Monday, March 18, 2013

One of the Questions Put to Me Last Week

How does a rule get made and punishment decided?
I am assuming what is meant here are rules dictated by Husband, to me. There are many rules in this house, some well-stated, and some not, but just as well-understood. The rules I have instigated usually come about through negotiation and discussion, and a great deal of my communicating my frustration and/or unhappiness; while the rules Husband instigates are also set down through negotiation and discussion, but far less.

But I guess the big difference here is this: when I want a rule made, I have to start my reasoning with why should he; while if he wants a rule made, he starts his reasoning with why should she not. I have the onus of convincing him my rule is worth his change of behavior, while he does not share the same responsibility.
There is the other fact that he has veto power and final say. If I have a good reason why his proposal is a bad idea, I have every right to bring that up, but if he disagrees, the changes are still implemented.

For instance, there was a time Husband would not bother to call me if he knew he was going to be home late, even extremely late, because he did not want to take the time to call, and thereby (he claimed) come home even later. But once he understood I didn't need a whole explanation over the phone why he was coming home so late, only a "heads up," and taking that one minute to call me was a far more preferable option than coming home to a red-faced angry dragon of a wife, he started changing his ways. The rule then became, if I am going to be late, I will call.

Of course, the fact that he can punish me while I cannot punish him is a huge, um, influence on our negotiations. But the biggest detriment to breaking a rule is disappointment, and that power can be wielded by both of us; it just depends how much we care.
When I forgot to plug in Husband's shaver that time, he was extremely disappointed in me. That hurt indescribably, and for a long time. On the other hand, he is constantly forgetting to pick up his dirty socks and put them in the laundry hamper. He knows this drives me bonkers, but does that stop him? No, it does not, because he knows I don't care enough to make it a huge issue.

Rules involving the kids are, of course, a bit more complicated. He delegates most of the day-to-day power over the kids to me. This is not say he has relinquished his veto power and final say, but it does mean he recognizes that I probably have more insight into these things than he does. He also recognizes that, as a mother, I will fight harder for my kids than I would for myself.

Making rules takes time. All of them have asterisks next to them, representing the fine-print list of exceptions and bullet-point caveats. For instance, that example I gave before, of Husband calling when he's coming home late? The fine print would state something like

*Husband agrees to call as soon as he realizes he's going to be home late, unless for some reason it is a bad time to call; in which case, he will call as soon as possible. Wife agrees not to demand explanation at that time. Husband agrees to give her one as soon as he is able, with the understanding that may not be until after he has eaten something at home (so he is not a complete grouch). Husband agrees to only come home extremely late if it is completely necessary, Wife agrees to trust Husband what is completely necessary.

With every rule, it always comes back down to trust. I am trusting in Husband to implement the right rules, and use his veto power with discretion. He is trusting in me to communicate to him what he needs to know to make the correct decisions: my thoughts, my opinions, and my wisdom. I am trusting him to trust in me; he is trusting me to trust in him.

As for I said earlier, disappointment is the biggest punishment there is. Now, since my Husband is a Sadist as well as my Dom, my punishments tend to get painful. Husband likes to use toys.
But this is not to say I don't have my own way of letting out my vexation on him. I can get creative, too.

But the important thing to remember is that setting down rules is not a quick-decision-making process. It takes time, thought, and consideration. The urge to move fast can be tempting, but it usually results in temporary, and therefore weak, rules.

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