I think that I've been going about this all wrong. See, I had this CRAZY idea that punishments should be when things are done wrong, and when punishing, the punishment should not be something that the wrongdoer would enjoy.
The thing is, I'm a Mom. I came at the situation with a Mom perspective. Punishment is NOT to be fun. Punishment is to be...well, punishment! But submissive men are not like children. Submissive men with a masochistic bent are even LESS like children. This is a very, very good thing, because if you've been reading for a bit, you'll know that I struggle with finding ways to make this less like parenting.
Anyway, I had an experience with an all-weather padlock and Mr. X's testicles (used in conjunction) that sort of catalyzed an epiphany for me.
Mr. X needs kink-based punishments to make him want to serve. See, I had it backwards. I thought that if I gave him the physical punishment he wanted as a response to bad behavior, he'd continue to behave poorly in order to obtain more physical punishment. I was wrong! So wrong!
I'm learning now that what he needs in response to misbehavior is the physical punishment. Not as a reward, but as an enticement for him to do better next time. He might want the physical punishment as a masochist (and he might even enjoy it, too), but as a submissive guy, he also really NEEDS to please me. For Mr. X, that submissive part is wired a little tighter than the masochistic part, so regardless of how I punish him, he's not going to seek my wrath, because no matter how much he enjoys these punishments, they counter his desire to serve and please me. That desire will always trump the enjoyment he gets from the punishment.
HOWEVER, having said that, he still needs the punishment so he can get his fix and continue to want to serve me. After all, service without reward isn't fun and gets old after time. I can appreciate that.
But, I will say, that padlock is magic shit, people. He's been wrapped around my finger since, and I even let him have an orgasm that day. That's BIG--usually after an orgasm it takes him a day or two to get back to his more service-oriented self. After the padlock, though, he's been in the zone without any real effort from me. Like I said, I'm getting it.
And another thing that we're both getting is that this isn't fun if we make it work and force it to happen 24/7. Sometimes he isn't in a mood to listen to me. Sometimes I am not in a mood to dictate to him. Sometimes I just want to be Mr and Miss X and not Mr X the sub and Miss X the domme.
Sometimes I just want to kick my feet up in the recliner and not on his back. Sometimes I don't want to make decisions, and sometimes when he's had a bad day, Mr X doesn't want to have me demanding he do the dishes.
If this isn't fun, then it's not worth it to me. It's a lot of work and it's a lot of unlearning of habits that we've built up over 10 years. Sometimes we both need a break, even if it doesn't happen at the same time.
So we've got a token (it's the padlock) that sits in a place in our home now. It's not anything that anyone would think was strange or out of place, nothing we'll ever have to explain to my Mama. And if it's there, then game on. We're in the roles we both prefer to be. But, when he needs a break, or I do, for a day or two, the padlock gets hidden away. When it's not there, then we both know to keep it more "vanilla" or "traditional". This is only for breaks of a day or two, anything longer bears discussion. I'm just tired of him yanking this lifestyle off the table every time we have an argument. It's not fair and it's manipulation. I'm not willing to go back to what we had, especially since it didn't work and this is who I am.
And when I'm ready to get back into things, I put the lock back where it belongs. When he's ready, he presents the lock to me and gets to spend a little time wearing it before it goes back in its place. Although, I also kind of like the idea that before I put the lock back after a break I've initiated, he still needs to wear it for a while. Hmmm. that needs some more thinking about.
I like the idea--I like that it leaves his lack of submission for a time, or my lack of dominance in the "things unsaid" column for a while. We don't need to talk about everything, and often such conversation turns into an argument anyway. This solves the problem!