Starting a FemDom marriage in the Vanilla Kingdom

Thunder: Service With A Smile

One of the seminars I attended at Thunder was author Laura Antoniou’s "Service with a Smile" which focused on being a good service sub.

Wanting to serve is a lot different (and much more of a commitment) than just being a sub.  It’s about completely giving yourself over to the wants and needs of your Top without necessarily getting anything in return.  It’s your job to relieve their burden whatever that might be:  cooking, cleaning, and all of the other less-than-glamorous stuff you can imagine.

All of my past BDSM experiences are what you would probably call "erotic servitude" with part-time Dommes.  I did some service things (for my last Domme, for instance, I did a bunch of writing and web programming), but nothing that prepared me for serving 24/7.  I like to think I was something more than the "’do me’ Internet sluts" that Gloria Brame talks about, but my past "service" was really more about my wants and my feelings rather than serving at the whim of my Dommes.

Now, I’m serving MJ in a capacity that is 98% mundane work and 2% erotic BDSM play.  Part of that shift is because of her new "delicate" condition, but it’s also because you can’t be a bound, naked slave boy all the time (as much as I’d love to try!)  Our normal married life or work is what fills the minutes of most days and my "service" is typically "bring me a Diet Coke and then cook dinner".

If you’ve been reading the blog, you know I’ve been struggling with this kind of service and have been trying to come to grips with what being a servant actually means and finding my own place within that.  I had hoped that Laura’s seminar at Thunder would help and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’m going to share some quotes from the seminar (included below in bold italics) and then provide my comments on them.

First and foremost, care about what you are doing.

This is sounds like a "duh" statement, but it’s really true.  If you don’t care about being in service, then why do it?  If you’re going to do it, then you need to completely give yourself over to the process.  Being in service means fulfilling the wishes of another and acting at their pleasure.  "You need 46 CDs burned in the next three hours?  No problem, Ma’am…"

This leads directly to the next quote:

Know what offering service does for you.  Be clear as to why you desire a service lifestyle.

Great - you’ve figured out that you want to serve, but why?  Does it make your life more meaningful?  Does it give you a sense of purpose because you’ve become an asset to someone else?  Do you just like pleasing your Top?  All of these are completely legitimate reasons for serving.

Laura told the audience to make a list of the reasons for ourselves as to why we wanted to serve.  For her, it was a feeling of being indispensable, something that came from a fantasy of being Alfred from Batman.  Whenever Master Dick needed anything, there was Alfred with it on a silver tray with a witty quip to boot.  She went on to say that many people do charity work to get a good feeling for helping others.  Service is just that but for the good of someone who you personally care greatly about.

For me, I think it’s about needing to be needed.  I like being able to make other people happy.  I get great satisfaction from being able to do for someone else and knowing that I made them happy or were able to lift their burden.  Once upon a time, a marriage counselor told me that this was being "codependent" and that you shouldn’t get your happiness from the happiness of others and what you can do for them.  I now know that is bullshit.  I’m a sub - this is part of who I am.  This is the ultimate love offering - I’m showing my love, devotion, and respect by making your life easier.

The first step is to have the right fucking attitude!

Yes, that’s exactly how she phrased it!  If you’re not happy about being in service or aren’t in that frame of mind, you will be completely miserable. 

One thing she suggested to help is to wake up and think to yourself, "I’m in service today and I’m going to do well".  She also said having a morning ritual with your Top to get you in the submissive and service mindset was good as well.  (One suggestion was kneeling to say "good morning".  A Domme MJ and I know has Her sub fetch a fresh cup of coffee every morning.)  I need to talk to MJ about this one.  I’m all about ritual and protocol and would love to have a little something every morning to get me into the proper headspace.  When I used to putter around the kitchen preparing Her breakfast every morning, I’d be smiling all the way to work filled with that warm, fuzzy feeling of servitude.

The point of service is not to drain yourself.  Martyrs are not sexy.

I tend to do this and it leads me to situations like my freak out during our pre-Thunder packing.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be in any shape when your Top needs you.  This goes for both your physical and mental condition. 

Laura emphasized the need to be open and honest about anything you’re struggling with that would impact your service.  Her personal example was a toothache that she suffered with for over a year.  Finally, her Top and partner had to order her to a dentist where she had 7 root canals.  The pain made her grumpy which affected her ability to happily serve which was bad for both her and her Top.

I need to get better at this and need to stop taking the "woe is me" approach to service.  While I need to place complete trust in MJ to look after my needs, it’s stupid to just assume that she knows what’s going on inside my head or body.  Laura made that point that doing this is usually a good feeling for the Top because they know they are taking care of their sub.

Take responsibility for things and ask questions.  (Not all Tops are detailed oriented.)

If your Top said, "I want a picnic lunch prepared for Sunday," what would you do?  Laura said her first question would be "Which Sunday?" followed by "How many people?  Any special dietary restrictions?" and so on. 

Just because you’re a service sub doesn’t mean you’re a mindless robot.  Laura used this as the prime example:  "I don’t know why my Top is so mad.  She asked me to clean out the garage so I did….and donated everything to Goodwill…" 

It is the sub’s responsibility to understand the things they are being asked to do and respond with questions if they don’t understand something.  That doesn’t mean that you should say "I can’t".  It’s always "I can, but…"

I need to get better at this as well.  MJ has told me that she doesn’t want me second-guessing her requests/commands, but that is a far cry from asking for clarification or pointing out that I require more time than I was originally given.  This is about making Her happy and doing things counter to the vision She has in Her head is not going to do that.

Also take responsibility for your mistakes.  Correcting you is nurturing you.

This is something I really struggle with.  Whenever MJ is unhappy or upset with something I’ve done, I immediately start to beat myself up.  I get this overwhelming feeling of dread that I’ve made her unhappy and literally freak out trying to "fix" the issue.  (In reality, I’m actually making things worse to the point where MJ hates bringing things up because She’s afraid I’ll overreact.)

This is going to sound like a cop out, but I think my severe reaction is due to the physical abuse that I suffered under my mother.  The emotions that come up when I feel that MJ is furious with me are filled with completely irrational fear.  It’s still something I fight with, but something I always still seem to succumb to.  I hate that I’m like this and have been trying to find ways to make this behavior stop.

The insight that "correcting you is nurturing you" is helping somewhat.  I also need to keep reminding myself where I am in life right now.  If MJ is really going to leave me, it’s not going to be because I folded the laundry incorrectly.

Laura said that the first response to criticism about your service needs to be "Thank you, Ma’am".  This is good advice for me and something I hope will immediately remind me of my place and that making a mistake isn’t the end of the world as long as I learn from it and take MJ’s guidance to fix things to her satisfaction.  She also said that, "Respect is part of who you are," something that need to take to heart and really remember in these situations.

Understand your Top’s needs.  Listen for what they need and want, not what you think they need and want.

I am absolutely horrible with this one.  I’m always trying to figure out what would make MJ happy and do it rather than just sit patiently and wait for her to tell me what She needs.  We actually discussed this recently with MJ going so far as to say to not worry about things unless She specifically tells me they are my responsibility.

As part of this point, Laura talked about the need to let Tops vent.  She said that when people get angry, they get angry and stupid and say things they don’t mean.  When a Top is venting or upset, it is not the sub’s problem to fix.  You just have to be there for your Top as a means of support and can’t take anything they say personally. 

That spoke greatly to me as I do tend to take things so personally when MJ gets upset.  That whole "evil mom" thing kicks in and I freak out which only serves to make Her more upset.  I just need to put my arm around her and let her unload until she feels better while letting it all go.  That won’t be an easy adjustment, but it was nice to hear that I’m not the only one who has trouble with this.

As you can probably tell, this seminar spoke directly to me and I brought a great deal away from it.  To me, this session alone made Thunder worth the price of admission and makes me feel that I can become the sub that MJ desires and can find a space where we are both completely happy with our new relationship.

5 Comments so far

  1. scott Kelly July 28th, 2007 4:42 am


    I just discovered your blog through Sugasm and wanted to let you know that I enjoyed this post and will be voting for it this week.

    Being the sub half of a long term Female Led Household, the points made here really resonated with me.

    We have a 2 1/2 year old daughter but have been married for 15 years, so as one would expect, there have been changes and adjustments.

    If you really want to get into the “service” frame of mind, have a kid.

    I wouldn’t trade it for the world…It is the world.


    Mrs. Kelly’s Playhouse

  2. maymay July 28th, 2007 9:30 pm

    Even with our rather obvious differences, it is truly thrilling to see that you are happy. And it is even more wonderful to see you happy with MJ.

    And also, congratulations on the pregnancy. :)

  3. Eileen July 28th, 2007 9:34 pm

    Hi Chris,
    I haven’t been over to read your blog in several months, since you and my boy Maymay had an interesting comments exchange over on maybemaimed. Coming back now it took me a few minutes to realize what had happened; and why everything about your site and writing are now so different.

    Just wanted to say congratulations. On everything.


  4. Curvaceous Dee July 28th, 2007 9:57 pm

    A very interesting read, and one that gave me a better insight to the service (and, indeed, 24/7 D/s) lifestyle.

    It’s not something that appeals to me at all, or that I could ever do. But I can see better why friends of mine do choose this, and are this way. Thank you.

    xx Dee

  5. gem August 18th, 2007 10:41 am

    I was also fortunate to attend this excellent presentation at THUNDER IN THE MOUNTAINS, and your notes are similar to the ones I took. It is wonderful to see what we both remember AND to recall other details I did not. Thank you!


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