relationships) is or can be all about reinforcing weakness and servility and timidity, none of which are attractive to about 90% of the female population.  When done right, Domestic Discipline is about making stronger men, while Femdom accepts male weakness as a given and creates a power structure to reinforce it. 

Now, I recognize that what I just said may seem a bit incompatible with my current move toward a relationship that is more Wife Led, since it really does involve me stepping away from some of my "manly" tendencies to take a more secondary and, admittedly, more subservient role.  But, it goes back to some themes I discussed with the Dominant Wife friend referenced above.  Being in charge is such a hard-wired part of me, bringing some balance to my life requires a very conscious step in the opposite direction.  Second, if my wife is to help me become a more successful and more disciplined partner, she has to have sufficient authority to check me when either my Alpha nature or my lack of personal discipline wreak havoc or keep me from my goals. But, the overarching goals are (a) better behavior and stronger performance; and (b) personal growth on her part in that she gets to develop her leadership skills and experience the joy that comes with personal power.  But, at no point is it about making me less of a man.  It reminds me of something our one-time prolific commenter Marisa (who I really miss, by the way, along with Holly and some of our other female commenters who have gone missing) said many posts ago:

Yes. That "humbling function" allows you to let go of that ego, accept authority and become the ( mostly) wonderful, charming and loving men you really are. It frees you to be yourself and that is what we are after. That is also why spanking without the mental and emotional parts of it doesn't really work. The message never gets through because you are not prepared to hear it before you have been humbled.

Very well said, and it illustrates why I am interested in the "mental and emotional parts" that I think being subject to my wife's direction and authority bring to the table but that spanking by itself does not seem to fulfill even when severe.

So, there may or may not be a topic in there, but I welcome others to respond.  Particularly all of our Disciplinary Wives.  I am curious whether you agree with me that what you are really looking for is a husband who is more, not less, manly but with the attributes that used to entail, i.e. taking responsibility, working hard to set a good example, etc.

Finally, one quick note on comment moderation.  For current posts, I have left comment moderation off except for brief periods in which trolls seemed to be taking a particular interest in this blog.  But, I have always left it on for comments left on posts that are more than 14 days old, mainly because commercial parties love inserting links to their websites in comments on older posts knowing those posts may not be monitored.  I mention this only because I don't always check the "awaiting moderation" queue daily, so if you comment on an older post, it may be a few days before I see your comment and approve it for posting.

Have a great week.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Club Meeting 255 - The Empty Nest

When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.” —Erma Bombeck

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

Thanks for the interim discussion about little acts or threats of "outing."  Isn't it interesting the extent to which so many of us are terrified of of actually being outed, yet we do things that might get us caught (wearing submissive pendants under our shirts, wearing panties or chastity devices to the gym, etc.).  

And, we get a thrill when our wives do or say something in public that hints (or more than hints) at this part of our relationship.

That desire to be more public and open is a nice segue into this week's discussion.  I've had a couple of grinder weeks, back to back.  Travel, travel, travel. I only had a couple of days at home between trips, and my wife was on a trip of her own those two days, meaning we didn't see each other for almost two full weeks, which is not typical for us.  The first of my two trips was also something I have been thinking of for some time as a transition point of sorts.  It was a large work gathering that we do from time to time, and one that tends to become more than a little bacchanalian.  This year was no exception, and I knew I was highly likely to come back far more exhausted than when I left, which I did. Then right back on the road for another short business trip.  But, unlike other travel-heavy periods of my career, I knew that this time I was coming back to my wife -- and only my wife.  For the first time in many years, we don't have kids around for several weeks, even during the summer vacation season.  A few years ago, I thought we were becoming empty-nesters and wrote about it a bit here on this blog.  But, what I failed to reckon with at that time is that empty-nester status is more a process than an actual event. Especially with the Millennial kids.  Their efforts at independence come in fits and starts, two steps forward, a step-and-a-half back.  That is still true in our case and will be for sometime to come, but this is the first time where we are going to have a big block of time in which we are together--by ourselves--as a couple.

Adding to the sense of momentousness, we have been discussing for some time that this really is going to be, or should be at any rate, a real turning point in the Domestic Discipline and Wife Led aspects of our relationship.  She wants to take over, I want her to do that, and now there is just the little matter of execution.  Of making a hard left turn into a very different style of dealing with each other and trying to make much more real something that has been more of a goal than a reality.  Not that the DD aspects of our relationship have not been real, but they have been confined and departmentalized, bounded on all sides by a life that revolved around kids and, frankly, keeping kids from discovering much about this aspect of how their parents relate to each other. 

That is what is really changing -- her ability or at least willingness to really step into a 24/7 role as Head of Household has always been met with the roadblock of observant little eyes and ears.  Which wouldn't be a problem if, like a small number of people who visit here, we were "out" about this aspect of our relationship, or at least not actively hiding it even in the privacy of our own home. But, we always have been.  So, with no one but us and the pets around, it really is a brave new world.

But, in all honesty, today I am not feeling all that brave.   

There is an introductory "warning" in the book The Hesitant Mistress that reads as follows (in slightly abridged form):

This book will teach your partner how to be more dominant. Your partner will learn how to say no to you. She will learn how to train you. She will learn how to punish you and hold you accountable for your actions. She will learn that she can demand whatever she wants from you, despite whatever you might want from her. So beware, my unsuspecting male friend... if you bought this book for her, you might get more than you asked for. You may want to quietly set it aside and buy her a set of fuzzy handcuffs instead. You have been warned.

That line about saying no is a big, big deal for me.  According to one of our polls, about 50% of the men who visit this blog identify as naturally submissive.  I'm guessing many of them like being told no and are perfectly happy being subject to someone's authority.  That just isn't me.  I hate being told what to do.  It grates on every fiber of my being.  Yet, having real boundaries that I cross at my peril is something I missed out on growing up, and I know deep down inside that I need it today. Inherent in the concept of boundaries is being told no, and in a way that actually sticks and that feels like really being denied something. I'm also nervous, because I want something like what ZM has been doing with his wife helping him stay motivated on the career front, but that is were I have always had the most independence but yet also probably need the firmest hand to help me avoid being my own worst enemy.

There is also the issue of, how do we get this started?  Last night in bed we were talking confidently about how tomorrow would be the dawn of a new day, yet this morning we have been walking gingerly around the elephant in the room that is this transition that we both agree we want.  It's like two teenagers on a first date, both hoping the other will make the first move.  It's just awkward. But, I do think we are both motivated for it.  It's just getting past the initial nerves. I do believe my wife when she says she wants this.  I'm hopeful that not only will it bring out stronger, more dominant parts of her personality, but maybe being in charge of me will provide an outlet for her maternal instincts; just as she is transitioning from supervisor to spectator in her children's lives, she takes over as supervisor of mine.

Based on a poll I took a couple of years ago,  many of the couples who come to this blog are over the age of 50.  I assume some significant number of those were empty-nesters.  What effect did that change have on the DD or Wife Led aspects of your relationship?  Did it, in fact, lead to her stepping more firmly and confidently into the role?  If so, did that happen gradually, or was there a moment when it seemed to all come together?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Mini-Post - Public Displays

"It's hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain. But you know what? It is." – from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Hi all.  Welcome back to the Disciplinary Couples Club.  Our weekly meeting of men and women in, or interested in being in, a Domestic Discipline or Wife Led Marriage. I hope you all had a great week.

As I said at the end of last week's post, I'm traveling on business and don't intend to do a new topic.  But, I had a few minutes, and a few interesting (to me anyway) things had happened over the week, so I thought I'd update a couple of things.

It was a relatively quiet week on the blog, with only a few comments on our twin topics of "not nice" and "leverage."  Apparently, no one thought the "empowerment" preaching sex cult was as interesting as I did.  Which is kind of interesting in and of itself, since all of us who are active on this blog kind of spend a significant amount of time discussing issues of empowerment building and exchange with pretty heavy sexual overtones.  As for leverage, I thought ZM hit the nail on the head when he observed, "True leverage in a DD relationship is being able to effect change. For DD to work, two conditions must be met. First, consequences need to be significant enough to be truly unpleasant and unwanted, and second, the disciplinary partner needs to be firm enough to ensure that consequences naturally follow actions. No matter how severe the consequences are, if I deem her unlikely to follow through, they probably are not much of a deterrent."  As I noted in response, my wife has never had a problem with bringing on on the severity.  She has given very, very hard spankings from the beginning.  It's really been the certainty of consequences, not their severity, that has gotten in the way of real behavioral change.  But, she is getting mentally and emotionally stronger and more powerful all the time.

One aspect of being "not nice" that wasn't really explored is whether becoming less "nice" would be burden, i.e. something that cuts against the wife's natural human tendency to be kind and not to give offense, or would it be freeing.  I have suspected for a long time that when wives struggle with being consistent, it is a result of this whipsaw of wanting to be a more authoritative personality that gets cut off when concerns about being seen as bitchy or that her exercise of power might not be taken well by him (even if asked for it in the first place), and that most of the wives would actually find it freeing to just jump in with both feet, stop worry so much about his reaction, and start leading.  I had an opportunity to test that a bit this week in a business setting.  I recently took on a new role at work that was a bit unexpected, and a bit divisive.  I don't want to give a lot of details as it might be too revealing, but in essence I was put in a position to speak some uncomfortable truths to power.  And, that's hard to do when those in "power" are your peers.  It's really not about being afraid; it's about this deep-seated human desire not to give offense.  And, even after being put in a position to do something about some company cultural issues that have been a real problem, I found myself pulled in the direction of dumbing down and sanitizing some of the messages out of concern that I not offend or hurt some of the people concerned.  But, speaking these truths as I saw them was part of this role.  So, at a big meeting on these issues, as I found myself tempted to be "nice," I actively pushed back on that temptation and committed that I was (a) going to speak my mind; and (b) consciously resist taking responsibility for other's feelings about that speech.  I was not going to try to offend anyone, but I also was not going to let my aversion to their negative reaction become my responsibility.  I was going to own my own feelings, but not theirs.  After a couple of minutes of discomfort it proved to be, as I suspected, pretty damn liberating.  There was just such clarity of purpose and absence of inner tension as a result of telling myself, "I have a job to do.  I'm going to do it.  And, I'm not going to feel bad about it."

On a more lighthearted and possibly more entertaining note, while I found some emotional equanimity as a result of consciously being less "nice," I lost that equanimity twice in a week, in the course of potentially being "outed" in a small way.  A few months ago, we talked about symbolic displays of our power sharing arrangements through jewelry or clothing.  As I said at that time, a couple of years ago I acquired a necklace with a pendent that, in the BDSM community, is a symbol for a male submissive.  Now, I don't really see myself as male submissive, but it was the closest thing I could find to a symbol for being the partner lower in the chain of command in this Wife Led Marriage.  I wear this necklace most days, but given my business attire while the necklace itself may sometimes peek out from under my button-down business shirts, the pendent hangs low enough it usually doesn't show.  So, while I wear it all the time, few people have actually seen it.  But, I've wondered it anyone who caught a peek at the necklace might be curious about it, since necklaces and chokers really aren't that common among men of my age it my profession.  Well, sure enough, my team had a happy hour session a few days ago, and while talking to one of the men who report to me, he noticed my necklace and just asked innocently what it was.  I froze and probably stuttered as I reluctantly pulled it out to show him.  He asked me what it was, and I stumbled some inanity about it just being some pendent my wife liked an bought for me while we were on vacation.  Probably some native fertility symbol of something.  In other words, I lied through my teeth.  Now, I'm 99% sure he had no familiarity with this symbol, nor did the two or three others who were sitting right by us as I put my little submissive amulet on display for our entire team!  But, one never knows . . .

Then, it happened a second time in the same damn week!  I had to see a doctor unexpectedly, and it was not my usual one.  She was doing all the normal work up--taking my blood pressure, temperature, etc.--then without warning she started unbuttoning my shirt and reaching inside it so she could listen to my heart beat.  It took me by surprise, because usually doctors instruct me to unbutton my shirt, which would usually remind me of my necklace, and I would be able to just push the pendent to the side where they wouldn't see it.  But, she just took over and started unbuttoning my shirt herself, opening it up and leaving the pendent in plain, open view.  "Oh shit!" ran through my head as I cogitated quickly on the odds that this female doctor with a pretty aggressive matter could possibly a kinky Domme who knew damn well what that symbol means for BDSM-ers.  Thankfully, if she did, I didn't detect it.  Of course, if she did, why would I be embarrassed given that by definition she would know about it only if she also were a participant in that lifestyle? But, that's not the process my mind went through as I was in the process of possibly being unexpectedly outed.

That's all I have for this week.  I hope you all have a great weekend. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Club Meeting 253 - Leverage & The Value of Not Being Nice

"Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.” - Marcus Aurelius

Hello all.  Happy Saturday.  I hope you all had a great week.  Mine was OK, though kind of tiring for a short one.  And I spent half my day yesterday dealing with computer problems.  Funny how keeping all these "time saving devices" working can consume a whole day.  

On the FLR and DD front, I feel like our relationship is working on about the same level as my computer -- lots of potential though largely unfulfilled thanks to various interferences and process glitches.  It's frustrating, because a couple of weeks ago I put quite a lot of time into drafting daily and weekly "report cards" and coming up with plans to build some structure into our DD relationship to get it back on track.  She also seemed highly motivated.  But, it just never quite came together, and for the same reasons as every other time we've tried to move it forward -- work distractions and travel, and kids in the house.  I'm starting to wonder whether the reason past polls showed that those into DD were overwhelmingly over the age of 50 is best explained by the simple fact that it's often in our 50s that the kids finally get the the hell out of the house once and for all, opening up some space for more adult activities.  But, that takes a long time, as I'm learning that empty-nester status is a process, not an event.

As has been the case often of late, I find myself drifting along with no particular topic in mind.  Maybe this is a byproduct of the low-level frustration I've feel for awhile with the constraints imposed by a weekly topic  -- my mind is simply refusing to come up with actual topics, so instead I ramble and see what comes of it.  While they aren't confined to a well-defined topic, there were a couple of things that attracted my attention this week and might generate at least a little conversation.

A few weeks ago, I read about the Smallville actress who was arrested for allegedly acting as a recruiter for a sex cult.  Despite the salacious topic, I didn't pay a lot of attention to it at the time.  This week, however the New York Times posted a long investigative piece about it,  entitled The Sex Cult That Preached Empowerment:  I personally found it a really fascinating read, even though, its title notwithstanding, there was very little discussion of sex.  Setting aside its Amway business model and a branding ritual that made me squirm, the whole thing sounds more like a group of "life coaches" and their students, finding new and interesting ways to encourage self-improvement by coming up with personalized consequences sufficient to motivate an actual positive behavioral change.  

The leverage they created included things like pledging "collateral" in one form or another, such as giving the leaders of the group a letter admitting to some embarrassing or illegal act, but if the person met their personal performance goals, the letter would not be released.  The collateral would not be sacrificed and the person would not suffer any detriment, as long as they did what they said they were going to do.  They also used group consequences for individual failures. For example, if John set a goal of running every day and he failed to do it on Monday, then on Tuesday all the men in John's assigned support group might have to give up their morning coffee.  Knowing that others might pay a price for his own failure would presumably give John a greater incentive to do what he pledged to do.  Many of the "motivators" really seem to be about raising the consequences of failing to such a high degree that the person was left highly, highly motivated not to fail. 
It was pretty fascinating in that most "cults" are focused on the initiates meeting the needs of the leader or guru, but this one was built more on the principle of experienced initiates helping newcomers meet their own goals, with the initiates paying the leader a fee for taking part in this system and getting his instruction.  Kind of like a Tony Robbins seminar on steroids.  But, also with an overlay of D/s, including "Master" and "slave" titles.  

While definitely more extreme that what most of us are doing, the parallels to asking wives to act as coaches or mentors, with the authority to raise the stakes sufficiently to really get our attention, was hard to miss.  Because for those of us who are using DD to try to improve ourselves and accomplish more or break bad habits, that is what DD is about, right?  Gaining sufficient leverage to get over those impediments that get in the way of meeting your goals?

In parallel with this, I've been reading a book called Not Nice:  It's all about the pressures we all feel to be overly "nice" at the expense of our own self-interest, and the stress this places on our psyches and our relationships.  While the article above resonated with me because of my participation in Domestic Discipline, I actively sought out a book on learning how not to be "nice," because I think it is a concept that is really, really important for our Disciplinary Wives.  As we've been discussing over the last few weeks, one of the big impediments to making the leap into real Head of Household status, or to becoming really rigorous at enforcing the rules, is the natural tendency to be "reasonable" or, in a word, "nice."  It's part of the same spectrum as seeking to avoid being labeled as "bitchy."  We all have a tendency to dumb ourselves down and avoid speaking our minds, because we want to avoid hurting or offending others. But, the price to be paid for that is we're never really living up to our potential or satisfying our own needs or, in the DD context, his needs to be kept firmly under her control. 

[Update: I was working my way through the above book as I wrote this post.  I've now gotten through most of it. On balance, I think it has some good tips on how to be more assertive and more comfortable with drawing boundaries.  But, there are parts in which--in my personal opinion--the author draws boundaries that seem to be all about he gets his needs met and no one else does even if the "sacrifice" on his part is trivial, resulting in what seem to be very one-sided friendships and personal relationships.  Any real human relationship involves doing some things you may not be into at the time, in order to support the other person.  The author is very cavalier about dismissing his wife and friends' needs for support on flimsy bases.  Like refusing to go out with her for an evening when her parents are visiting even though they rarely visit, because he wants to spend the time hanging out with two friends he could see anytime, then justifying it based on the importance of "needing time for himself."  Everyone draws their boundaries in different places, and while I like the program the author lays out, at times he seems to be going more for obnoxious "Bro" boy than an independent or assertive man. I'm all for authenticity, but it's possible to be a perfectly authentic douchebag.  In advising young execs at my company on business development, I often tell them, "Be yourself.  Unless your "self" is a disagreeable, pretentious, self-important douchebag.  In that case, by all means be someone else."]

I suspect that the Disciplinary Wives recognize this dynamic even more so than the men, because our women are conditioned to be nice and nurturing and non-aggressive, which is all great except that makes it very hard for them to step up into leadership roles, because those roles often involve saying "no" and sticking to it, and enforcing the rules even when he's offering all the reasons he should be let off the hook.  Her natural desire to be "nice" can create a dynamic that just doesn't work in a real DD or FLR relationship,  because we have agreed that she will be in charge and that I will be subject to her rules and her discipline. We disciplined men want that discipline to be firm, unyielding and hard.  Basically, we want her to learn not to be "nice." We want her to speak her mind, and we want her to be more open and direct in doing so, which was what we were talking about last week.  Hence, my interest in finding resources that might teach my wife how to break the "nice" habit and step more fully into her leader role.

Another reason I went looking for such a book was our discussion about trying to talk our way out of consequences and rules.  I want to find ways for my wife to get more and more comfortable telling me, "No means no."

Like I said, I don't have much of an actual topic in mind for this week, beyond the general topic of getting leverage through spanking and non-spanking means, and encouraging our wives not to be nice and to recognize that in DD "nurturing" may include being quite unyielding, firm and resolute. I think the concept that unites these two disparate topics, and the article about the "sex cult," is the focus on consequences.  As men who asked for Domestic Discipline, is it consequences we are really looking for, and for someone who is strong enough to keep escalating the consequences such that the behavior actually does improve?  I do know that in my own case, I am awfully hard-headed and strong-willed, which may mean that to get sufficient leverage over me to effect a real change, my wife has to be prepared to really escalate the consequences to get my attention.  

Well, I know that is not a particularly focused topic, but it's what I had on my mind this Saturday.  FYI, I'm traveling next weekend, so there likely won't be a new posting next week.