Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Devil Is In The Details: Managing The Day To Day

Hello all....It has been a surprisingly long time, but a new job and various family and life commitments have just kind of taken over.  I had some time to myself this morning, and after catching up on my favorite blogs, thought it might be time to dive back in.

Apparently trying to take on a Herculean task in my foray back to the blogging world, I figured I would take a pass at trying to figure out the best way to find your own version of "what is the point." And I wrote that, then trashed it because it is really a reiteration of what I have already discovered. This is a Hydra. It constantly evolves, and while there are some fundamental guide points, it is so unique and different for each couple and at each phase of their lives, that there is no real answer to that question; or at least not one that is constant.

So instead, I am going to focus on the part of this that trips me up the most. The day to day. I am a person who likes the tangible and concrete. I love specific examples and particular scenarios to kind of find a baseline and then be able to apply it.  I have found that is far less possible in a FLR than I first thought.  I had hoped that once I decided to lead, and he to follow, that it would kind of just work like that.  I would give commands and set expectations, and he would follow them and provide his active participation as requested.  And we would have an established system related to consequences that would set our life on a clear and regulated path.  

So much for that pipe dream.  In some ways, I find that trying to fit it into a neat package just does not work.  The overarching goals or intent is helpful as a guide, but cannot really answer the question of what the particular point is or how to deal in the day to day.   I worry constantly that I am not providing enough consistency, accountability or consequence in the days or weeks that get clogged up with work or other life demands, and then feel as if I am constantly trying to reinvent what we do to make it have a point and fit within a construct of what this should be.  It can be paralyzing and lead to a whole bunch of WTF are we doing,

I struggle most with figuring out what I really want and not constantly being on top of this--which is maybe something that happens after time, but in its infancy, a FLR needs more parameters around it. We tend to get into a good rhythm, with my husband taking over the household running aspects, somewhat regular discipline and accountability and me leading rather than asking. But that decently well run machine has flaws and I do not always say what I want or set the clearest of expectations.  It is my own fault and a plan I need to recommit to in order to keep him feeling safe in his submission.

I really do need to address the day to day and not just kind of rely on the general construct to get us through.  Given this is my particular rolling of the rock up and down a hill, I am interested to hear from you (male, female, dominant or submissive) as to how the day to day works for you.  To that end, also happy to entertain other topics for discussion, as much of my delay tends to be lack of ideas and the time to come up with them.  Come on team FLR, let's share and figure this out together.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Finding Your Fundamental Guideposts In A FLR

Today's topic focuses on identifying the particular goals or benefits one can get from a FLR, and that ultimately that is a question only you can answer.  As we continue down this path, the more I realize how critically important it is to identify what you particularly are looking for to build your own roadmap. While probably all FLRs have elements of similarity, they are by no means alike. When we initially started this, I got bogged down in trying to figure out the "right" way to do this. While other bloggers or some books had helpful insight, ultimately I had to decide for myself and our relationship exactly what it was that I was looking to accomplish.   

It is really so personal of a journey that each party needs to identify what the unique goals and expectations will be and how that betters your marriage. Saying the words alone, while a helpful exercise in acknowledging the power shift, will never be enough. 

I have seen several different types of motivations for people pursuing a FLR or some similar construction. Some men simply want to be controlled either because of sexual or personal beliefs that make this the right or most fulfilling choice. Others want to exhibit better traits and may be unable to do so unless the choice is taken away. I think some men find freedom in a lack of decision and some need expectations to be clear. Some women (or men)  may just believe in inherent superiority while others just want to be in control of their lives. Many relationships, I suspect, have elements of all of these things.  What differentiates each one is the manner in which your personal goals and desires shape the way it is executed. 

For me, I wanted a mechanism to take control of my life and acknowledge the power shift that had started already. I don't believe all women are better suited to this lifestyle or that all relationships should be this way, but mine in particular and with my husband just made sense. I think my husband wanted clarity in expectations. Knowing what was expected of him and taking some of the burden of decision making off of him. He believed in my ability to lead and did not want to fight implicit or explicit power struggles. He wants to know what I want or need and those are the parameters of how he lives. That is much simpler than guessing about whether I really want something a specific way or if I'm going to change my mind or constantly move the target on him. It requires far more forethought about things on my part, but ultimately allows me to really identify what is important and how I want our life to be, as well as to expect it will be done in that manner. 

There is also an element for both of us in trying to be better versions of ourselves through this. Him in behavioral changes, but more importantly, in being a better father and husband by being accountable for his actions and for me, in really identifying what I actually want and taking responsibility for my choices. I could change my mind all of the time, but that defeats my particular view of the purpose of this. I want him to trust me and follow me. So I owe him consistency and overall strategic planning that will guide our family in all ways and not just to accomplish a specific goal at one data point in time. This doesn't mean I don't change my mind or at times realize I wanted something different, I'm just (usually) less arbitrary about it. 

In building your own FLR, communication about these ultimate goals and what you want from it is key. If it's to simply have no choice or say ever, that is different than one in which an opinion is considered but ultimate choice resides with the leader. Similarly, if there are specific life goals you want (i.e. stop drinking, better behavior)  or even more general overtones about wanting more or less control or firm expectations, the relationship and power dynamic has to match that. It is why there really is no one size fits all or a per se right way to do this. 

I also believe creating immovable structures can miss key developments or important changes as your relationship develops.  While consistency and clear expectations are important, the path may change over time.  Maybe initially DD is not for you but then you see a circumstance in which it could better the behavioral modification.  If you just start from one place and never accept the possibility of change or adaptation,  you miss the opportunity to develop other aspects to make this a holistic lifestyle choice. People also are not stagnant so what works even for years may not as your life changes.  Being flexible in how your relationship needs to be is important to this working and being fulfilling long term. 

This also is not right for everyone. It's not just about the concept generally but you as individual humans that are particularly suited for this. I could not necessarily do this with anyone but my husband. Just as I think the same is true for him. He is submissive to me. Not generally or to every woman. 

So this is a constantly evolving process. One in which you should start from general goals or expectations unique to you but also learn and change as it develops. It's a journey, without a doubt. And as they say, enjoy that journey not just the destination. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

To Cage Or Not To Cage?

It seems that every time I post it begins with a lament of my lack of recent posting. My hope is that followers loyal to this blog will keep reading even when I am slacking on posting. But life is busy and I am human.  I also encourage commenters to suggest topics to discuss, as sometimes I am just literally at a loss for words.

Tonight's entry sprung from a real world situation with a good friend, who knows little about this type of life we lead or that I am anything but relatively vanilla.  She, rather unfortunately, experienced a serious betrayal by her man.  And by serious, I mean serious.  They are not in a FLR, though she makes most decisions and is the clear breadwinner.  It seems they have just not taken the crucial step of verbally acknowledging who is in charge.  This is somewhat irrelevant but just confirms my theory that most relationships have a dominant that is unrecognized between the parties but the relationship would likely benefit greatly if that simple step was taken.  Slightly as an aside, but critical to my overarching message, just admit who is in charge. Things are much simpler that way.

In their story, she is hurt deeply by what he has done and he has vowed to do anything to repair it. She struggles with being able to find a way to trust him and not constantly have to monitor him. When she asked what I thought about that, I (admittedly out of nowhere) suggested she propose a cage.  Readers of this blog know I have yet to tackle this subject or to really express an opinion on this subject.   As with most things in my blog, if that is what you do, then do it and good on you.  But for me, I have never really decided whether I think it would work and struggle with the bigger picture benefit we would get from it.

For her, there are clear sexual indiscretions that need to be addressed.  In that circumstance, a cage seems absolutely the course to go to fix it.  It serves the purpose of keeping a literal lock on his junk and making sure he is not using it outside the home. It also gives her a way to feel secure and know she can trust him without endlessly agonizing over where he is or what he is doing. I get that completely.  In my situation, I often wonder as to its usefulness.  My husband is loyal to me sexually and otherwise, and he has given up his sexual freedom (personally or with others) by our marriage and particular brand of what we do.

Yet, many men who are not sexually disloyal or would willing give up personal satisfaction if his Mistress required still have a cage.  So it raises the question of what that particular act does to strengthen this type of relationship. If my husband agrees to be my submissive in all ways, and I tell him not to masturbate, what separate benefit exists? Perhaps it is feeling owned all the time.  But my husband also has a collar that he cannot take off.  That acts as his reminder that he belongs solely to me and must remember the tenets we made.  Is a cage necessary? Am I missing something about its benefits?

Admittedly, I am curious about this other aspect of the world we occupy.  Men who are caged seem to be freed by it and/or revel in the level of submission it shows.  Why? What does it satisfy for you to be caged? I imagine for most who are already in a committed relationship, that sexual loyalty has little or nothing to do with it.  So I wonder what benefits it has for a relationship of this type? I write these statements realizing the written word has no inflection so I want to clarify that I am not being judgmental or disrespectful but genuinely curious as to the benefits it has to the wearer and the relationship.

This is not a post in which I plan to conclude anything. Perhaps it is a part I of II, but this is a question in my mind and I would like answers from people living this particular version of this thing we do and why.  Comments most welcome.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Hydra That Is Living A FLR

Thanks to everyone who still reads even when my postings are sporadic, at best.  Life just has a way of interfering in consistency in any activity.  That holds especially true for our FLR as well.  And while I find that certain aspects work without much effort, certain things need constant attention and refocusing.

Perhaps the most complicated part of being in an FLR is consistency.  Either in the form of balance or just literal consistency in setting a plan of action and following up on it, I find that is the single hardest thing to maintain.  It is a topic I have blogged about before, but each time it comes up, it is different and seems to have sprouted a new head like the ancient Hydra.

We have been going through a period of change and my husband has been struggling with some life changes that make me nervous about imposing a stricter FLR.  I worry constantly that if he is upset or focused on something else, that my pushing him and demanding submission could somehow throw off the balance of his emotions and crush him.  I do not actually think that would happen, but it is probably the thing that does (or should) worry every female leader.  In a weird twist of fate, I think more order and clarity is probably exactly what he both needs and wants.

This is compounded by the fact there are very few resources for a female HoH.  While I am thankful for the various blogs that do exist and stay in the realm of reality rather than leather clad fantasy or pure role playing,  this just is not as well established as the male HoH community.  In a lot of ways, I cannot even read those types of blogs-- the religious DD blogs freak me out because I do not believe in an inherent superiority or ordained right to exercise my will over my husband.  Rather, this is a product of our mutual agreement about how our life works better if I am just in charge.

But we are real people.  We both have jobs, kids, family and responsibilities that all need to be ordered. And in taking on this role, that is just what I agreed to do.  To take responsibility for the decisions, to own the choices I make, to set clear expectations and to follow through in making sure they are met.  I am pretty comfortable with making choices and owning the decisions.  Several commenters have made the excellent point that strong leadership is about making the decision, even if wrong, and owning it.  Being paralyzed by a decision makes for an ineffectual leader and one who does not inspire confidence.

What I struggle much more with as time goes on is remembering the impact I have on him. This takes the form of me forgetting that my words impact him more than they used to. Rather than my old marriage where I could flounce out of a room or tell him to shut up and it would just prolong the fight, if I do that now, my husband feels it.  He either quite literally stops talking or feels the sting of me walking away in a way much different way than someone who has not embraced being submissive.  This is one thing I think all female leaders have to be aware of- men are sensitive too and when they agree to this, we owe them the respect to be a real leader all the time.  We owe them that we will not just throw out barbs in the same way we might if the scales were more balanced. This is something I have to work on and be constantly in the mindset of being in control.  Not letting it go just because I am angry or don't want to deal with it right then.  This is the choice I made too, and I owe him that I understand the constant nature of this role.

What I think makes this even more complicated is the layer of being able to say, I am in charge- right or wrong. Just fucking deal with it.  I have said that sometimes, and while it is technically true, it is probably not that helpful for growing our bond and connection.  It is important to say that sometimes I think, to just put an absolute reminder that the female is in charge, but it can easily turn into a default that takes the responsibility away for really thinking through a decision or impact.  I am working on that right now to make sure that it does not just become the baseline where I no longer take specific stock of what the fuck is going on and the best way to address it.

The other issue I struggle with--and I would guess most couples in this do as well--is the accountability/consistency component.  If you are going to lead your husband, you need to be clear.  The whole point of this is to acknowledge the shift in authority, not just do it through passive ways like in a more egalitarian relationship.  So saying what you want and meaning it, as well as following through, squarely fall on the shoulders of the female leader.  That means if I want the table fixed by a specific date, I have told him.  If he does not, there is a consequence.  This is the ideal way of handling things, and that it is the same for every task, every day.

I will be honest that I slack in this area probably most of all. I say I want specific things done, but I do not always follow up on them because either we have other things going on or I do not feel like I care that much at the moment.  While, again, this is technically fine because I am in charge so I can discard or change something at will, it makes for some unfair and confusing expectations.  Right now I have recommitted to setting real expectations and following up on them.  I have to. It is just not fair to keep going this way because he may think I do not care about something (because I haven't for weeks) and then I am pissed when it does not get done.  That flies in the face of the exact thing this relationship is supposed to accomplish--clear expectations and a system of accountability.

As a leader, one of the most important jobs is to realistically assess what is needed and what is important.  We have to set clear boundaries and enforce them consistently, and be in touch enough with our own plan/requirements to know what is important and what can be let go.  But, this too, has to be communicated from the start.  If I don't really care that much about something getting done, but then get angry later that it has not been accomplished, that is more on me than him.  While the "I'm in charge" card can be played to change some things, it really is not fair to use it without real connection to its impact on the relationship.  If that is the only way it gets used, then this is really just a loose set of constructs that may or may not be enforced.  It is not how I want to run my house because he deserves to know what I want, when I want it and how I want it with some consistency.  He also needs, as I think most submissive men do, the assurance of knowing there is a consequence if it is not done.  That is what makes this type of relationship beautifully simple--he does not have to think about why, whether it makes sense or how to do it.  He knows what is expected, to do it and what will happen if he does not.  

I would love to hear from all of you about your feelings on this topic, what works for you (or you need from your FLR), what types of consequences work best, etc.  This community is strengthened by shared experience and collective wisdom.

Friday, December 4, 2015

It Has Been Awhile

Hi all....Yes again, I find that life has made it difficult to blog.  My apologies for the delay, but it has just been surprisingly hectic as of late.  Rather than just keep avoiding it, I thought I would just do a quick post and open it up for discussion.

I am also a little at a loss for what to blog about, as I really have been pulled in so many directions and we are in a decent place with our path.  So I thought I would reach out and see what topics are on your minds and what areas we could explore together.

I wish you all health, happiness and joy in the holiday season.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

Seeking Perspectives on Reinforcement

I have noticed "reinforcement" has come up in several comments, and thought it might be time to discuss it.  This is not a new concept by any means.  Most of us employ some version of this in nearly every aspect of our lives- in teaching kids about consequences or goals, in the workplace with constructive (or otherwise) feedback or just in interacting with people on a day to day basis.  We do this almost unconsciously in most circumstances- smiling at or thanking the person who bags your groceries because a) it is polite and b) you want him to remember you and maybe not put the cans on top of the eggs.   But these smaller interactions seem easier and more natural somehow than when you try to sit down and think about how to really make it work in a marriage like this.

I suppose it is like that with everything--it is easy and reflexive until you are cognizant of it and then it becomes a thing. It reminds me of the old Looney Toons where Wiley Coyote did not realize he was over some hugs chasm until he looked down.  But here we are, looking at reinforcements critically and putting each action we take into sharp relief.

Positive reinforcement should be easy.  But even that can take on a new meaning in a FLR.  Several bloggers point out that thanking a man undercuts the concept that it is a privilege or joy to serve. I am not sure where I come down on that.  It is similar to using please in my commands, as I know some would see that as not part of being dominant, but sometimes I like to include it when I am telling him what to do.  But as I just wrote about, there is no one size fits all so if saying please and thank you works for you, then it works.

If you do not use traditional concepts like saying thank you, how is it that the positive reinforcement happens? One way is to acknowledge a job well done or to tell him he has done well.  But are there others? What works for you in confirming positive behavior? I would be interested to hear from men and women on this issue.      

Stopping negative behavior is at once easier and more difficult.  Punishment in whatever form you use is straightforward.  There is a consequence for a missed task or back talk or whatever else has come up.  It requires staying on top of the expectations and consistently reinforcing the consequence, and the hope is that the dislike of such consequence will keep him from doing that again.   People have varied views on what appropriate discipline or punishment should be. Some use traditional corporal punishment either with specific infractions or as more of a constant maintenance.  Some religiously use corner time.  And I am sure there are many things I do not even know about.

My failing in that is always staying on top of things and in not being as creative as I would like in that arena.  It can be difficult to manage every task or expectation, so for me, I usually reinforce on the bigger ticket items and maybe let some of the smaller ones slip.  I know that increases uncertainty and makes it a little murkier, but that is just the style I employ.  I am not sure I could manage every single behavior or task with constant reinforcement either way--it seems like a full time job.

I have always thought a punishment fitting a crime makes the most sense, but I admit I have never washed his mouth out even if he did not speak as respectfully as I would like.  I also have read some people keep a journal of infractions that gets presented and addressed. I have no idea if this works, but if you do, please share.

There is also the subtext of stopping it before it gets to a problem level, and quelling misbehavior before a full blown punishment is needed.  That one I also have not quite yet mastered, but I suppose it really is just stopping the misbehavior with some carefully chosen words.  In any event, this particular blog post clearly reveals the depth of things I do not know and that could benefit from other perspectives.

Being newer at this, I am still trying to find my footing on how to exercise appropriate reinforcement all the time.  And as both positive and negative reinforcement is a cornerstone of making this work, I would like to open this up to you.  If you are a submissive, what is the most effective form of reinforcement and how does it happen.  Do you react better when its preemptive or to certain words? Do certain negative consequences help you avoid infractions more? If you are a leader, how do you use positive and negative reinforcement most effectively? Are there certain punishments you find most effective?  Please feel free to contribute.  There may be no "right" way, but benefitting from each other's experiences and knowledge seems like a pretty great form of community sharing.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

One Size Fits All Does Not Exist

It seems I start nearly every post with some form of a lament about how long it has been....but such is life, and we all do the best we can. So I hope you will stick with reading this even though my posting can be more sporadic than most.  

Today I thought we would discuss the concept of what is "right," and why trying to find that in a FLR (or otherwise) is useless.  I hate this phrase in any application.  Even in a non-FLR context, the concept of what is right or correct is so uniquely personal that trying to fit into some mold or societal construction will only cause you pain and make you question your own path.  Look at how society has changed in the past few decades--what was right even a few years ago could now seem outdated and archaic. Trying to do a one size fits all is destructive and misses the nuances of what this type of relationship should be. 

When I first started this journey, I was desperate for answers and some sort of playbook of what I should do.  While I certainly am thankful for guidance or perspective in finding this path, trying to fit my own relationship into what others do just does not make sense. For example, I do not cage my husband nor do I necessarily think I would.  There are some purists who would see this as a failing on my part as a leader or not recognizing he should or needs to be caged.  While that is perfectly fine for someone who chooses that, it is not my choice to do so.  But that does not mean I am weak or he is less of a submissive. In fact, it means I am strong enough to make my own decisions about what I want my FLR to look like.  Which is quite literally what a female leader should do.   

Similarly, my husband once read several articles taking the position that cuckholding was necessary to truly accepting submission.  He worried for some time that me not having any interest in that meant he could not truly be submissive.  I, however, vehemently disagree.  I value specific things in his submission, but being ok with me being with another man is just not one of them.  In fact, I have no interest nor do I think that would enhance my particular brand of dominance.  So it is a hard limit for me. I do not say this to judge anyone who believes that or thinks it works (because I do not- live your lives, do what makes you happy), but it is important to note that what works for some does not mean it has to work for you. And not doing something someone else thinks is important does not mean what you choose is any less right for you.

Particularly when first starting out, the tendency is to worry you are not doing what is right or that you are not somehow immediately understanding every possible permutation of this complicated life. It is pretty unfair to expect someone new to this could ever figure it all out immediately, and in fact, it is likely always an evolution so nothing will ever be unequivocally "right." I guess my point is that if you are starting out, or even if you have been practicing for some time, do not try to have all the answers. Do not try to fit your FLR to some "norm," as no norm exists.  

Each relationship is different. Some people use DD as punishment and some do not; some have chore lists and some just expect it to be done; some require use of a title like Mistress while others do not need that or like it; some believe the female driving shows leadership whereas others see him driving as a form of submission; some control money or privacy much more than others, and the list of differences could keep an FLR encyclopedia salesmen busy like it was the 80s.  

Here, what is important to remember is that what is right is specific to each relationship.  It is something you, as a leader, have to figure out--what works for you and what is important to you? How do you want to discipline or assign chores or run your house? And similarly, what works for your submissive husband? What is the way he feels most submissive, what does he react best to, etc. I do not mean to suggest you cannot learn things from others; rather, I believe the opposite is true.  I enjoy learning from others or hearing what other people do, but trying to measure myself against what some other leader does gets me nowhere.  We should rely on each other for guidance and perspective but not that one true path exists. 

In earlier posts I talked about just deciding to lead for a specific period of time and kind of running with it.  I think this is the best way to start. Decide to lead and lead-- in a way that works best for your family, not some archetypal female led relationship. And while so many in this community have excellent insights into what works for them, or what has been difficult, ultimately your journey is your own.  

I encourage all of us to communicate and discuss different trial/tribulations/things that work because there are so many fascinating perspectives that can help you to be better/stronger/more submissive (whichever perspective).  But, I recommend not getting caught up or discouraged when what you do or works for you may not be what works for everyone else.  One size fits all works for panty hose (usually), not a serious adult relationship involving very personal needs and desires. So figure out what you want/need and forge your own path. Don't get bogged down in following what is "right."