Saturday, June 16, 2018

Club Meeting 255 - The Empty Nest

When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.” —Erma Bombeck

Hello all.  Welcome back to the Disciplinary Couples Club.  Our weekly gathering of men and women who are in, or interested in being in, a Domestic Discipline or Female Led marriage.  I hope you had a good week.

Thanks for the interim discussion about little acts or threats of "outing."  Isn't it interesting the extent to which so many of us are terrified of of actually being outed, yet we do things that might get us caught (wearing submissive pendants under our shirts, wearing panties or chastity devices to the gym, etc.).  

And, we get a thrill when our wives do or say something in public that hints (or more than hints) at this part of our relationship.

That desire to be more public and open is a nice segue into this week's discussion.  I've had a couple of grinder weeks, back to back.  Travel, travel, travel. I only had a couple of days at home between trips, and my wife was on a trip of her own those two days, meaning we didn't see each other for almost two full weeks, which is not typical for us.  The first of my two trips was also something I have been thinking of for some time as a transition point of sorts.  It was a large work gathering that we do from time to time, and one that tends to become more than a little bacchanalian.  This year was no exception, and I knew I was highly likely to come back far more exhausted than when I left, which I did. Then right back on the road for another short business trip.  But, unlike other travel-heavy periods of my career, I knew that this time I was coming back to my wife -- and only my wife.  For the first time in many years, we don't have kids around for several weeks, even during the summer vacation season.  A few years ago, I thought we were becoming empty-nesters and wrote about it a bit here on this blog.  But, what I failed to reckon with at that time is that empty-nester status is more a process than an actual event. Especially with the Millennial kids.  Their efforts at independence come in fits and starts, two steps forward, a step-and-a-half back.  That is still true in our case and will be for sometime to come, but this is the first time where we are going to have a big block of time in which we are together--by ourselves--as a couple.

Adding to the sense of momentousness, we have been discussing for some time that this really is going to be, or should be at any rate, a real turning point in the Domestic Discipline and Wife Led aspects of our relationship.  She wants to take over, I want her to do that, and now there is just the little matter of execution.  Of making a hard left turn into a very different style of dealing with each other and trying to make much more real something that has been more of a goal than a reality.  Not that the DD aspects of our relationship have not been real, but they have been confined and departmentalized, bounded on all sides by a life that revolved around kids and, frankly, keeping kids from discovering much about this aspect of how their parents relate to each other. 

That is what is really changing -- her ability or at least willingness to really step into a 24/7 role as Head of Household has always been met with the roadblock of observant little eyes and ears.  Which wouldn't be a problem if, like a small number of people who visit here, we were "out" about this aspect of our relationship, or at least not actively hiding it even in the privacy of our own home. But, we always have been.  So, with no one but us and the pets around, it really is a brave new world.

But, in all honesty, today I am not feeling all that brave.   

There is an introductory "warning" in the book The Hesitant Mistress that reads as follows (in slightly abridged form):

This book will teach your partner how to be more dominant. Your partner will learn how to say no to you. She will learn how to train you. She will learn how to punish you and hold you accountable for your actions. She will learn that she can demand whatever she wants from you, despite whatever you might want from her. So beware, my unsuspecting male friend... if you bought this book for her, you might get more than you asked for. You may want to quietly set it aside and buy her a set of fuzzy handcuffs instead. You have been warned.

That line about saying no is a big, big deal for me.  According to one of our polls, about 50% of the men who visit this blog identify as naturally submissive.  I'm guessing many of them like being told no and are perfectly happy being subject to someone's authority.  That just isn't me.  I hate being told what to do.  It grates on every fiber of my being.  Yet, having real boundaries that I cross at my peril is something I missed out on growing up, and I know deep down inside that I need it today. Inherent in the concept of boundaries is being told no, and in a way that actually sticks and that feels like really being denied something. I'm also nervous, because I want something like what ZM has been doing with his wife helping him stay motivated on the career front, but that is were I have always had the most independence but yet also probably need the firmest hand to help me avoid being my own worst enemy.

There is also the issue of, how do we get this started?  Last night in bed we were talking confidently about how tomorrow would be the dawn of a new day, yet this morning we have been walking gingerly around the elephant in the room that is this transition that we both agree we want.  It's like two teenagers on a first date, both hoping the other will make the first move.  It's just awkward. But, I do think we are both motivated for it.  It's just getting past the initial nerves. I do believe my wife when she says she wants this.  I'm hopeful that not only will it bring out stronger, more dominant parts of her personality, but maybe being in charge of me will provide an outlet for her maternal instincts; just as she is transitioning from supervisor to spectator in her children's lives, she takes over as supervisor of mine.

Based on a poll I took a couple of years ago,  many of the couples who come to this blog are over the age of 50.  I assume some significant number of those were empty-nesters.  What effect did that change have on the DD or Wife Led aspects of your relationship?  Did it, in fact, lead to her stepping more firmly and confidently into the role?  If so, did that happen gradually, or was there a moment when it seemed to all come together?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Mini-Post - Public Displays

"It's hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain. But you know what? It is." – from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Hi all.  Welcome back to the Disciplinary Couples Club.  Our weekly meeting of men and women in, or interested in being in, a Domestic Discipline or Wife Led Marriage. I hope you all had a great week.

As I said at the end of last week's post, I'm traveling on business and don't intend to do a new topic.  But, I had a few minutes, and a few interesting (to me anyway) things had happened over the week, so I thought I'd update a couple of things.

It was a relatively quiet week on the blog, with only a few comments on our twin topics of "not nice" and "leverage."  Apparently, no one thought the "empowerment" preaching sex cult was as interesting as I did.  Which is kind of interesting in and of itself, since all of us who are active on this blog kind of spend a significant amount of time discussing issues of empowerment building and exchange with pretty heavy sexual overtones.  As for leverage, I thought ZM hit the nail on the head when he observed, "True leverage in a DD relationship is being able to effect change. For DD to work, two conditions must be met. First, consequences need to be significant enough to be truly unpleasant and unwanted, and second, the disciplinary partner needs to be firm enough to ensure that consequences naturally follow actions. No matter how severe the consequences are, if I deem her unlikely to follow through, they probably are not much of a deterrent."  As I noted in response, my wife has never had a problem with bringing on on the severity.  She has given very, very hard spankings from the beginning.  It's really been the certainty of consequences, not their severity, that has gotten in the way of real behavioral change.  But, she is getting mentally and emotionally stronger and more powerful all the time.

One aspect of being "not nice" that wasn't really explored is whether becoming less "nice" would be burden, i.e. something that cuts against the wife's natural human tendency to be kind and not to give offense, or would it be freeing.  I have suspected for a long time that when wives struggle with being consistent, it is a result of this whipsaw of wanting to be a more authoritative personality that gets cut off when concerns about being seen as bitchy or that her exercise of power might not be taken well by him (even if asked for it in the first place), and that most of the wives would actually find it freeing to just jump in with both feet, stop worry so much about his reaction, and start leading.  I had an opportunity to test that a bit this week in a business setting.  I recently took on a new role at work that was a bit unexpected, and a bit divisive.  I don't want to give a lot of details as it might be too revealing, but in essence I was put in a position to speak some uncomfortable truths to power.  And, that's hard to do when those in "power" are your peers.  It's really not about being afraid; it's about this deep-seated human desire not to give offense.  And, even after being put in a position to do something about some company cultural issues that have been a real problem, I found myself pulled in the direction of dumbing down and sanitizing some of the messages out of concern that I not offend or hurt some of the people concerned.  But, speaking these truths as I saw them was part of this role.  So, at a big meeting on these issues, as I found myself tempted to be "nice," I actively pushed back on that temptation and committed that I was (a) going to speak my mind; and (b) consciously resist taking responsibility for other's feelings about that speech.  I was not going to try to offend anyone, but I also was not going to let my aversion to their negative reaction become my responsibility.  I was going to own my own feelings, but not theirs.  After a couple of minutes of discomfort it proved to be, as I suspected, pretty damn liberating.  There was just such clarity of purpose and absence of inner tension as a result of telling myself, "I have a job to do.  I'm going to do it.  And, I'm not going to feel bad about it."

On a more lighthearted and possibly more entertaining note, while I found some emotional equanimity as a result of consciously being less "nice," I lost that equanimity twice in a week, in the course of potentially being "outed" in a small way.  A few months ago, we talked about symbolic displays of our power sharing arrangements through jewelry or clothing.  As I said at that time, a couple of years ago I acquired a necklace with a pendent that, in the BDSM community, is a symbol for a male submissive.  Now, I don't really see myself as male submissive, but it was the closest thing I could find to a symbol for being the partner lower in the chain of command in this Wife Led Marriage.  I wear this necklace most days, but given my business attire while the necklace itself may sometimes peek out from under my button-down business shirts, the pendent hangs low enough it usually doesn't show.  So, while I wear it all the time, few people have actually seen it.  But, I've wondered it anyone who caught a peek at the necklace might be curious about it, since necklaces and chokers really aren't that common among men of my age it my profession.  Well, sure enough, my team had a happy hour session a few days ago, and while talking to one of the men who report to me, he noticed my necklace and just asked innocently what it was.  I froze and probably stuttered as I reluctantly pulled it out to show him.  He asked me what it was, and I stumbled some inanity about it just being some pendent my wife liked an bought for me while we were on vacation.  Probably some native fertility symbol of something.  In other words, I lied through my teeth.  Now, I'm 99% sure he had no familiarity with this symbol, nor did the two or three others who were sitting right by us as I put my little submissive amulet on display for our entire team!  But, one never knows . . .

Then, it happened a second time in the same damn week!  I had to see a doctor unexpectedly, and it was not my usual one.  She was doing all the normal work up--taking my blood pressure, temperature, etc.--then without warning she started unbuttoning my shirt and reaching inside it so she could listen to my heart beat.  It took me by surprise, because usually doctors instruct me to unbutton my shirt, which would usually remind me of my necklace, and I would be able to just push the pendent to the side where they wouldn't see it.  But, she just took over and started unbuttoning my shirt herself, opening it up and leaving the pendent in plain, open view.  "Oh shit!" ran through my head as I cogitated quickly on the odds that this female doctor with a pretty aggressive matter could possibly a kinky Domme who knew damn well what that symbol means for BDSM-ers.  Thankfully, if she did, I didn't detect it.  Of course, if she did, why would I be embarrassed given that by definition she would know about it only if she also were a participant in that lifestyle? But, that's not the process my mind went through as I was in the process of possibly being unexpectedly outed.

That's all I have for this week.  I hope you all have a great weekend. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Club Meeting 253 - Leverage & The Value of Not Being Nice

"Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.” - Marcus Aurelius

Hello all.  Happy Saturday.  I hope you all had a great week.  Mine was OK, though kind of tiring for a short one.  And I spent half my day yesterday dealing with computer problems.  Funny how keeping all these "time saving devices" working can consume a whole day.  

On the FLR and DD front, I feel like our relationship is working on about the same level as my computer -- lots of potential though largely unfulfilled thanks to various interferences and process glitches.  It's frustrating, because a couple of weeks ago I put quite a lot of time into drafting daily and weekly "report cards" and coming up with plans to build some structure into our DD relationship to get it back on track.  She also seemed highly motivated.  But, it just never quite came together, and for the same reasons as every other time we've tried to move it forward -- work distractions and travel, and kids in the house.  I'm starting to wonder whether the reason past polls showed that those into DD were overwhelmingly over the age of 50 is best explained by the simple fact that it's often in our 50s that the kids finally get the the hell out of the house once and for all, opening up some space for more adult activities.  But, that takes a long time, as I'm learning that empty-nester status is a process, not an event.

As has been the case often of late, I find myself drifting along with no particular topic in mind.  Maybe this is a byproduct of the low-level frustration I've feel for awhile with the constraints imposed by a weekly topic  -- my mind is simply refusing to come up with actual topics, so instead I ramble and see what comes of it.  While they aren't confined to a well-defined topic, there were a couple of things that attracted my attention this week and might generate at least a little conversation.

A few weeks ago, I read about the Smallville actress who was arrested for allegedly acting as a recruiter for a sex cult.  Despite the salacious topic, I didn't pay a lot of attention to it at the time.  This week, however the New York Times posted a long investigative piece about it,  entitled The Sex Cult That Preached Empowerment:  I personally found it a really fascinating read, even though, its title notwithstanding, there was very little discussion of sex.  Setting aside its Amway business model and a branding ritual that made me squirm, the whole thing sounds more like a group of "life coaches" and their students, finding new and interesting ways to encourage self-improvement by coming up with personalized consequences sufficient to motivate an actual positive behavioral change.  

The leverage they created included things like pledging "collateral" in one form or another, such as giving the leaders of the group a letter admitting to some embarrassing or illegal act, but if the person met their personal performance goals, the letter would not be released.  The collateral would not be sacrificed and the person would not suffer any detriment, as long as they did what they said they were going to do.  They also used group consequences for individual failures. For example, if John set a goal of running every day and he failed to do it on Monday, then on Tuesday all the men in John's assigned support group might have to give up their morning coffee.  Knowing that others might pay a price for his own failure would presumably give John a greater incentive to do what he pledged to do.  Many of the "motivators" really seem to be about raising the consequences of failing to such a high degree that the person was left highly, highly motivated not to fail. 
It was pretty fascinating in that most "cults" are focused on the initiates meeting the needs of the leader or guru, but this one was built more on the principle of experienced initiates helping newcomers meet their own goals, with the initiates paying the leader a fee for taking part in this system and getting his instruction.  Kind of like a Tony Robbins seminar on steroids.  But, also with an overlay of D/s, including "Master" and "slave" titles.  

While definitely more extreme that what most of us are doing, the parallels to asking wives to act as coaches or mentors, with the authority to raise the stakes sufficiently to really get our attention, was hard to miss.  Because for those of us who are using DD to try to improve ourselves and accomplish more or break bad habits, that is what DD is about, right?  Gaining sufficient leverage to get over those impediments that get in the way of meeting your goals?

In parallel with this, I've been reading a book called Not Nice:  It's all about the pressures we all feel to be overly "nice" at the expense of our own self-interest, and the stress this places on our psyches and our relationships.  While the article above resonated with me because of my participation in Domestic Discipline, I actively sought out a book on learning how not to be "nice," because I think it is a concept that is really, really important for our Disciplinary Wives.  As we've been discussing over the last few weeks, one of the big impediments to making the leap into real Head of Household status, or to becoming really rigorous at enforcing the rules, is the natural tendency to be "reasonable" or, in a word, "nice."  It's part of the same spectrum as seeking to avoid being labeled as "bitchy."  We all have a tendency to dumb ourselves down and avoid speaking our minds, because we want to avoid hurting or offending others. But, the price to be paid for that is we're never really living up to our potential or satisfying our own needs or, in the DD context, his needs to be kept firmly under her control. 

[Update: I was working my way through the above book as I wrote this post.  I've now gotten through most of it. On balance, I think it has some good tips on how to be more assertive and more comfortable with drawing boundaries.  But, there are parts in which--in my personal opinion--the author draws boundaries that seem to be all about he gets his needs met and no one else does even if the "sacrifice" on his part is trivial, resulting in what seem to be very one-sided friendships and personal relationships.  Any real human relationship involves doing some things you may not be into at the time, in order to support the other person.  The author is very cavalier about dismissing his wife and friends' needs for support on flimsy bases.  Like refusing to go out with her for an evening when her parents are visiting even though they rarely visit, because he wants to spend the time hanging out with two friends he could see anytime, then justifying it based on the importance of "needing time for himself."  Everyone draws their boundaries in different places, and while I like the program the author lays out, at times he seems to be going more for obnoxious "Bro" boy than an independent or assertive man. I'm all for authenticity, but it's possible to be a perfectly authentic douchebag.  In advising young execs at my company on business development, I often tell them, "Be yourself.  Unless your "self" is a disagreeable, pretentious, self-important douchebag.  In that case, by all means be someone else."]

I suspect that the Disciplinary Wives recognize this dynamic even more so than the men, because our women are conditioned to be nice and nurturing and non-aggressive, which is all great except that makes it very hard for them to step up into leadership roles, because those roles often involve saying "no" and sticking to it, and enforcing the rules even when he's offering all the reasons he should be let off the hook.  Her natural desire to be "nice" can create a dynamic that just doesn't work in a real DD or FLR relationship,  because we have agreed that she will be in charge and that I will be subject to her rules and her discipline. We disciplined men want that discipline to be firm, unyielding and hard.  Basically, we want her to learn not to be "nice." We want her to speak her mind, and we want her to be more open and direct in doing so, which was what we were talking about last week.  Hence, my interest in finding resources that might teach my wife how to break the "nice" habit and step more fully into her leader role.

Another reason I went looking for such a book was our discussion about trying to talk our way out of consequences and rules.  I want to find ways for my wife to get more and more comfortable telling me, "No means no."

Like I said, I don't have much of an actual topic in mind for this week, beyond the general topic of getting leverage through spanking and non-spanking means, and encouraging our wives not to be nice and to recognize that in DD "nurturing" may include being quite unyielding, firm and resolute. I think the concept that unites these two disparate topics, and the article about the "sex cult," is the focus on consequences.  As men who asked for Domestic Discipline, is it consequences we are really looking for, and for someone who is strong enough to keep escalating the consequences such that the behavior actually does improve?  I do know that in my own case, I am awfully hard-headed and strong-willed, which may mean that to get sufficient leverage over me to effect a real change, my wife has to be prepared to really escalate the consequences to get my attention.  

Well, I know that is not a particularly focused topic, but it's what I had on my mind this Saturday.  FYI, I'm traveling next weekend, so there likely won't be a new posting next week.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Club Meeting 252 - Outward Appearances

"I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading." - Amy Poehler

Hi all.  Welcome back to the Disciplinary Couples Club.  Our weekly gathering of men and women who are in, or want to be in, Domestic Discipline or Female Led Relationships.  I hope you had a great week.

Mine started great, was rough in the middle, but seems to be getting a little better at the end.  The roughness in the middle was the result of my own bad behavior.  After doing much better for awhile, I really let my temper get away with me at work, and I had a few other "issues."  And, thanks to some work travel, our new self-reporting with report cards  system fell apart.  But, I am going to try to get back on it tomorrow, and given my bad behavior, a hard spanking is probably coming my way.  The issue at work also illustrates for me the extent to which a spanking sometimes is the lesser punishment, as I know that what i really need to do is apologize for my behavior, yet because of some of the power relationships involved (it would involved apologizing to people up the chain, which is always harder for me), I am far, far more intimidated by the prospect of apologizing than at the prospect of being spanked.

There may be other things coming my way, too.  During a discussion we had over dinner early in the week, my wife told me that she recently watched the second and third installments in the 50 Shades of Gray series.  She said the experience left her very turned on, and that some of that centered on thoughts of how to dominate me harder and push me more into the role of a real submissive.  She did not elaborate, but she certainly has my attention.  It's also interesting to me that even though those movies are about M/f dominance, watching them did not seem to make her want to experience things from that angle.  Quite the opposite.  She clearly has a firmly established view of herself as the dominant party in this relationship, which was not the case when we started DD many years ago.

As I said last week, for various reasons, the DD and FLR aspects of our relationship have been on my mind a lot lately.  Anna described it as seeing the hunger growing, both in my blog content and in answers to comments.  It's probably true, though part of that may also be that I haven't been very good at coming up with topics lately, which kind of forces me to talk more about what's going on with me personally.  And, I also do go through phases in which I do want to be more open, and this seems to be one of them.

So, openness will be the topic for this week.  We've talked a few times about how open people are about the DD or FLR aspects of their relationship, and the short answer seems to be "not very."  Most of us are firmly in the closet, and most of the comments suggest people want to stay there.  Yet, in one of our recent polls, a very strong majority said they wanted their wives to be more openly dominant.

There seems to be some tension between those two. On the one hand, we don't want anyone to know that we are disciplined husbands or the second-in-command in an FLR family, yet we also want our wives to be more open about the fact that they are the leader.  We find those outward expressions of control and confidence incredibly sexy, yet we also don't like the social ramifications of being seen as less manly by virtue of her being viewed as the one in control.

So, if you aren't comfortable with people knowing everything about your roles, just how far are you OK with her going in letting the world know she runs the house and is in charge?  What form does that take?  What is the furthest she has gone in being openly suggestive about that role in public?

For us, it was two Christmases and involved a very open comment about the possibility of spanking me.  We had relatives over for a Christmas brunch.  She had asked me to do something, and I responded with some joke about doing it herself.  Having had two or three mimosas, she said loudly enough for everyone to hear, "I could do that. Or, I could just spank you." Now, I think everyone thought she was joking.  But, you never know.  Did it bother me?  No, not at all.  In fact, it really turned me on and obviously is still on my my mind months later.  Honestly, I think right now I am more comfortable with others finding out about this thing we do than she is. Now, in the moment I would probably feel differently, but I do think the prospect of public consequences for public misbehavior needs to be one tool in her arsenal.
Now, tell us about your own experiences with her displaying her dominance more openly or times she has let her leadership or disciplinary role show through.

I hope you have a great week.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Club - Vol. 251 - Performance Management, Grades, Consequences, etc.

"No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.” - Harry Emerson Fosdick 

Hello all.  I hope you had a great week.  Sorry I was slow in posting this week, but I had another commitment interfere.  Unfortunately, I can't say that the wait was worth it.  I had some alone time yesterday evening and thought about topics.  And thought. And thought. And thought.  I am just really uninspired this week for some reason.  Not about Domestic Discipline, but about anything specific or "topical" for the blog.  I tried to post last night, and finally just gave up, hoping I would wake up this morning to a flash of inspiration.  No such luck.  So, I'm just going to meander a bit and people can comment on anything that seems worth following up on.

While inspiration for a new topic has been elusive, it's not for lack of interest in the Domestic Discipline aspects of our relationship.  To the contrary, those have been on my mind a lot lately. I think it is because I've been even more frustrated than usual with my own behavior.  Now, objectively, I haven't been doing all that badly.  I haven't had any major blow-ups at work, though I did have a minor one on Friday in which I got very frustrated with an unhelpful response to a technology issue and went off on the unhelpful person.  The person really was deliberately obtuse and unhelpful, but I could have toned my reaction down a bit, and the way I handled it probably did run afoul of my own personal aspiration not to "punch down."  I did a really good job with my diet and exercise program for most of the week, then slipped again on Friday and again at a family event yesterday.  Same with my most prevalent problem behavior -- too much alcohol.  I had none until Friday, then had a few beers when one of my employees asked me to do some mentoring over a drink, then a few more watching a movie at home.  Again, it wasn't any major behavioral slip, but I had very recently set a goal for myself of going completely dry for a couple of weeks as part of a pretty rigorous diet plan, in order to break through a diet and fitness sticking point.  So, while none of my slip-ups were major, I was also just never quite living up to goals I had set for myself.  In each case, I had some excuse for doing the opposite of what I told myself I was going to do, or I just forgot about that rule or goal in the moment.

These thoughts about my multiple failures to live up to my own rules and goals tie in nicely with, and to a large extent result from, the discussions we've been having over the last couple of weeks.  ZM's discussion of his wife's efforts to use DD to help him live a more disciplined and productive life, and thereby achieve greater success in his business, have really stuck with me.  Similarly, Jr's trip to the woodshed for an ongoing grammar problem that his wife was determined to deal with.  And, Alan's recommendation of adopting a goal of complete obedience. Whether the focus is on total obedience, or zero tolerance, or "unmade beds," from all these different angles I have been mulling the extent to which it is helpful in these DD relationships to take small things seriously, and how consistency in both detection (getting caught or self-reporting) and enforcement (not accepting excuses, not allowing loopholes and punishing near the time of the crime) play a role in real behavioral change.

I recognize that not all of us are using Domestic Discipline to address things like work performance, staying healthy, being more orderly and disciplined, etc. But, many of us are, and looking back, that focus on personal growth and improvement was a major part of what attracted me to DD in the first place.  For me, it was about bad behavior and poor performance having actual consequences.  I thought about this a little more this week in relation to my parents.  While they cared and did many things right, looking back there really were a shortage of consequences for bad choices.  To some extent, that was because I put a lot of pressure on myself, but that becomes very circular, because I think one reason I crave DD is because I get tired of the burden of being 100% accountable to myself and myself alone, and I've been doing it since well before high school.  I might not have had to put so much pressure on myself had there been more certainty of external enforcement.  This same pattern holds true for my career today.  I think it was Darren who said a few weeks ago that he had reached a point in his career where there really isn't anyone "above" him to hold him accountable, hence the craving for a Strict Wife to play that role in some respect.  It's that accountability and performance management aspect of DD that has really been on my mind lately and that I feel just never quite gels for us.

Why doesn't it?  Well, it's all sorts of things.  We have really let formalized check-ins slip over the years even though, as ZM and I riffed about in the comments to the last post, consistent detection and quick enforcement are essential in focusing attention and driving change.  Certainty of enforcement also is a problem for us  There are just way too many times that bad behavior goes unaddressed or I get away with subtly undermining a rule with some one-off justification or loophole.  Severity actually is not a problem for us, and I'm starting to think that spankings may actually have become so severe that it has created in me a desire to avoid them at all costs, which sounds good except that "at all costs" sometimes includes less than full cooperation in the process, looking for loopholes, etc.  It's made me think that ZM is dead right that the focus for us needs to shift from the intensity of the spanking--the severity of the implement and hardness of the delivery--to the duration of the spanking, coupled with a mechanism for tamping down avoidance and rule-skirting.

The discussions last week included Glen conveying a system he and his wife used to have in place for formally "grading" his behavior over dinner or lunch, then her "taking care of business" based on the kind of grades he had earned that week or month.  This idea of using spanking to fix bad grades used to be a pretty prevalent part of our culture.  In fact, it was just part of the family-cultural background where I grew up that if you brought home a bad report card, you could anticipate a hard spanking.

That cultural proclivity for using spanking to address bad grades had all the earmarks of an effective motivational system.  Reporting happened at regular intervals.  Parents knew when report cards were due and expected to receive them.  The delivery and content also were outside the recipient's control.  The report cards were both filled out and sent by someone other than the recipient.  The parents receiving the report cards also saw correcting bad behavior and encouraging better performance as part of their maternal or paternal duties; providing consequences for less than stellar performance was "for his own good."  The whole combo for effective behavior modification was there:  consistent, formalized and unavoidable detection and reporting, followed by certain and swift consequences, delivered in a business-like manner for the recipient's betterment.

The other thing I've been thinking about a lot in connection with this is a question from Anna, which I did ask but that didn't get a lot of response, namely how openly are we communicating what we need--and what we deserve--to our disciplinary spouses?  The commenters with positive stories about DD really changing behavior--Anna and Peter, ZM, and Glen, among others--seem to have some formalized communication system in place that began with him being very open about the kind of behavior he wanted to correct or what she wanted to see corrected, coupled with formalized "meetings" to discuss the progress or lack thereof.  It is hard for me to admit given how much I've stressed the value and necessity of communication in these relationships, but I think my wife and I have kind of fallen down on this facet of our relationship.  I have been forthcoming about what I think I need or want to accomplish, but it's rarely in person.  We do communicate, or rather I do, in journals, texts, etc., but the face-to-face communications that would help reinforce our roles--empowering her and humbling me--and that would put some formality into the reporting process, have been few and far between over the last few years.  The volume of communication actually has increased thanks to the required journaling by me, but the in-person feedback loop has been missing.

As I said, I don't have a real "topic" for this week, or even a firm view on where all this is headed.  But, I think it is in the direction of suggesting to my wife that we go back to where we started, putting the DD part of our relationship on a firmer footing by building in some formality, including more regular reporting.  With that in mind, Glen was kind enough to pass along the "report card" he and his wife used.  I will probably suggest something like it that she can use as part of some kind of formal monthly meeting to "grade" me, possibly over dinner or lunch.  But, I also wanted something to build some formality into the day-to-day reporting process that will keep me on track in the moment.  So, I put together this slimmed down "report card," based on something I found a long time ago on the internet, combined with some of the content from Glen's report card.

My thought is I may propose to her that I have to give her this daily for a month, then scale down to weekly, followed by a monthly check-in in which she formally grades my efforts and behavior from her perspective, giving me that feedback in person and laying out her expectations.

Well, my inability to come up with a topic somehow still resulted in a long-winded post!

One last thing, and maybe this one will end up meriting its own post, but despite my efforts to open up the blog to more female participation, if anything we seem to have less than ever.  A couple of week ago I reviewed some old posts, and I was struck by the quality of participation from wives like Marisa and Holly who have stopped participating entirely, and I really do miss hearing from them.  And, unfortunately, while they have stopped commenting, others have not stepped in to take their place.  Recently, some of you have stated that you read this blog with your wives.  If any of them have the slightest interest in participating, I hope they will do so from time to time. And, I hope that other female readers will chime in as well.  (Though, this most definitely does not include "Sean" in all his manifestations, pretending to be a woman, which he has done several times.)

I hope you have a great week!