comments - The Conjugal Clock

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RE: comments - The Conjugal Clock

Unread postby feline » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:15 pm

The Conjugal Clock

What follows is squarely aimed at the author.  To the rest of you who are reading this, this is a fairly long story, it moves fairly slowly, and it contains very little bondage.

What it does contain are some incredibly well drawn characters, many fascinating discussions and thoughts about the nature of a marriage, a relationship, and one approach to keeping a marriage alive and healthy.

If you enjoy a good story with strong characters that gives you something to think about then give this a go.

What follows contains quite a number of spoilers, so just go and read the story.

and now the comments begin

This is an amazing piece of writing! For me, it is more than "just" a story, it is a very well done, and deeply fascinating study of marriage, of relationships, and a study of one rather, well very actually, odd solution to the problem. However odd, however cruel and unfeeling at times the solution seems its results speak for themselves.

You have definitely out done yourself with this one!!!

This is going to be a "stream of consciousness" review, I am going to write this as I read the story. Given the length of the story, and the fact I already have two points I want to comment on in detail, this seems the best result. One side effect of this, I have barely started the story at this point, so I do not know if I will read all of the story, of if I will like it.

This is sub titled "Par 1", while I would expect it to be called "Part 1". Is this a typo, or does it have some meaning that is currently hidden from me?

“We all know exactly how you feel,” Clay, Anja’s mother and her soon-to-be mother-in-law, said in a sympathetic tone. “Every one of us felt exactly the same way, the day before our wedding when we received our own clocks.” She laughed. “Every single one of us promised ourselves that we would throw the clock in the garbage as soon as the honeymoon was over.”

Veronica blushed. Clay was reading her mind.

This is where the story first grabbed my attention. Suddenly the characters are coming alive for me. They are interesting, they have depth, and they also have empathy and understanding for each other. There is a mystery here, one I am curious about.

The modern woman is fond of the explicit part of that vow; she loves the idea that her husband will never again make love to another woman until the day he dies. But there is an implicit part of that vow that many modern women prefer to ignore. It is only reasonable to expect your husband to forsake other women for the rest of his life if you are willing to satisfy him fully yourself.

This is a very thoughtful, well considered, and I feel deeply important point. It also strikes a cord with so much that I see and encounter in the media about the attitudes married couples can and do have for each other. If this story is going to be this thoughtful then I am most interested.

The wedding was excessive in every way: a wealthy family putting on an extravagant show for their assembled friends and business associates. **snip** Veronica was not ignored, but she was well aware that, though she was the one standing at the altar, she was not the most important person in the cathedral.

This made me smile, but in a sad way. This makes so much sense, and says a great deal about the family she is joining, but at the same time it is also rather in contrast to the famous statement about the wedding being all about the bride.

“Of course not. This is our bedroom. We won’t be inviting any friends in here.”

Veronica wanted to scream in frustration. Her new husband’s reasonable responses only served to increase her ire. “The stupid thing doesn’t even tell the right time,” she snarled.

*smiles* In a way this is not funny at all, and I have a lot of sympathy for the wife's feelings, upset and anger. Still, in a strange way, the husbands calm acceptance of this as normal puts a smile on my face.

The next night, she thought that they ought to christen their marital bed properly, and Cary was looking at her rather wistfully, so she let him make love to her.

Now that speaks volumes! The casual, almost disinterested tone... it just screams "I did it, but I had no interest in it". Thinking back to the comments about the wife's duty to satisfy her husband already I see hints that without prompting she might not be interested in keeping him sexually satisfied.

The penny dropped. Veronica exploded in fury. “What in hell are you saying? Are you telling me that that damned clock is timing how often we make love?”

“Of course. I thought that you understood that.”

There is a serious gap in her understanding of this clock, and its function / purpose in their marriage!!! I wonder if she should have been told more, but the female family members seemed to feel she had been told all that she needed to be told. A curiosity.

Having paused at the end of the first segment, and considered what is going on here, what I am seeing here, the position of the clock, they layout of their bedroom, it makes a very powerful statement about the purpose of the room and the bed.

What is also interesting is the contrast between the husband, who sees this as normal, almost natural, and the wife who is deeply shocked by the whole experience, and in a way is coming across as almost sexually repressed, almost something of a prude.

And she invited him to bed frequently because the clock kept her aware of his needs.
She loved her husband deeply and, when she looked at the clock and saw the hand pointing to the last quarter of the dial, she found herself overwhelmed by an urge to fuck him. She had timed the mechanism and estimated that it would take about forty-five hours to wind down. Making love to Cary every second day – every forty-eight hours – was not quite often enough to maintain the schedule

Fascinating, on several fronts. The main points that leap out at me are firstly the change over these months in her attitude both to the clock and to making love to her husband. She seems to have lost, to have shed, her nervous nature, and instead seems to be embracing the experience. The 45 hour time frame is most interesting as well, and its implications are nicely explained.

She still hated the clock, but she loved her life with Cary. When he had wound it for the first time, he had implied that living with the hideous thing would be a small price to pay for a perfect life. He had been right.

interesting, very interesting, especially in light of how she seems conditioned to respond to the clock.

She was soon to get more drama than she wanted; she had lashed out at him without realizing that she was forcing herself into a trap.

Now into the next section. The roots are clear, a failure to talk intelligently to her husband, a failure to explain and communicate her needs and wants, and to explain the reasons for her actions. Such a sadly common thing from what I have seen.

She has just been told the punishment for letting the clock run down, and:

Veronica digested this for a moment, and then flushed with anger and spat, “I won’t do either. I won’t let myself be whipped and I won’t leave my husband.”

Her reaction, broadly speaking, is what I had expected. She has never really accepted the role of the clock, or wished to accept its rule. It is most interesting to see the stark choice she is left with, and how it is to be enforced.

The next day, the visit by Clay, the "speech" she gives... *wow*. That is powerful, moving, sensitive, and it also tells us a great deal about the background of this family. I also noticed the most interesting phrase "the first time" with regard to the clock running down.

There is also support, a lot of support, from Anja. The family are doing what they can to gather around and support her. This reminds me of a quote "tradition cannot be changed, it can only be added to". Here though, for all that the traditions seem strange, bizarre, and cruel they also serve a clear purpose, and the family history of stable marriages speaks for its self. Then we get the husbands reaction...

He looked utterly ignorant.

Clearly the question is, is he? How much does he really know? Another little mystery.

In all those generations of marriages, only a half dozen failures was a remarkable rate of success, but the three wives who refused to submit were enough to give Wilma and Clay ample reason to be afraid.

*stunned silence for a moment* well there you go! The family myth was presented as absolute fact, not as a myth. Still, as it says, the success rate was still very high.

Veronica refused to turn away in any show of useless modesty, but continued to face them as she slipped her shoes off

*nods* a very good sign. She is a strong woman, and I find that she is growing on me.

As Anja latched the second steel cuff, she looked at Veronica and whispered, “You may not feel like it right now, but you’re a hero.”

Now that is a very interesting statement indeed. It suggests that other women who have agreed to submit to this have been a lot more "difficult" about it. I can well believe that!

The whipping, to me there is nothing sexy here. It is powerfully written, full of feeling, power and passion. But sexy... no, not to me.

We now have our answer, he really did not know. Somehow the scene when he finds out did not move me as much as I expected, it did not feel as full of emotion as I expected. Somehow the husband seemed ever so slightly distant. I think because there was no strong sense of his facial expressions or tone of voice.

The history and philosophy of the clock is fascinating, while at the same time the contrast with other married women is both sobering and deeply depressing, because of how reasonable it sounds.

He had expected her gratitude. He had misjudged her in some way that he did not understand. The only thing that he did understand was that he was not to wind the clock unless he had made love to her. Ever.

I can see both sides here. The husband does not seem very well developed as a character, but his reaction is clearly genuine, clearly one of concern and love for his wife, and I like him for it. At the same time, especially after all she has been through, the wife's reactions make sense. She is not about to see this experience devalued by him changing the rules on her. Also it would strike at the very heart of what the clock is for, and what it means.

At the same time, I find myself wondering if she might have set herself up for new problems down the line with this declaration.

In Veronica’s family, sex was a taboo topic. She would not know if her parents had ever engaged in sexual intercourse, but for the evidence of her own conception; and did not know if they had ever made love again after her birth.

*ah* so I was right!

“First, they discovered that the vast majority of prostitutes are terrible lovers;

This reminds me of a quote from the joy of sex, but I don't think I have ever seen this particular, and most interesting point made anywhere else. Of if I have it was not made this clearly.

Watching the presentation of the clock to the new wife, and seeing Veronica review her thoughts on her own clock is most interesting. The change over time, but also the insight into what it has done, and what it offers her, both her and her husband, is fascinating.

Veronica’s perfect record of incorrect predictions was upheld; she was proven wrong on both counts.

*giggles* She does have quite the track record!

The whipping Barb receives, and now the aftermath of that whipping... there is much to consider here. Again this is not sexy, it is almost dark, it is brutal, but it is also deep, thoughtful, thought provoking, and very well constructed.

Moving forward to Veronica's caning, and the initial aftermath:

No matter how sore her ass, no matter how much she blamed him, no matter how deep her disappointment in him, even if she could not bear to look at him, she would still have to fuck him.

This is sad, and again deep, but this sums up a lot of the situation for me.

The note read: “I, too, keep my promises. If you’re not at the Union Bar on Marshall at 9:00, I’ll let every man in the place fuck me in the ass. I’m not a whore, so I won’t be asking them to pay a cent.”

Most interesting, I suspect the story that is being referenced here is another story by the same author.

“Well, if you want to get right to business, then you can take me back to the motel. I’ve got a room in a place just off 394. My car is just around the corner. That’s why I’m late, I kept driving around until I found a spot close enough to walk without a coat. I thought that you’d want to see me walk into the bar dressed like this, not bundled up in a parka. I wanted to get it perfect and severe frostbite would have wrecked my entrance.”


I am slightly lost for words at this point. It certainly says a *great* deal about Veronica, her drive and her will. Beyond that... if you have paid attention to the story this far then you will know what it says and means.

When she returned to the bedroom, she found her husband on his back on top of the bedspread, his pants still hanging around his ankles, fast asleep. He looked sated, satisfied. He looked like he had not a care in the world. The bastard.

Yes, at this point it is hard to warm to him, at all.

The final stage of this story seems to go by quite quickly, almost seems to skim along, but the final line, the final ending...

I had intended to quote it, but out of context it would really not have the same meaning. I am not quite sure what what I think about this. I see why it ends like this, and in a lot of ways I totally agree with it. At the same time... part of me wonders at the price that has to be paid to the clock. But the price buys one hell of a lot!
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Re: comments - The Conjugal Clock

Unread postby AshleyZacharias » Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:59 pm

I regret that it took me five years to find this review, but better late than never :-).

I would like to thank you, not only for the kind words, but for the depth of the feedback that you have given.
I have always been concerned that I present this story as "BDSM Erotica" under false pretences. I knew when I wrote it that it wasn't going to get anyone off in a few minutes, if ever. Except maybe for the handcuffed blowjob scene. But it takes a lot of reading to get to that point and there are a lot of other stories on the web that describe that kind of scene more erotically.
Thus, I appreciate it when you say that the characters and their views on the nature of marriage to be sufficiently interesting to hold your attention.

I do not plan to re-write the story, but if I did, I would definitely take your comments into account. I agree, that the husband is not as well fleshed out as the women. As well, the amount that he knows about the family traditions is inconstant in different parts of the story. Maybe the men in the family are willfully ignorant - they have a good thing and they don't want to rock the boat by looking at it too closely. Or maybe they know a lot more than they pretend. I do think, though, that he is genuinely shocked after the caning when he discovers how brutal the women's punishment can be. A case might be made that most men find it hard to be as cruel to women as they can be to each other. Feminists would disagree with that idea, but that doesn't discourage me :-). I believe that feminists are right about some things and wrong about others.
In any event, the story would be stronger if the male side of the family tradition was developed as well.

(BTW, I do recall that you were kind enough to correspond directly with me when the story was in draft form. I'm still grateful for the help that you gave to me then.)

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