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!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Delayed Posting

I hope you all have a great weekend planned.  I have some family commitments, so I plan to post on Sunday.  Have a great Saturday.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Vol. 250 - Staying in Character, and small things continued

"It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey." - Soren Kierkegaard

Hello all. Welcome back to The Disciplinary Couples Club.  Our weekly gather of men and women who are in, or have a genuine desire to be in, Domestic Discipline or Female Led Relationships.

I hope you had a great week.  Mine included one of those incidents that can make me wonder whether I have any capability at all of actually changing for the better.  Just two weeks ago, we talked about using Domestic Discipline to learn to get the "small things" right, with the hope that developing more discipline about common, everyday tasks, might result in more discipline on the bigger things as well.  I recounted how she spanked sometime ago for repeatedly failing to clean the kitchen fully after dinner, including leaving rice in a rice cooker.  
 So, I really committed to trying to do better.  For a week I made the bed every morning, did a better job of getting some annoying work tasks done every day, and made sure I diligently cleaned the kitchen every night.  Then, earlier this week I got a text from her at work with -- you know where this is going, don't you? -- rice in the damn rice cooker!  Left there for two days.  Damn, damn, damn!  I honestly cannot believe that after committing to do my nightly chores, talking about it with all of you for a solid week . . . I still couldn't pull it off!  So much for . . .


 I also failed--modestly yet still failed--on something that was more personal to me.  I had an injury last year that really screwed with my ability to stay fit.  I lost years of hard-won gains in muscle and strength.  I've been slowly working my way back up, and am pretty close to where I was before the injury. But, I decided that wasn't enough.  I wanted to get in really, really good shape.  Like visible six-pack shape, driven on by the recognition that I am at an age where it really is now or never.  So, I decided that I wanted to do a pretty strict diet for two weeks to kick-start the process, including no processed food, no sugar and a total ban on alcohol.  I did pretty well for several days, then we had a reception at the office, and I one beer, which led to two more, and topped it off with some unhealthy snacking.  Last night, I was on my own for dinner, and while I didn't do too bad for a Friday, I had one beer and some french fries.  Small stumbles, right?  But stumbles nonetheless.  


And, in truth, it was some our conversation last week that put me on this self-improvement bent again.  As ZM said,  "For some reason, this weeks topic is just totally stuck in my head so here I am writing again. I guess maybe it is because it is all just so very domestic, which apparently resonates quite clearly for me. This week, as I have been thinking (pretty much non-stop) about small things, I realize just how much my lack of discipline has held me back, and I have a large and genuine hope that my wife will give my self-discipline enough of a boost that it will result in me finally achieving at least part of the success of which I am capable. Tomy noted above that if Aunt Kay had gotten to him earlier "... I sure as hell would have been a million times more successful in life." I am hoping so very much that somehow this will be true for me as well. While I don't necessary enjoy the pain of spanking, at least at the time, I enjoy even less the never-ending pain of living an undisciplined life."


 Very well said.  Like ZM, I spent a lot of time last week thinking about sweating the small stuff, using my wife as a kind of "accountability coach" to help me stay on track.  I don't know exactly what that looks like and how to get her to buy into the vision, but I need to find some way to get her more invested in helping me get my shit together.  I am a big believer in setting out very concrete steps when you want to change something.  High level, vague aspirations, or even concrete goals without concrete steps to get there, are all but worthless.  So, if any of you have used DD successfully to really help you improve performance, pay more attention, hit goals, etc., please continue to weigh in, and with the actual things you put in place to get there.

One thing that did jump out at me from the comments is that for the couples who successfully used DD to help him perform better, there seems to have been A LOT of very open, ongoing communication, about the goals, the expectations, his progress or lack thereof, etc.  Again, please share how all that came about, how you approached her (or she approached you), what the reporting regimen was like, how any check-ins or other processes worked, forms you used to track performance, etc. 

I also suspect that if I am really going to get her to deliver on helping me perform, more of the process will have to be initiated by me regarding things like check-ins, perhaps even to the point of me going through the checklist and simply bringing her the paddle whenever the failures happened.  Ideally, it would be her taking over the process and managing it, but after trying and failing to get that to really work, I feel like I have to try something else.  Though, that is easier said than done in the moment.

The part of this week's topic that is genuinely new is kind of the flip-side of the debate between Alan, KD and ZM regarding total obedience, though from a slightly different angle.  How difficult is it for the wives who do want to be a Disciplinary Wife and to be the leader in an FLR to do that consistently, perhaps even 24x7?  How readily to they "stay in character" or do they find themselves flipping back and forth between dominance and doubt?

It seems to me to be very natural for doubts to hold back even a wife who genuinely wants to lead.  As many of us said last week, our wives are normal people with normal moral and ethical compasses.  They want to help us grow into the men we want to be, and many of them don't have any problem with doling out a strong punishment when we do something bad that effects them.  But, they also have normal concerns about "not wanting to hurt him," and "even if he says he wants things to be strict, am I being too strict in this particular case?"

I don't have any doubt that many, in not most, Disciplinary Wives have those moments of self-doubt or of pulling back because of concerns about whether he "really" wants this. But, does that suggest that living DD 24x7 just is not realistic or, ironically, is she stressed out and going through the ups and downs precisely because she has one foot in and one foot out of DD leadership, but both she and he would be happier if she just went all out and really donned the mantle of leadership.  I've talked about this a lot with one Domme friend, and she admits that she is happiest and the relationship works best when she is most consistent and most strict.  The doubts do kick in and she steps back, but then things stop working as well and both she and her husband get off course.  For her, it really is easier and more helpful for both of them when she stays consistent and doesn't let the doubts stop her from doing what she needs to do.  She genuinely likes leading, and part of making things work is embracing that instead of getting dragged down by concerns about "bitchiness" or how he may react and, instead, setting high expectations and consistently enforcing them.  It is a bit paradoxical, but leadership becomes less burdensome the more she embraces it.

Thoughts?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Club Meeting 249 - Talking Your Way Out

"You can't talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into." - Stephen Covey

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

Mine was more than a little stressful.  Of my own making, both good and bad.  I ended last week with some good news about a work opportunity I had been pursuing for about a month. It was something I thought was a major longshot, and I decided to give it a try without having any real sense that I might actually get it.  (Sounds a lot like how we ended up with Trump as President, no?)  Even though I began the effort as a lark, I did take it seriously as the process went along, hustling and pushing and trying.  Somehow I pulled it off, though over the course of the process it became abundantly clear that the role involves trying to fix a totally fucked up and dysfunctional organization.  My week was spent trying to get my bearings, in a situation in which it is pretty clear that some people not only aren't happy to have me on board, they almost certainly will try to undermine everything I'd like to accomplish.  Not because they don't like me, but because they don't agree with the direction I'd like to set.

So, the issue of undermining others who are trying to do the right thing was already on my mind this week in the work context.  Yesterday, it became an issue in the Domestic Discipline context as well.  It really had been a rough week, and my wife was well aware that I was starting to go into my dysfunctional spiral of trying to control the storm around me then doing self-destructive things to cope.  I also had not gotten a lot of sleep over the week and was rolling into Friday very exhausted.  As I was leaving for work, she told me "By the way, you are grounded from drinking today."


Now, the problem was, my team had scheduled a happy hour to welcome a new member, and as team leader it was something I really couldn't get out of.  I explained that to her.  She was clearly aggravated, but ultimately backed away from her initial order, telling me to be sure to moderate my alcohol consumption.

Now, when you look at the situation closely, there really was no conflict between her order and my previous work commitment.  She didn't order me not to go to happy hour.  She ordered me not to drink.  So, I could have gone to the happy hour and had non-alcoholic beverages.  But, instead, I talked her out of the order she gave me.  And, I've caught myself doing that more often lately, probably because she has been stepping up the quantity and forcefulness of her orders, creating both more opportunities to resist and more internal inclinations to do so.  As I've said, I am NOT naturally submissive.  I don't like rules, but I know in my head that I need them.  But, while the head is willing, the gut resists.  It's a pattern I need to stop, because it isn't doing me any good and is frustrating a lot of what we are trying to accomplish with DD.

This all relates to some of the discussion last week, including the comments by ZM, Tomy and Jr.  ZM and Tomy both talked about the role their Disciplinary Wives play or played in helping them perform better in their daily lives, by setting goals and being strict in holding them accountable.  I talk to my wife about doing that, but it's my own "But, Honey . . ." moments that get in the way of those efforts. And, unfortunately, so far she hasn't developed quite enough strictness to just put her foot down. 

So, we both bare some responsibility here.  She does need to get more comfortable with not only  giving an order but with actually making it stick in the face of some moderate resistance or questioning.  But, I also need to get much better at simply doing what she tells me to do, without argument or undermining.


This also came up with Jr.'s recounting of his recent woodshed experience, though in a slightly different way.  (By the way, as always, I find anything involving a woodshed incredibly hot!  So, thanks Jr. for sharing.)  There, his wife held him accountable for one of those "little things" we talked about, and when it came time to take his medicine, he tried hard to talk his way out of it, bargain, etc.  I do that too.  Just last week I was scheduled to get spanked for something, and I managed to delay it, and then delay became getting out of it entirely.  


Now, I do give Jr. and myself and the other husbands a little more slack in trying to avoid a spanking once it has been ordered.  Real disciplinary spankings hurt.  A lot.  I really, really do not want one.  So, I think it is understandable that I would at least test the waters to see if I might talk her out of it.  The problem isn't so much that I try to talk my way out of it, but that too often I succeed in doing so.  Deep down inside I know that I'm not doing myself any favors by doing that.  Ultimately, I need to "take my medicine."

I'm going to start with the premise that most of the men who visit here who are genuinely into DD and not just stroking (perhaps literally) a spanking fetish do, in fact, want to cooperate with the process.  But, sometimes it's hard.  A rule that is imposed may genuinely conflict with something we like to do or even feel we kind of need to do.  And, real disciplinary spankings are to be avoided, though better to do so by not misbehaving in the first place.  I am assuming, however, that because boys will be boys, from time to time we are going to question an order or try to get out of a punishment.  When that happens, how does she deal with it?  And, have you found any ways to stop yourself from engaging in that behavior that undermines her authority?  I'm genuinely curious on this, because I know that I am getting in the way of the process we agreed to, and I truly do want to stop doing that.  It's just hard in the moment sometimes.

I hope you have a great week.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Vol. 248 - On Unmade Beds and Other "Small" Things


“You learn a lot more from the lows because it makes you pay attention to what you're doing.” – John Elway

Hello all.  I hope you had a great week.  I had a couple of work-related triumphs, and I wrapped up one significant project.  So, for once I go into the weekend with a sense of accomplishment and without a whole hell of a lot to do.  Which is nice.

That sense of accomplishment, and the consequences for not accomplishing things, are related to today’s topic. This is a repeat, but it’s been a couple of years since the last post about it.

When we first began our DD relationship, our focus was on reducing “big ticket” bad behavior.  Like drinking too much or too often.  Disrespect.  Temper tantrums.  Although our general rule was, from the beginning, that she could spank any time for any reason, in reality the focus was almost always on those bigger behavioral issues.  As she gets more assertive, that is changing.  The example that always sticks with me for some reason is a problem I had with not completing one of my daily chores, i.e. cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.  One afternoon, she texted me a picture of some pans I had left on a stove, having failed to clean up completely after dinner the night before.  She voiced her displeasure.  A few days later, she texted me a picture of rice left in a rice-cooker that I had forgotten to clean several nights before.  This time, the picture was accompanied by a terse statement that I would be spanked.  And, she carried through on the threat that night, giving me a very thorough butt blistering.


 It seemed like a small incident in some ways, but it really impacted me in a much deeper way. It was the first time that she had really taken me to task not for something related to some larger failure in personal discipline, but for something that simply displeased her or failed to live up to her standards. While minor in the scheme of things, it seemed like a fundamental turning point in our relationship, and a huge advance in her growth as a Female Leader.

Another example.  I stayed up late watching a movie one night and did some late night snacking.  I got up the next morning and left to run some errands.  While I was out, I got a very angry text:

"You left the refrigerator door open last night!  Everything in it is spoiled!"

I replied with a heartfelt, "I'm sorry."

"Not nearly as sorry as you’re going to be!" was her response. And, once again, she carried out her threat, leaving me sore for several days.  Now, this one was not really a failure to do a chore or some task, but it was a very stern warning to pay attention or there would be consequences. 


Last week, it happened again.  For whatever reason, I was in a very absent-minded space and had been screwing up little things left and right.  At one point over the weekend, she told me to take out a bag of trash.  I responded with the usual “yes Ma’am,” then totally forgot about it and left the house to run errands.  While I was out she texted me a picture of the trash bag and a curt message: “When you get home, you are getting spanked.  I can’t believe I told you to take the trash out and you totally ignored me. Maybe this reminder will help you pay attention.”


I have always been a “big picture” kind of guy.  I’m not very detail oriented.  In fact, little nitpicky details tend to annoy me.  But, what I dismiss as being “down in the weeds,” others might describe as simply a lack of discipline on my part.  Navy Seal William H. McCraven, commander of the forces that led the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, gave a commencement speech in which he talked about how making beds to perfection is a big deal in the military.  It really has nothing to do with the bed itself, but about how you approach your day.  He advised, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”  He went on to observe, “If you can’t do the little things right, then you will never do the big things right.”

He makes a great point. And, while I don’t like them at the time, it’s clear that these “small things” spankings have a real impact on me.  No pun intended.  First, it is a really concrete expression of her growing control and assertiveness, which is powerful and sexy as all hell.  Second, the “big ticket” behavior issues are stubborn and hard to deal with.  Smaller things, like cleaning up and doing assigned chores, are things I can actually fix and do better at.  Third, I do think that paying attention to the small stuff probably does result in generally better performance in other areas.

So, how about you?  Are you spanked for simple screw-ups, like forgetting to do a household chore, or because of some lack of attention or diligence? If not, do think that is something she should do?