If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it. - Marcus Tullius Cicero
Hello all. Welcome back to the Disciplined Husbands Forum. Our weekly gathering of men and women participating or interested in Domestic Discipline Relationships. I hope you had a good week.
Where we live, summer seems to be winding down. Not that it was much of a summer anyway.
Fall is definitely in the air here, which would usually have me thinking about leaves turning, college football tailgating, pumpkins being gathered and carved and, of course, Halloween. But, here we are with dodging forest fires and choking on smoke and haze instead of tree-gazing, fan-free sporting events with tail-gating banned, and it looks like Halloween will be be more or less canceled this year. Not only will most kids not be trick-or-treating," but even adult parties will be out of the question thanks to social-distancing.
That’s really a drag. I’ve always loved that holiday, and I’ve groused many times that work travel has made me miss way too many Halloweens over the years. Ironically, and perfectly in line with everything else in 2020, this year I likely will be here for the holiday, but the holiday is unlikely to be here for me. Oh well, I guess we will soldier on, and since it is outdoors maybe a trip to the pumpkin patch remains a socially-distanced possibility.
As I reported, last week was a tough one for us. The one and only good thing about it was it brought home to me just how far my behavior has drifted over the last few months and gave me some real commitment to trying to fix it. It has me genuinely refocused on getting my shit together on multiple fronts. In response to one of my cryptic comments about my behavior, Alan offered this sage advice:
Regarding moving forward on the behavior front: I sense your frustration and offer what has worked for us. First following Aunt Kay’s original advice, we developed a list of behaviors that were problems for one or both of us. Very important at that point was that we both agreed that the behavior needed to change. In short we both needed to buy into it as a goal whether it was relatively trivial or later when the behaviors were serious issues. That buy in by both of us was crucial. I think the original list numbered around a dozen and it ranged from annoyances like my (then) chronic habit of being 10 or 15 minutes late for dates to smoking. Next ,also following Aunt Kay, we prioritized the list to 2 or 3 things to emphasize, picking middle range things rather than the most challenging behaviors, eventually working up to the most serious issues. We actually started with a cliché, leaving the commode seat up and one other. But even these “easy” ones established the habit of compliance and the reality of consequences. We dealt with the accountability issue by her committing to ask me as often as every day whether I was “disobedient” (i.e. violated one of her rules) – and me committing to never lie to her about that. She also committed to being consistent which meant if I confessed to disobedience I would be punished,, no exceptions This made it unnecessary for her to monitor my behavior (beyond the regular interrogations) and it turned out to be the feature about our system we both liked most. She doesn’t like to monitor and while I find it hard to ask for a spanking or “out” myself, I find it’s very easy to be truthful with her when she interrogates me even when I know I am in trouble. Looking back on this the two thing that seem most important to it working are first our commitment as a couple to modifying the behavior – and second her follow up including regularly interrogating me.
responded to Alan’s comment with this:
Hi Alan. I think the interrogation thing is pretty much what we are doing with the weekly check-ins. She has previously said that she doesn't want me to self-report, but in fact that is exactly what I am doing on most items, except that it is at her prompting/interrogating.
To which Alan responded:
ZM, I can understand how your wife would discourage self-reporting because while the motive for doing so might be as pure as the driven snow- it can easily come off as topping from below, making her fell pressure to "perform" rather than to be in charge. Interrogation switches that dynamic putting her completely in control and allowing her to determine if an issue is timely to address or not. Interrogation puts responsibility on a wife but she gets to decide when and how to discharge that responsibility. I know I don't need to remind you of this, but committing to never be untruthful with her makes it all work once she has committed to regular interrogation. – Alan
Capping off this exchange and responding to my comment that I’m not good at self-reporting nor is my wife good at interrogating, ZM observed:
Hi Dan and Alan. Dan, I totally get what you said about the two sides of the same coin. I am fortunate because my wife is very, very good at keeping things on schedule, and there is no chance that she will just let it slip by the wayside. When we were doing this before, it stopped only because suddenly we had a house full of teenagers (returns from college plus our high-schooler), and it just simply became impossible to get ANY time alone at all for a while. So eventually we just kind of gave up on it. This time, we have much more freedom, so I think it will last, especially since she has started to notice and comment on the positive results it is generating. And Alan, I think we are exactly on the same wavelength about the difference between self-initiated self-reporting and self-reporting in response to interrogation. With interrogation the power structure is reinforced, whereas (as you pointed out) self-initiated self-reporting can easily upset or weaken or undermine the power structure. By her making the decision to interrogate, she has also - at least implicitly if not explicitly - made the decision to act upon the information that she gets. I am fortunate that my wife really takes to the keeping things on schedule and so she totally owns the process. And since this seems to strengthen the power structure, hopefully it will become a virtuous cycle where she feels more and more comfortable with interrogating me and exercising her authority (though she is already pretty comfortable with it).
I know we’ve talked a lot about reporting, but this whole issue of how to build some rigor and regularity into our DD relationship—which has been off track all year despite having a house to ourselves—has really been on my mind lately, largely because I’m trying to face up to the fact that I really do need to get on top of some problematic behaviors that just don’t seem to get better. So, for the next couple of weeks, I may explore some things we’ve talked about before, in an effort to get more input and advice from the group.
So, like I said, we’ve talked in the past about self-reporting, asking for it when you know you deserve it, etc., and the tension that Alan alludes to between those husband-initiated means of helping ensure bad behavior gets addressed and the possibility that they might cause the wife to feel pressured or disempowered. It sounds like for both Alan and ZM, the tension has been resolved by their wives interrogating them pretty actively about their behavior, though ZM’s new regimen has a pretty rigorous reporting mechanism built into it.
Interrogation hasn’t really been a part of our dynamic, and perhaps that has been part of our enforcement problem. Though, that kind of begs the question – if it is not a part of our dynamic, and if the dynamic might improve if it were, how can I bring that improvement about without taking control by once again trying some kind of reporting regimen to kick it off and hope it becomes part of her personal arsenal for addressing bad behavior and keeping things on track?
Mulling this over this morning as I was thinking about a topic for today reinforced to me just how dependent DD is on the husband either proactively self-reporting or being honest in response to questioning from his wife, because so much of our limiting behaviors may happen outside her presence and be more or less undetectable without an actual confession.
Now, for some wives, that’s probably just fine. She may have little or no concerns about behavior that isn’t readily apparent and doesn’t impact her directly. But, then there are couples at the almost opposite extreme, like Liz and Art. Art recognizes the problems that arrogance and attitude have caused him at work. But, because the problematic behavior happens outside Liz’s presence, it could go completely undetected if he didn’t take the initiative to report it. Their way around the problem is interesting in that it doesn’t really rely on either interrogation or self-reporting but, rather, on “prophylactic” or “preventative” spankings that attempt to address bad behavior by ensuring it doesn’t happen in the first place.
For our Disciplinary Wives, how do you feel bad behavior should best be detected so it can be addressed? Do you currently do something like Alan describes, actively interrogating your husband about whether he has behaved as agreed or disobeyed one of the rules? How do you feel about him reporting bad behavior? Is it something you expect, or would you feel that undermines or pressures you? What about not just reporting bad behavior but him actually asking for a spanking when he knows he deserves one? That last one has been on my mind a lot this week. I very seldom come right out and ask to be spanked or punished, yet there are times that I know she is stewing over something I did, and I know I believe I really deserve one. In an ideal world, she would take command and just order one, but what if she doesn’t?
For the men, does your wife interrogate you to ferret out bad behavior? If so, how do you feel about that? If not, would you like that to be a part of your dynamic? If not, how do you address behavior you know you should be punished for—and perhaps even want to be punished for—that she may not be aware of or may not punish even when she does know about it?
Have a great week.