Imagine you’re watching us shortly after we started our M/s journey… you see me out in the garage, working on my race car, tearing into the motor, all covered in grease but generally happy. I have a lovely slave, we’ve just moved into a fabulous old house, we have this wonderful M/s relationship going… it feels like, to me, that we’re coming along much like this race car is coming along. Then angie comes out into the garage on day and drops a bomb… that we’re not doing nearly as well as I thought we were. Not well at all.
Two articles popped up in my feed and searching this weekend, related to how relationships can drift or ebb, to where it feels like the M/s or D/s components have taken a back seat (or taken a different bus) and you’re wondering why.
First is an article by “Vile” on compatibility. http://thekinkyworldofvile.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/dominant-submissive-equals-compatibility/
“Your relationship is not going that well , the two of you are not getting along , or maybe you argue a lot. Maybe you don’t have that much in common or you don’t talk the way you use to. Maybe your both losing interest and your not sure why.”
Another article by Master Obsidian and slave namaste on “losing the edge” (of S/m) http://houseobsidian.wordpress.com/articles-by-master-obsidian/losing-the-edge-or-neglecting-to-hurt-the-one-you-love/
“Finally, its easy to get lazy and neglect to continue to do the same things that led to success after we have achieved our goals. Regardless of the kind of work we do, whether its am M/s relationship or building a career or even growing a tomato plant – in the short term we will often still receive the ‘benefits’ like we used to…even though we arent working nearly as hard as before. We often dont notice the warning signs until we arent getting any tomatoes at all, so to speak.”
Go ahead and read the articles, They’re good reads. I’ll wait.
Slave angie and I have survived quite a few ebbs throughout our relationship. The first few were epic, very bad conflicts. We didn’t really understand what we were dealing with. We couldn’t understand why we couldn’t figure our way out of what was going on. I pulled a couple of classic mistakes (one of them, I repeated SIX TIMES… talk about the definition of insanity) but… we learned.
We teach a class on this topic, but I wanted to address the two key points from the other posts that caught my eye and also share the three tools we use to overcome our ebbs.
The three tools – “safe communication”, “making time/taking small steps”, “anchor the dynamic”.
Safe communication – in that we made it safe to talk to each other about our feelings without recrimination or reprisal, AND we give the other person space to say “I’m struggling here, I miss these things” or “I see this coming, can we make sure we’re ready and have our tools in place?” And also that we make sure we hear each other.
Too often, I see/hear about relationships where one person is missing something and the other person goes into denial and or the blame game. We did that. I did that. When Angie dropped that bomb on me, I denied we had a problem.. even though deep down inside, I knew she was right and I was consumed with guilt. I was the Master! It was my job to make sure the slave is well taken care of. I’d fallen down on the job! I suck! I’m a failure! blahblahblah… but all too real, all too human and it’s hard to ignore those little demons. Even now, today, when we have had 11 years of a foundation laid, when things glitch, that little guilt monster likes to remind me what a shitty Master I am, a shitty human being I am for letting these things happen. Ah, if only I really could control the world…
Anyway, the guilt and clashes and what feels like an endless cycle of non-productive communication – aka. yelling, screaming and waving of hands that is upsets and fights – that’s a big sign. BUT… it doesn’t necessarily mean incompatibility!
That’s the thing that jumped to my mind in reading the blog post above… yes, incompatibility is possible, but I think too often, people forget about what a relationship is about work and working together. That’s not to say the blog author forgot that, I agree with his conclusions about compatibility… but that I see it a lot in our community… the quick disconnect option. If that were the case, angie and I should have split up after that first ebb, because the way we fought and the way we dealt with it and the next 2 to 3 years of ebbs should have led someone to conclude we were incompatible. To be fair, with my Aspergers, it was only our stubbornness and my eventual diagnosis that allowed us to really move forward. We *were* incompatible in communication in many ways. That didn’t mean our relationship was doomed.
It’s been my experience that relationships have a great chance of success when the folks involved have complementary goals in life, complementary outlooks about life, and complementary ethics/morals. This doesn’t mean that incompatibilities can’t happen, they probably will. But if the goals and outlooks and ethics (approaches) are complementary, then although it might be hard, I think it has a good chance of working. So I encourage that communication and that giving of space so that we can work on things in a safe environment for both of us. Because both of us are human with emotions.
The communication piece is big, but so is the “making time/taking small steps” and this is where Master Obsidian’s words come into play. Complacency and laziness are easy traps to fall into. They cause ebbs when the anchors and making time doesn’t happen. Making time is about taking small steps, because an ebb takes time to happen, it’ll take time to shake off the rust, to get back to that flow, that trust and those places where it’s safe to feel that way.
Those small steps are critical, because if you do what I did, thinking the “Big Bang” weekend-to-cure-all-ills is going to work, well… I tried six times and failed miserably. It was when I started off slower, building up our energy and my energy and slave angie could do same, that we found the making time working. I write a lot about our “windshield time” but it has been our best tool for making time.
Not taking time to feel and do the things that brought the M/s or D/s dynamic to life is a sure way to let it whither on the vine. By taking those small steps, making the small times together, just to feel and be in the moment, is all important.
This is a pretty big topic and I’ve only scratched the surface of what we talk about, but I will close with this for now.
(The picture of the car was my 4 cylinder stock car that I raced at Lake Geneva for a couple of years. Won a race in that underpowered hunk of junk.)