I hope you have been enjoying Rika’s Lair, my monthly column dedicated to thoughts and experiences regarding power dynamics in Service-Oriented D/s relationships. Look up “Ms. Rika” in the search box for links to all of my articles in KinkWeekly!
The question of marriage, as it relates to power dynamics, seems to baffle people. I often get asked, “Should a dominant marry their submissive?” or, “Is marriage the ultimate statement of submission?”. There are discussion groups in sites like FetLife.com, devoted to marriage and D/s. People continually conflate the notions of power dynamics and relationship dynamics – and that leads them to confusion regarding the notions of depth and commitment related to each.
I’ve participated in a substantial number of discussions with people who believe that getting married to their D/s partner is a symbol of the level of their commitment to their power dynamic. I’ve also seen the opposite, where dominants feel that marrying their submissives would elevate their partner’s power and make them less submissive.
I am of the belief that D/s and marriage are completely independent notions and that, while marriage might be considered to be the pinnacle of a romantic relationship, it provides absolutely no indication of the degree of seriousness of a power dynamic. Furthermore, power dynamics can be layered onto any type of relationship – not necessarily romantic ones – and therefore, marriage might not even be appropriate for the underlying relationship type, no matter how strong the power dynamic.
I actually take these conversations to the next level. Consider, “Why get married?”
Let’s say you have a loving, committed submissive…completely dedicated to you. He has promised to serve your needs, whatever those entail, for the rest of his life. He worships you and the ground you walk on. You have everything you want from him. Why marry him?
The point of this is not to question the value of marriage…it’s to bring focus to what it is about MARRIAGE that changes a relationship. Marriage is a mutual commitment of fidelity religiously, and a merger of assets legally. Socially, it’s a statement of togetherness and family. What does any of that have to do with power dynamics?
Whether marriage is appropriate for your relationship is a question for the relationship itself, not for the power dynamic. It doesn’t make the power dynamic any stronger or weaker. It brings the relationship to another level…but as I pointed out before, a deeper relationship does not necessitate a deeper power dynamic.
So the reason you get married is not about power dynamics…it’s about relationship dynamics. The reasoning is not different for those with power dynamics than those without them.
A non-married couple can have the same level of commitment, intimacy, the “seriousness” in their D/s dynamic as a married one. They can even have a “commitment” ceremony in front of friends and family members, without the paperwork and legality of marriage … So, why choose marriage? What is it about marriage that would deepen your D/s dynamic?
Some argue that marriage is a statement of “forever” and adds a finality to a commitment to serve. Others argue that it’s a commitment of fidelity. I argue that such commitments can be made without the act of marriage (and you don’t have to look very far to determine the voracity of the binding nature of the fidelity clause of marriage!) The only thing marriage adds is a legal blending of assets – something that is, in and of itself, questionable – if viewed from an “imbalance of power”-perspective.
Do not get me wrong…I’m entirely pro-marriage. I’ve been married for more than 30 years. I’m a firm believer in its sanctity and of the seriousness of commitment in relationship that it entails. But I’m married because of the depth of my romantic relationship. Yes, it so happens that my husband is also my primary submissive – but he’s not my primary submissive because he’s my husband – and he’s not my husband because he’s my primary submissive…These are distinctly different parts of our overall relationship, blended into one. Like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, they’re two great things, rolled into one delicious package. It’s my layer cake analogy.
The decision to marry is simply NOT a D/s decision. You can have a deeply committed, intense, D/s power dynamic built on a platonic friendship, and equally, you can have a casual, occasional, playtime power dynamic on a healthy 50-year marriage…and all variations in between. Being married doesn’t make your power dynamic any stronger (or weaker), or more committed than a couple who doesn’t choose to be married.
I will also point out that power dynamics, by themselves, do not strengthen a marriage…not more than any other common interest, shared passion, or other aspects of compatibility. Good sex lives certainly help relationships, but they’re not the basis for those relationships. Most relationships based primarily on sex don’t last. People who try to use power dynamics as a means to sure up a failing marriage, usually do not find a lasting solution. The layers don’t influence each other that way. Relationships survive on trust, communication, respect, honesty, openness, and mutual caring. Power dynamics are delicious icing on the cake!
Ms. Rika is a lifestyle dominant, educator, and author; living in the suburbs of NYC with her husband/slave. She has written several popular books on her approach to adding Dominant-Centric, Service-Oriented D/s to relationships. You can find her books (in both print and eBook formats) at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/msrika), or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iStore, Books-A- Million, Kobo.com, or anywhere books are sold. Search for “Ms. Rika”. Write to me at Ms_Rika@hotmail.com
adore your column
Great topic, and one I have wondered about. I find it hard to understand how the romantic and power exchange axes are separated… The desire for power exchange with your husband does not relate to your feelings of love? I understand what you are saying but not how they are separate. Is the fact that you married your primary submissive just coincidental? You could have desired power exchange but not felt love then would have stayed as D/s but not married, for example? The love and power exchange are truly orthogonal (non-overlapping?). I would like you to explain more on that, because I thought the common basis of affection would underlie both.. Any more light you could shed would be appreciated… I get the love part but maybe the desire for the power exchange in the absence of love… would there stilll be affection?