My Knight said something yesterday that hit me like a ton of bricks.
First, a little background. My Knight's birthday is very close to Christmas. Most years he gets a cool party, and a small gift because we've spent all of our disposable income on Christmas gifts for the kids. He's always been okay with this because of course, seeing the kids light up on Christmas morning is way more important to him than any birthday gift could ever be. I always make his birthday special and memorable in some private way, but it's not with a gift.
Last year I received a book advance check a day or two before my Knight's birthday. My teen-aged daughters, not being aware of our private birthday celebrations, always feel bad that he gets shorted on his birthday. So they asked me if we could get him something BIG that year. My Knight and I were arguing constantly at the time. We were barely speaking and I was so frustrated and disappointed with him that I was considering divorce. The way I felt, he was lucky he wasn't sleeping on the couch for his birthday. If it wasn't for the kids I probably wouldn't have gotten him anything at all. I was THAT mad, and had been for at least 3 months.
I finally gave in to my teens and agreed to replace the camera he broke about a year before. He was doing a paid photo shoot and neglected to use the neck strap outside in sub zero temps. He dropped the cold camera on the equally cold sidewalk from about waist high. The result? Unrepairable camera and the end of his growing photo biz.
So, at the instance of my teens, I spent over $500 for the camera he wanted. A hair less than half my advance check. Later that night, I told him flat out that my feelings had not changed. I got him the camera because the kids insisted. “You're lucky,” I told him, “Your kids and step-kids think the world of you. Don't prove them wrong.”
Fast forward 3 or 4 months. Due to no fault of his own, my Knight lost his job. I lined up an ongoing writing gig for him. Not great money, but they pay twice a week and there's as much work as you want. If we worked it like a full-time job we could cover all the bills with it and keep ourselves afloat until he landed a new job. Not perfect, but definitely doable. I was in the middle of writing that book for which I received the advance back in December. I was putting in 12-18 hour days to keep up with the deadline schedule and keep up with my few other paying clients, plus I was homeschooling the kids and doing 95% of the housework by myself. I really did not think it was to much to expect him to spend 6-10 hours each day doing this bulk writing. It would pay the bills and keep food on the table.
Except he didn't bother doing the writing. He sat at the computer for hours “job hunting” and “networking” but never did any writing. There was always an excuse.. either the kids needed him, or I wanted him to do something else. But in reality he wasn't doing much with the kids and anything I asked of him went pretty much undone. Needless to say we started arguing much more than we already had been.
Our savings dwindled to next to nothing. Then one day he comes to me, “I'm going to sell my camera.”
I was livid. That camera that I spent half my advance check on when that money could have gone to other things.... he was going to sell it??!! I told him in no uncertain terms not to sell that camera. That I would never forgive him if he did.
He did it anyway.
I'm sure you can understand how upset I was. That was last year.
Fast forward to last week:
My Knight and I were talking about what to do with a $1000 check we're receiving in a week or two. He started talking about replacing his camera. It's still a sore spot with me for a lot of reasons. And, really there are better places for this money to go. I told him in no uncertain terms that I am not ready to replace his camera and I gave him a list of things I'd like to spend the money on. I told him I'm still thinking it over and deciding where the extra money will best help move us toward our goals. Then I reminded him that he agreed to give me total control. He's not buying that camera right now.
That night at work, he wrote me a long email about why replacing that camera is so important to him. Interestingly enough his reasons had nothing to do with photography, or missing his camera. He told me he knew he was screwing up last year and decided that selling his camera and giving up photography was an appropriate punishment for disappointing me. He went on to say he now realizes that was wrong too and wants to make it right. He wants to replace the camera but not use it. He told me he doesn't deserve to use it be He'll leave it sit out where he can see it, but won't use it until/unless I send him out on a photo shoot or otherwise give him specific permission. (note: he never did use the camera I bought him for his birthday. )
I'm sure for some of you long-term lifestyle subs, this is a no-brainer. You understand it because you live it. But, this is new for me. We started on the FLR path because I saw glimpses of my husband while reading a little about the psychology submissive men. I also saw him in many of the blogs I'd read that are written by sub men. But I never really thought about the punishment part of things. I started giving him lists, and planning his tasks for him. We agreed that I have final say in everything. I made up a reward and punishment protocol but I never took the punishment part seriously.
I have a some thinking to do.
….this is a learning experience.