A couple days ago I wrote a post about learning lessons around patience. Today I thought I’d talk about another lesson I’ve learned, and it’s definitely been through trial and error. You know that saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”? Well, I’ve learned that when it comes to Dominance and submission, sweating the small stuff is a really good idea.
This goes against my nature. I’m definitely not a perfectionist. Instead, I tend to be a “good enough” kind of guy. Oh, I appreciate quality workmanship and I like to do a good job, but perfection…well, it’s an elusive goal, and chasing it seems to me to be mostly a waste of time. As long as something is good enough to meet my needs, I tend to be happy with it.
This translates into my personal relationships as well. By nature, I prefer to be easygoing, sympathetic to other points of view, and forgiving if mistakes are made. Usually this perspective works well for me with friendships, and in my past vanilla relationships it proved helpful also. However, when it comes to my Dominant/submissive relationship with Joy, I’ve learned that adopting this outlook is a mistake.
We operate with fewer rules than most D/s couples, I believe, but some rules exist even for us. They include Joy wearing some sort of nightgown (i.e. no pajama pants) to bed, always coming to bed sans panties (with a pass at a certain time of the month), a nightly maintenance spanking, and speaking with respect at all times. I choose what we will do together when we meet in the playroom, and I select Joy’s attire for our adventures. See? Not many rules, and mostly they’re pretty clear cut.
However, mistakes can be made. The most common transgression Joy makes is to forget the “always speak with respect” rule. This rule is difficult not just because Joy has a bit of a temper, but because unlike the others, it’s a subjective determination whether respect was shown or not. In other words, sometimes Joy might think she was being plenty respectful while I might believe she was not, or vice versa.
When we first put our rules in place, I tended to overlook small missteps she took that might cross the line into lack of respect. Joy actually was far more sensitive to missteps than I was, and several times she told me she was afraid she’d be disciplined for things she’d said before I made any sort of indication that there was a problem. I followed my natural tendency in these cases–forgive and reassure that everything is okay. I told Joy she’d done nothing that I planned to discipline her for, and that I hadn’t felt she had broken the rule.
Folks, that response was a mistake.
The message I sent Joy by taking this approach was all wrong. It told her that I wasn’t paying attention or that I didn’t care, and it undermined the dynamic of our relationship. It also deprived her of clear boundaries to operate within, as well as the basic feeling of submission that she was looking for in the first place! Unsurprisingly, the result was poor. Quickly frustration set in for her and eventually it led to a blow up. When the explosion occurred, she simply rebelled–her consent to submit was withdrawn, and it took us weeks before the icy weather between us let up and we were able to begin to really talk.
The lesson I learned was that the small mistakes matter and need to be addressed. When Joy made a misstep, she wanted and needed to be corrected. I did her no favors by ignoring her transgression, even though I meant to be kind and forgiving. And so now, even though I have to fight my own inner nature, I try hard to take a different approach.
These days when Joy breaks a rule, even minimally, I make sure to point out the error (immediately, if possible). If she apologizes, I can still forgive her, but by pointing it out I clearly reinforce where the boundary lies. And if I feel the situation warrants it and our location isn’t conducive to more in-depth discussion, I can let her know we’ll address it further at a later time. Honestly, she hates that–Joy does not do well with negative anticipation. However, it’s still better than pretending nothing happened, and after the discipline eventually concludes, Joy generally feels better and more secure in her submission for the whole episode.
Here is one small example from last night (the example that gave me the idea to write this post. When I came upstairs at the end of the day, I told Joy I’d meet her in the playroom for some pre-bedtime entertainment. She smiled and then bent over one of her drawers and pulled out a nightgown. “I’m going to wear this!” she exclaimed, and vanished into the bathroom to get dressed. Five minutes later, when she came back out, I told her that before we got started, I wanted to remind her of something.
I sat on the corner of the bed and pulled her quickly down over my left knee. I crossed my right leg over the backs of her legs for maximum control, then lifted her skirt to expose her bare behind. As my hand came down swiftly over and over on her bottom, I asked her, “Do you remember who you belong to?”
“To you,” she replied.
I upped the tempo and asked again, “And what can I do with this body?”
“Ow! Whatever you want!” she grimaced.
The soft, white skin of her rear end had turned a nice shade of red by now. “And who gets to dress this body before we begin?”
Now Joy realized where she had erred. She whimpered, “You do.”
“That’s right,” I told her. “Stand up! Get this nightgown off!” I stripped her naked and put the nightgown (really a rather nice one, actually) off to the side, then pulled her back over my lap for the rest of her spanking. We spent the rest of the evening with Joy naked, and I made excellent use of her soundly-spanked ass.
Afterwards, Joy felt quite good about the whole thing…almost delighted, really. She told me several times how sorry she was for forgetting our rule, and snuggled up as close as possible into my arms each time. Rather than being a negative, my enforcement of our rule helped her to feel as though she’d been put in her place, which was exactly what she wanted and needed.
The moral of this story? Don’t overlook the small stuff when it comes to Dominance and submission. It matters. By addressing small transgressions you not only reinforce your individual roles in your relationship, but you prevent the small stuff from accumulating into something big later on.