Saturday, May 25, 2019
The Club -- Meeting 298 -- Empty Nesting
Hello all. Welcome back to the Disciplinary Couples Club. Our weekly gathering of men and women who are in, or interested in being in, Domestic Discipline relationships. I hope you had a good week.
Mine was tough. We had something happen in the family last week that I won’t go into, but it left us all stressed, depressed and unsettled.
And, then there was that Game of Thrones finale. What a letdown. As if I wasn’t depressed enough, I can now think about what I could have done with the 80-plus hours that I devoted to watching and re-watching episodes of that series. What am I going to do now to mindlessly waste my time? And, while I appreciated the generous serving of gratuitous T&A, I did find myself identifying a bit too much with one of the characters.
During last week’s discussion, Darren brought up the topic of how life changes after we become empty nesters. I realize this topic won’t resonate with every reader, as some won’t be at that stage of life. But, based on past polling, many of us are. It’s a topic we have touched on before, a little less than a year ago, but we do have some new participants, so why not do it again? Moreover, going back and reading my last empty nesting post (post 255) forced me to confront a somewhat painful reality – sometimes things just don’t change very much even when you think they will and even when you say you want them to.
It seems perfectly logical that having kids in the house would put some hard limits on fully exploring DD and FLR lifestyles. And, for us, they did. Like almost all couples who get into this lifestyle with kids in the house, we had to work around their little ears and eyes, which made things like instantaneous discipline difficult to pull off. Lots of bad behavior went unpunished entirely. When issues were addressed, sometimes it was so many days after the bad act that much of the emotional connection between the crime and the punishment was lost. Logistically, the two things that changed the most over time were location and timing. When we first began the kids were pretty young, and we could often get away with spanking sessions in the basement after they had gone to bed. Though, who knows whether one or more of them overheard something despite our best efforts?
As they became teenagers, late evening spankings were less of an option, because the kids started staying up later than we do! So, spanking tended to happen on weekends when they were out of the house, which alleviated some of the constraints on where spankings happened. Now, they almost always happen in our bedroom. But, our kids kind of liked hanging out with us and visited regularly. So, there were many times that even Saturdays and Sundays proved difficult to find “alone time” for Anne to take care of business. And, we have never even thought about simply being totally open about the power exchange in the house, let alone the spanking piece. Though, as we talked about last week, I do find the prospect of more open shows of authority morbidly attractive in the same way DD itself is morbidly attractive. And, if Alan is right about there being a DD gene (I still have my doubts), for all I know one or more of the kids have discovered this thing we do and may not be repulsed by it at all.
But, we have always operated from the premise that this is something we keep to ourselves and have mostly acted accordingly. So, having more time alone would theoretically lead to more freedom to explore this side of our relationship. Everything changes. Kids graduate from high school, go on to have their own lives, and mom and dad are then left to move on and take their own lives in different directions, right? Well, sort of. I first took on this empty nesting topic back in 2016 when we seemed to be on the verge going into that new stage when we would have much more freedom. I assumed that would mean big changes in the DD and FLR aspects of our relationship. What I didn’t quite get at that time is that for this generation of kids, leaving the nest is a “process” not an “event.” They move out the door and into the real world slowly and in spurts. I didn’t really anticipate just how much they would still be around, visiting on weekends, holidays, summer vacations, etc. And, when ours “left” for college they initially were within easy driving distance, so it turned out there were lots of nights when a hot meal at home seemed more attractive than ramen in a college apartment.
Last year, we thought that things finally were moving in a direction in which there really would be big blocks of time when we truly were empty nesting. We talked expressly about what that meant for the Domestic Discipline and FLR aspects of our relationship. As I said in Post 255:
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.
(I also included in that post some honest reflection about just how prepared I really was to move into a relationship that was more FLR-oriented and the extent to which that might entail getting much more than I asked for. More on that in a later post.)
So, here we are, a year later. The house is more empty than it has ever been. We have the place to ourselves most nights and most weekends. And, we’ve spent a couple of years talking about how much we want to put her more firmly in charge. So, how much has changed? Honestly, not that much. In terms of frequency of spankings, it’s about the same. In terms of more open expressions of her authority, also about the same. My submission to her authority? Very spotty and, if anything, the past month has showed some disturbing moves in the wrong direction. What accounts for this lack of progress despite our new empty nest status? I don’t really know, but here are some thoughts:
· Circumstances change quickly but personalities and habits do so only slowly and with effort. She wants to be more assertive but struggles to really internalize any sense of her own power. I want to behave better, but I also have a fierce anti-authoritarian streak and some bad habits that have been such a part of me for 40 years that they have become a part of how I see myself. Those things are hard to unwire. You don’t just become a new person, whether more authoritarian or more compliant, based on good intentions. And, frankly, neither one of us has really committed fully and completely to going down this path and doing what it takes.
· Despite being together for a quarter of a century, I think we both are still kind of embarrassed about moving into new roles with each other. In fact, it may be that we’ve been together so long that moving in a different direction feels less like a real change in the relationship and more like fantasy role playing.
· Life is busy. While the house may be more empty, we too are out of it a lot, especially me. Business travel now generally takes me away from home several days a week.
One other angle on empty nesting that I am starting to suspect may be in play is that while it may present more opportunities for discipline it also may lead to more reasons for it. I’m really starting to wonder whether my behavior is slipping because I don’t have to worry as much about being a poor role model. While it is subtle, I do feel like in the last year I’ve lost some hard-won maturity and drifted back toward more of the guy I was right out of college and graduate school. Now that I am no longer running my life around other people’s school, sports and social activities, life is more free, and I’m kind of acting out in response to the drop in family-related responsibilities. Or, is this all just another spin on the classic mid-life crisis? One is almost perfectly timed.
So, for those of you who have faced the empty nest in the context of a Domestic Discipline relationship, what changed? And, what did not? 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? Or, is change harder and less dependent on the presence of others than we like to think?