This post is a companion to This one by my Wife/Sub on re-negotiation of rules.
We have both been thinking about the rules we have in our D/s relationship, and how they can be updated/improved. When we came up with them, we did so over Skype chat, then saved the basic rules as s simple list. I put them in an excel sheet, and they have just sat there ever since. After applying the rules several times to actions and transgressions, along with accompanying punishments, we sat down to clarify the rules.
I should note that we are both lawyers, and our lawyerly thinking and adversarial processes come in to play in just about everything. We like it that way. Unfortunately, it appears that D/s and trying to “lawyer” the existing rules creates a conflict. Lawyers look for loopholes, mitigating factors, and generally want to argue their side. In D/s there is opportunity to make a case or ask for explanation in downtime, but not to argue with every perceived rule violation.
Clarifying the rules wasn’t much prettier. We sat down and added notes to the excel sheet next to each rule, giving clarifications to the rules as well as examples. We both used our lawyer skills to think of loopholes to close and examples to use.
Looking back at that, we should have left most of the lawyer skills out of the negotiation, and just used our relationship and D/s. But we can always renegotiate and fix a set of rules or a contract for ourselves. It is never too late to figure out what we really want, and how to do it. “Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.” Justice Felix Frankfurter. (I just had to quote Justice Frankfurter.)
Rules and Contracts in D/S aren’t really the same type of contract that we see in law. While they may have the same form, or read similarly, a contract in the D/s contract is not enforceable in law. Instead, a D/s contract serves to clarify to the parties what the desired framework of their D/s is expected to be, to provide consent and guidelines for specific types of play, and to give notice to the other party what the first party wants out of the relationship (and vice versa). It can be something like “s shall prepare dinner by 6:30” and “D shall make time for and plan 2 dates per month”, or it can show limits like “D may spank s with hand, belt, crop, paddle, but not cane”, or “yes to spanking, no to watersports”.
When we re-visit the rules and write a new “contract” (or whatever form it is),we have to keep in mind that we are doing this for D/s, and not for contracts class as a 1L. Likewise, when applying rules and punishment to a perceived breach, it needs to be our relationship and D/s standing at the forefront, and not our lawyer skills trying to interpret, argue, and find loopholes in something we both know we wanted and agreed to. If we leave the lawyer parts out of that, we still have the normal D/s fallbacks of downtime and safeword.
It also helped us to think of what the lawyering in D/s does. It detracts from the D/s. If we are lawyering it, is there really submission? Sometimes I felt that if she is arguing the point at every turn, is she really submitting, or just playing a kinky role for her benefit? We talked about that point, and I believe we have an understanding that for the D/s to really happen, we need to leave many of our lawyer skills at the door. Since we are D/s in the bedroom only (mostly), this should be easier than if we were 24/7 or TPE like others are.
I’m sure we will put together a new contract or set of rules using our legal writing skills, while trying to make sure there are no loopholes, but for all of it to work we have to keep in mind that D/s is not an adversarial process like legal contract drafting and negotiation are. We are after the same thing, and we just have to decide what to write. After that, we need to use the contract in the spirit of our D/s, and not pick it apart for the language and interpretation of a law school contracts class.
I didn’t really talk about punishment much in this post. I know that I have to figure out what some more real punishments are for her. One of the first ones I tried was a caning, but she liked it and asked for more, so I can’t use it as a punishment. I have found a few useful ones, but need to find others to fit the rules after we amend the current ones. It is an ongoing learning process.