When give and take in a relationship becomes a finely tuned thing, it is interesting to see how that plays out. When you decide to put the needs of each other before your own, gone are the days of the power struggle and the tit-for-tat. Instead you become more focussed on deriving your own satisfaction and happiness from the pleasure you get in pleasing your partner. A power exchange relationship is beautiful in its simplicity and it is not only in the bedroom that you notice it. In a 24/7 dynamic, it stretches to most things and becomes as natural a thing for me to hand him the shinier of the two coffee cups and the larger of the two glasses of wine, as it is for him to hand me the Snack-a-Jacks caramel rice cake whilst I notice he is having the Tesco one himself. (The difference is small but one has slightly more flavour and is slightly less cardboardy that the other!

I think that those small acts that show your thought and consideration for the other become not only a normal part of what you do, but can also form as important a part as the bigger gestures do. It is a constant reminder that your partner is thinking about you and putting you first and it is a conscious choice for you to reinforce your own mindset by responding in kind. For the most part, doing this works really well for us: I look after him and he looks after me; I am happy that I have pleased him and he is happy that he has pleased me. But sometimes, situations are a bit more complex than choosing to spend the evening watching a documentary on TV that the other person is interested in. Sometimes you have to make a decision about whether or not to do something and the odds are not evenly stacked, so to make the choice in the other’s favour will lead to you both making separate choices.

We are in one such dilemma at the moment. We have been asked by my parents to attend an event with them and the rest of my extended family – a weekend in Paris to celebrate a special birthday: lovely! Unfortunately this only includes some of our children (mine), and not others (his). We see ourselves as one and are really quite a strong unit. We have all worked hard to achieve this and the kids have played a huge part as they have forged very strong relationships with each other as siblings rather than as people who have been forced together by circumstances. Because we see ourselves as one family and so do the children, it is difficult when others on the outside don’t do the same. My daughter actually feels very strongly about it, and I have to say that it is currently not helping her relationship with her grandparents.

While I understand that having the whole of our family there may change the group dynamic, it feels wrong that we have to split. Apart from the logistical difficulties this will cause, it also means that Sir is expected to put aside the hurt that he feels at their exclusion in order to celebrate along side me. That is not something that I would ask him to do. In addition, I am fiercely protective, as most mothers are, and I would never knowingly put any of my children in a situation where I feel that they are not really wanted, so I do not want to insist that they come along. Hence my feeling that despite the fact that I wish to please my parents and put my true feelings aside in order to make things more special for them, my loyalties are first of all with my husband and with our children. My leaning therefore, is that we should not attend.

The flip side to this is that HisLorship wishes to put my needs first. Although he is disappointed that the event will exclude the boys, he knows that my parents are important to me and that they have been hugely supportive of us both in other ways. They are usually inclusive of our family group and have a positive relationship with his kids. He also knows that my sisters, who have traditional families rather than out more complicated blended variety, will both be there and I will be the one who is conspicuous in my absence so he would rather put his own feelings of disappointment aside, and embrace attending as he thinks that will be the easiest thing for me.

So rather than both fighting to get what we each want for out selves, we find ourselves in a situation where both party wishes to put aside their own feelings in order to support the other and meet what we see as being their needs. This is not the first time this has happened and it will not be the last, I am sure, but it makes reaching a decision a tougher thing I think and it makes you feel that you are in a bit of a no win situation. So whether we go to Paris or not, it will be hard to feel as if we have really met each others’s needs fully. And I suppose that is why there has to be give and take, even when you both want to be the one to give. So we found ourselves at a rather subdued impasse during the discussion phase.

Of course the other aspect of a power exchange dynamic is that I have deferred the decision making to Sir so ultimately it will be his call, but our agreement means that we discuss things fully first, and he will listen to what I think, as I will listen to him. This leads to an acceptance of the decision so we are able to move forward, but accepting that by following his will, I have pleased him, even though I know that he has made a sacrifice for me is not always easy.  Easier often to be the one to give, rather than be the one to take, and so I will draw on my submissive mindset and shift my perception so that whatever the outcome I respect his decision by playing my part as well as I possibly can.

Without knowing yet what his decision is, I know that it will require me to move forward and embrace the outcome without going back over old ground. I will find this hard and will have to draw on my more recently found ability to actually bite my tongue and let things pass in a more gracious fashion than I ever would have done in the past. And whether we go or whether we stay, I will try to control any negative feelings that I have about the situation, and lean closer into him, rather than leaning away and sharing my thoughts elsewhere.