Why we have rituals
For most D/s couples, rituals are quite an important part of what they do. Although they are often the small things, an action, a word, a deed, they can help to keep the right mindset for both of you. They do this by reinforcing the power exchange and essentially highlighting the fact that one of you is submissive and one of you is dominant. Rituals might be things which you do each day, or things which you do each time you are in that particular set of circumstances.
Feeding the dynamic
Rituals help to mark out the difference between a D/s relationship and one without this dynamic. In essence they are part of your exchange of power. If you are bedroom only D/s then you will likely still have rituals but they will be associated only with the play aspect as that is where your power exchange lies. If you are in a lifestyle (or 24/7) type dynamic then they will will be woven through the other areas too and include the things you do outside of the bedroom in order to make you feel dominant or submissive.
Often rituals will they go hand in hand with rules. A ritual, like a rule, has to have value and purpose or it will likely not be sustainable and may actually end up having no purpose for either of you. Most rituals will help to reinforce your mindset and make you feel like the dominant or submissive partner. In this way, they help to feed your power exchange. Unlike rules where there may be punishments and rewards, rituals are much more subtle and often become of just what you do as a couple.
A secret language
Although some of your rituals may be things that are observed by others, often they will go unnoticed. They are part of the secret language that you share and for the most part, they have meaning only for you. While some of them will take place in private and therefore never be observed by others, bedroom rituals would be examples of this, others, like one of you never eating until your partner has begun, will be seen as just something you do.
For example, the purpose of our nighttime ritual is that it marks out for us clearly that I am the submissive partner and that I give myself to him in the bedroom. It stands as a reminder that he will take the lead in terms of the sexual connection between us and that I still wish to follow him. No one can see what we do therefore it stands as a reminder only to us of what we have agreed for that very private part of our relationship.
Waiting until he has begun to eat reinforces the respect that I give him as the partner who is leading in other areas. It reminds us both that I will listen to him and to put his needs before my own. It is something that can be observed by anyone else who eats with us and therefore, also has the function of stating more openly that my respect of him is there. This helps not only to reinforce the D/s aspect of our relationship, but also the role that he has within our family life.
Shifting the mindset
For those who have lots of other demands and commitments placed on them in other areas of their lives, rituals can be essential to being able to access the dominant or submissive mindset. This is especially important for those in a lifestyle type dynamic as they can help to provide a transition between one role and another and can mark the change that you need in order to switch from one headspace to another.
While I am submissive all the time, I am not able to submit actively each and every minute of the day. I work full-time and my job is a role where I am required to take the lead, to make decisions and to be strong enough to support those around about me. I remain HL’s submissive but when I am at work he is not requiring me to access that part of myself. Having a ritual which you both share when you return from work may help by allowing you to shift from one way of behaving to another, and in my case, for me to give up some of the control I have had.
The importance of rituals
While some rituals, for example a transition ritual like the one discussed above, will arise through discussion because you feel there is a need to have something in place, others may be born simply out of the things that you notice you do for each other. They can become rituals over time, like the wearing of a collar, as well as rituals by agreement, such as your partner ordering food for you in a restaurant. Both have a function for you, and both can have equal importance.
Because most rituals are born from the small gestures and the subtle actions that you have agreed are important to you, it can be easy to underestimate the impact and the part they play. Over time they can feel like habits and it can be hard to see why they are so significant. However, we have found that they are crucial for us and make up the sort of bread and butter part of our D/s. We can function without the kinky play for a while, but the rules and rituals are what gives us our structure and helps to make our relationship what it is. Without them, we would quickly end up not feeling as if we were D/s.
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