If you’ve  been reading along, we’re at one of our periodic crossroads. As we develop our own brand of FLR, we encounter some bumps in the road. The latest one isn’t new. It’s a classic communication challenge. If you believe in the classic, authoritarian FLR writings, then this will seem alien. But this is how we roll.

I think one of the biggest mistakes people make about any power exchange is that they believe that if they “live” the roles, things will just work. If I just shut up and docilely obey orders, accept punishments, and when not needed, sit in a corner waiting for my next command, then everything will work out. Even if I were capable of such behavior, Mrs. Lion would be miserable in her role and I would be named Alexa.

First and foremost, we love one another and we spend as much time as we possibly can together. The vast majority of our time, virtually all of it, is spent in activities that have nothing to do with FLR. The way I think about it, FLR is an overlay that should improve the loving relationship we already have. It should be background music for our happy lives.

For this to work, we each have to make some changes to support our power exchange. I have to agree that Mrs. Lion has the final say and that she can punish me if I don’t behave in a way she wishes. She can make rules that I must obey. She can also correct me for any reason. This doesn’t imply that she makes every decision for me. That would be impossible. It means that I obey anything she tells me to do. I have to do my best to be obedient and accept correction as Mrs. Lion wishes.

Simple, right?

No way!

Implementing this requires serious change. I have to accept my role and color my life around Mrs. Lion’s wishes.This sounds much simpler than it actually is. I am a willful, aggressive guy. I have a dominant personality. There’s no question that I need taming.

Mrs. Lion is an accepting, loving woman. She is inclined to “go along” and not make waves. The obvious, natural order of our relationship would be for me to be in charge. I think that would be an error. We both agree that Mrs. Lion needs to become surer of herself. In terms of our marriage, I am convinced that if she is in the submissive role, she will become buried and eventually resent me.

I proposed our current power exchange. It forces both of us out of our comfort zones. That goes a long way toward explaining why we sometimes struggle with it. Currently the only active area of conflict, so to speak, is managing conversations about punishment and authority.

Ironically, I am arguing for her to be more severe, consistent and arbitrary. When I talk about I think we could improve, she feels that she isn’t doing a good job. I am very sure that her response is rooted in all the years her ex kept telling her she was wrong. I haven’t learned how to tell her that I think we can make things better by incorporating some modifications without discouraging her about how well she is doing now.

Instead of accepting my feedback as something she can use or ignore, she reports that she believes I think she isn’t doing a good enough job. For the record, that never occurred to me. I have only two reasons I suggest changes or new things. One is that I am very curious and I want to see  how something feels. This can be new toys, new rules, new ways to do things in general. The second reason is that I genuinely feel that something isn’t working for me the way I think it is intended.

That second reason is responsible for most of the difficulty. For example, I’m coming to learn what level of punishment actually puts me on notice to change my ways. Given the number of times I’ve been punished, I have a good idea how much it takes to seriously influence me.

That doesn’t mean Mrs. Lion has to beat me to a given degree before she makes her point. If she doesn’t, she has failed to correct me. No, that’s not what I mean at all. Even her mildest spankings impress me. I don’t want a repeat visit with her paddle. So, the other night when I said I could take more, my message wasn’t that her spanking was too mild to impress me. Oh no. She knows she bruised me and got my attention in a big way. I truly felt it and regretted needing it.

My comment was more along the lines that I wondered how it would feel if she took it to the next level. I’m curious. Actually my motive was to satisfy my curiosity, not criticize the painful spanking I just received. She did a very good job. It hurt like hell and made me call “Yellow” once. It was an effective, disciplinary spanking.

I like testing my limits. I wonder if the severity gets dialed up if I would become more afraid of incurring her wrath again; at least for a while. I am fully aware how much I will hate the experience. But, I am a curious cat. I realize that the night in question was difficult for Mrs. Lion. She felt achy and uncomfortable. Spanking me was work that probably made things worse. My suggestion was more for her to file away for a time she has the energy to test me.

The much more serious issue has to do with exactly what Mrs. Lion wrote about in her post yesterday. If she felt my feedback was upsetting in any way, she could continue the conversation with me lying over two pillows and she using a paddle to express herself.

We both agree that we would really benefit if discipline were more consistent and, I guess, frequent. I may be wrong about how I read her, but I think each time she promptly punishes me for making her feel badly about something, she would profit as much or more from the punishment as I.  I’ll learn to watch what I say sooner or later if my “discussion” is no longer with Mrs. Lion, but with her paddle. She’ll learn that she has the right to express herself in any way needed to be heard.

She can’t say I’m not listening if my bottom is listening to her paddle.

Here is the way I see it happening:

Mrs. Lion: [pause in her telling me about work]

Me: I think that all you need to do is…

Mrs. Lion: “I wasn’t finished speaking! Let’s continue the conversation in the bedroom. Get on the bed face down!”

[We go to the bedroom. Mrs. Lion paddles me until she feels she has my attention. I remain in position on the bed (or over her lap)]

Mrs. Lion: “Now, as I was saying before…”

Any repeat of the behavior gets more spanking. I am in position so there is no delay in letting me know she had more to say without a contribution from me.

Mrs. Lion has repeatedly said that she doesn’t punish when she is angry. I’m asking her to change that. If we are to move forward, I think a conversation that is not going the way she wants should be continued with her paddle. If we are home, then just do it. If we are out, a stern look and a spanking as soon as we are alone will work. Waiting until the anger passes is often an excuse to suppress that she wasn’t heard.

There’s a fallacy here. You could argue that fear of punishment would make me avoid potentially upsetting conversations instead of actually respecting what she says and does. That’s possible, but for the time being, I think it is more important for Mrs. Lion to use the paddle as a way of asserting herself. It won’t take long before she feels her power grow. Then, while the paddle may continue to be necessary, most of the time she will take for granted that I hear her.

Spanking may seem to be an odd way of saying, “Listen to me.” Think of it the same way you would think of a person with a soft voice trying to address a large audience. She needs a microphone to assure that everyone hears what she has to say. Her words are just as valuable if there were no mike, but she wouldn’t be sure she was heard. The paddle is Mrs. Lion’s microphone. it assures her that she reaches me each and every time she has something to say.

In my opinion, this doesn’t just apply to situations when she is in punishment mode. It also applies to times she talks about work and I try to butt in to “fix” things. Her “microphone” is badly needed then. Each and every time I interrupt, she need her amplifier. Every time she doesn’t feel I hear what she is saying, she can user her mike to be sure she reaches me.

We will both benefit. I will learn to respect her silences and speak in ways that assure her I appreciate her efforts. She will learn that she should expect to be heard and if she isn’t, then she will have the authority and means to correct that little problem.

This will be very difficult for both of us. We will both resist new, potentially-risky things and try to return to the status quo. That’s our pattern. If she agrees with my proposal, I will have to remind her of my misses when I spot them. She will have to translate any, even minor, feelings that she isn’t heard into time to hit the loud pedal.

Stay tuned.

I need to adopt this as my personal mantra.

Lion and I have a pattern. I get upset by something he does (or something I perceive he’s doing), I write about it, he feels bad, I feel bad, people comment on the post, he feels worse, I feel worse and then things work themselves out. I didn’t say it was a good pattern. Just a pattern.

I think I’m being clear when I acknowledge something Lion has said. He doesn’t. Last night we were talking and when I didn’t respond immediately he said I was not talking to him again. This time I fired back. He needs to give me time to get my thoughts together. Sometimes I stand up for myself. I need to make this a more regular occurrence. Not that Lion runs over me, but I do have a tendency to be quiet and not stick up for myself.

I’ve been having a frustrating time at work and I’ve often said that I can deal with work or home being difficult but I can’t deal with both being difficult. I don’t feel like I’m being heard at work no matter how many times I bring things up. Not being heard at home is even worse. Work isn’t going to get any better. I have the ability to make home better. And I will. At least I say now that I will. I’ll give it a good try, but my consistency is another problem.

See? The problem isn’t Lion topping from the bottom, and he hasn’t been. The problem is me. I let things bother me that are easily fixed with just the flick of a paddle. A few flicks. Not really flicks. Whacks. Good, bruise producing whacks.

You know, if I ever get my act together, Lion is in for a world of trouble.

[Lion – I am extremely anxious that Mrs. Lion does get it together. Maybe she can practice on our upcoming vacation. I would gladly trade a bruised butt and corner time for the way I feel when I also don’t feel heard.]

Email, and by extension, blog posts, offer excellent opportunities for miscommunication. Yesterday, Mrs. Lion as our on-the-scene reporter wrote a post about my “Shoulds” and “Shouldn’ts”. She commented on my discussions with her regarding how I reacted to her spanking, welcome-mat seat, and other things that hurts. This stirred up a little hornet’s nest of comments.

The chorus of “shoulds” from our readers refer to topping from the bottom. While you may feel I shouldn’t offer feedback, I wasn’t topping from the bottom. There is one good reason why not. I didn’t open my mouth until some time after the punishment was over. You can’t top from the bottom if there is nothing happening when I speak.

Julie commented that her cure for topping from the bottom is to cut off kink. Well, we are in a disciplinary relationship. A week’s vacation from rules and punishment is probably not in either of our best interest. I was offering my opinion of my punishment.

Mrs. Lion’s very-valid point in her post was that I make her feel that she isn’t doing a good job if I offer what I think are suggestions. Clearly, I’m making a mistake when I offer my view. All I am writing now is based on her post, not a conversation on feelings. Just sayin’.

The main issue isn’t that I offer feedback and suggestions. It’s that I make her feel that she isn’t doing things correctly. This is an ongoing issue between us. Why are suggestions and my responses to what she does mean she is failing?

We’ve had the same issue come up when I suggest a new activity I’ve read about. She interprets that suggestion as an indication of my dissatisfaction with what she is doing at the time.

None of this is true. For example, if after a spanking I suggest she could have gone on longer/harder, it doesn’t mean that what she did wasn’t good enough. Not at all. It’s honest feedback that I feel I could take  more should she want to give it. I’m at a loss on how I can communicate where she is in terms of my ability to handle her spankings.

I do call “Yellow” when it is getting to be too much. Mrs. Lion backs off. I appreciate that. As feedback, I suggested that she needn’t back off as much as she does. It was a suggestion, not a review.

Clearly there is a disconnect. We need to fix this. Is it better for me to just shut up and let Mrs. Lion work in a vacuum? I’m starting to think that this is the only way I can avoid hurting her feelings. Is there another way to allow me input?

I think feedback is critical, at least as things are developing, in order to allow Mrs. Lion to better understand how things look from my side of the paddle. It isn’t that I am complaining that she is too severe. I think that would be wrong for me to whine about. I’m letting her know that I am able to go further if she wants.

In the Monday night spanking, she hit a spot that frequently bleeds a bit. I don’t know for sure, but I think the blood prompted her to stop. I just wanted her to know that I just need a band aid on the spot and then she could continue.

The other “should” had to do with me sitting on the Welcome stool. I know I was red and irritated by the coconut mat. It was very uncomfortable. But my red thighs were not allergic reactions. My skin is very sensitive now. That’s true. But I can tell if something is going to make me itch or if it is just sore. In this case I was sore.

Shouldn’t I have let her know that was the case? Should I offer feedback? See? There is a Should and a Shouldn’t. Am I just being tactless? How can I know if Mrs. Lion is holding back because she wanted to at the time or she worried about my welfare. Given the offense, interrupting, I know that always earns severe punishment. That’s why I mentioned she could have gone further.

I think it is important to communicate my reactions to what happens to me. I don’t want to do it in order to control things. I want to be sure my lioness is fully informed. When I do want her to do something to me, I ask directly. But I never ask in punishment situations. If I want a much stronger spanking, I will ask for a “play” spanking that goes further. (I may do that)

Of course, she’s never told me that she didn’t want the feedback. There’s one very obvious point I would like to make. If Mrs. Lion felt that I thought she wasn’t doing a good job, why didn’t she ask me if that is what I meant? Or, why didn’t she tell me to shut up because she didn’t want my opinion? Internalizing my feedback incorrectly without looking for clarification is a communication problem, not topping from the bottom.

This isn’t a new issue for us. Completely outside our power exchange we have the same situation. Does offering a way to improve something constitute a criticism of the way things are going now? That’s the real question. How can Mrs. Lion, or anyone else, know how I am thinking or feeling? Does it matter how I feel? It seems to me that if my feedback was that my punishment was too harsh, then there would be a case for me taking over. I can’t think of a single instance I complained. I have offered ways to intensify my experience. My reason for doing this is that I realize I need more to fully internalize the point the punishment is trying to make.

I’m about to give up. Even I can get to the point when I feel I can’t do anything right. Maybe our power exchange and this blog are toxic. [Mrs. Lion – Nope. Veto. You’re not giving up, Lion. Because I’m not giving up. We’ll figure this out.]

The welcome mat is an evil, evil thing. Lion felt it for hours after he sat on it. He insists I still didn’t spank him long or hard enough for a punishment spanking. I continue to ask him who it is that decides what is long or hard enough. He says it’s me, but then insists again that I’m failing. Of course, he doesn’t say I’m failing. But if I’m not living up to whatever expectations, then aren’t I failing?

Lion regularly gets a case of the “shoulds”. I should do this. I should do that. I should do this this way or that that way. I usually ask him who should be determining what I should be doing. He says it’s up to me to decide. Uh huh. See the first paragraph. Rinse and repeat.

Last night was our first try at his sitting on the welcome mat. I didn’t tie his balls so they’d be sure to hit the flap. I didn’t make him sit on it for very long. It was an experiment. How evil would it be? Up until last night we didn’t know. When I saw how red his thighs were from the five minutes or so he was sitting on it, I said maybe we shouldn’t use it right now since his allergies have been bothering him. I didn’t want to do anything that would aggravate his already itchy, red skin.

Lion said I shouldn’t worry. And when he said yellow I shouldn’t have backed off so far with the swats. I shouldn’t feel bad. (Lion also regularly gets a case of the “shouldn’ts”.) Again, I asked him who determines how hard I hit, when I hit hard and how long I hit hard. You guessed it. He said I do. Uh huh. Clearly.

From my point of view, all the shoulds and shouldn’ts do is make me feel like I’m not doing what he thinks I should be doing. Even though he insists it’s me who determines what I should be doing. And I bet you’re thinking, “You should punish him for that.” Should I? Or should I determine what I should do?