Thursday, 16 August 2012

Love Letters

I wrote my husband a letter last week. I don't know what came over me but I certainly had the devil in me ;) It was a long letter, a romantic letter, a steamy letter- and slipped all innocently in the middle were several heartfelt pages about why I love Dd so much.

He hasn't read it yet, at least not all of it. At first he seemed quite eager, putting aside his usual novel and reading a few pages each night when he came to bed (yes, it really was a very long letter) but after a couple of days his interest has begun to wane. I'm not sure at the moment if that is because he reached sections of it that were a bit close to the bone, a bit too raw for him to deal with at the moment, or if it simply is the exhaustion that has overwhelmed him lately getting the better of him and he just can't keep his eyes open long enough. Naturally, my insecurity is leaning toward the first option.

It made me feel good to write it though. It let me focus on the good things about our marriage, and some wonderful memories, instead of solely on what I miss. It gave me hope that one day things will get better because intensity such as we shared is not something that is just abruptly turned off. Not without a damn good reason anyway. With hope, and faith, and hard work from us both, I have to believe that reason will fade. Eventually.

He hasn't got to the important part yet. He's yet to read about how Dd makes me feel and why it is so important to me. I think it may be quite a revelation to him; it certainly was to me.

I opened up on paper in a way I never can when I try to talk to him about it. When we talk I sense his frustration and tension and I hold back, or else he tries to change the subject and I get upset. By pouring it all out onto the page it allowed me to really examine how I felt in a calm way, to understand what it is about me that makes me feel complete when I lay across his knee, to discover that the feeling of vulnerability actually makes me feel very safe and loved, more so than I ever before realised, to remember that being sent to stand in the corner brought about an overwhelming feeling of peace.

We made love for the first time last night in almost two years. He might not have finished reading the letter yet but it's certainly having an effect!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Is Separation Necessary?

I have noticed, as I read my way through so many blogs, that many of those living happily with DD have relationships where the HOH works away. Despite the emotional pain this obviously causes, and the upheaval that his leaving and returning causes in routines, it seems to add a different dimension to the relationship. Every partnership is different, obviously, we all embrace dd in different ways- and rightly so- but it got me thinking. Is separation a necessary part of making the dynamic work?

I'm lucky that my husband and I have never had to experience one of us going away. We do things, go places, together and always have. Neither one of us has had the kind of job that requires travelling of any kind. We have always taken pleasure in each others company and would rather be together than with friends. In fact when a family member spoke recently about 'having to get away from X for a few hours' we both thought that was desperately sad. They had been on holiday together for only two days and despite loving each other dearly they were driving each other crazy. They needed time apart, needed space away from each other. To them that was perfectly normal, but to us it seemed odd, unnatural. We have never been one of those couples that need space. We have always loved spending every possible moment together. Our family jokes that we are joined at the hip.

And yet there was a separation, although we never really saw it that way. For many years my husband worked nights. I had never known it any other way and although those nights were often desperately long they were tempered with the little notes we left each other, or the letters tucked away to find at an unexpected moment, and the phone calls -long phone calls into the wee small hours- and the coming of the dawn. Oh how I loved the gentle softening of the sky, the first rays of light creeping down a quiet street and tapping at my window. I instinctively knew that dawn was coming, rousing from my slumber in time to see the darkness chased from my room, and I loved that time. It was my time, a time filled with hope and longing as I lay cosy in my bed listening for the sound of his key in the door.

Later, as financial pressures forced longer and longer working hours for us both, our time together was reduced further still and sometimes all we could do was meet for breakfast in some out of the way cafe as I made my way to work and he headed home to sleep. How we treasured those times together. We clung to every moment, saving up the memories of a smile or a touch to enjoy later. We were often apart and yet we were so close. We lived for our delicious time together and made every second of it count.

It was in this environment that our dynamic flourished. It was in those treasured moments that dd became so important. It helped to keep us on track, stopped us wasting our precious time on those little gripes and niggles that will surface in any marriage from time to time. It kept us focused on US instead of problems and bills and the outside world and kept us from allowing the mundane to overcome us.

I worked hard to please him, just as he did for me. He frequently reminded me, across his knee, the importance of staying focused on the two of us, of trusting his decisions and treating him with respect. We both knew these things were all the more important because we were so often apart. Neither one of us wanted to waste our precious time together. Looking back I can only think of one occasion where he truly felt the need to punish me (and yes, I thoroughly deserved it), the rest of the time we spanked for fun, and as reminders of what was important to us. That was enough to keep us both on the same page as far as our marriage was concerned. I drew comfort, and pleasure, from knowing that if I overstepped the line he would not hold back, was man enough to to step up and do what needed to be done. He drew comfort from knowing my respect for him was such that a real punishment was rarely necessary. It kept us strong.

We no longer have that sense of separation that made us cherish our time together. Firstly a change of shifts to days meant our nights were always spent together and then a massive change in our circumstances saw us together 24/7. At first it seemed like true luxury to be together all the time, to slip at night beneath the sheets and feel his warmth beside me. It still does, but... now I wonder if that constant togetherness , just as much as his health, was responsible for all the changes?

Now we have the luxury of time do we no longer feel the need to make our time together count?
Now we always sleep together have we lost that sense of longing?
Now I am always here does he no longer feel the need to remind me of my place?
Now he is always here has he forgotten his?

It all makes sense, but I hope I'm wrong as I can't see our circumstances changing anytime soon, and rarely being at home together was no way to live anyway, but... *sigh* things were so much better then. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back

I think I may have done something silly. Well, not silly perhaps, more reckless.
Despite things ticking along nicely, and seeing tiny improvements, I had to go and force things.

In my defence, I was having a bad day. Actually, quite a few bad days. I was climbing the walls and tearing my hair out and crying myself to sleep night after night. This happens sometimes, and I know from experience that eventually it will pass, but while I'm going through it, it is hell and I really don't cope very well.

It wasn't even really about dd at all, although that was a part of it. DD is not the only aspect of my marriage that seems to be on hold at the moment, and to say I am frustrated and hurt is something of an understatement. Until recently I've been pretty calm, I had a plan and I was sticking to it, taking things slowly, step by step. But this recent bout of tearfulness had got to me and all sorts of thoughts were spinning out of control in my head.

In a moment of madness I emailed him. Told him how I feel. I can't exactly say I poured my heart out, I was too fragile for that, but I came close. I thought it might be a few days before he saw it. I thought I may have a chance to sneakily delete it if I changed my mind, but no. He checked his emails before he came to bed. Not that he said anything of course, I just knew. I could sense it. The tension in the air was palpable.

And I was right. This morning I checked, (I know his password, in fact I set it!) and sure enough he'd seen the email. And I cried again because it was in the 'trash'. I don't know what I expected but for some reason that really hurt. He'd read it and trashed it. No comment, no reply.

But as I've watched him today I think I know why. He's hurting. I can see the pain and confusion in his eyes. And there is nothing I can do. I can't unsend something he's already seen. I have an awful feeling I've set my cause back a long, long way. The damage has been done, his feelings have been hurt, his fragile confidence knocked. And it's all my fault.

Friday, 1 June 2012

A Few More Rules

I've been working on this little project of mine for a while now and, much to my surprise, it seems to be working. There haven't been any major changes, he hasn't stepped back into the role of HOH or even suggested that he might. We haven't had that all important conversation but...

There have been little things, subtle things, tiny changes in his behaviour that make me think we are heading in the right direction.

I started simply with just a few rules and, if I say so myself, I've been pretty good at sticking to them.

No swearing. Check.

Stop wearing jeans every day. Check.

Stop being a slob and pay attention to my appearance. Check.

Keep our home clean and tidy. Check.

The first one was actually pretty easy. I know my language had deteriorated but to be honest it wasn't too bad. Mostly, I thought things rather than said them so it was just a matter of biting my tongue before those thoughts became mutterings. So far so good.

Not wearing jeans was a little harder, I'd become very lazy about my wardrobe. It's so easy to just throw on jeans and a tee-shirt and that bit of extra weight I'm carrying these days meant all the pretty clothes I have don't fit so well. But a good look through my wardrobe and a few small alterations went a long way. And I'd forgotten just how nice it is to feel a long skirt swishing around my legs.

Paying more attention to my hair and make up kind of went hand in hand with the last one. There's nothing like wearing something feminine to make one want to make the effort with everything else. That, and hearing him say how nice I looked for the first time since I can't remember when.

Once I'd got the hang of looking after myself again it was a simple step to care for our home more too. All of a sudden I wanted the kitchen to shine and the laundry be done.

I've had some lovely compliments from him just lately, about the house and about the way I look, and that makes me smile. A lot.

What better inspiration could there be for adding a few more rules?


Rule number 5

Be more organised. I can be a little ditzy. OK, more than a little. Things get done, but often not until the last minute, which makes me stressed which makes me cranky. I'm going to keep the calender up to date, pay bills on time, return library books before their due date, drop repeat prescriptions into the doctors early enough that we don't run out of our meds.

Rule number 6

Prepare meals in advance. This isn't something that would probably have occurred to me but it's something he's mentioned quite a bit over the last couple of months. And as it's so unusual these days for him to actually ask me to do something it's important I include it. We always used to be fairly relaxed about meals. Our work schedules were chaotic as we both worked shifts so meal times were a last minute affair, fitted in whenever we could. Later as his health deteriorated he often didn't feel like eating, or simply couldn't face certain types of food. I've gotten into the habit of suddenly realising it's getting late and saying 'what do you fancy?' Apparently he doesn't like this. Increasingly over the last few months he's said 'just do something, anything, I don't mind', or 'don't keep asking', or, most recently, 'the cooking's your job. You decide.' YAY! You have no idea how wonderful it was to hear him say something was my job. I've never had to think about menu planning before. This might take a while to get the hang of.

Rule number 7

Limit computer time. He's never come right out and said that he doesn't like that I spend so much time on line but there have been the occasional comments, all said in a 'jokey' manner, that make me think it bothers him. This will probably be the hardest rule to stick to of all. I'm actually very shy and I don't make friends easily. We relocated two years ago but I still don't have any friends locally and because I don't go out to work I can sometimes feel like a bit of a recluse. Talking to on-line friends keeps me sane! I'm reluctant to cut down but this isn't meant to be easy. So, for starters, I'm going to limit my computer time to before he's up (he's a night owl who works in his studio until late so that gives me quite a bit of time if I'm up early enough ;) ) or to when he's also using his lap top or painting. Provided my chores are done first.
If I'm being honest here, that probably won't limit me too much, just as long as I get organised.

Hmmm, these are all linked have you noticed? Organisation seems to be the theme here.

It's time to get my ditzy head on straight.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A Gentle Nudge

I have been busy organising my little office space and in amongst a box of old papers I found something. It was a story, a piece of fiction I wrote for my husband almost a decade ago. It was fun and risque and all about our newly discovered dd lifestyle. It was a fun little fantasy and summed up how we were back then.

At first, as I read it, it made me sad. There is so much we are missing out on now. But then I had an idea.

Dangerous, I know.

If reading it reminded me of the fun and laughter and delight that came with the exploration of a new dynamic in our relationship, would it do the same for him? Was it worth a try? I thought so.

I've long since stopped even trying to have conversations about the way things used to be. It makes him tense and guarded and only seems to add to his burden. Conversations, no matter how gently I approach the subject, become confrontational to some degree or another. But a story? What harm could reading a story do?

And so I slipped it between something I knew he'd look at, along with a note reminding him when, and why, it had been written, and went to bed.

I don't know what I expected really. My expectations weren't particularly high, I wasn't expecting some cataclysmic change of heart and an abrupt return to what I see as normality but I wasn't expecting total silence either.

He came to bed and said nothing. All the next day he said nothing. NOTHING! I went to bed that night very disheartened. I knew he'd read it as I'd checked it wasn't still where I'd left it. (I couldn't very well sulk about him not mentioning it if he hadn't even seen it, now could I?) It lay discarded at the side of his chair so he must have read it. Mustn't he?

OK, so all that proves is that he'd seen it. I have no way of knowing if he actually read it.

But I think he did.

Yesterday, as we tackled various jobs around the house that we've been putting off for months, we worked together. Not him doing one job and me doing another, but together. The way we used to. I'm not much good at DIY but he is, and we quickly fell into roles of teacher and pupil, master and apprentice. Husband and wife.  I don't want to read too much into it but I'm kind of hoping that my little story did its job and reminded him of just how good things can be between us when we get the dynamic right.

Yes, its a long way from getting back to dd. But I think its a step in the right direction.

Monday, 7 May 2012

A Long Way To Go

I knew this way was never going to be easy but I was feeling quite optimistic. I could see changes, albeit little ones, I felt calmer, I felt I was getting somewhere. Hmmm. Maybe I still am.

I have tried, I really have, to stick to my self imposed rules. For the most part I think I've succeeded, I even added one or two little extra ones so sure was I that I was on top of things. I was optimistic, enthusiastic and absolutely determined to make this work. I felt much better about myself since I started making more effort with my appearance. Its only been little changes but I have found some of my old confidence, some of the old spark. It wasn't part of the plan but it seems to have had an effect on him too. The more effort I put into the way I looked the more effort he put in. Instead of spending his days in the paint covered, ripped jeans and slobby sweatshirts he wears in his studio (he took up painting to help him recover from his last stroke) he would change out of them to go to the shops or eat a meal with me. Around the house too, there are changes. He hasn't really mentioned the extra effort I've made, or commented on how tidy everywhere looks now but if he uses a plate after I've gone to bed he'll wash it instead of leaving it for me to find in the morning and dirty clothes now always find their way into the laundry basket. Little things, simple things that let me know he's noticed and appreciates the change.

I should have followed up on these things, built on the progress. I should have made it more of a challenge for me, should have added a few rules that were harder to stick to maybe? Instead I rested on my laurels, enjoying the sense of achievement and building up these little changes in my head to mean more than they really did.

And so the universe knocked me on my ass and reminded me there is a long, long way to go.

The last couple of months have been difficult in many ways. On top of all the usual financial and health issues there have been ups and downs that have taken us on a wild roller coaster of emotions. We live a long way from our families in a beautiful part of the country that we love, but when things happen to our children or our parents we feel the pain of being so far away and have the stress of a long journey and the extra financial pressure that involves. Its a trip we've needed to make THREE times in the last couple of months.

The latest was for a tragedy no one could have predicted or prevented and it almost tore our family apart.

I love my step-children dearly, if they hurt I hurt, so maybe I forget sometimes that they are not my own and that the pain my husband feels may run deeper, be more acute. I tried my best to be his rock, so he could be a rock for them, but there were times when my own pain swallowed me whole and I crumbled. That was OK, I'm only human, but there were also times when I snapped and didn't think how much my words could hurt. There was a moment, a moment when he needed me most, that by my words and actions he felt he was alone, that even I was against him. It was only a moment, a few harsh words spoken at the wrong time, but the damage has been done.

It isn't talked about. We laugh and smile again now it is all over and push the feelings from that moment under the rug. I know I let him down. He knows he hurt me with the things he said in return.
He won't accept an apology or give one. That is his way. If I meant it when I said it then don't apologise. And I did mean it. It needed to be said. But I know now the way I went about it was all wrong, and I AM sorry for the hurt I caused him, and the lack of tack I displayed and the lack of respect I showed. We cannot talk about it without the anger and the tears resurfacing and so it is ignored. But it's still there, festering. The air has not been cleared.

And that is how I know we still have a long way to go. There was a time when this would have been dealt with, swiftly and surely. And we would have moved on. There was a time when I would have received a spanking for this. I would have known that at the time and I would have been waiting for it. It would have come once we were home and I would have welcomed it. It would have been hard. It would have been one of the few times he really meant it rather than a fun reminder. He would have pulled me across his knee without any hesitation and there would have been no mercy. He would have told me clearly exactly why I was getting it, would have spelt out how he felt and why he was so disappointed in me. But I would have had a chance to explain myself (not make excuses) and tell him how it had made me feel too. I would have been sore and I would have cried, not from the pain but because of the disappointment in his eyes. But then he would have held me, tightly as if he'd die if he let go, and I'd feel his strength and his love as he stroked my hair and calmed me, and I'd feel safe and secure and all would be right in our world.

For a long time I have missed having domestic discipline in our lives, but now I think (perhaps for the first time) I truly understand why.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Setting The Rules -part two

I have struggled long and hard with this issue of making rules. I know it is what I need. I know I will feel better for it, but it really has been difficult to sort it out on my own. It didn't feel right doing it without my husband's input, but any attempt to broach the subject hit the usual brick wall.

I've taken my time about it, partly because I want to get it right, but also because I'm a tiny bit scared. I've had my own way for quite some time now and its hard to give that up, even for someone like me who really doesn't like being in charge. It's easy, it takes no effort, and I have gotten very lazy.

If we had been doing this together, it would have been so much easier. There may have been discussion over some things, we may have hammered out the finer points, but ultimately the final say would have been his. That was what I agreed to right at the very start of our relationship. He would always listen, would maybe even go along with what I wanted, but if there was any disagreement then the final say on the matter was his and his alone. That has saved us from so many arguments over the years! Without that backstop, without my rock, I've been flailing about wildly, just adding to my confusion.

Once I'd come to the conclusion that I didn't have to tackle everything at once, it became a little easier.
I took some time to think about the things he always liked about me, the things that made him proud of me, and took a long hard look at myself to see if they still apply.


Oh dear! He must be wondering what the hell happened to his wife. I'm wondering what the hell happened to his wife! 

It is very hard to look in the mirror and discover that the woman staring back at you is not who you expected at all. Some of the changes have been necessary, a part of our survival. There have been situations, and changes, in our life that needed to be dealt with and for a while he couldn't. I had no time to wait for his recovery, I had to step up to the mark and get on with it and that made me hard. The softness he always loved about me was eroded and replaced by stone. I became what I had to be even though I hated it.

Some of the changes though, were not necessary. They were a reaction to how I had changed; they became part of my disguise. I hated what I'd had to become. I resented it, I did what I had to do but that was it. I didn't bother with the nice things anymore because they didn't fit with the new, strong, indestructible, super hard me. I am ashamed to say it but I let myself go.

So that is where I am going to begin. My first steps are to get back to who I was, who I really am. I can still be strong when he needs me to be, but that doesn't stop me being soft too.

He loved the fact that I didn't swear. He hates to hear a woman with a filthy mouth.
He loved that I always wore skirts. He liked me to look feminine.
He liked to see me taking care of myself and always looking my best for him.
He liked me to keep the house clean and warm and welcoming.

So that's what I'm going to start with. I'll expand on them once I've got the hang of this again but for now these are the rules I'm starting with.

1) No swearing, cursing, or muttering obscenities under my breath.
It's not something that I often do, but as I've become more frustrated I've found a few things creeping into my vocabulary that I would rather weren't there. That stops now.

2) I will not live in jeans all the time.
Wherever possible I will wear a skirt, long and floaty, the way he likes. I can't afford to go out and completely revamp my wardrobe so it will have to be a more gradual change than an abrupt one, but I will make an effort to embrace my femininity again and wear skirts at least 3 or 4 times a week.

3) No more being a slob!
From now on I shall start taking care of myself again and look good for him, nails painted, hair styled, decent clothes (all my shabby, slouchy, 'comfy' stuff is already in the bin).

4) Keep House.
He might not be coming home after a long day at work anymore but he still deserves to have a clean and tidy home, with the washing done and decent meals on the table.

OK, so its not much, and yes I know its only what I should have been doing all along, but its a start...

...and I feel happier already.