5 Skills for Fighting Fair in Kinky Relationships

Healthy couples fight. Most healthy couples don’t fight often, but disagreements do arise, emotions heighten and we fight. Its actually a good thing. Repressing feelings, saying nothing, rolling over to your partner’s every demand or becoming a passive-aggressive pain-in-the-ass is not healthy.

Fighting as a couple can be tricky. It takes time and practice to learn to fight fair. In a power exchange relationship, fighting is made trickier because of the roles we assume and feel comfortable in.

I have spent a good amount of time in my adult life thinking about how I fight in a relationship and looking for tools that help turn heated disagreements into productive growth points as a couple. This is not particularly easy for me as I am incredibly strong-willed, opinionated, self-assured, sharp-tongued and a giant wall of energy. Precisely because of these traits I know I can easily overwhelm a partner when I am highly emotional so I have had to learn how to channel these things into something that isn’t harmful.

Fighting as a D/s or M/s Couple

By their very nature, couples in a power exchange dynamic have rolls. The D-types generally have final say over a wide array of things and the s-types are expected to follow the D-type’s preferences or lead. This works well when the couple has clear boundaries, has articulated needs, and both parties have the other’s needs and desires in mind. However, it hampers fair fighting.

When I talk about fighting in this post, I am not talking about a disagreement over what color of bedsheets to purchase or which parents to visit for Thanksgiving. We all have disagreements and some things may be irksome but these are not make or break a relationship issues. What I am addressing here are fights which arise over fundamental issues in a relationship. This would be something like a perceived betrayal of a trust or implied agreement, money issues, child rearing, or the way you treat one another. Issues which may not necessarily put the relationship in jeopardy of ending immediately but do address boundaries, fundamental needs (food, money, safety, housing), or consistent detrimental behavior patterns on the part of one or both partners.

In a power exchange relationship there are several skills and techniques which can make fighting more fair and more productive.

Don’t maintain roles while fighting. I can’t stress this enough. When you are discussing fundamental issues and boundaries in a relationship, it is next to impossible to have a fair fight and maintain all the structure and protocols of your defined roles. As a submissive in relationships, I will always back down to a D-type’s demands and give them deference. I will allow them to speak first and have the final word. If I enter a fight in my roll as a submissive, I have a near-impossible time speaking up for myself. Since I know this about myself, I know to have a fair fight we have to create a space for a discussion about key issues where roles are suspended.

I am among many subs who feel like this. I know plenty of s-types who are strong and assertive outside their roll as a sub. In the roll, which means in a relationship where we are always the s-type, we have to have structured space and time to come out of that roll.

There are many ways to create space to have a discussion about relationship issues which allow people to free themselves from their rolls. Some couples have a regular set time and place where the rolls are suspended for discussion of relationship issues when both parties are on equal footing. Other couples will schedule such time as needed. Some people need to have a set space (e.g., only at the dining room table, on the sun porch). Having a recognized space and time to discuss things as equals makes fighting more fair.

When fights develop at an unanticipated time or place, some couples have rules or cues which they use to indicate they need to break from the roles in which they normally function. For example, if you are talking casually with your partner while watching television and a significant issue arises neither want to delay discussing, something akin to a “safe word” for a role release can be useful. This can be as simple as stating, “Look, we need to talk about this on equal footing now.” For other more high-protocol couples, something more formal may need to be established.

Permission to fight cannot be controlled solely by the D-type. Plenty of couples in power exchange relationships have negotiated areas where the D-type always has final say. They may argue or bicker over an issue, but at some point the D-type has the capacity to make a definitive decision with no further discussion.

This works well on many areas where the couple has negotiated that power exchange. However, there will be areas where power has not been exchanged or the need to discuss what the originally negotiated parameters come up for discussion. Couples should find a way for the s-type to indicate that there is a topic they need to discuss and possibly fight about and they need to be on equal footing.

If the D-type refuses to allow discussion of an issue simply because they are uncomfortable with the topic or they are satisfied with the arrangement, this sets up the relationship for possible abuse. For example, many couples will negotiate around the area of allowing additional partners (both sexual and intimate) to have relationships with one or both parties. As relationships grow and develop the need to renegotiate these boundaries arises. While the couple may have had a working and solid agreement for some time, if serious issues arise, this may need to be renegotiated. A D-type who refuses to have a discussion with their s-type as an equal partner is running into a grey area on possibly becoming abusive. You can extrapolate to other equally sensitive and fundamental agreements.

Understand the ramifications for failing to renegotiate. I know plenty of D-types who believe that the agreement negotiated at the time of collaring is the final agreement for the couple. Many of these D-types negotiate on a limited number of areas but what is negotiated is presumed to be acceptable for the remainder of the relationship and their s-type agrees.

This is not so unusual. Think about most vanilla marriages. At the time of the marriage ceremony, both parties assume that the relationship will be monogamous for the remainder of their lives or at least the life of the marriage. With 52 percent of marriages now ending in divorce and many of those divorces due to affairs and sex outside the marriage, clearly this isn’t the most successful model.

I have a deep and abiding respect for M/s style relationships. In my own power exchange relationships I defer to the D-type. However, it is important for D-types to remember, while their s-type may defer to your judgement and the negotiated parameters of a relationship, if the s-type repeatedly asks to address one of these areas and you repeatedly refuse to listen, eventually your s-type can lose respect for your judgment. Once respect is gone, it is nearly impossible to salvage a healthy power exchange relationship.

Don’t Hit While Angry. Don’t Ask to be Hit While Angry. This is another rule I can’t stress strongly enough. If you are angry and hurting from a fight, it is not a safe time to play. Many different kink activities can trigger strong emotions. If you enjoy impact play you need to tune into yourself and your emotions prior to deciding to start an impact scene. It is too easy to slip from a D-role into taking your anger at your partner out in a play session. When this happens, it is physical abuse. A mature D-type will check themselves to see if they are emotionally ready to play safe. And s-types need to check in with their D-types if there has been a recent fight. As an s-type into impact, I know I can be jonesing for a good play session. If I know that I have recently fought with or angered my D-type pushing for an impact session before he or she is ready is not acceptable behavior and is setting up a dangerous scene.

Don’t Attack Your Partner’s Identity While Fighting. People who enter power exchange relationships value their identities in those relationships. Going after someone for “not being a good Domme” or “being a shitty example of a submissive” is a cheap shot meant to hurt the person and does not promote anything positive. If you are having a fundamental disagreement on the way your partner practices power exchange, talk about that but avoid the “You are/You are not” statements in relationship to an identity.

The other rules around fighting fair as a couple still apply to use kinky folks. Things like avoiding bringing up past fights, digging up past misdeeds which have already been addressed or are not key to the issue at hand, surprise attacks like screaming at your partner as soon as they arrive home, seeking to embarrass or hurt your partner on purpose are all unhealthy fighting practices still apply. Fighting as a power exchange couple must include the additional considerations mentioned in this piece.

Fighting with a partner sucks. It can hurt and can be scary and anxiety provoking. However in a healthy relationship it will happen. The trick is to make the experience one where an issue can be resolved and you can continue to grow together as a couple.

#relationships #fighting #fightingfair #powerexchange #BDSM #kink #submission #dominance #longtermrealtionships #hitting #negotiation #marriage #tipsandtools

 

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