Friday, October 27

When Someone You Love is Kinky - 3

I've been writing on the period in our marriage when I finally explained to my wife that I could no longer keep some of my desires for kink and other sexual intimacy buried. At the time I was writing extensively in various web groups, and I was surprised at the amount of email that I received not merely from fellow group members, but from people I didn't even know. The messages were both supportive and questioning, with a number of men (and some women) asking me how I managed to work up the courage to tell her, and if I had any tips to pass along. When you think about it, this is both funny and sad - how many people consider a person with only a single experience to be an expert?

This is from a conversation a few weeks after I made the post that I quoted in my last article:

"I read your "Kinky - Part Two" message today. I'm happy for you. Can you provide specifics that finally led you to giving the book to your wife? Before and after scenarios I guess. I've been married for 12 years and I just can't get my wife to understand some of my needs sexually. I'd really like to know more detail about what you communicated and what she has delivered and how you made it all happen."

My response:

I'm not sure how much info I can give that will be useful. That is, I don't know what your marital situation is, but my wife and I were separated for almost a year, and she knew that I might not come back. It's not just a kink thing that caused the rift, either, but sexuality issues were certainly in there.

On my part, I explained that there were several "pillars" that supported my life, and that I was in a position in which none of them were working. In no particular order, I counted Sexuality, Intimacy, Finances, Career, and Lifestyle. You can see how they'd all be related somewhat, and I pointed out that if two or three of them were in working condition, then I might have been able to get by; but in the latter part of our marriage I felt as if none of them were okay. We hadn't had any intimacy in so long that she'd actually forgotten what I was talking about when I told her that it was missing. Sexuality was a big issue for me, and because we didn't have the intimacy with which to discuss it, that made it loom much larger than it needed to be. The lack of intimacy also led to poor communication about our lifestyle and the spending that seemed to go along with it, which impacted my career choice.

Are you with me so far?

All that being said, I think that you're really asking for some tips on how to get your wife to understand your needs. How intimate are you already? Can you talk frankly and openly about what turns you on? Do you go out of your way to do things that you know that she likes? Do you even know what she likes? Sometimes it's so sad to realize that after a dozen years, a couple of kids, and a whole bunch of things in between that we are still living with a stranger.

FWIW, I told my wife that I've had these desires since I was a preteen, and that I've always had some mental component that I've added to sex. Not necessarily a fantasy, more like mentally setting a tone or a mood or atmosphere. I asked her to read this particular book. There are others, of course, depending on what your ideas are. Since my kinks tend mostly toward female domination, I pointed her to websites that I thought were good and basic, not wanting to scare the hell out of her. www.akashaweb.com is very good; a little cluttered, but I cribbed her "Good Girl's Guide to Female Domination", and printed it out along with pages from several other sites. She read those after she read "Someone... Kinky", but in the middle of reading, she and I were already talking.

On her end, she decided that if it was that big a part of my life, she would at least invest some time in trying to understand it. To her credit, she didn't "turn off" or dismiss the web images and readings as sick, perverted, or try to impose some kind of moral judgment on the activities (which she had done in the past). That being said, I also didn't make any demands on her to do anything more than listen. I told her several times that I wasn't even sure what I expected from her at this point, I only wanted to tell her what I was feeling and then we'd take it from there.

Now, understand that if you believe, as I do, that our sexuality is "wired" into us, some women are just going to have a more difficulty than others in understanding, let alone accepting this. Wiring, cultural mores, public opinion, religious upbringing, attitudes of friends and family, etc., will all have an impact on how your wife (and you, yourself) are going to both perceive things, and to integrate them. My wife didn't rush out to get that leather catsuit, but she was able to integrate certain aspects into her general persona.

Here's something that came out in conversation with her: She often felt "pressured" to have sex, even though I don't ever remember having done so. She used to get upset if I'd snuggle her or kiss her neck while she was cooking or reading or something. For some reason, she interpreted any affection as a signal for sex, so the more (gently) affectionate I tried to be, the more she felt pressured. She's trying to get over that feeling now, and she's using some of what she now knows about me to help. Would she like a warm oil massage a half hour before bed, without feeling pressured to have sex? No problem. Foot rub? Shoulder rub? A glass of wine? Coming right up, dear. See, we're "playing" with the idea that I'll do things for her with a guarantee that she'll never have to feel pressured, that she is, in fact, now in complete control of that situation. So for her, this works because it takes the sense of pressure out of the equation, for me, it works because I can add components that mesh with my kinks. For example, I used to say that foreplay could be a 24/7 arrangement. Now it is, because I never know when she'll want to have sex, but that doesn't stop me from being affectionate and intimate, and for her, it's a thrill to keep me guessing as to when she'll want it, but she's certainly enjoying the attention.

I'm not sure if this is any help to you; there wasn't any one thing that I remember saying that made it come together for her, I suspect that she herself has a few kinks and what we're doing just seemed to mesh well. If you remember some of my previous writings, there were any number of times that I've tried to get her to understand where I was on sexuality, and she just didn't seem to "get it". So why now? I don't know. Neither does she. I'm not going to spend much time trying to analyze that though, instead, we're going to focus on how to keep our new model of communication open and functioning so that it doesn't happen again.

The only thing that I can add is that you'll need to talk more intimately with your wife, perhaps for a few months. Consider therapy, if need be. And keep in mind that you've got some kind of ideas that you've been carrying around in your head for years, but she doesn't, so you've got to find some way to present them as something that will push her buttons.

Monday, October 16

The Curious Incident of the Blog in the Night

The storm over the disappearance and apparent hijacking of Candace's blog "Woman Rules Roost" has abated and now that Candace seems to have resurfaced on the FLR forums, the blogworld will eventually forget the tempest in a teapot - partly because the virtual world has a short memory, if not attention span; and partly because some of us are not going to dwell on our theories explaining her abandonment of not only herblog , but of the FLR/Femdom community. I confess to having had my own ill-founded explanation that proved just as wrong as the idea that she was masquerading as either another blogger, a man, or an academic researcher. Frankly, I'm glad that she proved to be just a person who realized that she was losing the focus on the relationship while letting the blog itself direct her attentions.

But that said, I don't really want to write about Candace or her blog per se. Oh, I did want to a couple of weeks ago, but social obligations, marriage and family life, and the bete noir of actually needing to run a business have kept me from writing much of anything in the last month except a few sparse comments on other blogs. But since her reported appearance (and I want to note that I am not a member of that forum, but do not have any reason to doubt the several people who have purported to have read her posts), I've taken a step back to think about not Candace herself, but about the overall phenonemon. In the last three months I've seen posts and articles about Candace in which the tone has ranged from the high praise usually reserved for poet laureates, to outright scorn. She's moving too quickly along the Femdom road to be real. She's moving too slowly. She's a model for all other women. She's not a true domme. She should cuckold her husband. She's obviously monogamous. She should put him in chastity. She should deny him sexually. Etc., etc.

Even more interesting have been the comments I've read since her blog was hijacked after a couple of weeks of inactivity. "Textual integrity" and "emotional realism" are the ones that have stuck in my mind over the last couple of weeks, probably as a result of some misspent youthful years in graduate school where such terms were bandied about regularly over late-night coffees. Additionally, a number of people who had probably not given it much thought suddenly found themselves wondering if they'd been duped or somehow cheated; as if a well-written blog implied a certain trust that had been shattered. Furthermore, the growing attitude of doubtfulness about her "reality" spawned a question that I don't think anyone really asked:

What does it really matter?

While a few of us in the virtual world may interact with others in real life, the overwhelming majority of us will never see, hear, taste or touch one another. We are all real only in the virtual sense; and because the blogging and forum worlds are still essentially a print, i.e., textual medium, then we all have the "reality" of Madame Bovary, "O", or by way of further example, Sherlock Holmes. That is, without any physical attributes to consider, we - out of expediency or otherwise - invest a certain amount of emotional reality into all of our online acquaintances. I don't, however, see this as necessarily a bad thing overall. We, as a culture, have always imbued characters - real, historic, or literary - with qualities and characteristics that we ourselves idealize. We identify with them, or sometimes with the people who interact with them; but we process the stories about them with the assumption that they could be alive, perhaps sitting next to us.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories as serials in the Strand magazine for almost fifteen years. He grew tired of the detective stories, believing that they kept him from more serious endeavors, and so arranged to "kill" Holmes in an encounter with arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Immediately, he and the magazine were flooded with angry letters from people who were appalled, hurt, saddened by the "death" of so great a man. One woman wrote, calling him, Doyle, a "murderer." Yes, on one hand it would be easy to dismiss this as the cognitive dissonance of the clueless, but who among us hasn't had similar - albeit lesser - emotional reactions to books or films? Anyone who has read "The Yearling" or "Old Yeller" as a child must remember the sad scenes even today. Likewise, we've all probably seen films with very positive or upbeat endings which found us leaving the theaters feeling energized and motivated. At no time do we stop ourselves in the action to remind ourselves, "Oh, it's only a movie, there's no point in feeling anything."

Over the last several months people - us - left comments on Candace's blog, read and responded to comments she left on other blogs, and even discussed her, her blog, and her relationship in our own blogs. We acted as if she were real, because to us - the FLR/Femdom blogging world - she was real. As far as I know, up until a few weeks ago nobody suggested that she - or anyone else, for that matter - was actually a grad student working on a project, or that WRR really was being written by other well- or lesser-known bloggers . Then suddenly a mysterious disappearance and we feel... what? After reading some of the discussions and comments, for some reason I'm reminded of a passage from an old Kurt Vonnegut novel in which the author writes something like, "The people, having been promised nothing, felt cheated, having received nothing."

I will admit to being sad, and maybe a little frustrated that Candace completely took the blog down. It is my contention that while there are plenty of resources for people already involved with the BDSM community, there are precious few that address the needs of those balancing on the edge of vanilla and peering over into the abyss. Woman Rules Roost is - was - one of the few examples of a woman writing about her own experience and exploration as she tries to make sense of an alternative sexuality, and indeed begins to come to grips with the concept of taking her own pleasure out of doing so, instead of merely catering to the whims of her partner.

Most of the blogs that I've read are written from perspective of the male submissive or bottom - perhaps because a desire to "submit" to pain, humiliation, orgasm denial, or other sexual domination seems to run counter to what we perceive as "normal" (or at least, "typical") in our culture. I have also noticed that virtually any woman who blogs or posts to other forums populated by submissive men almost immediately will gain following, including half a dozen men who will ask her how they might get their own wife to be more dominant . I've often wondered about the economics of this, as it seems that there are many more submissive men than there are dominant women.

Regardless, there are all too few resources for couples wishing to explore these avenues that are written in a fashion that allows the readers to feel safe and comfortable. Candace offered up an example of D/s that was very safe; a Femdom "lite"; and for those who read her somewhat introspective tales, one developed the "feeling" that she was a real person. It was easy to imbue her with an emotional reality because she had qualities that one could easily imagine in one's self. Real or not, with the demise of Woman Rules Roost, there is now one less resource, and those of us on that vanilla edge are that much more diminished.