Discuss

Gender Identity and Young Children

I was having coffee with my friend, M, the other night.  We talked about this and that… a meandering conversation the way mothers do when we manage to get out without our kids for a few hours.

One of our many topics was her son A, who is a unique little boy.  He sees the world in his own way.  Which is wonderful, until it isn’t.

M sent me this note today and allowed me to reprint it here, because, quite frankly, I was stumped.  Having a daughter who is very much a girly girl, I’ve never had to explore gender identity.  But what would you do in M’s situation?

 

Hubby and I are discussing how to support A’s emerging gender identity while still giving him the tools he needs to protect himself from bullying. So far we’ve supported him in whatever choices he’s made but are worried about school starting and the fact that he doesn’t always conform to established norms.
 
Here’s the background. My middle son A is 4, going on 5. He’s got some mild developmental issues that we’re identifying (sensory, gross-motor), and may be operating slightly younger then his chronological age (maybe late 3/ early 4). He’s an amazing child and has a wonderful sense of self and individually. I love the way he looks at the world.
 
In my opinion, he has a very healthy gender and self identity. He knows he’s a boy, and that he like some “girl” things. His favorite colour is purple, and he likes pink. He plays babies and kitchen with his little sister, but also monsters and Pokemon with his older brother.
 
He’s worn his sister’s purple dress to preschool over his clothes, and when told by his peers that boys don’t wear dresses, just matter of factly told them “Sometimes I do.” We went shoe shopping this week, and he left with pink sparkly princess shoes. Which he proudly told everyone he saw about “I’m a boy who wears princess shoes.” He wants the pink and white bike (which he didn’t get cause he doesn’t need a bike). He fought with his sister over the pink t-shirt that my mother picked up at the thrift store. When playing, sometimes he’s the mom, sometimes he’s the dad, sometimes he’s the dad lady, and sometimes he’s a dinosaur. Most days he’s in typical “boy” clothes with bright purple socks, and now his princess shoes.
 
He’s given his sister a lecture on gender equality when she told him that boys don’t cook. “Sometime Mommy cooks, and sometimes Daddy cooks. Sometimes Daddy cleans, and sometimes Mommy cleans.”
He told me once that when he grows up he wants to be a “girl teacher with purple hair”. I told him that if he still wants that when he’s older I’ll support him.
 
I love him like he is and wish I could change the world to make it fit him. I don’t want to change him to fit the world. I just hope that he keeps his self confidence and sense of himself.
 
We’ve talked about it, and don’t care if he’s gay or trans, or just a boy who likes “girl” things. But both of us were heavily influenced by bullying when we were kids and really worry about that too. So far we’ve been erring on the side of, “we’ll support you in what ever you decide” (in 4 year old words). Right now we’re thinking that we’ll talk a little more about how although it’s ok to like girl things, not all his classmates will agree and they may comment or tease. But I worry that he won’t have the emotional maturity to really understand that he’s a little outside the norm. We’re not even sure if he’ll be ready for kindergarden in the fall (outside of any gender discussion).
 

Any suggestions, resources, tips?

And so, my dear readers… what say you?
Hoping someone out there has some fabulously brilliant ideas, because I am at a loss.

I’m Not.

I see this all the time now.

“I’m PR friendly!”

Perky, isn’t it?

I go and look at the sites of the people who claim this loud and proud on their Twitter profiles, trying to figure out what makes someone ‘friendly’. As opposed to … unfriendly?

Does it mean you can’t ever swear on your blog?

Well, fine. But can you guarantee me that these people never swear in their every day lives? Never let the occasional F-bomb slip after dropping their grandmother’s precious china serving dish on the kitchen floor? Because if you agree to represent a brand, does it start and end at your blog?

Does it mean you can’t have any ‘questionable’ ads on your site?

I’m definitely guilty of that *cough* Toy with Me and Nipple Charms *cough*. I choose to run these ads because I like the ladies behind them. And I believe in the message of being sex positive. After all, most of us got to be moms by having sex, didn’t we? Are we supposed to deny our sexuality because we’re now moms? And yet some brands believe you can’t be both. A mom and a sexual being. How… interesting.

Does it mean you can’t write about controversial or hot-button topics?

Isn’t that part of what a blog is about? Our little space of the world to tell it like we see it. To be able to state our views loud and proud.  To prompt discussion.  And air our feelings.  Do we really have to abandon that to become PR friendly?

Housewife Im Not.It seems likes a lot of major brands want us to conform to the image of the perfect 1950’s housewife.

But that’s not my reality. That’s not who I am.

I am not a perfect mother. I am not a perfect wife. I am not a perfect blogger. I am not a perfect anything.

And in my imperfections I find beauty and the opportunity to learn and grow.

So, if being PR friendly means I have to create some false persona and project a sweet happy image to the world, then I think I’ll stay over here being unfriendly and true to who I am, instead.

Who’s the Project Manager in Your Marriage?

Bil walked in the door Thursday after work, and hadn’t even put his laptop bag down before he was standing in front of me asking,

“How do you feel about values?”

Uhhhh….

I ran through the possible meanings in my head.

Values in an Excel cell?  No… I use Excel way more than he does. And he doesn’t even know how to do pivot tables. Amateur.

HTML values?  No… probably not.

Hmmmm….

“Is this something to do with SharePoint and a database?”

I get an eyeroll as a response.

“No!  I mean relationship values”

Me:  *blank look*

Him: “So, what do you think about values?”

Me:  *still blank look*

=======================

Conversations like these are the joys of having a husband who is not only a geek but is on the Asperger’s spectrum.

It’s wildly enlightening and mildly infuriating at the same time.

=======================

Bil: “So I was listening to one of Hanselman’s podcasts… ”

Translation:  Scott Hanselman: highly respected ubergeek.  Podcast: Like a recorded radio show for the computer

“…and he was talking about relationships and creating a mission statement…”

Me:  “Wait… what?  Why was Hanselman talking about relationships????”

Translation: Geeks giving other geeks relationship advice?  Oh this ought to be good.

Bil: “Well, he had his wife on the show and they were talking about what made their relationship work and they created this mission statement for their marriage…”

Me: “Is she a project manager?”

Bil: “WHAT?”

Me: “Is she a project manager?  Or is he?  One of them has to be a project manager.”

Bil: “Why would one of them have to be a project manager??”  *getting exasperated*

Me: “Dude.  Seriously?  ‘Mission Statement’?  That is classic project management speak.  You don’t create a mission statement for a relationship, you create it for a project.”

Bil: “Well they created one for their relationship, OK…”

Me: “Do they use a gantt chart to assign tasks and stuff?”

Bil: *blank look*

=======================

Well, after a conversation like that I couldn’t help but listen to the podcast myself.

It’s an interesting premise, treating a relationship more like a project and less like something that just… well… is.

Scott and his wife Mo did indeed create a mission statement for their marriage.

“Have a drama-free marriage”

I really can’t argue with that.

Seems like a fair goal to work towards in any relationship.

But they’ve incorporated other aspects of project management into their relationship.

  • Budgeting - Each person has a cash allowance for the month.  There is no answering to the other person for how you spend this money.  It’s at your discretion.  But you have to budget your money wisely.  If you blow it all at the beginning of the month, too bad – so sad.  This money is only to be used for ‘fun’ stuff.  Monthly expenses come out of a shared account.
  • Scheduling time off – each week one of them gets an evening to themselves.  This is not a date night.  This is time to get out of the house, by yourself, and recharge, while your spouse watches the kids.  It’s scheduled, it’s guilt free, and did I mention you get out of the house without the kids?
  • Teamwork – this means presenting a united front to the kids and not letting them play the “well mommy said I could” game.
  • Transparency - this aspect is especially important for trust in a relationship.  They share passwords.  The theory being, if you have nothing to hide, then, really, what’s the issue?

I will admit to rolling my eyes at first at the idea of creating a structured framework for your relationship to run on.

But really?  Everything they talk about is (or should be) common sense.

And I wonder if adding more structure would make us more aware of the work that needs to go into a relationship to keep it running smoothly and less likely to take it all for granted.

Would you want to add more defined expectations to your marriage?  What would make your relationship run smoother?

 Whos the Project Manager in Your Marriage?

That’s My Name

As much as I detest trolls, sometimes I grudgingly have to admit their asinine comments make me pause and consider.

Such was the troll that left this comment on Maria’s (BOREDMommy) blog the other day:

Why is it that you call yourselves “mommies”? It’s infantile, like being called a girl instead of a woman. If giving birth (or adopting) and raising a child is so important, why don’t you insist on the dignity of the word “parent”? Or “mother” — if you insist on focusing on gender as well? I am a parent and I was “mommie” only to my children and then only when they were young. No wonder men and childfree women don’t take you seriously: You are endlessly self-absorbed, boring, juvenile, and have nothing to say for yourselves beyond your reproductive status and childrearing.

OK, I have to admit that my first thought was, ‘*snort* Wow…..bitter much?’

But then I stopped.  Do I mind being called a ‘Mommy’ or even lumped in with ‘Mommy bloggers’?

You know… I really don’t.

To me ‘mother’ or even ‘parent’ is a cold, impersonal, standoffish word.

And Vista never refers to me as ‘Mother’.  Ever.  That would just be weird.

To her I’m ‘Mama’ and ‘Mommy’.  So do I associate with that name?  You bet.  Because, as far as my 2 year old is concerned, that is my name.  I have no other identity other than Mommy.  She doesn’t know me as Jenn, same as she doesn’t know Daddy as Bil.  We are Mommy and Daddy.

And I love the simplicity of that.

To me it’s not infantile, it’s innocence at it’s very best.  It speaks to a time when your parents are not adults put on this earth for the express purpose of oppressing you.  It is that sweet time between self awareness and total independence when your child reaches for you to know they are safe, secure, loved.

In time, I’m sure my name will morph. It’ll go from Mommy, to Mom, to OMG! MoooooooooommmmmmGawdYou’reEmbarassingME!

But right now, I’m thrilled to be Mommy.  And I couldn’t possibly think of a sweeter sound than my daughter calling my name.

Are you proud to be a Mommy too?  Head over to BOREdMommy’s site and link up your own post.

Trust and the Monogamy Myth (Relationship Series: Part 4)

Series intro: Relationships – An Intro
Part 1: Open Yourself to the Possibilities
Part 2: What a Woman REALLY Wants
Part 3: The UnMarriage


300px 1883 wedding lic Trust and the Monogamy Myth  (Relationship Series: Part 4)
Image via Wikipedia

What gives us the right to ‘own’ another person and when did we decide that a marriage certificate was akin to ownership papers?

How many people have been completely and utterly convinced that if their boyfriend/girlfriend would just marry them everything would be better in the relationship?

Why is the thought of our spouse loving or caring about another person so threatening for us?

These are the questions I ask often. Because I think their answers are telling. They reveal a lot about the level of trust and respect in a relationship.

If Bil approached me tomorrow and told me he wanted an open relationship, I wouldn’t blink an eye. I would let him have it. Because there is one thing I will never doubt. And that is the fact that he loves me.

I trust him. TRUST him. Implicitly.

I trust him to hold our relationship above all others. I trust him to always put me and our daughter first. I trust that at the end of the night it will be my bed he comes home to.

For me, that is what matters.

If I told Bil that I wanted an open relationship he would give it to me, as well.

Because he knows our relationship is sacrosanct to me. He knows I would never do anything to break that trust or let anything interfere in ‘us’.

The reality for Bil and I is that we are two very different people. As much as we love each other, and get along, and are happy together, there are places in our lives where we are very different. And to be able to give the other person what they need, would be to change who we are. I would never ask him to change, nor would he ask it of me. To do that would be to deny the people we fell in love with.

I have never been a great believer in monogamy. It’s just not who I am.

That doesn’t mean I run around sleeping with every man (or woman) I meet. That’s not me either.

That doesn’t mean I cheat on my partner. In fact I never have while in a committed relationship. That’s not who I am.

Who I am is someone who’s passionate. Passionate about life, about love, about lust, about intimacy.

To share this passion and lust with someone else would not mean I don’t love my husband. In fact, for us, the opposite would be true. It would allows us to make sure the lines of communication are open. It would ensures we talk often and review our relationship and make sure we’re both still happy with how things are. It would force me to be more aware, sensitive, considerate of our own relationship dynamics.

And it does.

Yes.

Bil and I have what I would call a quasi-open relationship.

Our ability to play outside the marriage is dependent on the approval and agreement of the other. It is VERY limited and VERY controlled. It is not an open invitation to screw around on each other. It is very specifically to fill a need that the other person can’t or won’t meet.  It is not necessarily sexual in nature.  Unlike Mr.O and his wife, we’re not married. That doesn’t however mean we’re any less devoted to each other. In fact, I might argue that the fact we’ve decided not to rely on a piece of paper to validate our relationship makes it even stronger.

The ability to successfully manage such an arrangement is highly dependent on our trust of each other, our level of communication, and our belief that monogamy is not a natural human state.  Quite frankly, if it was, so many people wouldn’t have so much difficulty adhering to it.

Here’s an interesting statistic for you…  Only about 3 percent of animal species are truly monogamous.  Humans?  Are not in that 3 percent.   That’s not my opinion.  That is fact.

Another interesting little fact?  Monogamous does not necessarily mean sexually exclusive.

I’m not saying that we/you/me can never have a successful relationship with just one person and remain faithful and committed to that person.

But look at it this way… If your spouse passed away tomorrow, would you remarry or enter into a committed relationship again?  If so, then you are not mated for life.  Simple facts and reality.  Our genetic make up allows us to feel love for other people.

What I am saying is that I believe monogamy is the product of rigid social norms, not base human nature, and it sets us up to feel ownership over another. And that, for me, is a fundamental issue. No one owns me. No one.

Don’t believe me?

What happens when someone starts flirting with your spouse? What is most people’s automatic reaction to that situation?

“Mine. Back off”

Mine. In that one word you exert your ownership and possession of another person.

But here’s the problem. I am a human. Not an object to be owned.

I know this part of my lifestyle is distasteful and beyond comprehension for many people.  But, the big question is why?

Let me put an imaginary scenario to you…

Now that you’ve read all this, how comfortable would you be inviting me into your home for dinner with you and your spouse?

If your first thought was ‘Hell would freeze over first’ then I would ask you to examine that.

Are you attracted to every person you meet?  No?  Neither am I.  In fact I have very specific (and quite frankly, eclectic) tastes when it comes to who I’m attracted to.  And just because I’m attracted to someone does not mean I would ever act on it.

And if your initial reaction was ‘not on your life’ then I would encourage you to examine the level of trust that exists with your partner.   That reaction says ‘I don’t trust my partner enough to be around her.  I don’t trust them to know that they would never let anything happen that I was not 100% OK with’.

Sometimes the things we react the strongest to are those that are rooted in fear.

Let me make something clear.  Cheating = bad.  It’s not OK.  It’s never OK.  Because it’s based on lies and deception that erode the relationship.

A relationship without trust and honesty is nothing.

There are ways to strengthen trust in a relationship, though.

This is an article I like to read.  I don’t know the author, it’s just something I’ve found in my great Google searches. It’s based on rebuilding after a spouse cheats, but it applies to any relationship, no matter what the level of trust.

http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/6-28-2005-72248.asp

I would encourage everyone to read it and DISCUSS it with their partners.

What areas can you improve on and what effect will that have on your relationship?

Because strength in a relationship can only mean happiness for everyone involved.

 Trust and the Monogamy Myth  (Relationship Series: Part 4)

The UnMarriage (Relationship Series: Part 3)

Series intro: Relationships – An Intro
Part 1: Open Yourself to the Possibilities
Part 2: What a Woman REALLY Wants


As I said in Part 1, Mr. O’s ‘open marriage’ (and no, I have no idea why I put that in quotes.  It seems stupid but I can’t make myself delete them) revelation prompted several deep conversations between Bil and I.

I’m not going to lie.  Those two words probably opened up a wider channel of communication than has been there in a long time between us.

For whatever reason it really made us stop and examine our own relationship.

What makes us remain committed to each other?  What would make that change?

We already know that cheating would be grounds for kicking the other persons ass.  But how does that compare to an open relationship?

Are there any reasons in our relationship we would ever consider starting down that road and what would be the ramifications of a decision like that.

Bil and I don’t exactly have the normal relationship either.  Yes, we are committed to each other.  I call him my husband.  He refers to me as his wife.  We wear wedding bands.  And yet… we are not legally married.  And probably never will be.  Because I don’t think a piece of paper from the government is going to make us any more committed.

That is our reality.  That is our norm.  But that doesn’t mean that norm isn’t evolving as our relationship does and changing as we do.

So, in the the spirit of having a wife who blogs, Bil good naturedly agreed to sit down with me and discuss our relationship and relationships in general for your voyeuristic pleasure.

Why do you think our relationship works without us being married?

Because marriage isn’t important to us.  The relationship is.

I know at one point in time you were leaning slightly more towards the ‘lets just make it official’ side of things.  Has that changed?

I don’t know if I was leaning towards it, but it’s not really that important.  If it was something that we had to do because of V or there was some strange law that we had to do it, sure.  But I don’t need to go through the legal process to validate my love for you.

Do you think if we didn’t have Vista we would still be together?

Oh yeah.  We’re not together because of her.  We’re together because no one else will put up with our shit.  And you know we have feelings and all that nice stuff…  You know… I love you, you love me, happy family…

I think you’ve been watching entirely too much Barney.

I know you have no issues with me going out for lunch /dinner /drinks / coffee with other guys, and even ex-boyfriends. You had no issue with me even going for coffee with Mr. O, knowing our history and the fact he’s now in an open marriage.  Do you think that’s more from trust or lack of caring?

Who the fuck made up this questionnaire??  Of course it’s because of trust.  I trust you implicitly and I’m not a jealous sort of person who wonders if you’re out cheating on me.  That’s just how I roll.

Why?  How do you know I’m not going to cheat on you?

Nothing is absolute.  But I trust you and take you at your word.  A lot of it comes down to knowing you’re coming home at night to your family.

If you could change one thing about the way I approach our relationship, what would it be?

Well I wouldn’t change anything because then you wouldn’t be who you are.

That’s a pansy-ass answer.  Try again.

No.  I’m serious.  Same reason I won’t change for you.  That’s the way I do things.  I might compromise more on certain things, but I think a person’s essence shouldn’t change in a relationship.

Why do you think marriages and relationships fail?

In general, it’s usually selfishness on one persons part.  The inability to negotiate or compromise on things.

If you met someone who could offer you something I couldn’t in the relationship, would you cheat, ask for an open marriage, or ignore the urge?

I would never cheat.  I don’t know if I have the balls to ask for an open marriage arrangement.  It’s not part of my makeup.  I also don’t find that I’m missing something in my life that you don’t provide me.  And I think that’s one of the reasons why our relationship works.  To be cliche, you do complete me, you fill in the gaps.

Sweet answer.  But a cop out.  Pick one of the three.

If I had to pick, I’d ignore the urge.

Don’t you think that would make you unhappy?

Lots of things make lots of people unhappy.  The challenge is to redirect that into something that does make you happy.

What would you do to spice up our sex life?

I’m not putting that on your blog!  That’s not something I’m going to share with people.

Why not?

Because there are certain line I won’t cross and that’s one of them.

So you don’t want want to talk about vanilla vs kink?

Sure we can talk about that but I’m not going to go into specifics.

Why do you think, as far as bedroom preferences, you’re vanilla and I’m kink?

Why don’t you like horror movies and I do?  Same thing.  If I sat you in front of a horror movie, you wouldn’t enjoy it.

Maybe it’s because part of me views it as abuse and I just don’t like that.

If you could change one things about our relationship what would it be?

*silence*

More sex, morning blow job….

I guess any answer I give would be something we’d want to work on.  But as long as you’re happy with things then I’m happy with our current arrangement.  It all goes back to communication and negotiation.  If there was some stumbling block in our relationship then I’d want to try and deal with it ourselves, and if we couldn’t then look to outside help.

But right now I don’t want to change anything in relationship.    I have a partner who I can come home to, vent to…

….who glazes over when you start talking SharePoint….

*laugh*  Yeah, well that’s what makes us unique.  Makes us work.

Don’t you just want to beat the crap out of me sometimes when I start being a royal bitch or make you answer questionnaires like this?

Ha! The thought crosses my mind.  But then I realize I’d have to wake up the next morning and deal with the body.

My challenge to all of those who are still reading is to create a questionnaire for your spouse and sit down and talk about relationships.  Your relationship and relationships in general. Have fun with it.  But don’t hand them the questionnaire like a piece of homework and walk away.  Sit together, after the kids are in bed, and actually talk.  Some of their answers might surprise you.  I know Bil’s did for me.

And if you don’t agree on everything, that’s OK!  That’s part of being individuals.  But understanding where those differences are can be key to open communication in a marriage.

*note – I’m not a relationship therapist.  I just play one on my blog*

For those people who want to be really brave, (and if your spouses / partners / lovers / significant others / etc agree to it), post your answers on your own blog and link to the specific page in the Mr.Linky below (I will delete any links that don’t meet this criteria).  Then  grab the badge to put on your blog proudly proclaiming that you have talked with your partner at least once this year.  Think of it as a New Year’s resolution you might actually keep.

talkaboutit The UnMarriage   (Relationship Series: Part 3)

Next up?  My own personal opinion and views on monogamy, open marriages, BDSM, the whole lot.

It’ll be open, honest, and a peek into my life.  (So, if you’re family, close friends, or anyone who ever wants to look me in the eye, you may not want to read it)

Have a question you want me to answer for you in the next post in my Relationship Series?  Leave it for me in the comments and I’ll do my best to give you answers.

 The UnMarriage   (Relationship Series: Part 3)

What a Woman REALLY Wants (Relationship Series: Part 2)

You can find the series intro here: Relationships – An Intro
And Part 1 here: Open Yourself to the Possibilities


Part 2 of this series was originally going to delve into some of the conversations and discussion Bil and I had after Mr. O revealed his alternate marriage and lifestyle choices that I detailed in Part 1.

That was until I started getting question after question via DM, email, and a few in the comments about “BDSM?? Isn’t it just a way for a man to abuse his partner?” and “What about a woman’s point of view?”. catkit What a Woman REALLY Wants (Relationship Series: Part 2)

Uhhhh….

After squirming for a bit on how I was going to answer those, the gorgeous Cat, Mommy Geekology, swooped in and saved me. I owe her some really kinky sex, or maybe just a drink, when we meet up.

Cat and her husband, A, are in a closed marriage (they only play with each other… right now).

By day Mommy Geekology is Type A all the way. But turn out the lights and close the door, and she becomes a sweet, submissive plaything for A. Add a ball gag and you have a very happy Cat indeed.

Because you all know how nosy I am, I forced asked Cat really nicely to answer some questions about her lifestyle.

As you did with Mr. O, all I ask is that you keep an open mind regardless of your own preferences. And then talk about it. If you have questions, ask them. If you need more information, let us know.

Without further ado, the stunningly sexy Cat, aka Mommy Geekology:

How long have you and your husband been married?

We’ve been married almost 5 years (our anniversary is January 26th), and that’s about as long as we’ve known each other. We got married about 6 months after we met. When it’s right, it’s right.

Did you explore BDSM before you were married (ie, is this something you just started exploring with your husband, or is it something you were into before)?

I was interested in BDSM before we married, before we met – but I hadn’t really explored it much with other partners. A was the first man I felt comfortable discussing it with.. and even so, I still sometimes shy away from telling him what I really want.

Who initiated the play in your marriage (ie. how did you have the conversation around wanting BDSM in your marriage)?

I initiated, and I was incredibly nervous about it. I think I’ve completely blocked the conversation from my mind from the trauma of it all, but A tells me that I was sitting at the computer in his tiny Air Force dorm room and said out of the blue – “I think you should tie me up and have sex with me.” I’m incredibly subtle. Luckily he was also excited by that idea, and we started to experiment.

You’re obviously not afraid to talk about your play, but is it something that’s widely know in your circle of friends / family.

My mom *thinks* she knows because she saw a ball gag in our closet one day. She has no idea the extent, though. My friends do know, to some extent. There are a few that I’ve discussed my likes and dislikes in details, but mostly I’ve just touched lightly on my kink preferences. I’ve even made reference to it in my blog. (I was really surprised how many kinky commenters I had!)

What is your role in your BDSM play? Do you (or would you ever want to) switch?

I’m a sub. I wouldn’t want to switch, male subs are not at all attractive to me. I’m bi-sexual, so I could possibly see acting the role of Dom to a female sub, but I think it’s unlikely. I enjoy subbing too much. A lot of people mistake the power in a sub. It’s a very powerful thing to give someone else complete control over your body. There’s a lot of trust there. It’s a choice I make, and there’s a power in that choice.

Further to that, is that a role that continues outside of the bedroom?

Absolutely not. I’m a real Type-A personality, and A is a little more laid back. I think part of the reason that we enjoy BDSM play so much is that it allows us to be the opposite of who we are in “real life” – I get a chance to let someone else make the decisions, and he gets a chance to have absolute power (within reason).

Do you refer to your husband as Sir or Master inside or outside the bedroom and why / why not?

Inside the bedroom, yes. I switch between both, though often I don’t use any sort of honorific. Typically because I’m gagged – that’s a major turn on for me. Probably because I’m such a talker outside of the bedroom. (Oh, Hai! I’m a blogger! Narcissism, anyone?) Outside of the bedroom, absolutely not. Never. No fucking way. Ok let me modify that. If we were playing a scene that included some public aspects – then yes. We’ve discussed going to dinner in our “roles” and then retreating to a hotel for a night of mind-blowing sex. I plan to wear a remote control vibrating thong. RAWR. As for why or why not… we don’t follow a 24/7 lifestyle – there are those who do it, and honestly more power to them… but I couldn’t. I have a completely separate part of myself – my “real life’ self – that needs to get out and live. I couldn’t stifle that in favor of a 24/7 submissive lifestyle.

Are there any rules that your husband has for you that you are required to follow?

Not yet – but I’ve been wanting to ask him about this, because I definitely would like some bedroom-only “rules” to follow.

Do you have an ‘ownership’ charm / bracelet / collar / cuffs that you wear? If so, how do you feel about this?

I don’t, but I would like something discrete. Not a collar, but maybe a bracelet or anklet. I think it’s sort of similar to a tattoo – though less permanent – just a symbolization of one part of me. A part of me that I refuse to be ashamed about.

Can you speak to concerns of abuse or control in BDSM relationships?

One of the most important concepts in BDSM play is “consensual” play – the concept that we are all consenting adults who are fully aware of and responsible for our actions. I personally would never play or scene with someone that I didn’t trust with my life. Giving that sort of power – the power to immobilize me – is not something to be given lightly or without great consideration. If someone was considering playing with BDSM I’d tell them to start light. Find someone you trust. Don’t just meet someone online or head to your local leather club, because you never know when something can go wrong. Make sure your safe word/gesture is communicated clearly and multiple times, and make sure that the person(s) you are scening with will respect those words. If you have a doubt, don’t start. Make sure someone knows where you are and who you’re with.

I’m sure there are couples or individuals out there participating in a BDSM relationship that went sour – has transitioned from play into abuse or was abuse from the start. It makes me sick to think about, honestly. At that point, it’s not BDSM anymore. It’s just abuse. The best advice is to ensure that you trust who you’re with from the start. If things go sour, or you misjudged, get out. There are plenty of domestic violence advocates out there, and yes – that’s what it is if your partner is abusing you during sex. Reach out and get help.

What’s your favorite thing about having a marriage where BDSM play is involved?

I love the opportunity to completely immerse myself in the scene. The chance to be someone that I can’t be during the day. Within the context of the scene there are a lot of things I feel more comfortable saying or doing… things I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing or saying during “vanilla” sex. It’s a chance for release, and a chance to relax, really.

How do you find / make time to do scenes with your husband?

We love to get a hotel room but that’s usually not an option. When we get a home, we plan to have a separate room – locked, possibly hidden – just for scenes, but for now we manage wherever we can, once the kids are safely asleep. That usually means staying up late, but it’s worth it.

You mentioned in your comment on my first post that you would consider bringing people into play. What sort of rules do you think would be important to make something like that a success?

Complete honesty and agreement between the two of us. It would have to be a female, and probably a sub, though we’d consider a Dom. It would have to be someone we know well and trust… I could never grab a stranger from a club or off Craigslist. Most importantly though, I think it would be a long discussion. We’d consider over a few days, if not weeks – not a few hours. We’d likely have a discussion with that third individual to ensure that expectations are managed well and everyone is on the same page. It would be worth the time to prevent any possible negative fallout from assumptions, misplaced emotion or anything else.

If your husband came to you and wanted to open the marriage and play with someone else, would you consider it?

A would likely never come to me with it – it’s not something he’s interested in, and honestly not something I think I’m interested in. We enjoy BDSM together – I don’t trust anyone else enough to play or scene with them, and he doesn’t either. I’m not sure if it’s the stage of our relationship or simply the way our love works, but I don’t think we could do it without jealousy coming into play and souring the experience and likely our marriage.

Do you think there will ever be a time where you’ll grow tired of the BDSM play?

I doubt it. I’ve enjoyed the sensations of BDSM play, the thought of it, since I was about 8. No, I didn’t have a partner or even know what it was – I was a virgin until 19 – but I used to get incredibly squirmy reading Nancy Drew books when she was captured by the bad guys, or those cartoons with the damsel in distress on the train tracks. I knew something was up long before I admitted it to myself.

Do you think that continued BDSM play forces people to further extremes (ie. the more you push boundaries, the more you have to push them for the experience)?

This is a tough question. Personally, I don’t think so. I think your limits – your ultimate limits – are your limits. I don’t consider BDSM a sort of gateway sexual experience that leads to more “depraved” acts or extreme sexual preferences. If you enjoy asphyxiation, I think you’re going to get to it eventually under the right circumstances, no matter what you try first. It’s not a drug, and I don’t think you build up a “tolerance”. We all like to spice things up once in a while – just like any couple. Vanilla sex doesn’t push people to further extremes – so I don’t see why BDSM would either.

I want to give huge props to Cat for willing to talk to us so openly about something so personal. Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into your life.

You can find Cat on Twitter, and her Mommy Geekology blog

 What a Woman REALLY Wants (Relationship Series: Part 2)

Open Yourself to the Possibilities (Relationship Series: Part 1)

You can find the series intro here: Relationships – An Intro


type….backspace…type, type, type…backspace….select all…delete.

*sigh*

I wish I could claim writers block on this, but it’s the exact opposite.

The words are fighting to get out. So many ways to say things and every word has to be considered, weighed.

So lets change approaches here and start with a bit of background instead.

Rewind the clock….way back to my childhood, when on a chilly fall day, at the age of 12, I met…well, let’s call him Mr. O

It was intrigue at first sight.

Even back then he didn’t quite fit in to that tried and true mold of what defines normal.  He’s always marched to the beat of his own drummer.

As we grew up, he was always there.  Always whatever I needed him to be.  Friend, confidant, protector, and…more.

Then, in the way that sometimes happens when you’re young, as I turned more and more to whatever guy was flavor of the week and less to him, Mr. O slowly faded, then disappeared from my life.

I always wondered what had happened to him.  Not in a longing, want him back in my life way.  But in a wanting to know his life had turned out alright for him way.

Until a chilly fall day in 2009, when I opened my inbox to a message from him.

That would be one of those days when I love social media.

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Image by xmasons via Flickr

We exchanged messages that went something along the line of “So… what have you been up to for the past 15 or so years?”

We caught up on friends, parents, work, family, marriages.  And that would be where he dropped…well, for me… a bit of a bombshell.

The words “open marriage

I don’t know why I was the least bit surprised.  Remember that ‘marching to the beat of his own drummer’ thing?  Yeah.  Exactly.

For what ever reason, though, those two simple words prompted Bil and I to have several lengthy conversations about our own relationship, relationships in general, and whether monogamy is a natural state of mind or a force sense of being in today’s world (more to come on all that in part 2 of my series)

But just examining my own relationship wasn’t enough.

After I got over the whole “OMG, No Way, Are You Serious, WTF” reaction, I moved on to curiosity.  OK, who am I kidding, I’m just nosy.

Mr. O agreed to sit down and talk with me about the dynamics in his relationship with his wife.  The words below are mine as recalled from snippets of our 3 hour conversation in a local Starbucks to the best of my memory.  I was too busy firing questions at him to actually write the answers down (cause I’m classy and brilliant like that).  Any errors or omissions are mine alone.

Isn’t Open Marriage just a fancy way of saying ‘cheating’?

No.  Cheating means sneaking behind your partners back.  This is an open marriage.  It means being open and honest. If I find someone I want to play* with then I talk to my wife about it.  She has to agree to it.

*people who engage in BDSM or D/s relationships often refer to their activity as “play”. A single play session called a “scene”

And if she doesn’t?

My wife has full veto power.  If she’s not comfortable with it then it doesn’t happen.  If she does agree to it, then later changes her mind and decides she doesn’t want to continue, that’s her right, and everything stops.  My relationship with her is the priority.

If you did meet someone and start playing with them and then your wife decided she wanted you to stop, wouldn’t that… I don’t know… tick you off a bit?

No.  Absolutely not.  She has to be able to trust me to respect her wishes in this, otherwise it’s not going to work.  And I’m not going to do anything to screw up my relationship with her.  So if she says no, then that’s the end of discussion.

So is it just you that goes outside the marriage then?

No.  If my wife met someone she wanted to play with then we’d have the same conversation and I’d have veto power.

Do you guys ever play together with other people?

We have.  It really has to be the right situation and everyone has to agree with it.

What would make you go outside the marriage in the first place?  If you’re happy in your relationship would you really need to look outside your marriage?

Sure.  It’s not about not being happy in a relationship.  I love my wife and am very happy with her.  She’s the only one who could put up with my shit for this long.  But, I like to play, and she knows that.  That’s who I am. Sometimes it’s as simple as having a friend who isn’t getting something that she needs in her own relationship.  If I can help her with that, help her spice up her own relationship, and my wife’s OK with it, then why wouldn’t I?

Do you kids know about your lifestyle?

No.  Never. The don’t need to know.  I don’t want them to know.

** UPDATED** As I said any mistakes in writing this are mine.  What this should have said was No, because they’re too young.  But Mr.O was kind enough to respond and expound on this particular point:

In order to clarify for our avid readers I will comment.

In relation to divulging the nature of my marriage and its openess, it is not a matter of us never revealing it to the children, it is a matter of when! As they are both under 12, to divulge this information now could be detrimental to not only my wifes work, but also any social relations my kids have. Dependant upon their development and emotional maturity, I have every intention of speaking of this with my kids, when they have the ability to comprehend what is being said and to make informed and educated decisions on it. It is not a matter of any hidden or suppressed form of shame, but rather an issue of maintaining balance between our Kink and our mundane lives to ensure that it causes no complications for anyone.

As a professional Martial Artist and former Unarmed Combat Instructor, it would be akin to my teaching a new student “Death Moves” on day one rather than ensuring they have the basics first.  Same goes for telling our kids, when the time is right or they have questions, we will answer them fully.

And besides, if and when the time comes, we may have stopped playing and therefore have no need.

It’s like I said before… I refuse to subscribe to socially accepted morality when I was never consulted during its development!

~Mr. O


Have you guy always had an open marriage?

No.  I repressed a lot of myself when I started dating my wife.  I assumed she was vanilla*  so tried to be that way too and we never talked about it.  We were married for years before it finally came out and I found out that she was a sub**.

*vanilla – used to describe anything or anyone that’s non-kink
**sub – short for submissive.  The less dominant partner, and sometimes slave to a Dom, in a D/s relationship

Have you always known that you were into this sort of lifestyle?

Well before I met my wife I was actually in a polyamorous relationship.  And that worked well for me.  So I knew then that I enjoyed that type of open relationship.

What about jealousy?

Yes, that can be an issue.  But that’s why you set up certain ground rules and why any potential relationship or play is vetted through my wife.

And these types of relationships aren’t for everyone.  It  takes a certain sort of mentality to engage in them.  If you can’t separate love from sex then this is not going to work for you, because that’s when a lot of jealousy happens.

What would you say to someone who was suppressing their sexuality in a vanilla relationship?

Talk about it.  Communication is important.  Even more so if you’re considering an open relationship.  You never know… your partner might be interested in exploring the same things as you, but just suppressing it as well.

Eventually you’re going to get tired of suppressing what ever it is (kink, the need for sex more often, whatever).  If you don’t have open communication with your spouse at this point, then that’s when you see people cheating because they feel they don’t have other options.  But there are always other options.

Like what?

Well, you can go back to suppressing, which isn’t going to make you happy.  And if you’re not happy how can you make your partner happy?.  You could cheat, but then you’re ruining the trust in a relationship.  You could talk to your partner about about the possibility of opening up the relationship.  Or you could consider divorce.

Of the four options, if you have good communication and ground rules, then I think opening the relationship is the best option.

So, that, in a long drawn out nut shell, is an open relationship.  Or rather one version of it.

So now you should all go and make your marriages open.  Noooo… not really.  That’s not what this is about.

It is merely to prompt conversation.  Your own internal conversation, conversation with your spouse, conversations here.

And to allow you to begin to examine prejudices.  Even if you don’t agree with open relationships (and I’m no psychic, but I’m going to bet that a lot of you wont), is it really a bad thing for those people who it does work for?

I would also be curious if there’s anything that I didn’t cover here, that you would like me to go back and ask Mr. O about.  Because, being the nosy bitch I am, and him having many years experience dealing with my charming personality, I’m sure he’d be willing to share, if only to get me to shut up.

UPDATE#1: I posted the first update from Mr.O in the section about whether his kids know, above.
UPDATE#2: Some further information and clarification from Mr. O:

Many so called “Dom/mes” are not always as they tout themselves to be. Far too many are just egotistical and prey on weaker individuals. Anyone that participates in any form of BDSM or D/s play and has done so for any length of time understands that it is not the Dominant that has control… Submissive in any facet have the control and thus control any “Scenes” that take place. The only power a Dominant has is that which is given to them. Thus it is imperative that the trust is there!

Granted, some may view my wifes and my relationship as abnormal and that is within their right. But even if a couple that is just looking to spice things up engages in multiple play partners for an experience, it is a very personal choice and should be discussed at length prior to!

Allow me to make one thing very clear, I love my wife with an intensity that is beyond description and we have a wonderful marriage. I fall in love with her more everyday. This is my solemn word and as such is beyond contestation.

Understand… We are very picky in regards to play and we do not just “whore around”.
There are very few outside of the lifestyle that are aware of our activities as this is a lifestyle that we live privately.
It’s not about sex, or orgies or anything of the sort… For us, we simply allow each other to be who we truly are, away from those that would not understand.

For many of us, myself included, to supress aspects of our nature is extremely difficult, be it Dom or sub. I am an animal by nature… A civilized one, but still very much the Alpha Wolf in the Pack, with my wife, I am allowed to be that in a healthy manner. She is a submissive, and I allow her to express that in a safe environment free from judgement.

As Princess Jenn has stated, we have known each other since we were kids and I have ALWAYS been as I am. Be it genetic or otherwise, I have always been an Alpha as that is part of what makes me who I am. Those that know me are very much aware of this.

And again… The only power I have is that which my wife/slave gives me!

Now, I will turn this blog back over to the princess and observe from the outside!

~Mr. O


Update #3: Responses to some of the comments and questions courtesy of Mr. O

In regard to the question from Avasmommy about what would happen if my wife wanted to opt out – In the event that she were to decide that this was no longer the lifestyle that she wanted to live… It stops, no If’s, and’s or but’s about it! This is again where the communication is key.

Also, I will address the comment regarding being careful what you wish for…

If my wife were to come to me and tell me that she had fallen in love with someone else, than as much as it would crush me, there really is nothing one can do. However, we have had this discussion previously, we are both still very much in love and as she has no desire to play with other men, we are happy! In regards to her taking the kids to another country where the rules are different… We both understand that our children are paramount and regardless of our relationship status, we are good parents and know that the kids need us both. That, and on the lighter side, Jenn can attest to the fact that I am former Military with Special Ops training… It would not be difficult for me to track them down… Call in a few favours… LOL. At any rate… It all boils down to what is best for all parties. That’s the joy of Veto Power.

My wife and I have been together for 11 years and are still going strong.

Phew… Nothing like being proverbially raked across coals!!

~ Mr. O



Part 2 – What a Woman REALLY wants

 Open Yourself to the Possibilities (Relationship Series: Part 1)

Why I Blog

A few days ago, the lovely Jennifer from The Psychobabble let me know she was tagging me for a Neno award.  I’m always flattered to receive any sort of recognition from my fellow bloggers.  But I sat on this one because the ‘rules’ of it state you have to post about why you blog.

I was struggling with answering that question.

Why do I blog?  I know it’s not for glory.  It’s certainly not for money.  I do use my blog as a place to vent, a place to update friends and family on my life.  But that’s still not the ‘why’ behind the blogging.

Well tonight it hit me full in the face.

PB and Jazz wrote this post:  Learning from others.

That right there.  That is why I blog, why I share, why I write.

Because if I can help one person expand their point of view, understand people a little more deeply, be not so quick to judge, then all the time I spend putting my words down is worth it.  If I can help one parent advocate for their child, find new ways of dealing with their issues, or offer them solace in the knowledge that they aren’t alone, then I will continue to write and share.

nenos award1 Why I BlogSo back to the award.

A big thanks to The Psychobabble for giving it to me and making me pause to consider this.  Sometimes it’s good to stop and remember the why behind the what.

The aims of this award:

  • As a dedication for those who love blogging activity and love to encourage friendships through blogging.
  • To seek the reasons why we all love blogging!

Here are the rules of the award:

  • Put the award in one post as soon as you receive it.
  • Don’t forget to mention the person who gives you the award.
  • Answer the award’s question by writing the reason why you love blogging.
  • Tag and distribute the award to as many people as you like.
  • Don’t forget to notify the award receivers and put their links in your post.

And so I am choosing to tag the following people:

  • PB and Jazz for writing a post that warmed my heart (and made me cry a little)
  • Messponential for being real and telling it like it is
  • Heart My Chloe for being brave and strong. And hawt. Can’t forget hawt.
  • The Mommy Tsunami for her Intentional Happiness 365 project. We should all be so inspired

And for everyone reading, what makes you blog?  What inspires your passion for writing?

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Just a quick warning…. If you’re easily offended, or at work, you *may* not want to click on any of the links in this post.

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Image by Alice Harold via Flickr

It used to be that everyone in our family would buy for everyone else and Christmas morning would be filled with hours of present opening and sipping warm apple cider.

As my brothers and I got older, and we moved out on our own, with our own bills to pay, we switched to drawing names.  Everyone’s name went into a bowl, you bought for that one person, max $100.

Now with spouses, a few kids, and a high cost of living, new rules have come into play this year.  You can buy presents for the two kids.  For the adults we’ll do a gift game.  Buy a gift, no more than $20, gender neutral, everyone ends up with something.

OK fine.  I can go along with most of that.

Except, in this day and age, what do you buy for $20 that’s not absolute crap?  And add to the fact it has to be non-gender specific?

Gah!

So I’ve been searching and searching for two of these gifts (one for Bil, one for me) to bring to this exchange.

And I’ve come up empty handed.

And also a little irritated.

I’m at the point, where I’m really tempted just to be a bitch and really do something that would just fuck the whole thing up (well, from my mother’s point of view, anyways).

I mean, can you imagine my very straight laced strict Catholic father unwraping a nice big 17 inch surprise for his gift?  In the most technical terms, it is gender neutral.  And OK, so it’s a *bit* over the $20 limit, but not by much.

There’s nothing in the rules that say the gifts had to be appropriate.

But then I think… I don’t want to rock the boat too much.  So perhaps a nice T-Shirt.  You know, something my mom could wear to work on casual days.

Any other suggestions of $20 shit gifts I could bring that aren’t chocolate covered?

 The Gift That Keeps On Giving

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