A person who is knowingly bent on bad behavior, gets upset when better behavior is expected of them. - Jane Austen
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 Relationships. I hope you had a good week.
Mine was pretty uneventful, and surprisingly productive on a few fronts. For once, I didn’t have any real behavioral problems. I completed some home projects I’ve been sitting on for a while and managed to get some outdoor Halloween decorations up. I'm still loving this time of year!
Or, I was enjoying the season until the weather turned nasty. As often happens here, we seem to have gone abruptly and unceremoniously from fall to winter. Not that there is anything wrong with winter.
Though, I’m not done thoroughly enjoying Halloween.
I also made a surprising amount of headway on the health and fitness front. I've been trying hard to get rid of those persistent love handles. I also may have had an epiphany about why both my energy levels and, frankly, my libido have been down all year. I've been implementing some pretty significant dietary changes, and so far so good. I also have been getting back into the gym regularly for the first time since Covid hit, respecting social distancing, hand washing and mask guidelines.
While we didn't get a huge number of posts last week, I thought it was a very illuminating conversation. There were several good contributions regarding how to humble a man with ego issues, such as myself. Though, did you notice how many of those contributions focused on the humbling power of witnesses? It is interesting, to me at least, just how much we care about how others see us.
regarding “maternal” discipline and control definitely pushed some buttons for
me. When I first discovered Domestic Discipline, it had this intoxicating mix
of attraction and terror. The level of
control Danielle suggested gives me those same mixed feelings. Part of me is
genuinely attracted to trying exactly what she suggests.
However, it is really one of those “be careful what you ask for – you might get it” things, isn’t it. That tension inherently raises the line between DD and FLR and what side of that line I want to be on. On the one hand, I really do find the level of maternal control she suggested very compelling and perversely attractive. On the other hand, several months ago when she cracked down on some areas, I got resentful in a way that undermined some of her forward progress. Yet, last week she was bossing me around pretty strongly on things like chores, and while I may have resented it in the moment, overall I got off on it. So, do I want to give up control to her or don’t I?
It’s a complicated question,
and I think there are two interrelated factors that feed into how I react to
her taking more control. The first revolves around the extent to which we are
in alignment on whether certain behavior is a problem. I think Alan summed it up really well a
couple of weeks ago:
[W]e 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.
Alan also advised starting with relatively minor issues.
Next, 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.
To Alan’s last sentence I would add that focusing on “easy” things probably also helps her get habituated to exercising authority, precisely because it is authority that is likely to be obeyed. As she sees me comply with orders over and over again, she gets more comfortable giving them and I get more comfortable taking them. Which is the goal, right? So, I like Alan’s advice, and it illustrates the second factor that determines how I react to Anne taking control: If the behavior is something minor and easily fixed or adopted, while I may not like her order in the moment I am unlikely to balk at it and may even find it sexy after I have some time to let it sink in. But, if it is something bigger, like a hard-wired habit or something that I see as a core part of who I am, an exercise of control is more likely to be met with real resentment.
Those two factors—the degree of mutual agreement and the seriousness of the behavior—are interrelated. When she called out of the blue a week ago and gave me instructions on things she expected me to do around the house that day, it was minor stuff in the scheme of things even though one of the tasks (sweeping and cleaning our wood floors) took me almost an hour. Even if I didn’t expressly agree in advance to her assigning chores like that, it didn’t spark resentment. Also, to the extent she was giving me orders for the express purpose of humbling me, there was a level of mutual agreement to that goal.
Conversely, I described the incident several months ago when she wanted me to come to bed when I was watching a movie and having a beer while doing so. That incident caused resentment, and my resentment undermined her authority for a while. The reason I resented it was, while we both agree on the overall goal of keeping my tendence to binge under control, I felt like my behavior was within normal bounds. It was a Friday night. I was worn out from the stress of work and just wanted to veg out with a movie and a nightcap. In other words, it was normal adult behavior, and I wasn’t hurt her, myself or anyone else. Looking back, the whole thing was a counter-example of Alan’s wise advice: (a) the behavior was not really minor and she was exercising some substantial control over my autonomy; and (b) there wasn’t real buy in that anything I was doing was a problem.
Whether your relationship is Domestic Discipline only or incorporates some degree of FLR, who makes the rules? Guys, do you suggest to your wife the areas you want to improve in? Ladies, to what degree do you decide which problems you want to address and how much authority do you have, or would you like to have, in determining conduct you want to address or habits you want to help him break or establish? To what extent is mutual buy-in important? And, what about the importance or impact of the behavior at issue? In establishing your disciplinary habits, did you jump right to major issues or, as Alan advises, did you start with “easy” issues and work your way up from there?
I hope you have a great week. Be safe out there this week.