Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What He Said

We've had a chance to talk a bit and it turns out I was pretty far off base. He made it very clear that he does not want to move backwards or to undo what has been done. The jist of it is that we will continue to require more of each other and of ourselves when it comes to communication - exactly what I screwed up in this case. Also, that he doesn't feel a strong need to feel like I am dependent on him, that he fell in love with me and married me in the first place because of my independence, strength, and sense of purpose. That he sees the goal of all of this to be elevating each of us, but moreso, to make us, the whole, more than we are as individuals.

Maybe this leaves us somewhere other than D/s or ttwd or anything like it, I really have no idea.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Today was not the best day. The doubts about what we are doing and self-doubt drowned out any reasonable and rational thoughts. We haven't been able to really talk in a while; we've been travelling, hosting, dealing with family crises, and holidaying. We talked enough today for me to be a little calmer, but I still have an awful lot of conflicted feelings and unresolved questions. I have tried to narrow it down to a coherent theme, mostly because this would make it easier to discuss when we are finally able. I really can't though; I just have too much swirling around. I am hoping that at least listing some of the thoughts will help me sort them out, and maybe help us sort them out. So this is my stream of consciousness, some addressed to my husband, some laments about myself:

I feel like I am more isolated and disconnected right now than before we started any of this. So much so that I am thinking we should chuck it all and go back to the way things were before.

I have more need to communicate with you than I ever have before. We used to operate with a lot more autonomy, a lot less connectedness. When it's good, this is very good; when it's bad, it's really much worse. I also really dislike being needy in any respect, this included. I feel like an incompetent child getting so off balance, particularly since I can't restore my own balance, I require input and interaction with you.

I do believe that you are comfortable and enjoying our new roles in the bedroom. I no longer think you're just doing it for me, especially given the smirk you get on your face these days. But I don't know what to think about outside of that. I really don't know if you are going along with me, humoring me, just waiting it out till it goes away on its own, or if you feel like things are moving in the right direction.

I really don't want me or our relationship to be an added burden, something more to worry about or to spend mental energy and time on. This makes me extremely reluctant to say anything if I'm not feeling right about things. That used to work out ok - life would just move on. Now it leaves me unsettled and frustrated, and even more so because the more upset I get, the less I want to bring it up.

Not knowing what you're thinking, where you want things to go or how you want them to be is unsettling, to say the least. I did agree that you would lead on this, and that I would keep my questions and opinions quiet. I have never been a control freak, but I will admit that I have to work hard to have faith in you and follow on this one. A lot of the doubts that overwhelm me at times like this are that you have just let it go by the way side because its just too much trouble.

Part of what a lot of other people talk about as a benefit of this new dynamic is a deeper knowing and understanding of each other. I am afraid that you know me well enough to know that you don't really want to know me any better.

This part may belong in a whole different post, or maybe I shouldn't be saying it at all, I'm not sure. I agree that our lives would never work if you tried to assume decision making control of very many aspects of my day to day life: what I wear, where I go, logistics, especially when you're out of town. And I really don't want to add things to make more work for you. But, if we are going to move forward with this thing, I think maybe times like his past week would be smoother with some sort of structure or concrete reminders in place.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Love Isn't Simple

Years ago they married. She was young, pretty and delicate; he was older, a handsome, athletic, charismatic man. They started a family, bought a house, worked, played, did the things people do. Then it happened and he would never walk again, not work, not play, and not do the things people do. Now she worked, and took care of small children, and took care of the house, and took care of him. Taking care of him was hard, physical work, and exacting, personal, intimate work, and never, never ceasing work, and most often, thankless work.

He had been robbed of his vitality, his movement, his freedom, his livlihood, his pride, his independence, his roles, in his eyes, everything. He was dependent and depressed and grieving and mostly angry. There is no right way to deal with this sort of reality and these emotions, but there are many hurtful ways. He drank, and lashed out, he layed on the guilt and tore down those he loved, then he would regret it all, try harder to be the husband and father he wanted to be, then despair and fall into a deeper depression. The cycle just kept interating.

She stayed through all of it, never even stepping out of the room for the worst of it, certainly never leaving him to any one else's care. She protected her children as much as she could. She gave up her freedom, her desires, and her needs. She was scared and so lonely. She didn't have the strength to leave or to demand that he control what he could control, that he find a way to stop the abuse. But it took such incredible strength to live her life as she did.

The children grew up and their empty nest time became marked by a series of tradgedies and medical crises. His health became more fagile and his needs even greater. She was no longer physically able to provide all his care, although she would run herself into the hospital trying.

This day finds her at his bedside in the ICU, with the ventilator providing his breathing after a crisis that had almost had a very different outcome. The emergency room personel had asked a few hours earlier whether she wished extraordinary measures to be taken or not, whether he had a standing DNR order. Now that she can process it all, she breaks down, "I don't know what I would do without him, I need him, I love him so very much."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bad moods

I have been accused of overthinking a thing or two and I do have a habit of making things too complicated. This whole realm has been a jackpot of new ideas for me to sink my teeth into and chew on. We started with a few changes and those had a huge positive impact on our life. So more must be better, right?

I have no idea what you would call the structure we have at this point. It certainly doesn't seem to fall quite squarely into any of the models I've seen presented, but has components of many. A big part of the deal though is that I have to talk; specifically, I have to open up about what's bothering me rather than stomping around being pissy to one and all.

One of my husband's strengths is that he is able to leave work at work and switch gears to being with us without bringing the work stresses and anxieties home with him. So it doesn't happen often, but sometimes he does get moody, preoccupied, tense, closed off, and cranky. This typically leaves me feeling like I've done somethng wrong or not done something right so it puts me in a supremely bad mood as well. On one hand, I do think that people need a certain amount of time and space when they are overwhelmed. Feeling responsible to explain it and reassure someone else just takes up more time and mental energy. But how much time or space?

I never have never found the right answer to how to deal with this. Sometimes I just wait, sometimes I get pissy back. It usually helps if he can tell me it's work, it's not you. But, in my overanalyzing way, I've tried to look around to other models to see if there is some magic new way I should handle this. It looks like more than a few paradigms would suggest that I be more solicitious, offer myself more, find nice things to do for him... And I try the pieces of that which may work, others still demand some increased attention from him so aren't helpful. But it still leaves me wondering if it's me, and then second guessing everything I do, which leaves me with the same old piss and vinegar mood.

So I've tried something unconventional - I asked him, nicely, what was going on. And he told me. And here's the new and the best part, I believed him. So I can wait it out, do what I can to help, and not get all tangled up in my bad feelings.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I have gone round and round and round with how to write this particular entry. I struggle, as I think many women do, with my decision about whether I should work or stay home with my children, and what I think the effects of either choice would be on them. The majority of the voices in my world are against women working. Some of those voices are quiet or subtle, others are quite strident. I've heard it called the mommy wars and that's an incredibly unfortunate name. First of all, being a mother ought to be anathema to anything warlike. Secondly, this is really something society in general, and mothers as a group, should be able to move past. It is ridiculous to think that any one answer could possibly be the best one for the millions of different women and families in the world. I have chosen to work because, on balance, that has been the better choice for our family, for our children, and for me.

This whole issue has re-surfaced for me recently though. Our family is at crossroads right now - not at all in a bad way, but we face a lot of big decisions and changes. In this case, the major part of the decision is mine to make, with a lot of input from my husband, but ultimately mine. Over the past several years I have worked towards a degree in my field. This opens up options for me to work in a number of contexts and capacities, part time or full time, in a more relaxed setting or in a very intense and competitive one. I could stay local and we could remain in our community, or I could search nationwide and we could move (closer to family, to a new, more interesting area, closer to activites we enjoy...) None of these would be bad choices and I am very aware of how fortunate I am to have options like this. Clearly though, this choice will impact the rest of my family as it will bring change in routine and possibly even in home and geography. It also has major implications for my husband and his job.

These new opportunities have led me to revisit my choice to work and have a career in the first place. The bigger issue though has to do with how uncomfortable I am making a decision that will impact my whole family, and especially my husband, so fundamentally. It's not just the fact of making the decision; although, I am notoriously reluctant to want to make big decisions for other people. There is a bit of anxiety over "what if I fall on my face after asking everyone else to uproot themselves on my account?" Moreso though, I struggle with the fact that this decision is about me and following my goals. I am also notoriously bad at having things be about me. Then there is the added irony of my driving the direction of our family at the same time that we are working out the how's and when's of a dynamic that has him more in charge.

There are some potential upsides for the rest of my family to all of this. My husband travels quite a bit for his work, and his job is, for him, just a job, stressful and not fulfilling in any way. He is maddeningly responsible so he has never allowed himself to consider other work options. He wouldn't risk not being able to support us. My choice may provide an opportunity for him to explore doing something he feels would be more meaningful. It may also provide an opportunity for our family to have more time together overall. And the kids have a huge sense of adventure so they are having fun imagining all the fun places we may choose to live.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I've had a revelation - of course this is quite likely one of those things that everyone else has already come to, seen, conquered, and moved on. What can I say, I'm always late to the party. I recall there being some brouhaha about submissive women being high maintenance, or needy, or some such thing. I didn't pay a lot of attention at the time because - well - because I am so NOT high maintenance. Ask anybody.

Except that lately I find myself being a bit - needy. That's not the revelation, even though it is a completely unforseen and somewhat uncomfortable truth. It dawned on me today why I am at times so needy. I'm afraid of rejection. And this is a foreign sensation for me- at least in this arena. Now, lest you assume I am just bragging, let me explain. Until not so long ago I was not so often particularly interested in - to be blunt - in sex. I was most often the one doing the rejecting and certainly wasn't seeking it out, so I had no oppurtunity to be rejected. The fact that now my libido seems to be making up for lost time leaves me pretty much always agreeable, and then some. The issue is that I don't have practice in this feeling or what to do with it, particularly how to express this to my husband appropriately.

I find myself wanting physical contact and attention, pretty much all the time. It's not that I'm being neglected, but we do have to do things like feed the kids, walk the dog, go to work... I know that the answer to this is to suck it up, deal with it, get over it - take your pick. And I'm sure things will level off. In the mean time, he has some fun at my expense with this, and frankly, I'm glad he does. It's good for him that the power has shifted to his favor, and on a deeper level - that works for me too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Switching gears

People are complex - and fascinating because of it. I am by no means the first person to ponder this; there has been scads of research, tomes have been written, even religious dogmas created to recognize the inherent dichotomies that exist within people. I have explored very, very little on this topic. In fact I've never given it much thought before at all.

The changes in my relationship life recently coincide with some changes in my professional life, and I am finding that I need to better understand the dichotomies of me, maybe not to rectify them, but perhaps to manage or harness them. Like everyone, I switch back and forth to the most appropriate and useful person/persona for the situation. But sometimes one trait asserts itself at an inopportune moment, in my work or my relationship.

I did not take Women's Studies in college, although I was certainly in college during the right time for its influence to be pervasive. I never considered it much because I wasn't interested in entering the business world (or politics, journalism, etc), nothing with a glass ceiling waiting to be broken. But neither did I reject the notion of women pursuing those things; I grew up swearing I would never marry or have a family. I majored in a traditional "hard" science. My classmates were, by and large, men (or boys - what are they at that age?). I just did what I did and it never seemed to fit the proper mold for either camp.

The same is true now, there are several different aspects to my professional life. Part is a very traditionally female caregiver position, in which interpersonal relationship, empathy, and nurturing are crucial. Part is a much more male dominated, what is traditionally viewed as masculine world, involving analyses, science, math, etc... At the risk of sounding immodest, I have some ability in each of these areas. I also have a pretty good handle on jumping back and forth among these roles - the types of attitudes, ways of thinking, ways of approaching things. It helps that they each have distinct settings/contexts, that helps with switching gears.

As far as my traits and my relationship life, I can't begin to define the term submissive. I haven't seen a consensus yet about it in fact, and I'm certainly not going to try to be the one to nail it down. Nor will I try to make myself fit any particular description I have seen "out there." Furthermore, I'm still discovering things about myself, how I respond to things, how things make me feel, what judgements I make about things. But there is now much more of a dichotomy in this area of my life than I think had existed before. But what is the opposite trait to submissive? Certainly in this case, not dominant - maybe assertive, independent, I'm not sure. Clearly other submissive people function independently, assertively, perhaps even aggressively. So are these the contrasts to submissive?

Previously, no one would have said there was a bit of me that was submissive. In fact, besides my husband, I still don't think anyone would. Now, there are many aspects of my realtionship with my husband in which submitting does feel right. (It still makes my head spin to think about what a change this is, and how it either appeared out of the blue, or was there all along and I never realized - but that is a different pondering.) Trying not to get tangled up in symantics or details, I would not say that our arrangement is one in which I submit in all things. I do in some areas, and overall I am certainly more respectful when I disagree, and I try to listen first before I react (that wasn't always the case), but for reasons I may try to parse out for myself another time, it just isn't everything, all the time. It is also, of course, ever in flux, evolving.

Unlike at work, where the context is clear, therefore which role/nature/traits should be playing are clear, it is trickier with this relationship thing. First off, I've never had to think about this before, I was always free to just react, just do. I am just learning that there are two parts to my nature, and what each of those entails, how to differentiate them, and how to choose to act based on one trait or another. I now have to stop and decide how to respond. But certainly, in many things, I act independently, of my own mindset. Most of the time this is no problem. Sometimes though it leads to friction because we each had different expectations of how each of us should act. Sometimes the irritation is only on my part, I am taken by surprise by the fact that i "got it wrong." I am also sure there are times when he is irritated by the mis-matched expectations, and doesn't let it show.

Maybe I will learn to function mostly from a submissive stance - I honestly don't know if that is what my husband would want, if it would work, or even what that would really mean. Maybe as I come to understand it all better, it will no longer confound me. Maybe I will re-integrate everything into one nature and operate only from that perspective - although people are complex and I think there is something to be said for being so.