The communication gamification post the other day prompted some nice comments, but one in particular has stuck with me all week. Trying to figure out how to explain a bit more about our dynamic (Charmer and Mine) and how it all works, without hanging her (or the commenter) out to dry.
Some background first that might help – Charmer and I have been married for a loooooooooong time. Like nearly 30 years. Together for even longer. [SSC: You mean we didn’t get married before we dated?] In that time, we’ve developed a pretty solid relationship, we’ve been through some really incredibly great highs and lows that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. OK, perhaps that’s not entirely true, I actually would like to wish some of them on my worst enemy, but that sounds bad, so I’ll just leave it at that. [SSC: For the record, I would totally wish them on him.]
Anyway, in that time, we went through the whole range of relationship configurations, from white picket fence mode to PTA mode to professional and now even empty nest. Throughout all of it, looking back, we had this dynamic where she pretty much ran the personal side of things (finances, house, etc.) and I worked to make that as easy as possible for her. I took care of the business side of things (we own a small company). Once we started working this way many, many, many years ago, the division of labor worked. Looking at it now, it’s well on its way to an FLR. We just didn’t know there was a term for it.
Formalizing this, calling it what it is and looking to really focus on refining it has led to a lot of revelations on what works for us. While she is amazing at taking care of the house, once she decides on something that’s needed (think new roof or appliance or maintenance or whatever) that’s when I try to step in and take it off her plate. I will work to make it happen for her, be it something I can create for her (Snake Den) or have to bring in outside help like a contractor. So the revelations came when we officially said “look, this works. Why not just call it what it is, make it real and then start working to make it more and more clear in our lives. It helps define who has responsibilities and who is in control of different things…” There’s that communication thing again.
Then we started tweaking it for the D/s stuff when we discovered that. I had no idea I was submissive to her. I still struggle with the whole concept – I’ve written about that, I’m sure I’ll write about it more. But this D/s stuff (not even necessarily bedroom D/s – lifestyle) lead to more communication. More expectations. We found that it was really tough if it ended up being on-again, off-again in terms of private and public interaction respectively. [SSC: We try to not impose our dynamic on people who don’t know about it. So, family interactions and dance studio were becoming issues.] So we sought to find a solution. That’s what I mentioned in the post.
Etienne mentioned this in a comment:
I’m can see how useful the “knock it off” gesture might be for you, but does Charmer never need a discreet outside perspective?
I read this as basically, “that’s all well and good that she’s watching over you, but who says she’s always right, who’s watching her?”
Great question! But it comes down to the underlying relationship. I have to trust in her judgment in the heat of the moment. Period. I have to know that she’ll not be making rash demands (unless she’s just outright messing with me) and that she’s trying to make something go the way she wants. [SSC: And, to be honest, I think I may have used the signal three or four times total. In spite of my snarky remarks, we really do usually agree.] If I have issues with anything, or if she has issues with anything that we need more attention on, we talk about it later. But in the moment, save for something dangerous or a limit, it’s her call. It has to be. At some point, there has to be a decision or call made. SOMEONE has to own whatever is happening that needs to be modified/done/decided.
I won’t say this hasn’t been without misunderstandings, or missed perceptions and expectations all around. But we work through them and figure out what we expect and need and move forward.
Heck, I’ve even cut WAY back on my disco dancing. [SSC: No. He hasn’t. And it really is just sad.] Just sayin’.
We lean on our relationship mightily. But the buck has to stop somewhere, and in our case, in our personal (non-work) lives, it’s all about her. Decisions, control, etc. But it’s not like she’s always standing there with a grip on my throat and threat over my head. It’s a mutually very respectful thing.
In my mind, it goes to the subtitle of this blog a bit. I mentioned “Chivalry” when we first set this up. To me, this is “enhanced chivalry” – where I get to do more things to show I care, and she reciprocates – it feeds on itself in the form of respect and support. And communication. As we talk, discuss, blog to each other, modify – lather, rinse, repeat – it feeds on itself and makes things work that much better. Which makes us want to do more. And we do. I’m constantly working to turn up the volume on things – to add more to our dynamic. And she’s doing the same more and more now. As we see the natural impact and goodness it brings, we want more of it.
But I never, ever want to suggest that she’s just “ruling” me (my term as an example only, no one has suggested that) and that I’m this lowly thing that’s only participating because she has me by the… neck. [SSC: Or, if I do, it has nothing to do with the FLR. But, I digress…]
Our relationship, the discussions, the communications, the respect – have done nothing but multiply many, many times over with the better clarity of our dynamic.
I hope that helps explain.
2 Replies to “Who’s Watching the Watchers?”
FWIW, my question was never whether you were being unjustly treated (I’m not a big believer in fairness) or oppressed. I understand how it works for you. And I understand (especially after such a clear explanation) that the two of you have worked out a system that is functioning well and seems to be reality-based.
I think my uneasiness on the hand gesture thing probably stems in part from the years I spent in a leadership position in my career. I felt firsthand, as well as seeing clearly in others, the sorts of mistakes people make when their authority isn’t questioned, when meaningful feedback isn’t given–as you say, when no one is watching the watchers. It’s not pretty, and if you’re self-aware, it’s not fun. You want to be better, but that’s hard in an echo-chamber.
I understand, too, that the leader’s role can be as “the decider,” and often a bad decision is better than endless deliberation.
I think what set me off was the stark asymmetry of Charmer having “the gesture” and you having nothing–at least in the moment. Or rather, the stark asymmetry of YOU having “the gesture” and CHARMER having nothing; I see you as the beneficiary. Mostly. 🙂
Which leads to the other source of my uneasiness — all the blather I read (though I do not truly believe) about dominants who “develop the character” of their submissives, treating them in essence like overgrown children who are not competent to manage their own lives. (I totally get that’s NOT the two of you, and it’s incorrect of me to tar you with this particular brush. I simply note it as one of the reasons I reacted as I did.) In these accounts, the dominant holds all the cards, and is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnicompetent. Oh, yes, they do admit they are not perfect–there was, after all that time when they thought they were wrong, but in reality were wrong about being wrong. All my doubt about this sort of thing was triggered by the one-way gesture.
Anyway, I adore the two of you and your relationship. I’m glad you took my comment in good part, and I very much enjoyed your explanation here.
Great feedback. I hope that, taken on the whole, our blog shows a “reality-based” part of life, rather than blind fantasy. Which is not to say there aren’t fantastical things going on, but there is “lifestyle” reality that I hope comes across.
We joke a lot, poke at each other a lot, but the whole thing is based on decades of trust, wanting to address what had become a shortcoming (our overall communications and couples-life) and reveling in the fact that we’ve been able to start down that road. It’s such fun discovery to learn so much about something (and someone) you thought was fully understood already. (Hope that makes sense).
Anyway, I suppose my feedback mechanism to Charmer is that I break down and just start balling. Then she knows she may have gone too far. (Kidding). There simply MUST be two-way communication – and I get what you’re saying too about absolute power.
Great conversation. 🙂