I would argue all relationships have rules. Maybe they aren’t written down, but they are there, under the surface. An expectation or a condition that, if it isn’t met, has consequences. They naturally grow and change with time, and are driven by some need, either spoken or silent, by one or both of the partners.
Yes, this includes vanilla relationships.
“Don’t have an affair” is a pretty common one, and probably obvious. Its consequences are also easy to understand. There are also subtle rules that function as part of habits and routines, and feed the wellbeing or health of a member of the relationship.
For example, in our vanilla relationship, Mr.R and I always went to bed together at the same time, prompted by him saying he was tired and ready for bed. – This was the unspoken rule. He had to tell me he was ready for bed. I naturally sleep less then him, being something of an insomniac. Even without that, I need less sleep then him, and fall asleep much slower, sometimes with great difficulty. Hearing he was ready for bed was a trigger for me to get ready to sleep. He would tell me when he was ready for bed, and then go shut down the house. I would finish whatever I was doing, and then follow him into the room. If Mr.R didn’t tell me he was ready for bed, our bedtime routines wouldn’t be started correctly, and I probably wouldn’t sleep at all (I mean this literally. Sometimes I don’t sleep, and then go to work with 3 or even 0 hours of sleep). This would inevitably start a fight, usually that same night as I would feel slighted that he left the room to go to bed without me.
That anger, my lack of sleep, the carry over into the next day would all become consequences of breaking that rule. It wasn’t written down anywhere, and we didn’t call it ‘a rule,’ but it functioned exactly the same way. (And still does to this day, by the way.) The rule existed mostly for my personal well being, my health, but also had a mutual agreement in it. Going to bed together built a time into our day where we were close, physically and emotionally, as we visited and got into bed… naked. It was a time we both needed. The consequences also had to happen, because they maintained the rule, even if it was miserable for both of us. This is no different then the rules established, and possibly written down in a D/s dynamic.
Then why have D/s rules?
Rules in a power exchange relationship don’t just maintain the relationship, or the health and wellbeing of the members. They maintain the power exchange.
This is actually a big deal, and very important to acknowledge. 24/7 D/s is a total power exchange (TPE), where power is given away by the submissive (me) to a dominate (Mr.R). This voluntary exchange of power is a planned method of managing your relationship. It only works if the TPE is maintained and fed. To do this rules must be more overt, more obvious, than in a standard vanilla relationship. Rules need to feed the power exchange. Sometimes, that is the only function of a rule.
For example, we have a rule that I am to remain sexually available for Mr.R. This is not a rule that builds health or well being. It is there for the power dynamic. It removes my power, and gives it to my Master. There is also a mental factor to the power exchange in this rule, I am always consciously aware of it. Not only am I reminded of it physically every morning during our ritual, when Master chooses to bang my pussy or ass at his leisure, but I also must make small decisions throughout the day to maintain that availability. Things like clothes, time, aspects of communication. It takes some effort on my part to stay available. It also means that my time isn’t 100% my own. I have to be ready at the drop of a hat to stop whatever I’m doing, and fuck it, suck it, or take it the way Master wants, where he wants, and when he wants it. (This is of course consensual, and he knows all my limits.) This knowledge remains in the back of my mind all day, every day. This possibility of service keeps me in a submissive position, and keeps him in a position of power.
This is where D/s rules are different.
In my mind, a rule you aren’t going to enforce isn’t worth the ink you wrote it with. Of course, there are always circumstances where certain rules can’t happen. Pneumonia, for example. I wasn’t making anyone coffee when I was in bed with pneumonia. But, that’s not where enforcement matters. It matters in the standard day to day functioning of your dynamic. If it is okay to break a rule without consequences, then the rule wasn’t serving anyone, and is actually deteriorating your power shift. If, on the other hand, you don’t notice that it has been broken, the rule wasn’t needed, and shouldn’t have ever been made.
Consequences for us, can be anything from a verbal correction to funishment to a good ol’ over-the-knee spanking. (Okay, maybe that’s also a bit of funishment…) I wrote about this once before. Having consequences doesn’t mean that the act of breaking the rule has to be a big deal. I think it’s natural for the occasional rule to be broken. Emotions happen, bad days happen, accidents happen, stress happens. Consequences are a more effective way of providing a do-over for the mishap then simply apologizing and forgetting it. A paid consequence is a repentance. The wrong doing is gone. The slate wiped clean. Permanently.
Doms can make mistakes too.
You might be thinking that too, but I’ve noticed there isn’ a lot of room allowed for Doms to repent when they mess up. Some make excuses, and some always blame the sub. Harsh. In one dynamic I read about the Dom said his punishment was to loose his sub’s trust. I would argue that is actually double punishment for the sub, and only goes to further break down their power exchange instead of feeding it. I would also argue that the Dom is being unfair to themselves. Why not just clear the air and fess up? Why not allow the Dom to also clean the slate? It seems mean not to.
There are fights or bad days from our past that I wish we could go back and pay penance for, submit to punishment. I would forget them, let the moment, the feeling of being wronged, or the guilt of wronging Master go… if I could. I think it is important that consequence goes both ways. Both the Dom and the sub need to acknowledge if they have broken a rule, and need to pay consequences for that break. It keeps you both honest, builds trust, and is emotionally gratifying for both.
We only have 1 rule that Master could break. It’s the only rule I requested to be in there, and I need it. If he does, which happens, he buys me pretty things, or takes me out for a minnie day. It’s my choice. I get to pick the pretty thing, or the place to go. I am hoping to save up and go somewhere fancy, like New Mexico. OR HAWAII!!!
Keeping consequences light hearted allows for true forgiveness and to release the feelings of guilt. I think this is really important, because mistakes are human.