Sunday, March 19, 2017

Emotional Labor

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post. Lady Grey, a fellow blogger commented and gently admonished me for over thinking life as Katie's submissive. She believes I over think things too much when it comes to me submitting and suggested I simply do what I’m told. And so for the past week or two I’ve done that (mostly :). There were more than a few times when Katie voiced her wishes that I repeated silently, “Just do what she says. Just do what she says. Just do what she says.” I’m sure I repeated that mantra aloud a few times too and could feel Katie’s smile coming through the phone.

Did I feel more submissive? Nope. Did I expect to feel differently? Nope. Will I keep doing this? Yep. Is there a reason why I’ll keep doing what I’m told? Yep. Am I going to tell you why? Yep. I’m going to do what she tells me because I made a promise that I would. That alone should be enough. 
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Two weeks ago I happened to catch an interview on the radio. The topic was 'emotional labor’. The guest explained what this phrase meant. I hadn’t heard the phrase before and it piqued my interest. 

The gist of what she had to say was this: All of us invest a certain amount of energy into performing physical tasks throughout our day. Cleaning, preparing meals, work responsibilities, getting the kids ready in the morning, straightening the house, mowing the lawn, going out on a date, etc. Those physical tasks tax our energy reserves to some degree. Beyond the stuff that comprises our day is all of the emotional energy we put into those tasks as well as unrelated thoughts and feelings that have the potential to exhaust us. Interactions with others, worrying about how much it will cost to have the dishwasher fixed, not knowing if the Amazon package will arrive in time, getting stressed because the freaking traffic light isn’t turning green (I hate red traffic lights), having to sit at lunch with people you barely know and make conversation, worrying over a dear friend struggling with her health, marital stress - the list could go on and on.  All of this ‘stuff’ is emotional labor. It doesn't require actual physical effort but can be a significant source of energy drain. At times the drain can be so profound that it can become paralyzing. 

After the short interview I jotted a few sentences down on the subject and filed it away in my ‘post possibility’ file.  Some days later I wrote the post Mixed Feelings - Good Ones - Frustrating Ones - but in the end - all good.  At some point Lady Grey commented and tried to set me straight with her advice to just do what I'm told. Her advice was good. She makes a good point. I probably have been less than the ideal sub. I probably was putting too much thought into our D/s relationship and imposing my wishes on to Katie. After reading and considering her advice I thought about the interview on the topic of emotional labor. The light of understanding went on as I considered her advice and wondered if I was forcing Katie to invest more emotional labor than necessary into me. I wondered if my pursuits might be having a negative effect rather than the positive one I was hoping for. I wondered if I was becoming a burden rather than making her life easier.

The submissive-me finds it attractive knowing she's in control, that she has power over me and that she is has the decision-making power in our marriage. But having that perk requires Katie to exert more emotional labor than me. She's the one that has to decide how our money is to be used, what our weekend will entail, what events we will attend, what projects need to be done around the house, etc. Additionally she has me to consider. What does she want me to do? How is her sub doing? What work outside of my usual chores does she want me to address? All of that takes thought. There are, of course, benefits to having that freedom, but with that freedom is a level of mental energy that must be spent. 

Katie isn’t one to fly by the seat of her pants. She is a planner. She is self-conscious and considerate of others - almost to a fault. She is never late. She has a tendency to worry. All of this taxes her energy. I don’t see it but I know her mind is active even though she may be sitting quietly next to me. She is always considering the what-if scenarios before making a decision. 

And then there is me. Her sub. Her needy sub. If  I push her to be that ideal mistress those intentions may be good at heart but they aren't the qualities she appreciates in me. She likes me obeying, being there, assisting her, doing things for her, making life easier, being her best friend and generally being a low-maintenance husband. When I push, or wish, or gripe, or complain, or keep bringing things up, it has the end-result of taxing her energy reserves rather than adding to them. I know she only has so much to give and sometimes just getting through a day is all the energy she has. Having to think about being a mistress (and not just a wife) can sometimes require more than she wants to emotionally and mentally exert.  

When I told Katie, way back when, that I wanted to submit, I somewhat convinced myself I was giving her my all. To some degree I did. I gave her more of me than I previously had. I became more involved in our home and the work required to keep it up. But when I handed her that list of 60+ chores I was willing to do and as I watched her circle the ones she wanted me to take on – I also hoped she would give something back to me. I wanted her to meet my submissive needs. I wanted her to fulfill my submissive wants. I wanted her to ‘play chastity’. I wanted her to deny me. I wanted her to do this and do that.

What I didn’t want to admit at the time was I how conditional my submission was. I wanted an 'I’ll do this for you because I know you’ll do that for me’ relationship. But that’s not what submission is about. It's about letting go, not holding on. I had the hope that what I wanted was an ‘if/than’ marriage. I didn’t marry a naturally dominant wife. I married a wife that enjoys my love and attention as well as the perks of the efforts much more than she enjoys thinking about how she can punish me or make me feel submissive. She feeds my wants by giving me morsels rather than shovel fulls. It’s who she is and who she’ll probably always be.

And so I’m going to continue to take the wise advice of my online friend Ms. Grey and do what I’m told. I’m going to do my best to not force Katie to invest more emotional labor into me than what comes naturally. I’m going to try to not make our D/s relationship about me. I’m going to try to be what I promised – her support person, her helper, her submissive husband.

Thanks Lady Grey!

I’m Hers


3 comments:

  1. You're more than welcome, I'm Hers, and I'm glad you refereed to my suggestion as a "gentle admonishment", as that's how it was intended. This posting was wonderful. Introspective, insightful and very thoughtful. This D/s life has no absolute rules and regulations. We must all feel our way, open minded and willing to adjust. You're doing a fine job of that, and I think your conclusions are sensible, especially as you're willing to "simplify" a bit. Just letting things happen without overthinking them can have very pleasant results at times. I'm always left hoping that your wife will suddenly "up" her involvement in giving you what you need and desire, but there are far worse things than what you already have. After all, even lacking a perfect relationship, you're getting more D/s than you ever expected when it all began, you still love each other, and that's worth the world, isn't it? As always, my best to you and Katie.

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  2. Very interesting post. Liked it a lot. Gave me much food for thoughts. Thanks for shaing.

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  3. Just thought I'd drop in and say how much I appreciated your post.

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