There are some submissive sorts of things that my husband doesn't want, or ask of me, or care to have in place: things like addressing him by a title, my not using furniture, or my not speaking without permission. When i've asked him why or why not, he says it's because he doesn't need to prove himself and doesn't need me to prove myself.
That seems like a straightforward answer; but, even just in trying to write that sentence, it becomes clear that it isn't so simple. Prove what? To whom? What would be adequate proof of anything anyhow? Prove himself to me? To someone else? Anyone else? This is clearly not a concern for him in the least. Prove to me that he is - what? - in charge, superior, in control, better, bigger, stronger? That he is looking out for me? That he is in our relationship and in our hearts what we have said we are to each other?
I grew up in a household in which the phrase, "if you loved me, you would ........." was always in the air. That was how i believed love was supposed to work.
With my first few serious boyfriends, i played that game. Pop culture and media fed right into this of course: if you loved me you would bring flowers, set up romantic dates, make grand plans, maybe write poetry.... It seemed like exactly how it was supposed to work and it's how everyone did it. Of course i had to play my part too - cute little surprises, maybe stuffed animals, celebrate the anniversary of everything, wear sexy clothes, fancy underwear underneath, and of course put out.
It all felt so uncomfortable, so difficult and awkward. I assumed the problem was me though, not the system. "Of course this is how love works, I'm just not very good at it." Towards the demise of my last relationship, before my husband, I caught myself telling my then boyfriend that if he were really devoted to me he should get me a specific gift. He did, and when i opened it, my heart sank - i realized all at once how completely stupid it all was, how stupid I had been.
I've not played those games since. And neither has my husband, even dating, courting, neither of us fell into that trap. There has never been even an implied, "If you loved me...." between us.
In the context of our D/s relationship though, i find myself very much wanting to prove myself, or wanting to show him, or to please him. Are those three different? Or are they just shades of the same impulse: if i narrow it down to "prove to him" i think they are just degrees of the same thing. I have a strong desire to show him my love, my appreciation, my affection for him. And a very strong desire to submit, to him.
This is where it gets sticky for me. If it isn't as proof of my willingness to do as he asks, to follow him - what are acts of submission? And for that matter - if not ways to request i prove my willingness to do as he asks - what is dominance?
He does have in place other rituals or rules that would seem to be similar in nature to the ones he doesn't care for. Thing that seem to be ways to ask me to submit or to prove my willingness - things like obtaining permission before getting in bed, having a bedtime, etc. He so clearly enjoys much of the structure of the whole thing and he often exercises his right to ask anything of me, at anytime. Often it seems he asks things of me for his amusement - and that is a great feeling, to be able to amuse and entertain him. Those are usually fairly simple things, but they make him happy.
Sometimes i feel like he does test me, which is the same as saying a way of asking for proof. But i think they are tests when he feels i need to be tested, either for the containment of it, or the refocus, or because i doubt myself and need to see myself succeed. But honestly, it has never felt like he asks anything of me because he is trying to reassure himself that i will comply. And it never seems that he needs the test to satisfy something within himself.
Frankly, i think i wish he would want to test me more, that he would really need that, thrive on it, get off on it. Somehow I feel like he should crave harder and harder things of me, so he can satisfy his dominance - so i can prove my submission. Every once in awhile, i do catch myself thinking, "if you were dominant, you would..." But then the obvious hits me: that's about me wanting to satisfy my submissive cravings and desires at that moment, and has nothing to do with what he is or isn't. Just as "if you loved me, you would..." has nothing to do with love.