How BDSM saved my marriage

Starting with a simple checklist of our fetishes and desires, my husband and I managed to bring our relationship back from the brink

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The Independent Online

As someone who teaches and practises BDSM, it's disheartening to see how popular Fifty Shades of Grey's distorted portrayal of it has become. Yet despite my reservations, I have to admit that there are similarities between the love story I share with my husband and its central narrative, albeit with a much tighter budget, less coercion and more understanding.

My husband and I met when we were both quite young. But it was "infatuation at first sight", and this manifested itself in what Christian Grey would call "unconventional" ways . Before we married, we’d already incorporated bondage into our sex life, and dominance and submission naturally found a place in our bedroom. Even before we discovered BDSM, our sex would never have qualified as “vanilla”.

However, at the time sex had never been something we bothered discussing in great detail, and because of this lack of communication about our desires, we slowly grew apart. After a while, we started feeling as though we had lost our connection to each other. After a year of being married, we tried an open relationship to try and revive our relationship, but it only ended up making it weaker.

But then I discovered the BDSM community. I was excited to find there were other people like me, hungry for information and willing to learn about it. My husband was reluctant at first and, of course, concerned with my safety. But after sharing some of the resources I had managed to dig up, he agreed to create kinky checklist together. It contained fetishes and sexual acts, each with its own accompanying rating scale, and became the starting point for the exploration of our shared desires.

We tried a few things we liked and a few others we didn’t, but eventually we found ourselves very happily in a dominant/submissive dynamic, where impact play (such as spanking and whipping), service (performing personal tasks for the dominant partner), and bondage were common. As well as being thoroughly enjoyable, doing this also helped heal some of the issues we had come across in the first few years of our marriage.

Looking back, our life now isn’t much different than it was before; our day-to-day life had already quietly fallen into a dominant/submissive dynamic. However, I now have a much better concept of consent, safety and trust, some of the key values of the BDSM community. Our negotiations allowed us to discuss what acts we were comfortable with, and which ones were off-limits. Because of this, we’re never guessing whether someone will enjoy something before we try it.

We also chose safewords that allow either of us to stop when we feel like it, and we talk at great lengths about our sex life (Hey hun, I really didn’t enjoy the fisting last night. Can we maybe try something else tonight?”).

We’ve also developed a level of safety and trust in each other we wouldn’t have found without the encouragement from the BDSM community, through concepts like “Safe, Sane, Consensual” (SSC) or “Risk, Aware, Consensual, Kink” (RACK). Unfortunately, as others acquainted with BDSM have pointed out, you won’t find these topics discussed anywhere in Fifty Shades.

In the BDSM community I found acceptance about my sexuality, gender and desires without shame or judgment. And having an honest and fulfilled sex life with my husband has given me peace of mind, allowing me to focus on my role in our relationship.

For all these reasons, BDSM not only saved my marriage, but it also helped me evolved into a better wife, mother, ally and friend.

Jessica Cocker is the CEO and Founder of A Submissive's Initiative. You can follow the site on Twitter and Facebook.

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