Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

July 11th, 2013

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Gifts

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

 

Recently we had a book discussion night on The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. In the book, he talks about loving your spouse using their primary love language. If your partner feels most loved when they receive gifts, all the words of affirmation in the world may not make them feel loved at all. He talks about people learning their primary love language when growing up, and also about their being different dialects to every language. For some, quality time means watching TV together, for others it means turning off the electronics and talking together. I found this to be a very interesting way to look at things, and turned it inward, to look at myself and my relationships.

My primary love language is acts of service. It’s how I speak and how I receive love. I am a care-taker personality, and find joy in doing for others. It’s why I’ve lasted so long in retail even though I hate sales(thank the gods for our stores not running on commission). My family always taught that you do things for other people. Growing up in a Christian household, Jesus’ servant leadership was always the guiding light. He fed people, washed his disciples feet. This is how you show love, I was told.

It translates quite well into my relationship with my boyfriend. My submission to him is very service oriented. I help manage crew lists and care for/carry the equipment. I help around the house. I take care of his boots and his rope. Fortunately, it does seem to be what he is looking for. He believes very much in servant leadership, has always encouraged service as a way of giving thanks. He enjoys my service and gives me opportunities to provide it. He also speaks to me in this language. He offers to drive us places. He cooks wonderful meals for me. Both things I’m not as fond of doing for myself. Sometimes the scenes he gives me are also acts of service. They are things I have asked him for that may not be exactly what he was after. Though he always makes sure that he finds ways to get enjoyment as well, because who wants to do a scene that bores them.

In my marriage, I tried to take care of the house, the finances, vacation details, etc. However, when it isn’t the primary love language of my partner, these things, while probably appreciated, are not what he is looking for. I think this was the case with hubby, his primary love language seeming to be physical touch. In this case, Chapman writes that you have to put in the effort to learn your partner’s primary love language. Often, this requires asking them what they want and need from you. Doing this can make their primary love language your secondary language.

As we all know, life is never as simple as self-help books make it out to be. So what about those other four languages and me?

Words of affirmation. I like hearing I love you, and thank you, and you did a good job. I like hearing I’m proud of you, good girl, and you are beautiful. They make me feel validated. They make my acts of service feel acknowledged and appreciated. They can even make me feel warm inside. If I never received words of affirmation, I would certainly not feel loved or appreciated. Because I feel this way, I do try to give them in return, to acknowledge others as I like to be acknowledged.

Quality time. This one is important to me. I’m a solitary person, an introvert, so I’m not looking for tons and tons of time. But I do want the time spent to be quality time. And what this means can vary. I like to go Do things – amusement parks, parties, play, travel. I also like to just be together – sit and watch TV or movies, have meals together, sleep together(yes, sleep). I’m verbally challenged, but yes, sometimes, this can also mean turning off the electronics and just talking together.

Gifts. I’m not so much for physical gifts. I mean, I like them at birthday and Christmas, but non-physical gifts are nice, too. Trips to Cedar Point. Extra time spent together. A special meal. Gifts, for me, are for special occasions, and should be more about thought than price. This isn’t a good year-round language for me.

Physical touch. I enjoy physical touch. I like having human contact. I want to hug my friends and kiss my lovers. I like giving and receiving back rubs and foot rubs. Sex can be awesome. Much of my kink involves touch. Snuggling up with someone can provide me comfort and affection. I do stumble over this one for a variety of reasons, societal or introvert-based. It is something I need in my relationships at some level, but the how much can vary greatly.

 

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Great Expectations

August 30th, 2012

While sitting in the theater, waiting for Avenue Q to start, hubby turned and asked me about expectations. Hubby felt that my boyfriend and I had a good handle on setting expectations and asked how we did it. Or more specifically, how He had done it with me. I jokingly said that when you tell a girl for a year and a half that you are a sexually satisfied man, and then start dating her, expectations start out pretty low. In all seriousness, though, he and I usually played three times a week during most of the year prior to dating, and had already started conversations on expectations and happiness.

One of those conversations began with him asking me if I could be happy without him suspending me for a whole year. I had passed through most of my newbie sub-frenzy by that point, so I could actually consider the question. It took a little back and forth before I understood the intent of the question. It wasn’t about him denying me what I wanted, it was about expectation crashing with reality. What if he got hurt (which happened)? What if we lost our suspension point (which has happened repeatedly)? What if I got hurt? The real question was did my happiness depend on suspension, or could I be happy without it? This started the thought process in my brain that expectations have to mesh with the reality of the situation.

Another set of conversations we had was him asking me if I Deserved to be suspended. At the time it felt like a trick question, given the dynamics we were involved in. But it was really about suspension not being a think I could deserve or earn. It was a gift, given because he wanted to. Not because I deserve it or expect it. Giving affection only because it is expected or only when someone has “earned” it can lead to abusive situations. For me, affection must be given because both parties want to give it. But beware putting expectations on what defines affection.

Back to the question that I started with. When he asked if I could be happy without suspension, he wasn’t asking if I would be happy not seeing him for a year, simply without one form of play. In our relationship, I expect to see him fairly regularly and I expect affection. Sometimes that means a hug, sometimes a text message, sometimes a flogging and sometimes it means dinner and a movie. When it’s been a long day, it can simply means his arm around me while he falls asleep. He shows me affection in whatever way he is able, mentally, physically and emotionally. As I do him.

Another way we have set expectations in our relationship was to write them down. In our contract with toy, we wrote out what all the expectations were. What we all did before play, what types of play there would be, and what could preempt or prevent play. It was very clear what we could all expect, and even then there were surprises.

So, what do we do then? What happens when expectations are not met? No matter how clear you think you have been, or how mutual you think your expectations are, you will still face disappointment occasionally. The important thing to do, of course, is to talk about it. What were my expectations? Were they the same as his expectations? What happened that caused them not to be met? Was it reasonable? Were the expectations reasonable to begin with? Was it just a special case that won’t happen again? How can we prevent this situation from repeating itself? Do the expectations need revised, or does one party need to be more conscious of meeting the expectation?

For me, another good conversation to stay on top of is wants and needs. My needs tend to be where I set my expectations, so I have to communicate that those things are needs. And I have to set reasonable expectations of where I’m going to get those needs filled. Being poly, they don’t all have to be filled by one person. Wants are things I would like to have, and I have to communicate them, too, else they won’t have a chance to be fulfilled. But the important thing to remember is that I cannot expect all my wants to be fulfilled all the time. Life isn’t that simple. But I can work on getting them filled through expressing them and making plans. And sometimes my needs aren’t met either, at which point we return to the previous paragraph of questions to have another look.

As always, the most important part of setting expectations has been clear communication. Second to that is acceptance that we are human and life isn’t perfect. Talk about your expectations. Unspoken expectations Cannot be met. Understand that life gets in the way, even of needs sometimes. Be flexible, accepting, and keep talking. And while you are talking, offer solutions. Once the problem has been stated, clarified and understood, move forward and find ways to avoid future disappointment from that source. During your conversations, if the other person has expectations that you cannot meet, have a conversation about why and about what can be done instead, or how to change that expectation. Expectations are a two-way street, both parties must be actively involved in setting, meeting and revising them. Everything changes, keep talking.

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Mistakes, Punishment & Service

February 17th, 2011

My Four Mistakes

1. I did not wear a skirt when I went over to his house last Tuesday. In fact, I wore jeans. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I did not wear a skirt, as I had agreed to do, and failing a skirt, shorts, in his presence. This was a promise I made to him, quite a long time ago. And this was the second time I had broken that promise. Both times, I had excuses and distractions, but that does not change the facts. He asked me to wear skirts or shorts so that he could have easier access to things he might want. I agreed to wear skirts and shorts for him, to always be available for that access. It became a sign of my submission to him. Being ready and available to please him at any time. To forget, no matter what the reason, to not be aware enough of myself and my promise, is unacceptable. It is disrespectful of our bond and my gift of submission to him.

To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I have chosen a skirt to keep in the car at all times. It is shorter than my usual skirts, but still appropriate for wear around other people and in vanilla settings. It is a skirt I don’t mind wearing, but it is not my preferred skirt, so it will allow me to keep my promise, and remind me to be fully conscious of my choice of clothing.

2. I did not text him when I got home last Thursday. More excuses that do not matter. I know it is the rule, and it has a very solid basis in history, both his own personal history, and in our personal history. He wants to know I have gotten home safely, and I have agreed to let him know that. There are even nights when I haven’t been with him that I text to let him know I’ve gotten home safely so he does not worry. I often ask others to do the same and have recently started teaching our Toy this habit as well. I often get on Hubby’s case to let me know where he is at and I understand the worry, though not with the keenness his past has sharpened it to. Driving anywhere is always taking a risk that something might happen along the way.

To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will let go of the various things that caused excuses in my brain. Daylight or early evening is not an exception. Not playing is not an exception. Whenever I leave his presence, I will let him know when I have arrived at my destination, regardless of situation, time or place.

3. I did not follow a direct order. He told me to take off her pants and I hesitated and hemmed and hawed and used her as an excuse. He even said I was getting in trouble the more I hesitated, and I did not act. He told her I was getting in trouble, and I was still negotiating the order with her. Eventually, when a solution seemed to be reached, I did take her away and get her changed out of her pants, but I still did not take them off myself. I was acting as a buffer to her comfort levels, instead of doing as I was told.

To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will remember that she is responsible for herself, and while it is our agreement to protect her, I am also to do as I am told. She has full capability to take care of herself and stand up for herself, I must allow her to do so and not do it for her.

4. I took the cuffs off her without permission. No excuses, no demurring, I did not have permission to remove the cuffs he instructed me to put on her only minutes before. He had, in effect, put them in place, and I removed them. Putting them back on correctly makes no never mind, I took them off without asking. He bound her and I undid that. She is our toy, but the bondage, in that instance, was to him.

To correct this mistake and keep it from happening in future, I will be more aware of what I am doing for myself, for us, and what I am doing on his behalf. I will be more aware of the bonds of bondage and respectful of undoing them. I will be mindful of asking to undo things he has done, or asking to stop doing something he has begun.

Punishment and Service

I speak above about how I am going to avoid making these mistakes in future. But that is for me, that is my process. For him, I must not only correct my behavior, but also make up for these mistakes. It sets my mind running, thinking of what to offer him for these infractions. I have warring feelings of guilt and a desire to please. I know he likes to receive service, but I feel a selfish want to be punished. There are also complications of health, situation and timing, and our new toy to consider. I also do enjoy the punishment fitting the crime.

It took me a while to break the cycle of feeling pain must be involved or offered. It took him being blunt and throwing it in my face for me to realize that I had to stop. Sometimes punishments include pain, but in this case, it was not on the table. My masochism was not to be fed, my guilt was not to be relieved through physical catharsis. To truly make up for my mistakes, I need to be selfless and offer service to him, not ask him to do something for me.

I also got spun around on writing as penance. I would write about my mistakes and read it aloud to remind myself not to repeat them again. But this is hardly punishment for a writer, this is what I do. And it doesn’t really work all that well, as may be evidenced by my repeated attempts last year to stop making the same mistakes over and over again. Writing, as he pointed out, is good for reflection, but does not punish or correct mistakes. It does help me to make plans though, and that is good, but not what I need to offer to him.

And so I began again, for a third time, to think of service to offer him. To think of things he would like, that I could do for him, that would match up to the mistakes I made. Things I could do with Toy’s assistance, as well, because two of them involved her, and perhaps it would help her, as well as entertain him. Things that would not interrupt our evenings, but enhance them.

We are still negotiating the final details, but I have found my path again, with his guidance.

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Gifts We Return

January 6th, 2010

In retail, the Holiday season ends on December 24th, and the Return season begins on December 26th. But that’s not what I mean, I don’t mean things you get that you don’t want. Things you get two or three of that you get rid of the extras. I want to talk about gifts that make you want to give back to the giver.

BDSM for me, involves a great deal of this. The care my parters take of me. The love and joy they give me. These are gifts, I give them in turn. The scenes my partners create for me are extraordinary gifts. I am rarely the driving force, but my submission to his will, my energy in the scene, my writhing and squealing and gasping, all give back to him.

In this line of thinking, the question “do you deserve it” always causes problems in my head. If I’ve had a trying time, and I really want the scene to make me feel better, I am quite tempted to say Yes. Yes, I deserve this, after all I’ve done, all I’ve suffered, I deserve this happiness. But there’s also the little submissive in my head saying No. No, I don’t deserve anything, I’ve done bad things, I’ve not been perfect/compliant/obedient enough. Which isn’t quite right, either. The truth usually is No. Gifts are given freely, there is nothing I can do to deserve it.

When such gifts are given to me, I do my best to give back as much as I get. There is no way to measure such gifts, but the shared love and joy we have in the giving.

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Journey to Submission, Part 1

December 9th, 2009

She knelt on the bearskin rug on the hearth, hands on her thighs, hair falling down around her lowered face. The fire crackled and popped, casting an orange glow over her pale skin. He stood with his hand on the mantle, watching her from behind. He wanted to reach out and stroke her hair, run his hands down her back. He needed to touch her, to take her, but he waited. Control. He had to be in control, but the sight of her there, naked and kneeling was driving him crazy.

She had come to him a year ago, a gift from his parents for his eighteenth birthday. A servant girl to entertain a prince. She had knelt to him then, but there had been fire in her eyes and a stubborn slant to her chin. The past year had been a journey for them both, full of joy, sorrow, excitement and conflict. All leading to this day, where she knelt willingly and submissively on the rug, waiting to serve him.

Had it really only been a year?

~~~

The hall grew quiet as King Samsen and Queen Sylvia rose from the table. Prince Jayceon returned from the dance floor to stand beside them. At a motion from the King, the guards swung open the doors, and two men entered, flanking a young woman, dressed in an iron collar attached to iron manacles, and a small leather skirt. The men in the crowd murmured and stared. The women eyed her critically. Jayceon bit his lip and looked between her and his parents as she was marched to the front of the room and shoved to her knees.

“Happy birthday, Jayceon.” The King announced. “Since you have not chosen a wife, yet, this one will take care of you until you do.”

Jayceon looked at his mother, she was smiling, but her lips were thin and she glared at the girl. He looked back at her and realized why. She was looking up at them all with undisguised fury. He took a step back and then laughed. The tension in the room broke with his grin.

“What’s your name?”

“Ciera.”

“Well met, Ciera. Thank you for coming to my birthday party, though you look decidedly unhappy to be here.”

She did not answer, nor did she drop her gaze.

“Perhaps you would be more comfortable waiting elsewhere?” He motioned to her guards who pulled her to her feet and led her back the way they had come.

“She’s a wild one, Jayceon.” The Kind confided. “You’ll enjoy her, I wager.”

“Samsen, she’ll bite his head off rather than serve him, what possessed you to pick such a girl?” The Queen hissed as the room filled with chatter again.

“You worry too much, Sylvia. Our boy can handle that small wisp of a thing.”

Jayceon was sure he could handle her, but wisp was not the word he would have used to describe her. She had perfectly round breasts the size of golden apples. Her belly was smooth and her hips rounded out in delicious curves. Her thighs were solid and her calves well muscled. Her arms were thin and her hands soft and slender. Her long black hair ran down to the small of her back and her skin was pale and creamy. No, not a wisp at all.

“Jayceon?”

“What? Oh? Sorry.” He realized that other people were offering him gifts now, and he tried to focus, smiling, and thanking them each in turn, but the girl filled his mind and he wanted nothing more than to rush back to his rooms to see her.

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