Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Perhaps your household works without a structure. Go you. The rest of us mortals need to figure out how this thing works. This is a spot for talking about how we create the structure of our various domestic arrangements.

Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby Meg » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:12 pm

O and I have been working on creating some new structures, and we have been talking through the difference between good, respectful communication of wants and needs vs. "topping from the bottom". I sometimes do both, and we were trying to figure out what the difference between them is. O said it had a lot to do with the timing and the manner of when and how I said things.

I came up with a driving analogy. If I am in the passenger seat (which I usually am, because I don't like to drive, and O really does not like my driving), it is perfectly ok, and expected, for me reminder her to stop somewhere we were planning to go, like the post office, if it looks like she forgot...hopefully, before we pass it :). It is also perfectly ok, and expected, for me to read the map and navigate while she is driving if we are going somewhere new. (Thank goodness for the GPS...making this largely unnecessary now!) It is even ok to ask if we can stop by the Dairy Queen. What is not ok, and quite annoying and distracting, is for me to be a "back-seat driver." There might be certain exceptions, like if she doesn't see a car making a sudden stop in front of us. If she is falling asleep at the wheel...I should offer to drive or certainly ask to stop to get coffee or something. Other than that, I should not be telling her how to drive the car when she is driving. (As an aside, that is how I know that O doesn't like my driving...because she has to bite her tongue really hard to keep from being a "back seat driver" when *I* drive. :love1:, Obsidian :hiding:)

I was thinking that ttwd was rather similar. I can ask *respectfully* for what I want and need. I am expected to communicate things that are necessary, but I shouldn't be telling her how to Top me. Actually, in some ways, *not* communicating things can be "topping from the bottom" or, at the very least, counter-productive. An example of this is when a punishment is too light. If I am being perfectly honest, sometimes I do not communicate this...not because I am respecting O's decision, but because I really do not *want* more punishment, even though I *need* it. What generally happens than is I end up "bratting". What I should do is respectfully *ask* for more punishment...and in the few times I was able to do this, did not *feel* like "topping from the bottom", but was actually quite humbling, and made me feel *very* submissive....and is EXTREMELY hard to do in the heat of the moment, btw.

Well...break's over...better go now...just thinking through things.
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby JigsawAnalogy » Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:18 am

That driving analogy is interesting to me, mostly because I am the driver in my house. And I think that's a metaphor for a lot of our relationship: I often feel like I'm in the driver's seat, whether because I'm better at doing a task (say, driving) or because W is uncomfortable doing it (again, driving, or figuring out finances), and I then have a hard time not being in charge in general, because I so often find myself in the position of being in charge.

I need to think more about this.
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby Meg » Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:29 am

I guess the question for you, JA, would be, are both of you happy with that? You have said yourself that you do not really feel like you need to be all that submissive. You need discipline, and you like W to be assertive...but submissiveness isn't really your thing. I know that you have different parts, which would make things more confusing.

In our household, neither one of us is happy when I take charge. O HATES to be told what to do, especially by me. She always has, even before we were doing (or knew we were doing) ttwd. One of the things that has always annoyed her the most about me is when I go into what she calls "take control mode." I could yell, scream, cry, have temper tantrums for days...and it would get me nowhere with her. Now, it gets me a very sore behind and usually a mouth full of soap. Even if she agreed, she would passive aggressively not do what I wanted...usually "forgetting". On the other hand, if I asked her nicely, she would do almost anything for me. This being the case, if the dynamic gets out of whack with us, things get more and more tense until they become explosive, where if the dynamic is right, it is *wonderful*. So, for us, the issue is how do I get my wants and needs met without O feeling like I am telling her what to do. I guess the answer to that is in this paragraph...I need to *ask* politely and respectfully.

I heard of an interview with an elderly couple, who had been married over 50 years, and the husband was asked the secret of their marriage. He said, "I make the big decisions, and she makes the little ones. In over 50 years of marriage, there has never been a big decision." I guess the point is that couples have to do what works best for them.

I was also thinking of O's parents. Both her parents would swear up and down that her father was the Head of the Household, and actually, the *rare* times that her father put his foot down about something, her mother would fall in line, but on a practical day to day basis, her mother *ran* the household and, for the most part, called the shots. They seemed to have a happy marriage until the day her father died.
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby JigsawAnalogy » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:20 am

amethyst wrote:I guess the question for you, JA, would be, are both of you happy with that? You have said yourself that you do not really feel like you need to be all that submissive. You need discipline, and you like W to be assertive...but submissiveness isn't really your thing.


As I think about this, I'm not actually certain what the answer is. W seems to prefer it when I'm in charge of things like driving and making decisions about money. Thinking about it, I'm not so sure that this is about her not liking to be in charge, so much as it is about her not liking to make decisions. I'm not sure there's a difference, but I'm wondering if there is.

And at the same time, I don't mind making decisions most of the time, but I really need to be topped occasionally, or I wind up getting really controlling and out of sorts. I don't actually need her to be in charge of household decisions or driving--and, in fact, this doesn't make either of us happy. I just need to feel like she's in charge of *me* some of the time. And I don't respond well to her being submissive.

So maybe it is that I'm submissive, but not in a 24/7 kind of way, or maybe it's that I don't mind being in charge so long as I'm not *always* in charge. And, actually, in some ways my taking charge might be more of a submissive thing than it seems. I know that W doesn't like to make decisions, and I often do that for her as a way of making her happy, or as a way of making our lives easier and less stressful.

That said, much of the time, I really don't mind being in charge of other people, or being in charge of myself. And I actually don't much enjoy it when I'm in a position where I'm *not* in charge of myself... thinking of things like jobs that I've had, I have generally preferred the ones where I was a supervisor or where I was pretty independent in the work that I did. If I had a supervisor that I could respect, I could manage, but I've pretty much always had pretty self-directed jobs, and I've liked it that way. Come to think of it, the one time that I had a job where I was directly supervised (in the dining hall my freshman year of college), the supervisor kept not showing up, and I naturally started telling the other workers what to do because they needed *someone* to do it, and I wound up being promoted to supervisor within a few weeks.

But I definitely need times where someone else is in charge of me--not so much in day to day life, as that I need moments set aside where I'm being topped, and if I'm not getting those, I get tangled up and out of sorts. It's not just the spankings, and I generally get even more wound up when W approaches a spanking as something she is doing as a service for me.

I guess, for me, it's that I really need something to balance out my generally in-charge nature, and discipline does that for me.

I want to think some more about ways of being able to reinforce W's topping, without losing the things that work well for us (ie, me being in the "driver's seat" much of the time).
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby Meg » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:10 am

I want to think some more about ways of being able to reinforce W's topping, without losing the things that work well for us (ie, me being in the "driver's seat" much of the time).


Exactly!!

A model you might want to consider is that of an Administrative Assistant/Secretary type of role. I have been employed in that role at times, and I have had people function in that role for me. A good Admin. Assistant will often be the one really running things....and the last thing I would want as a professional is an Admin. Assistant I had to micromanage, because, then frankly, I might as well do the work myself. I would also delegate a great many decisions to the Admin. Assistant. Frankly, I really do not care what brand of paper we buy, as long as it is in the budget and the paper does not jam in the printer/copier. I would also expect that if my Admin. Assistant needed a decision from me, he/she would have done all of the research and would present me with options and most of the information I needed to make the decision. These are also the things I have done for my bosses when I served in the role of Admin Assistant. None of this, in any way, shape, or form, changes the fact that the boss is in charge and the Admin. Assistant is the subordinate.

It sounds to me that W might appreciate and could use that in the way of service, and if, in your mind, you can see it as service, it might help you to feel like the dynamic is in place.
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby Meg » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:45 pm

It's funny, but in talking with you about *your* wants/needs...it just dawned on me...the first step in communicating wants and needs is knowing what they are. It also occurred to me that I really do not know what it is that I actually want and need from ttwd.

Too many other things have entered in the picture...I have some thinking to do about this.
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby Meg » Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:40 pm

Thinking more about this...it is tricky as a bottom, because often what I *need* as a bottom is not to get what I *want*.

I also was thinking of the whole Boss/Subordinate thing...and realizing, in that scenario, while the Boss *might* make *some* adjustments/accommodations for the subordinate, it is mostly up to the subordinate to adapt to the Boss.

I mentioned this out loud to Obsidian, and she looked at me and said, in that awful (wonderful) Top tone of voice, "Um, yeah! You just figured that out!"

I...ummm....ummm...oh dear....I don't know what I think about that.
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby Eayore » Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:15 am

amethyst wrote:...it is tricky as a bottom, because often what I *need* as a bottom is not to get what I *want*.

I think that is beautifully put! Exactly the same for me... and yes I find it tricky too!

I also agree with you it is mostly up to the subordinate to adapt to the Boss. Another tricky thing, which I find is not as easy to comply with as it feels like is should be. :blush:
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby W-Jigsaw'sBoss » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:02 pm

Today was our anniversary, and we're exhausted from a super fun day, so I'm sort of brain dead. I just wanted to let you all know I'm reading and thinking and am definitely thinking about the idea that the subordinate is making the small decisions (and they're all small decisions) but in the end the boss is still in charge.

There's a problem with this analogy, and maybe this is just me.

I think the heirarchy in the work world is ASININE. I don't really understand the POINT of figurehead bosses that don't do any work.

Maybe that's why I have a hard time taking that power. I don't know. I'll think more on it.
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Re: Communicating Wants/Needs vs. Topping from the Bottom

Postby Meg » Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:10 pm

I think the heirarchy in the work world is ASININE. I don't really understand the POINT of figurehead bosses that don't do any work.


Having been both a boss and a subordinate, I disagree that bosses do not do any work. For example, in a doctor's or lawyer's office...you really do not want the doctor or lawyer ordering the paper clips...they need to be doctoring and lawyering. In the business world, the boss often is responsible for the administrative tasks, the budget, payroll, and all sorts of other things that the employee does not see. Heck, even if a boss' *only* job is to supervise...supervising people is a *heck* of a lot of work if you are interested in doing it well. Frankly, many times it is easier to do the work yourself than to supervise other people doing the work.

There can be advantages to hierarchy. I was once on a volunteer Board of Directors that operated by consensus...and it was miserable! All we did was talk, talk, talk :blahblah: :blahblah: :blahblah: :blahblah: ...and nothing got accomplished. :thud: Of course, I *never* liked group projects...lol. There is something to be said for someone in charge to organize everything.

:rant:

I think that one of the problems with modern marriages is that people do not talk about how decisions will be made. In our time, the convention is egalitarian, which can be just as constraining as the patriarchal model of the past. I really wish that there was more talk out there about couples working through how decisions will be made, based on what works best for them...rather than some model they think they are *supposed* to follow. Marriages and relationships are NOT one-size-fits-all.

OK...rant over...lol.
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