“A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough.” - Christian Nestell Bovee
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, mainly of the Female/male variety. I hope you had a good week.
For us, it’s been an odd couple of weeks. Most of our family is now fully or partially vaccinated, which has enabled us to start getting together more with friends and family, particularly with some more vulnerable family members who had been living in a pretty strict, self-imposed lockdown for a year. We got together with some of them a week ago, and it was really nice. Unfortunately, we’ve also been dealing with some other family members in a context that is not nice. In fact, it’s incredibly irritating, and it’s happening in a context that has me thinking about this lifestyle that brings us all together for these weekly discussions, and specifically about consequences and lack thereof. We have a branch of the family whose overarching personal characteristic is pervasive irresponsibility. For years I have watched as one or more of them do some really dumb shit, then another of the group will step in to make sure the party doing the dumb shit doesn’t ever bear any real consequences or that the consequences are mitigated to such an extent that there is never a lesson learned that might prevent similarly stupid acts in the future. Worse, now we are finding ourselves dragged into it, as one of them who we are about has done something very irresponsible that may involve very serious long-term consequences – consequences that we might be able to help with but, in doing so we wouldn’t we be enabling the bad behavior by insulating this person from the natural and foreseeable consequences? It really is maddening.
I’ve also been thinking about discipline and consequences in another real world context – dog training. As I reported a couple of weeks ago, we have a puppy that we acquired near the beginning of the Covid lockdown. Because of that timing, opportunities to socialize him outside the family were very limited at a time when it was pretty critical. I am now trying to make up for that lost opportunity, and it is exponentially harder now that some antisocial and undisciplined tendencies have had an opportunity to take root. He is actually getting quite a bit better, but it is taking exhaustive efforts to address the bad behavior sternly and reward alternative good behavior and to do that every single time a negative behavior is displayed or overcome. It is very clear after a few weeks of concentrated effort that consistency with both negative and positive reinforcement is critical to getting lasting results.
In the past, I’ve placed a lot of faith in writing down ambitious yearly goals. And, on the financial side at least, I’ve often hit them, and I’m not sure I would have had I not put laid down some of those markers so expressly.
My performance on non-financial goals was always more spotty, however, with surges of progress that were often by setbacks caused in many cases by lack of attention or insufficient diligence or effort, though sometimes circumstances just intervened. During the last couple of years, even the financial goals seemed to slip a bit, possibly because I lost interest to some extent and stopped focusing on them as much. I was thinking about this as I was pondering some possibilities for future careers, one of which is success coaching. Although I’ve never been fully satisfied with my own efforts, on paper I’ve accomplished a lot especially if one looks at where I ended up in relation to where I began. I’ve served in some important positions in varied parts of my profession, getting a firsthand view of different business models and being able to observe some really first-class leaders and also some not-so-great leaders. The combination of training and experiences could make me a good trainer/coach/mentor for people at various stages of their career in my profession, especially those who are just starting out or are trying to get to the next level.
I actually lost quite a bit. Yet, I can’t quite get rid of that last 5 or 10 lbs. of fat would take me to a fairly impressive bodyfat percentage for someone of my age. Similarly, I’ve had some plans to take up writing in my semi-retirement, and I’ve had some concrete book ideas that I think could actually be interesting to develop. Yet, when I set a modest goal of writing even a page or two a day, I never seem to be able to keep it up. In these personal development areas, it’s not like I’m slacking, but I’m also not truly performing at a level that is likely to bring about the results I say I want. Truth be told, I feel like a lot of my career was like that. I accomplished a lot, but what could I have done if my effort had been more focused and consistent. What if I had been giving it 100% instead of 70 or 80?
And, what might have happened had I had a coach—perhaps one carrying a big paddle—who might have helped me focus that attention? Anne and I talked from time about her fulfilling that role, but it never quite gelled, probably because she was in a different field and didn’t really have enough visibility into where I was succeeding and, importantly, where I was not. She also had her own career to worry about. But, these thoughts about what it would be like to have someone who is laser-focused on keep you on task and driving you to greater levels of performance is intriguing. It’s why I continue to be so fascinated by the NXIVM cult thing. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/30/magazine/sex-cult-empowerment-nxivm-keith-raniere.html. Setting aside the more salacious elements, at bottom it seems to have attracted a set of performance-minded adherents who thought they could benefit from a discipline focused on escalating consequences in service of meeting their personalized goals.
The Domestic Discipline that most of us practice seems to focus primarily on consequences for “bad” behavior, often behavior that is hurtful or annoying to our spouse or to others. But, what about more goal-oriented behavioral modification? To what extent have you used DD, if at all, to help increase or better your own performance in some aspect of life? There could be any number of such goals or desires, including”
- losing weight
- running a 10k or competing in a triathalon
- starting a business or side hustle
- meeting a sales or business development goal at work
- getting a promotion
- putting a personal budget in place and sticking to it
- writing a novel
- learning a musical instrument
Have you ever been spanked as a consequence of failing to meet some such goal or as part of a plan to give you an incentive for meeting one? If so, give us the details. What was the goal? How did she go about making sure you met it? Was the focus on a particular end point, e.g. "losing 10 pouds" or on the process for getting there, such as "don't eat sugar and go to the gym four days a week"? In other words, to what extent was it a requirement that you actually hit the goal? What if you put in the time and effort but still failed? If you haven't had this experience, is there some goal you’d like to hit or positive change you’d like your spouse’s help in achieving? Have you asked for her help?
For the wives, are there areas in which you have provided your husband with some disciplinary “motivation” to achieve a goal or make a change that he was struggling with? Is that something you would do if you thought he needed it or if he asked? Or, does that feel like an imposition or something that takes your Disciplinary Wife role too far or into territory you are not interested in taking it into? Could there also be goals that you want him to achieve but for which he seems to lack sufficient motivation? Have you talked to him about starting to spank him or apply other consequences if he doesn't step up?
I hope you all have a good week.