Rules are pretty key to our relationship, although even without that I am a person who likes to have rules to follow. I suppose that is why a D/s marriage works so well for me as having rules and structure makes me feel safe. It makes sense of things and makes me feel as though I have a focus and can get things done. Without this I can feel a bit all over the place and it puts my stress levels right up.
I think it is hard to stick to rules if you really don’t see the value of them. If they are just there for the sake of it then there just doesn’t seem to be the weight to give them the importance that they need in order for me to stick with them. We have talked long and hard about the rules that we have and, although they may change or be adapted over time, we both agree on their value and importance to us.
We review our rules quite regularly and the discussion that we have around them is quite important to us. We also use them as part of the discussions that we have on a daily and weekly basis – as a sort of check in I suppose. This helps, not only in that it reinforces the rules and the importance of them, but also in that it forms part of the power exchange. If this doesn’t happen and HL doesn’t check, then they lose importance to me and I may start to slip up a bit in keeping to them.
Checking in regularly like this helps to keep our focus and also keep our mindset. Built into this will be some feedback; reward and/or punishment. For us, some things will be dealt with as they occur, but a lot will also come out of this discussion and from me self-reporting. I am more likely to do this when I have done something wrong so it is helpful that we talk about it so that HL can let me know when I have done well too. Too many negative can be overwhelming and demotivating but a ‘well done’ always works wonders!
As I said, we evaluate and evolve our rules and I have written about them on a number of occasions before. See below for more about what we do and how it works, but namely our rules fall into three main areas: respect, self-care and well-being. Some end up being pretty general and open to interpretation but we know each other quite well and there are no longer areas where we aren’t really on the same page about what is expected. Open communication has helped with this a lot and certainly at the beginning this was a bit trickier.
Showing respect and behaving respectfully towards HL is one of the general rules. This would include me asking rather than telling, using the correct tone, and showing that I have considered his thoughts and feelings in terms of what I do and what I say. There are also a number of rituals which go along with this which helps to reinforce the idea of behaving respectfully to him.
Self-care is an area which HL wanted to address through the rules. He felt irritated with some of the behaviours I had around the way I spoke about myself, both to him and to other people. He doesn’t like to hear me put myself down and I hadn’t realised that it was a personal slight on him at times. These rules are more specific and include not speaking negatively about myself and also accepting compliments with the good grace that they were intended.
My rules surrounding well-being are specific too and they concern sleep, diet and exercise. I realise that this is not an area which everyone wants to link to their relationship, but for us how I feel physically has a strong bearing on how I feel emotionally. These are probably the most flexible of all the rules as they can be suspended by agreement depending on what we are doing at that time.
My being respectful towards HL means that he feels more valued and noticed. It feeds is Dominant mindset and helps him to feel that he is in control and that he is genuinely leading. Infractions in this area will be dealt with quickly, usually at the time, and punishment will vary. The self-care rules are also really about respect and about recognising that I am his and should try to see myself as such.
These and the well-being rules are ones where I will be expected to self-report if he has not been around to witness what has happened. There are set punishments for breaking these rules and they ‘match’ with the rule itself so that carrying out the punishment helps to reflect and reinforce that particular rule. By having rules which help to improve my health and well-being, I feel better about myself and therefore it is easier for him. Essentially I feel sexier which is something he likes to take advantage of.
A lot of the things that we do are things that people might do anyway in a non-D/s type relationship but having them there in a way which makes me accountable adds a formality and structure which reinforces our power exchange. Rather than feeling onerous they actually feel supportive and rather than me resenting them, they actually make me feel cared for and safe so it works very well for us.