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Can we skip the flogging tonight, dear? I have to wash the drapes.
August 23, 2010 9:22 AM   Subscribe

My hubby's kinky. I'm not. Please help us figure out a fair way to compromise in the bedroom.

About a year ago, my wonderful husband told me he was interested in BDSM. Since then, after many attempts at "getting into it" myself, I've realized that I am, sadly, not at all a kinky person. I'm willing to humor him in the spirit of being GGG; but I'd like to know how to draw some fair boundaries.

He's an enthusiastic guy, and since the initial revelation has gotten pretty far into things, to the point of buying some expensive special equipment, doing a lot of internet research, etc. We've done about ten "scenes" total, but the frequency seems to be increasing. Lately, he brings it up about once every two weeks or so, or roughly every ~5 times we have sex. He's not so into roleplaying, humiliation, or psychological submissiveness, but he really likes the bondage and the physical/torture aspect of things (with him being tortured).

I've got a couple of issues with this, including:
-- While it's kind of hot when he's getting off at the very end, I have a visceral objection to causing him too much pain, or tying him up in obviously uncomfortable positions. For me, sex is about feeling good and/or loving somebody, and it's kind of a turnoff to have to do things that feel intuitively cruel or unloving.

-- His preferred flavor of BDSM is very him-centered: he lies there, gagged, blindfolded, bound, and it's on me to figure out stuff to do to him for however long it takes to get him off-- frequently an hour or more. Frankly, it's boring, distancing, energy-intensive, and a drag. Plus, it's frustrating, because I feel as though I have to be able to plan and execute a fabulous experience from his end when I really have no idea how anybody could enjoy any of this.

-- We have a young child, and my energy and creativity is in short supply. Although I'm not proud of it, I'm a little resentful that now we have to devote a ton of time and energy to his fetish, when I have no comparable fetish that demands his time. Our regular vanilla sex is satisfying, and he's ok at foreplay and great about oral sex, but really, you're talking 20 minutes of fairly mutual pleasure, compared with 60-90 minutes of entirely one-sided pleasure for the BDSM sessions. I frequently feel as though it's not fair that I'm having to give so much more than he is. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way, because, really, he's my partner; shouldn't I want to do things that will keep him happy? And there's really nothing me-centered I can imagine wanting him to do for 90 minutes in return.

-- I also worry about how far this is going to go. Already, within a year, we've gone from zero to electrodes and ball thrashings. Does the slope stop being slippery at some point?

-- Lastly, we've been together for 11 years, and with the exception of one very mild experiment in college, this is the first time any of this is coming up. I sometimes worry that the sudden recent dive into kink could somehow be an early warning of eventual problems or cooling in our sex life or marriage in general.

I know the answer to all this is COMMUNICATION, and my husband and I have already had some good conversations so far. But I'd like to have some sense of what other people regard as fair and reasonable in these situations-- to calibrate my internal normalcy meter, as it were. How often does it seem fair to indulge in this pastime of his? How far should I let it go, and where's a decent place to draw a line? And does anybody have any good suggestions on how to get over the resentment I feel about this, or to think myself a little more securely into a role that doesn't come at all naturally to me?

Oh, fwiw, I have read The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book, and, while interesting, they seemed predicated too much on a standpoint of authentic enthusiasm to be of much use to me. If anybody needs followup, throwaway email is reluctant.top.2 (at) gmail (dot) com. And if possible, please no links to Dan Savage columns-- killer way with an acronym and all, but the self-righteousness sets my teeth on edge.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (46 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
You really don't seem into this at all. How would you feel about outsourcing this and sending him off to see a pro domme?
posted by mollymayhem at 9:25 AM on August 23, 2010 [23 favorites]


Seconding mollymayhem.
posted by jbenben at 9:31 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're not into it, you're not into it. And honestly, it's better not to ruin what you've got by trying to turn it into something it doesn't want to be. People just have different interests, and it sounds like you've given this a good fair shake. Have you considered opening up the relationship so that your SO can get what he needs from someone who shares his kink?

(Have you read The Ethical Slut?? It's worth checking out.)
posted by brina at 9:35 AM on August 23, 2010


It sounds like he's putting much of the burden on you and that's not fair. If he's into this stuff, he should shoulder much of the burden of planning etc. So, instead of you figuring out what would be enjoyable for 60-90 minutes, he plans things and gives you a rough guideline. It's about getting *him* off and he knows what will do that much better than you do. If you're not interested in a pro domme, and there are perfectly legitimate reasons for and against, then he needs to take the pressure off you.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:36 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


He is looking for play that you're just not into and that is not a fault in either of you. Everybody has comfort zones and limits, and you're getting some insight into where your comfort zones don't overlap.

Would it change your feelings if you -were- able to understand "how anybody could enjoy any of this"? He may be lying there feeling enormous waves of love and affection and excitement when you are doing what you're doing but he's not communicating them well or you're not believing what you're seeing. If that would change things then it might be a good place to start investigating that.

You may wish to ask this question on People from Metafilter on Fetlife as well.
posted by jet_silver at 9:37 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ultimately, it's fair for him to want a partner who's enthusiastic to feed his desires, but it's also fair for you to want a partner who isn't selfish, and he's crossed that line provided you've told him. The line is up to you to decide, so "calibrat[ing] [your] internal normalcy meter" is not really necessary, as much as deciding what "normal" is for your relationship independent of any others -- if he's asking for things you're not comfortable or happy doing, and you've told him this, then your task is to determine what compromises you can reach. That compromise should not be informed by anyone else's opinions, really.

Also, is this an indicator of eventual problems? No, it's actually a problem in and of itself, not because it's bondage or kinky, but because it's an incompatibility you need to deal with. So give it the due attention by talking about it and working out a compromise.

Incidentally, since you have a new child in the house, could it be simply that he's overreacting to your attention being drawn away from him? It's worth a thought.
posted by davejay at 9:48 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Though it's easy to understand why you'd feel that way, you should really let go of the concern that the kink is an "early warning" of some other, non-sex-related change in your relationship. It's probably just kink. If anything I'd guess (and this is really just a guess) that the likeliest explanation for the seemingly very fast ramp-up to more extreme stuff is that your husband's kinkiness was so deeply submerged for so long. You should talk to your husband about your discomfort with the learning curve, specifically; slowing things down and moving back to less extreme play for a while seems like it might be a really good idea, for both of you. (And I know you didn't want to be referred to Dan Savage, but some of his kink-specific podcast episodes have had really good discussions, with guest experts, on this exact question of how fast to ramp up from vanilla all the way to electrodes, and how to slow it down. Savage Lovecast #163 with guest Mistress Matisse would be a good listen, or you could take a look at her blog and avoid Savage's input.)

But it seems to me that your second and third questions are really the key ones here, since they deal more specifically with the way the kink is making your sex/love life feel more asymmetrical, less mutual, than it did before. All this is obviously going to have to be talked out and negotiated between the two of you, but it might be good to think beforehand about what outcomes would make you feel more secure and more taken care of. One reasonable idea (again, sorry, cribbed from Dan Savage) might be to agree explicitly on a schedule/frequency for the kinky stuff: once a week, or once a month, with vanilla sex the rest of the time (and while giving a pre-agreed rest to any requests for more or different kink), gives the kinky partner something to look forward to and plan; and it also leaves the "work" load at a less overwhelming level for the less kinky partner.

But past this, the really hard question to work out — and probably the one that will need the most work on your husband's part, specifically — is your second one: he will need to learn to be a less passive bottom, to steer things in the direction he wants rather than just waiting for you. I don't know where to find good advice on this, past The Bottoming Book that you've already read, but perhaps someone else will.
posted by RogerB at 9:50 AM on August 23, 2010


Oh, and yeah, if you feel that a successful compromise is sending him to a pro domme or what have you, and you're both okay with that, it's all good no matter what you think your parents might think (or whatever.) Just make sure you agree on ground rules up front, and both commit to sticking with them.
posted by davejay at 9:50 AM on August 23, 2010


Marriage is a partnership, and ideally an equal one. If he wants you to devote an hour and a half to his fantasies, you both need to figure out a way that he can put that amount of work back in. You say you're not down for ninety minutes of vanilla sex - how about things like cooking dinner, giving you a full-body massage (with no expectation of reciprocation or sex afterwards - expectations cast an unpleasant pall on things), basically doing what he can to make your life easier, less stressful, that sort of thing. You're being very giving but it sounds like the biggest frustration is that you're putting in far more than you're getting out, and that's never okay.

How often is fair? As often as you're okay with. It's seriously as simple as that. This is something you need to communicate about - there's no such thing as normal, there is only what works for you.

Regarding how far it's going to go: There's really no way of knowing, I fear. He won't be able to predict how he's going to feel or how he's going to want things to be, down the road. Just know that you have every right to get back as much as you give. Never let yourself forget that.

Sit the fellow down and explain everything you've said here. Make some attempt to discuss this point: is there anything that can be done in-scene that would be fun for you? As it is, it sounds like a slog, and while you're a champion for going ahead with it anyway, it's only going to foster resentment. The best advice I can give is to try to find something in all of this which you might look forward to. Don't beat yourself up if you just can't. If you're not into it, you're not into it, and there's nothing wrong with that.

So, I don't know. Talk to him about it. Ask him what specific things he's into, what acts, et cetera, so you don't feel like the onus is on you to basically read his mind. Ask him how he feels when he's tied up. Try to build an emotional bridge between where you are at these times and where he is. You may never be into it - that is, it may never turn you on - but there can certainly be a point at which you're having fun with it.

Good luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:50 AM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


You've got to meet somewhere in the middle. How far are you willing to go? What limits is he willing to respect for your sake? I totally understand the suggestions for allowing him to go outside your marriage, but it shouldn't HAVE to be that way. I know I wouldn't want that. You say you've talked about it, but have you specifically talked about compromises? A little experimentation could even be fun for both of you. You might both discover things you like that neither of you considered before.
posted by katillathehun at 9:52 AM on August 23, 2010


There is a certain efficiency in solving this problem through the use of a professional dominatrix. Fetishism, whether you would consider it to be actual sex or not, is not going to end up with your husband having children with his dominatrix and leaving you to live with his new family; it will never be other than a professional relationship. However, a dominatrix generally is expensive (something like $150/hr) so you may or may not want to spend that much money - that is the main drawback. It's an expensive luxury.

If you do continue to indulge your husband's masochistic desires, I would urge you to have no qualms about causing him pain, or about being cruel or unloving. This is what he wants you to do. If you do it, you are being kind and loving, not cruel or unloving (even though if you were to do exactly the same thing to someone who did not want it, you would be extremely cruel and would likely be charged with many serious crimes!). Of course, it is in a sense very bizarre that he actually wants to experience pain (he wants pain only in a particular context - doubtlessly he still dislikes pain in other contexts) but we human beings can have very complex sexual psychology, and the drive for sexual satisfaction is much stronger than the normal desire to avoid pain.

With regard to your concerns that his masochism may become even more extreme, in the form of a slippery slope of some kind, masochists have their limits, and very few people actually want to suffer some kind of permanent injury. From your description I would guess that he has already reached his limit. But if he asks for something that you consider to be life threatening or too dangerous, then obviously you should not do it. If you wind up killing him, no jury would accept the argument "but that's what he asked me to do!".
posted by grizzled at 9:53 AM on August 23, 2010


If you're comfortable outsourcing, this is a GREAT opportunity for it. But if you're not, you're not, and that's absolutely fine; there's no requirement that you be OK sending your husband off to someone else.

You sound perfectly GGG to me, honestly. I don't think there's any need to worry that your husband's going to escalate this unduly, but he does need to start doing more of the work. Playing top when you're not really into it is fair, but hard enough; he needs to start either planning the scene or else get comfortable with a much lesser frequency of kink activity. That is HIS opportunity to be GGG in return.
posted by KathrynT at 9:58 AM on August 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


If I were you, I'd sit him down and let him know this kind of sex just doesn't work for you and you're not interested in doing it anymore. If he wanted to be in a marriage where the sex is like this, he should have brought it up much, much sooner than 10 years into the relationship.

It was unreasonable and unfair of him to allow you to have a vanilla sex life for 10 years (presumably getting married at some point during that 10-year period) before being all: hey, actually, I'd rather have these very long sessions that mostly require lots of work on your part, aren't especially enjoyable for you, in fact are actively offputting to you because they involve you administering testicular and other varieties of torture on me.

I understand grizzled's point that causing him pain should be considered caring rather than cruel. I'm sure can comprehend this point in the abstract. But that doesn't mean you're happy with it, and you're not obligated to be.

You don't explicitly mention whether you're bothered by the fact that it puts you in a very dominant position and him in a very submissive position, but I'll bet that's part of your issue with it, and there's nothing wrong with that. It'd be fine for a couple to have a sex life that involves the women being much more dominant than the man, but the issue isn't whether that's an OK thing to do in general; the issue is whether you happen to want that. If you don't want it, you don't want it -- period.

Again, I think you'd be very reasonable to stop this, cold turkey.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:59 AM on August 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


Some people are suggesting you take him to a pro domme and if that's a route you're willing to go, good for you. I just wanted to put my two cents in though and say that I would never be able to stomach my husband getting off with another woman--if you can't, please don't feel badly about it!!

For the sake of your marriage, perhaps visit a counselor who might help you two work out a compromise. You're clearly not into it (kudos to you for trying), and the bottom line is that you shouldn't feel forced into sexual acts you're not into. (You may not feel "forced," exactly, but there seems to be an element of coercion here by your husband--so I would say "forced.")
posted by melancholyplay at 10:28 AM on August 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


It sounds a little like you have tried to be the "perfect" partner about this and do 100% of what he wants, due to your guilt that comes from thinking this: "he's my partner; shouldn't I want to do things that will keep him happy?" In other words it sounds like you did what you thought you were supposed to do.

And now you have resentment and fatigue. But, it seems like you're still trying to fit it into a framework of what you're "supposed" to do: "I'd like to have some sense of what other people regard as fair and reasonable in these situations".

I think regardless of what we or you decide is fair, reasonable, or what you are supposed to do, you will still have resentment and fatigue if that magic amount is still higher than what you can do happily.

So ... is there an amount of time for which you could do this happily? Or at least, an amount of time where you won't be extremely bored and exhausted by the time you are done?

If I were you that is the experiment I'd try. Try to find the amount of time you'd be okay with, and stop there. Would you resent doing this for 10 minutes a week? 5 minutes a week? If not, then I think that's the amount of time that might work for you.

Same thing with the intensity of what you guys do, the particular acts. Is there a point up to which you don't feel distanced and disturbed? Try just going up to that point and then stopping. I think it is totally okay for you to set a line about what you do to other people sexually just the same as it's okay for you to set a line about what other people to do you.

It sounds like up till now it's been all or nothing - do everything he wants, please him utterly, or say fuck it to the whole thing. You are above your limit right now, but maybe your limit actually is higher than nothing, so it might be worth it to respect your limit and look for it.
posted by Ashley801 at 10:44 AM on August 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can offer a detailed personal response and concrete suggestions from my own experience, but I'd rather do it through email. It's in my profile.
posted by desjardins at 11:02 AM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Talk to him about it. Ask him what specific things he's into, what acts, et cetera, so you don't feel like the onus is on you to basically read his mind.

Eh. This is a good idea, except when it's executed poorly. I once had a girlfriend who questioned me in such a cold and clinical way when I revealed my kinky tendencies to her. I guess she was trying to be helpful, but I felt like I had a mental disease that was being diagnosed. That was the end of that.

There is no easy answer here, sadly. You two are not quite sexually compatible. You gave it a shot, and that's incredibly commendable, but this is not your scene, and now you know. If you're comfortable with any level of this, then you can work with your husband to find this point. Otherwise you need to stop this.

Still, he needs an outlet, since - like you - he is who he is, and will not change. If you're not comfortable with outsourcing (which is, honestly, the best idea), you could try to find a way to be there for him while divorcing the kink from the sex, for you. He can get into self-bondage. He can devise his own scenarios, and once he's gotten as far as he can get by himself you can lock that last padlock and take away the keys, and leave him to struggle for a couple of hours while you're washing the drapes. Then, perhaps, if you leave him wanting long enough, he'll be ready to have some super awesome vanilla sex that you can really get behind.

The kink community thanks you for your open-mindedness and willingness.
posted by 17564 at 11:14 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kinky or not, that sounds really, really boring. Where is YOUR pleasure? What if you guys had sex while he was in bondage or he was "forced" to service you somehow? You can redefine your kinky sex to mean more than you making him cum for an hour.

Also, I think you are completely entitled to having vanilla sex, if that's what gives you the most pleasure.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 11:14 AM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding joeyjoejoejr, on both counts.

Would you be open to turning the tables and see what happens? You're not domme, but is it possible you are any bit submissive, and could take turns switching roles? I'm not well versed in the community, but I believe people tend to have one or the other tendancy, not both. . .but if you both enjoy a degree of submissiveness you could treat one another sometimes and cut down on the frequency of playing a role you aren't into.

Someone who has more experience than me, feel free to point out the flaws in this.

You sound like you are being super cool about the situation and with some help, can work something out.
posted by rainbaby at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2010


How about seeing a sex therapist? I have a friend who is a therapist and she says there are therapists who specialize in helping couples through these types of issues.
posted by bananafish at 11:51 AM on August 23, 2010


You sound a bit isolated, try reaching out to the kink community (either in-person if available or online if not). There are a fair number of groups that meet not for kink/play but to discuss logistics, emotional effects, scenarios. Your dynamic is not unusual, many people get married thinking they can submerge their kink.

Also, you can't think of ANYTHING he can do for you for ninety minutes a week? If he spends that ninety minutes taking the child out/doing chores above and beyond the fifty percent he should already be doing you may find more energy and enthusiasm. And every time he spends money on his kink you get the same amount incase for YOU to spend on yourself. Depending on your preferences you might want to suggest he pay for you and a girlfriend to have a whole day at the spa twice a month. Good luck.
posted by saucysault at 11:53 AM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, you can't think of ANYTHING he can do for you for ninety minutes a week?

That's not really how sex is supposed to work.
posted by thejoshu at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


Would you mind doing it for him once a month? It sounds as if the frequency of his requests for these scenarios is increasing and that has you exhausted and turned off. Maybe lessening the frequency will give you enough time to figure out a scenario that he would like, and having it scheduled would give him something to look forward to so that he doesn't feel ignored.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:13 PM on August 23, 2010


It's fair to indulge in this as often as he wants. And it's always fair for you to say no. And, if you're not into it, you're not into it. And if he's into it and you don't work something out, he'll be justified in looking for it elsewhere, eventually. I'd start the big conversation about that, see if you can find a way for both of you to stay together in your partnership but also have the physical relationships you want, perhaps with others. I wouldn't read it as a warning at all, quite the opposite, it's an opening up, he's communicating his desires with you and asking for what he wants, which is a really good sign. Keep things open by holding back on your judgement about his interest as much as you can. For example, you're saying that sex is about 'feeling good and love' while this about pain - but for him people pain does feel good, etc.
posted by jardinier at 12:29 PM on August 23, 2010


I agree mostly with what 17564 said. I would just like to add that he probably wasn't hiding this from you, it took this long for it to surface and for him to come to terms with it. Don't begrudge him this.

With regards to the slippery slope of intensity; I first heard the term "sub fever" the other day at brunch. Often when people first discover this side of themselves, it's a big dive in, headfirst. It's exciting, and it's fulfillment on a level they've never had before. It can get pretty intense pretty fast. Sometimes it does cool off, and the kink play settles into a more sane level. Sometimes it keeps going and there is a need for more intense sensations. I don't think there is a way of knowing which route your husbands will take. There are a few decades of pent up kink in there, don't forget.

If you decide that it's okay for him to go to a pro-domme, you can also set restrictions. No sex, just kink play. It's the what a lot of married people who play in the bdsm scene do.

If you do ever feel comfortable being domme (and I can see where this would be an absolutely boring miserable experience for someone who isn't inclined that way), keep in mind that the pain that you are inflicting feels very loving to him. It is very hard to describe unless you experience it yourself, but be assured that a good flogging is better than a good make out session to some.

I don't think that trading chore time for bdsm sex time is a good idea. If you are uncomfortable domming him, no amount of him doing the dishes is going to make you feel better about it. You are not obligated to pretend to be something you aren't, just like he's shouldn't be obligated to stick to vanilla sex now that he's opened up to this aspect of himself.
posted by newpotato at 12:30 PM on August 23, 2010


This sounds like a really frustrating situation and it seems like he's behaving very selfishly.

It's completely unfair to you that he didn't mention his fetish at the beginning of the relationship and after 10 years and a child, expects you to fulfill his "needs." Ugh.

It seems like he's putting his needs ahead of yours in a major way. I'm surprised you have been able to keep this up so long.

If you want to continue doing this, can you make a deal that the fetish part only lasts 10-15 minutes? 90 minutes sounds excrutiating.

As for your questions, I don't think it's fair or reasonable of him to spring this on you so late in the relationship. The time he requires is also unreasonable considering it's such a change from how things were for 10 years. You should only let things go as far as you feel comfortable. You have tried to be understanding, but you don't like causing him physical pain, so you shouldn't have to give in.

You are far nicer than I would be in your situation. You've given it your best. It's time for him to be mature and not so obsessed with his own "needs" that he doesn't seem to care about how you feel.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:33 PM on August 23, 2010


OK, I've decided to answer here in the hopes that it can help someone else. It's not like I haven't discussed this stuff on mefi before. If you want more details you can still email me. Keep in mind that we do not have children so I cannot address that variable. I am also going to work under the assumption that you do NOT want to outsource, although I do think that is your best option. I am also operating under the assumption that sexual incompatibility is not a dealbreaker and you do want to stay with him.

You have an incredible amount of leverage here that you are not seeing. He really, really wants the kinky stuff. AND HE'S SUBMISSIVE. So make him work for it, as much as he needs to so that it is enjoyable for you. It will feed nicely into the scene.

there's really nothing me-centered I can imagine wanting him to do for 90 minutes in return.

You need to very specifically ASK. Don't imagine. Don't assume. ASK. If he agrees, then you can DEMAND (in scene).

"YOU! Get over here and run me a bubble bath, pour me a glass of wine and feed me chocolate-covered strawberries. Then I will ravage you."

NEVER LET HIM ORGASM BEFORE YOU DO. Ever. He will work for it. Trust me.

I have a visceral objection to causing him too much pain, or tying him up in obviously uncomfortable positions.

This is what safewords are for, and he should be using them. If you find a certain act repulsive, then don't do it. Find something else. There's a huge range of fetishes out there. I cannot stand the feel or smell of latex, but I like shiny PVC and stretchy spandex. I can thrash someone all day but I could never bring myself to use a speculum or sounds. You wouldn't eat something that made you nauseous, and he shouldn't expect you to. Refuse and ask him to come up with an alternative.

Frankly, it's boring, distancing, energy-intensive, and a drag. Plus, it's frustrating, because I feel as though I have to be able to plan and execute a fabulous experience from his end

Being a top is a lot of work, and if you don't enjoy it then it's a lot of work for no payoff. When it's boring: find something to do while he's tied up. I'm serious. Read a book or take a laptop into the bedroom. Don't try and shoehorn your sexual expectations into the time he's tied up - they're completely incompatible. You need to make SEPARATE time for intimacy, affection, etc. And you need to make it crystal-clear that those things are non-negotiable.

Distancing: try partial bondage; his legs are tied, but he can still touch you with his hands. Tie him up and tease him with your body; get close enough for him to kiss you and back off. Or tie him up for awhile and let him loose on you for regular sex. Put his hands where you want them.

Planning: you should not have to do all of this. You can get around this in several different ways. 1) Tell him to lay out the toys he wants used. 2) Pick activities out of a hat. You don't have to think about it, but it's spontaneous to him. 3) Stop putting pressure on yourself for it to be "fabulous." Did he cum? Great, it was good for him. Your perception of his expectations are probably not reality. 4) Just because he's ramping up the intensity doesn't mean you're not doing it right. 5) If you can find ways to be more enthusiastic, he will likely appreciate that more than specific activities or equipment.

Although I'm not proud of it, I'm a little resentful that now we have to devote a ton of time and energy to his fetish, when I have no comparable fetish that demands his time. Our regular vanilla sex is satisfying, and he's ok at foreplay and great about oral sex, but really, you're talking 20 minutes of fairly mutual pleasure, compared with 60-90 minutes of entirely one-sided pleasure for the BDSM sessions. I frequently feel as though it's not fair that I'm having to give so much more than he is.

If you want to have a loving marriage, you absolutely have to set down the stopwatch and put away the spreadsheets of who has done what for whom. I totally, 100% understand the impulse, and the effort should definitely be a two-way street, but demanding absolutely equal proportions is not the answer. It will never happen because the worth of these activities cannot be objectively measured. Does eating lunch together have the same value as seeing a movie together? What if he picked the movie or you picked the restaurant? They just don't have a 1:1 correspondence, and neither does kinky sex: vanilla sex.

From my own personal experience, I promise you that if you can get your resentment out of the way, this will be a LOT easier and more enjoyable for you. How do you do that? You talk to him, very honestly and straightforwardly. Tell him that you've been doing this for him but you're not really into it. Try to avoid "that is disgusting" because I guarantee that he's already gone through some internal conflicts about telling you at all. (Why'd he wait til you were married? There's no way he didn't have some kinky inclinations before. This also explains the rapid ramping up - once he told you and you didn't freak out and run away, the floodgates opened.)

Along with honesty comes clear expectations. If you're planning sexytime on Friday night, you need to establish what is generally going to happen. "I'll tie you up but then I want a massage and you cook me dinner." "Monday night is focus-on-me night." "I'm much more likely to enjoy myself if the drapes are cleaned first." Seriously, you have so much leverage here. If you're honest with him that this isn't really your thing, but you love him enough to make him happy, then you should not be shy about getting what you want.

Does the slope stop being slippery at some point?

In my experience, yes. He may not know how far he wants to go, or he may know, but has been introducing this to you gradually. But if you're up to ball thrashings and electrical play, you really don't have much further to go. That's pretty heavy-duty and I sure don't blame you for being all WTF. You can definitely tell him you need to slow the fuck down.

Holy crap this is TMI, but tl;dr: you have the power to be honest and set your expectations so that you feel you are treated fairly.
posted by desjardins at 12:36 PM on August 23, 2010 [45 favorites]


It was unreasonable and unfair of him to allow you to have a vanilla sex life for 10 years (presumably getting married at some point during that 10-year period) before being all: hey, actually, I'd rather have these very long sessions that mostly require lots of work on your part, aren't especially enjoyable for you, in fact are actively offputting to you because they involve you administering testicular and other varieties of torture on me.

If you're saying that it's unreasonable and unfair for his sexual preferences to change radically--I don't see how that could possibly be true unless you believe people consciously control their sexual preferences and how they change. I'd agree that the situation the OP posits sounds very one-sided and something needs to change, but why are you blaming the husband for changing?
posted by Phyltre at 12:38 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please do not take parakeetdogs point of view. In all likelihood, this is not at all what happened with your husband. For a lot of people, it takes a very long time for them to understand that they are kinky. Once it clicks, they are able to think back over the course of their lives and see signs of it, and understand that it has been with them forever, but they just weren't able to see it in themselves before.

If you do decide to give topping a try, listen to desjardins. She knows what she's talking about. You will blow your husbands mind. The downside to that, of course, is that he will probably want more.
posted by newpotato at 12:47 PM on August 23, 2010


Also, it may be worthwhile for you to create a quick profile on fetlife.com. There seems to be some support groups there for vanilla/kink marriages.
posted by newpotato at 12:52 PM on August 23, 2010


And now to respond to some other thoughts in this thread:

jet_silver: Would it change your feelings if you -were- able to understand "how anybody could enjoy any of this"? He may be lying there feeling enormous waves of love and affection and excitement when you are doing what you're doing but he's not communicating them well or you're not believing what you're seeing.

Exactly. He's probably all DOUBLE RAINBOWS ALL THE WAY and you're FUCKING BDSM, HOW DOES IT WORK. If he is not expressing his appreciation appropriately, you need to tell him that directly, as in "I am really putting myself out there for you, I need to know you appreciate it." I hate hate hate cooking, and I'm not good at it, but if mr. desjardins effusively enjoys something I make, that makes me want to do it more. I had to specifically ask him for this encouragement, because since he likes cooking he assumes that everyone does.

Jaltcoh's advice is a great way to get a resentful husband and/or a divorce. He's right that if you don't want it, you don't want it, but your husband's desires are not going to magically disappear if you absolutely refuse. With all due respect to Jaltcoh's many fine contributions to metafilter, I am not aware of any personal experience he has with this issue and as such would discount his advice (and anyone else's who is not kinky/does not have a kinky partner).

17564: If you're not comfortable with outsourcing (which is, honestly, the best idea), you could try to find a way to be there for him while divorcing the kink from the sex, for you. He can get into self-bondage. He can devise his own scenarios, and once he's gotten as far as he can get by himself you can lock that last padlock and take away the keys, and leave him to struggle for a couple of hours while you're washing the drapes. Then, perhaps, if you leave him wanting long enough, he'll be ready to have some super awesome vanilla sex that you can really get behind.

This is excellent, excellent advice and highly recommended if you cannot bring yourself to directly engage in the kink.

newpotato: If you are uncomfortable domming him, no amount of him doing the dishes is going to make you feel better about it.

I disagree because the predominant issue seems to be resentment over the unfairness of the situation. The dislike of the specific sexual acts seems to be a secondary concern. If you can relax knowing that the dishes and laundry are taken care of, you might be in a much better mood when it comes time for flogging. Obviously this is specific to your desires; if you don't care about dirty dishes, there is almost certainly something else you do care about that he can do for you. It's about feeling like you're in a partnership, rather than trading chores for sex. See this WSJ article.
posted by desjardins at 1:24 PM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


From the OP:
Thanks so much for all the ideas and insights so far-- some really helpful perspectives on how to think through this! I did want to note that while I see the logic, the options of hiring a pro or opening up the relationship are unfortunately not on the table at this point.
posted by desjardins at 1:37 PM on August 23, 2010


As someone who suggested outsourcing as a possible remedy, let me stress fast that I totally respect that it's not an option. Just because it makes logical sense on paper doesn't mean it would be the best option for either of you, and I'm glad you know that.
posted by KathrynT at 1:41 PM on August 23, 2010


-- His preferred flavor of BDSM is very him-centered: he lies there, gagged, blindfolded, bound, and it's on me to figure out stuff to do to him for however long it takes to get him off-- frequently an hour or more. Frankly, it's boring, distancing, energy-intensive, and a drag. Plus, it's frustrating, because I feel as though I have to be able to plan and execute a fabulous experience from his end when I really have no idea how anybody could enjoy any of this.

Even if you were kinky, you probably wouldn't enjoy this. He is topping from the bottom. He's expecting all the attention and not giving you anything in return. The fact that he's asking for pain is confusing you. What he's demanding is the kinky equivalent of a 90 minute b.j.

Kind of the point of a BDSM scene is that the bottom does what the top wants. If it's going to work, it has to be an activity that you both enjoy, but still, the essence is that it should be pleasing to the top, since presumably the bottom is already getting off on being ordered or coerced.

He should be asking, "What can I do within my kink that will get you off?" Otherwise he's essentially treating you like a pro domme, and asking you to execute a scene for him.

I wouldn't write off kink just yet. It doesn't sound like you've had a fair shot at it.
posted by musofire at 2:42 PM on August 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's completely unfair to you that he didn't mention his fetish at the beginning of the relationship and after 10 years and a child, expects you to fulfill his "needs." Ugh.

I think that's a really uncharitable view. How many people really understand their sexuality from day one? We're all a work in progress, and it may have taken this long for the OP's spouse to really know that this is what he wants and that it's okay to feel this way and to share his revelations with his wife.

OP, I know you are worried about this, but can I just say how admirable it is that you two are able to approach this as a couple so far? I think you are to be commended for the steps you've already taken, and I agree with others that you have been as GG as anyone could possibly expect.

I disagree, though, that your husband is kinky and you are not. I don't think "kinky" is a static term, or that there's just one definition. It's just that you don't share this *particular* kink of his, and that's okay.

What you can do is try to find some middle ground. Try to work what you like sexually into your scenes with him. For instance, if he likes to be dominated and you prefer "vanilla" sex, why not offer the bondage he likes as a "reward" for satisfying you? Practice orgasm denial, as desjardins suggests. Anticipation will heighten his pleasure, and you will feel less frustrated once you have had your own needs met.

And yes, leaving the room while he is bound, though it may seem mean to you, or getting on the computer and ignoring him, might actually be even more exciting for him from a "teasing" standpoint, while giving you a much-deserved break.
posted by misha at 2:46 PM on August 23, 2010


You know, I think it's easy for a vanilla person in your situation to feel like "Oh, if I was just kinky enough, I'd be able to give him absolutely everything he wants. I could fulfill his every fantasy and it wouldn't bother me in the slightest!" And I think it might help you to realize that that's just not true. Nobody gets to lie back and get whatever they want without effort — not even the world's luckiest sub with the world's kinkiest top. Sometimes the sub has to work too; sometimes they have to compromise; sometimes they have to look out for their top's needs; and refusing to do any of that is just flat-out selfish.

Because, the thing is, any top — no matter how kinky — has needs, some of which probably don't fit the exact precise fantasy their sub had in mind. Any top has likes and dislikes and flat-out limits. (Nobody is literally up for anything; anyone who claims to be is lying.) Every top I've ever met agrees that administering a beating is hard work, and that even if you enjoy doing doing it, it's not always enough to leave you satisfied: you want an orgasm after, or a backrub, or a sappy card and a bunch of flowers, or whatever. Topping is hard emotional work too, and every top I've met needs a certain amount of reassurance and appreciation from their sub. It doesn't suit the BIG MEAN NASTY DOMINANT stereotype, but it's not that rare for a top to be like, "Hang on, I need a hug. More spanking when we're done cuddling." Tops and bottoms alike often lay this stuff out on the table explicitly before they play together for the first time: "I like X, I don't like Y, I'll be really frustrated if I don't get W, and there's no way in hell I'll play with you if you do Z."

Long story short, even if you were a 100% Grade A-1 Dominant who loved beating on your husband every chance you got, you'd still be insisting on some things for yourself. So just go ahead and speak up. What would you like that you're not getting? More pleasure, like desjardins suggests? Shorter scenes? Or less tiring ones? More feedback from your husband, or more help planning shit, so you're not stuck trying to improvise while he lies there inert?

And, here's the important part — don't tell yourself that you're failing at the whole GGG thing by doing this. Remind yourself that every single top in the world, no matter how GGG or kinky, has the same conversation sooner or later. Hell, if your husband raises a stink ("...mutter mutter grumble I knew you weren't kinky enough for me....") you can remind him of the same fact. Nobody else in the world is just gonna make all his fantasies come effortlessly true. So why should you?

And I oughta say, I don't think any of this makes your husband a bad guy. A lot of subs go through a BEAT ME WHIP ME TIE ME UP ME ME ME IT'S ALL ABOUT ME phase when they first come out of the closet and start playing with other people. Most of them get over it eventually — usually because a pissed-off play partner (like you!) points out that it doesn't work that way. (Similarly, a lot of tops, even very "naturally" kinky ones, go through a MUST SATISFY MY SUB'S EVERY DESIRE phase like you, and have to get that out of their system before they can relax and start having fun.) It's unfortunate that he couldn't get his attitude adjusted before you met him, but it sounds like there's still hope for him to get his act together and start meeting you halfway.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:46 PM on August 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


And yes, leaving the room while he is bound, though it may seem mean to you, or getting on the computer and ignoring him, might actually be even more exciting for him from a "teasing" standpoint, while giving you a much-deserved break.

I strongly disagree with leaving the room unless he can easily get out (in which case, he's not really bound). There are too many things that can go wrong, for example if you fall down the stairs, or you cannot hear him yell. Just to be clear, my earlier comment referred to being in the same room and reading or working on a laptop.

Hang on, I need a hug. More spanking when we're done cuddling

Damn skippy. And everything else nebulawindphone said.
posted by desjardins at 3:01 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you're saying that it's unreasonable and unfair for his sexual preferences to change radically--I don't see how that could possibly be true unless you believe people consciously control their sexual preferences and how they change. I'd agree that the situation the OP posits sounds very one-sided and something needs to change, but why are you blaming the husband for changing?

I am assuming he didn't change and was like this all along. So I'm not "blaming the husband for changing" -- I'm blaming the husband for marrying someone under false pretenses about what his sexual preferences are. Why are you assuming the husband suddenly changed?

And if I'm wrong and he did suddenly change, I would still advise both of them to stick with their old sex life by default. If they can work out something new, fine, but they've tried that and it's not working on any kind of mutual level. Non-monogamy, according to the OP, is out of the question. So his wildest sexual fantasies might not be fulfilled? Tough luck. He should have thought of that, and gone on whatever self-actualizing voyage was necessary to figure out all the various facets of his sexual identity, before getting married and having children.

None of us know the whole timeline. Either he did figure that stuff out before getting married/engaged but didn't let her know ... or he didn't realize it himself, meaning he was vanilla enough that he was fine with a vanilla sex life with her before, and he could go back to that kind of sex life now if he wants without his life being ruined. Either way, he currently has her trapped in a profoundly uncomfortable situation she had no way of knowing she was getting into. (I'm assuming they got married over a year ago, i.e. before he started raising the issue with her.) As parakeetdog suggested, she's already been remarkably generous and accommodating in the past year, probably more than most people would be -- but it's clearly unpleasant for her and that doesn't seem like it's going to change. (If it does change all of a sudden, then I'm wrong -- fantastic, win-win. I'm just not betting on it.) He should not continue to foist an undesired sex life on his wife. If he has read this thread or she's communicated to him what she's communicated to his, and he keeps insisting on the status quo, then, yes -- I am blaming the husband.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:22 PM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am assuming he didn't change and was like this all along. So I'm not "blaming the husband for changing" -- I'm blaming the husband for marrying someone under false pretenses about what his sexual preferences are. Why are you assuming the husband suddenly changed?

And if I'm wrong and he did suddenly change, I would still advise both of them to stick with their old sex life by default.....
....... He should have thought of that, and gone on whatever self-actualizing voyage was necessary to figure out all the various facets of his sexual identity, before getting married and having children.

But if you want this one fact to privilege your advice over some of the other commenters' -- I'm sorry, it just doesn't work that way. If there are commenters whose sexual preferences are pure vanilla, that may mean they're more predisposed to side with the wife.



This is where going through the process of discovering you're kinky and dealing with the aftereffects comes in handy.
At some point in our lives, a lightbulb comes on and all of a sudden we are different. It doesn't require some self actualizing voyage, or an active searching out. Sometimes it just happens.
Most of my kinky friends are like myself, and when asked how long they've been into bdsm respond with some version of "well, I've been kinky all of my life but I didn't realize it until I was 32. 45, 37, etc."
It's a pretty common way to have it happen. Odds are pretty good here that no one hoodwinked anyone or tricked anyone into marrying under false pretenses.

So lesson one: It's not a change, it's a realization. Lesson two: When we do get it, for most of us, there is no ignoring it. Of course, people are different. Some people can bury it again, most cannot. For you to make the assumption that the OP's husband can just go back to being satisfied with vanilla sex and not needing to deal in some way with his kink is just you showing your ignorance of kink.

Desjardins has a good amount of experience in this area, and her responses are very well thought out, and take into consideration both the OPs and the husbands point of view. Yours do not. Yours make some pretty inaccurate assumptions with regards to kink.
Perhaps you should stick to what you know.
posted by newpotato at 5:15 PM on August 23, 2010


[folks, please, take asides to metatalk or email. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:36 PM on August 23, 2010


I would definitely consider finding a therapist who is comfortable working with these kinds of issues (probably a Marriage and Family Therapist). This might be hard in some parts of the country, easy in others (in the SF area where I live its not hard at all). Having someone who is both more objective and skilled at this kind of conflict resolution / compromise / building understanding and communication can be great. A phone call or at most one session should be enough to determine if they can discuss this fairly (and aren't just going to tell your husband he's a horrible freak, which is clearly not the tack you're trying ot take or you wouldn't have gone as far as you have).
posted by wildcrdj at 5:55 PM on August 23, 2010


I read about a woman who bought one of those machine things (fairly expensive though) and said it really helped her deal with her kinky husband - she could tie him up, set it up and do housework while carrying around one of those baby alarm things to monitor him. Note that neither I nor my husband are very kinky so I have no idea of the practicalities of doing something like that.
posted by meepmeow at 6:15 PM on August 23, 2010


First of all, you deserve huge, huge kudos for being so giving, loving, and open minded. Many people aren't, and I hope your partner understands how lucky he is to have you.

His preferred flavor of BDSM is very him-centered: he lies there, gagged, blindfolded, bound, and it's on me to figure out stuff to do to him for however long it takes to get him off-- frequently an hour or more. Frankly, it's boring, distancing, energy-intensive, and a drag. Plus, it's frustrating, because I feel as though I have to be able to plan and execute a fabulous experience from his end when I really have no idea how anybody could enjoy any of this.

Speaking as someone who enjoys having my partner bound, gagged, blindfolded, and more, this sounds really boring. I want a submissive partner, not a passive one. If (and it's a big, big if) you guys are going to keep doing this stuff, he needs to learn how to not just communicate his needs, but to become an active participant. Partly that's with communication before and during the event -- even if he's gagged, he can still moan happily or arch his hips, for example.

But even more, he needs to understand how to place the bdsm sex within your relationship. Maybe there are direct quid-pro-quos, like if he wants his nuts flogged he has to clean every inch of the house twice and keep it that way, arrange childcare, load your favorite music on the Ipod, and give you dozens of earth-shaking orgasms after you untie him. And that gets at the one-sided nature of your current arrangement -- he gets 90 minutes, and you get a sore arm from whipping. If this is going to continue, that ratio needs to get reversed in a huge way. He can get those 90 minutes... only after investing lots more time making you feel good and rewarded and happy. Like Desjardin says, you have the upper hand, and you shouldn't feel shy about using it.

At the same time, having said all that and speaking as a dirty kinky pervert, I think you have gone far beyond the call of duty. Sex (just like the rest of a relationship) needs to be mutually rewarding and satisfying. Whether just between the two of you, or maybe facilitated by a (sex positive) therapist, you need to communicate clearly to him that things right now aren't satisfying for you. It was brave of him to come out to you as a submissive guy (not something that's exactly rewarded in our culture); I'm not urging you to make him feel guilty or ashamed. But he does need to think about his desires in the context of the relationship, not just in the context of him wanting to get his rocks off.

Good luck! Come visit the kinky mefites on Fetlife, and email anyone whose answer here seems particularly useful. Feeling alone is awful -- there is a lot of support and knowledge available for you, here and elsewhere.
posted by Forktine at 6:29 PM on August 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Lots of great advice here. I think you put your finger on the problem yourself, with the comment that your sessions are "him-centered". To give him the benefit of the doubt, he's presumably new to actually experiencing his fantasies and doesn't realize a) what hard work topping is, and b) how demanding a sub can be.

At the very least he needs to give you ideas, either outside the scene (discussing what really gets him going), or inside (begging).

Maybe the gag is too much, allowing him to be too passive. If he really wants to be completely immobilized, well, making him wait can be very effective. I think total immobility isn't compatible with expecting 100% of your attention.
posted by zompist at 8:33 PM on August 23, 2010


If you or anyone else in this thread want a recommendation of a specific BDSM therapist (not a pro domme) in the San Francisco Bay Area, drop me a line.
posted by desjardins at 9:08 PM on August 23, 2010


Nthing the idea that you can and should be able to get your needs met. And, yeah, kink doesn't mean it has to be "all about him".

Good luck finding a balance, and finding ways for you to get as much attention and value and such as you're giving to him in all of this.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:30 AM on August 24, 2010


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