Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More Problem Solving

I've been thinking about what I said about airing dirty laundry and showing how we resolve things in relationships, and I think it's a valuable thing to do. So I'm going to do another post about it.

I'm going to talk about a recent thing, a only-a-couple-of-weeks-ago thing. It became a problem that we weren't playing.

See, things have been rough recently. A dear friend of mine had a huge problem and so I rushed to his rescue as much as I could. The boy has been working full time. My health has not been at its best. So of course, things slowed, and we hadn't been playing (or fucking, but I haven't been in the mood and the boy is on orgasm denial until further notice, so that's not as big of a deal).

I did my best to make it work. I tried to insert five minutes of play here and there, little bits and pieces to make sure we still had some playtime, even if it wasn't much.

Then we had a fight.

Now, when I say "fight", I should say, it doesn't look like most people's fights. When the boy and I fight, it's really more of a discussion. Not even a heated one. It seems to follow a formula.

The formula goes like this:

Person with problem (hence PWP): Hey [partner], I have a problem.
Other person (hence OP): Oh, really? What's wrong?
PWP: Well, I am having [this problem].
OP: Oh. That sucks.
PWP: Yes.
OP: Would you like to elaborate as much as you can on the problem, so I can understand it?
PWP: Yes, my problem is [longer explanation], and there are also these [details].
OP: Okay, let me see if I understand this problem. You are having this [problem, rephrased in OP's own words to express what OP has understood], as well as these [details, also rephrased in OP's own words]. Is that right?
PWP: Sort of, there are also [these issues that are related].
OP: Oh, I see! So there are also these [issues, that OP rephrases into what they understand]. Is that right?
PWP: Yes, that's about right.
OP: Well, [here is my take on this issue], and here are [the problems I am having with it]. Also I feel [this way] about this problem.
PWP: Yes, I feel [like this].
OP: All right, let's talk about how we can fix this. What do you need to resolve this problem?
PWP: I'm not sure, but I think [this] would help.
OP: All right, let's do [this]. Also I have [these suggestions].
PWP: Oh, I like [one of those suggestions]. Let's do that as well.
OP: All right! Also, I would feel better about all of this if [this concession] was made for me as well.
PWP: Yes, I think that's reasonable.
OP: Good! Is there anything else we need to figure out?
PWP: No, I feel that we have resolved this.

Obviously, when it is not a script on a page, it gets more complicated, and if it's a heavy issue there is often some crying. Sometimes I get angry, and I need to go for a brief walk before I am able to calm down and communicate about issues properly. Sometimes me or the boy is crying too hard, and needs to have a cry and a cuddle before we can communicate properly.

If you are familiar with the concept of 'fair fighting' in relationships, you might see a lot of similarities. This isn't because we intentionally try to follow the fair fighting 'rules'... it's just that this way of communicating works extremely fucking well.

So away from the script and back to the real life fight we had.

The boy needed more play. He said the little bits and pieces we were doing wasn't cutting it, and it felt like as soon as he got into it, we stopped.

I felt a little hurt by this, as I had been doing my best to make it all work.

So we talked the issue around in circles for a while, and for a while there it looked like there wasn't a solution. We've had that occur a few times in our fights and let me tell you, it is the scariest god damn feeling.

Anyway, part of the problem we discovered is that sometimes we have incompatible desires. Though we both have broad tastes, kink-wise, our favourite things do not tend to overlap. This can make getting into it difficult, as well as all the other problems (such as time and health etc).

So we worked out a compromise.

I committed to at least one half hour or longer block of solid play with him at least once a week. He also committed to trying some of my kinks that he's not into, but I'm not sure where that's going to go.

But about this commitment I made. I didn't want to make it, and the reason I'm telling you this is because there's something we don't talk about much in the sex positive world - sacrifice.

Now, admittedly, this isn't a big sacrifice. Oh no, I'll have to have loads of kinky fun with my boy, at least once a week? Terrible thing! But, I didn't want to commit to it - because doing so meant that I couldn't just go "oh I have a headache", it meant I couldn't not be in the mood all week, it meant... well, it meant a commitment. And commitment is scary.

I bring this up because this is a common problem in people's relationships. That of conflicting needs or desires, where someone might be required compromise.

I love my boy and I want us to work - and more importantly, I want us to be happy and fulfilled. And here's the important part when something like this comes up. You have to ask yourself: "Is my partner's happiness worth this?" "Is my relationship worth this?"

If it's a good relationship and your partner isn't asking much of you, there will be no hesitation in being able to say "yes, of course", and make the commitment, make the sacrifice, make the compromise.

We all need to get our needs met. But that goes for both people in the relationship. Not just them (making you codependent and unfulfilled) and not just you (making you selfish and leaving them unfulfilled). Both of you deserve to have your needs met and some of your wants met.

Also, to keep things in the relationship happy, I find that you can work compromise both ways - notice how above, I didn't just say I'd play with him once a week, but he also said he would try some things I'm into? If you feel you are sacrificing something, make sure you are getting something in return. If the relationship is good, it won't be difficult to work that out.

This turned into a very long post. But I really hope that you enjoyed it, and just maybe it will help you in your own relationships.

By the way, tomorrow is our three year anniversary. :)


  1. i believe dan savage calls this 'GGG', see also

  2. Yes, definitely the same idea, though I've noticed less focus on good communication with Dan Savage - communication, yes, but he seems to favour short, blunt conversations between partners. Not that that might not work, especially for some people, but it can lead to oversights.

  3. Yes, yes, yes, I agree with so very much of this :) And I hope that you two are very proud of your communication skills!