“Discipline yourself, and others won't need to.” - John Wooden
Hello all. Welcome back to The Disciplinary Couple’s Club. Our weekly gathering of men and women who are, or would like to be, in a Domestic Discipline relationship. I hope you all had a great week.
While September was a lot of fun, I admit I’m a little glad to see it in the rearview mirror. Kind of literally. I had two big road trips, both consisting of some fairly adventurous travel. In retrospect, it’s all going to be great. But, in the here and now, it was pretty damn tiring. Anne felt it too. We both felt like September got very busy, without a hell of a lot of planning on our part. It was all good, but we’re both in the mood for some downtime at home.
Fortunately, our calendars and the weather are cooperating in that respect. Definitely a chill in the air that wasn’t there just a couple of weeks ago. Long-term readers of this blog know, I freaking love this time of year.
One thing I needed to face up to after all the adventuring was the need to write a post. Unfortunately, I had zero inspiration as to any particular topic. Thankfully, a couple of you helped me out over the last couple of days. Here are a few of the relevant exchanges:
J: When DD ends because of the passing of a spouse . . . If it was the spanker who passed away, how does the spanked spouse remain disciplined? If the spanked spouse passed away, how does the spanker adapt to not having a spouse to spank anymore?
I assume Aunt Kay's husband is still around, but I haven't heard anything on how he is staying disciplined in her absence. How have you remained disciplined since your wife's passing?
KOJ: I also suggest Dan consider this as a topic. The question might be: Are spanked husbands undisciplined people who need discipline imposed by their wives? It would seem at first blush as if a simple yes would suffice. But in my case, and it seems among many writers here, I was very self-disciplined in some aspects of my life (work, attitude at work) but not others (chores at home, attitude toward wife, exercise, food, alcohol, flirting, etc.). So can self-discipline be selective? Is that truly possible? Don't we have it or not have it? Can it be compartmentalized?
Or is something else at play, like we both bought into the dynamic of me as undisciplined to the point of naughtiness and her as my disciplinarian. Maybe it was all kink! Maybe me being undisciplined at home was a reason to create a power exchange that we both wanted in our marriage?
All of these questions have been rolling around in my mind since her passing,
J: I was very undisciplined (outside of the armed forces rules imposed on me) and getting married caused a sea change in my character! I suppose this speaks volumes about me! I seem to be prone to going off the rails without a firm hand on me. I am surprised I was able to get married at all, given my habits, but my wife no doubt saw what I could be with some discipline.
ZM: KOJ said: "I was very self-disciplined in some aspects of my life (work, attitude at work) but not others (chores at home, attitude toward wife, exercise, food, alcohol, flirting, etc.)." - Are we twins? ;-) This pretty largely describes me.
"So can self-discipline be selective? Is that truly possible? Don't we have it or not have it? Can it be compartmentalized?" - I certainly think it is possible to be self-disciplined in some things and not in others. There are at least four things that could be at play.
1) Need - You are more likely to be "self-disciplined" if there is an actual need to be disciplined. So perhaps at work you felt more pressure to be self-disciplined, and when you were at home trying to relax, you didn't feel like it was as needed.
2) Reward (and consistency of timeline to see rewards) - perhaps at work, you knew that if you worked very hard and were very self-disciplined, you would get a good raise at the next review. The things you mentioned that were outside the workplace mostly have longer term rewards if you are self-disciplined, but immediate gratification if you aren't.
3) Audience - at home, you had mostly your wife to impress. At work, you had many people to notice your stellar performance and to praise you.
4) Desire - maybe you really wanted to get ahead at work, but didn't really care so much about some of the "home" things you mentioned as deeply?
"Or is something else at play, like we both bought into the dynamic of me as undisciplined to the point of naughtiness and her as my disciplinarian. Maybe it was all kink! Maybe me being undisciplined at home was a reason to create a power exchange that we both wanted in our marriage?" - Could be, but for me at least, I can say that I would be at least as undisciplined at home if I didn't have my wife around, so I am pretty sure that while we might like the "kink" aspect of our DD relationship, my self-discipline problem is real and runs much deeper than that.
Regarding the passing of a spouse, I haven’t experienced it directly, so I don’t have much to contribute on that specifically, but perhaps others with more experience can chime in. I do think it might be helpful to expand the loss of a spouse or significant other to divorce and other permanent separations, as that might help get a few more responses.
Regarding Aunt Kay’s husband, I am still in contact with him, though I actually don’t think he is “still around” if by that you mean around this blog. When he stopped participating here and stopped updating his own blog, it was because he made a conscious decision to put that phase of his life behind him, I think because he wanted to ensure it wasn’t blocking his ability to move onto a different phase. I don’t want to go into in a lot of detail because I don’t want to share confidences without permission, but I know there have been times when he screwed something up and felt the old need to be held accountable.
I have more to contribute regarding KOJ’s questions as to whether spanked husbands are merely undisciplined people who need discipline imposed by their wives, and whether self-discipline can be selective.
I have fairly strong feelings about the first part of that question. Yes, we may lack discipline, but compared to whom? And, on what scale? I think many many who gravitate toward this lifestyle have a lot of drive and energy and passion, but they also tend to hold themselves to very high—perhaps absurdly high—standards. Maybe we need more discipline, but perhaps we also hold ourselves accountable far more than others.
I often think about this in relation to my own biggest behavioral challenge – binge drinking. I always feel like it’s something I need to control better, yet I have many, many friends who drink far, far more than I do. The difference is, when they wake up with a hangover, they see it as the natural price to be paid for the good they had. I, on other hand, tend to see it as a moral failing on my part.
While drinking too much is probably the starkest example, I can hold myself to absurdly high standards in many areas. Exercise. Productivity at work. Business development at work. Time management. Diet. If you asked people who know me how I do in those areas, I think many would say I’m more disciplined than the norm. Yet, internally, I feel like I’ve let myself down if I’m not either perfect or working toward it.
Conversely, I feel like many who are most proud of their self-discipline and ability to follow rules are, in fact, natural followers who don’t give into temptation because they don’t feel much of it. It’s the difference between a race horse and a stable pony. One may be full of rebellious energy, but man what great things can happen when it’s directed and focused. The other doesn’t create much trouble, but what does it accomplish in the end, other than its primary purpose of settling the more spirited down?
Regarding whether discipline can be selective, I’m of two minds. On the one hand, I do feel like when I let my self-discipline slip in one area, it tends to spread like a cancer to other areas as well. There definitely is an “all or nothing” aspect to it for me.
On the other hand, it definitely is the case that I’m more likely to let the self-discipline slip in some areas than others. When it came to work, I could always outwork pretty much anyone. If I had a major matter I was handling, I would walk through a minefield to meet the client’s goals. I’m also pretty disciplined around exercise and physical health.
On the other hand, I can’t seem to make myself clean up my office no matter how often I set it as a goal. I spend way too much time surfing the internet and watching TV, no matter how often I tell myself it’s a waste of energy. I’ve had lots of ideas for books I want to write, yet I seldom get around to putting pen to paper.
I think ZM is right in his four-factor analysis, though for me the categories of “need” and “audience” entail a desire to avoid failing or humiliating myself in front of others.
I’ve always believed that while my profession seemed hyper-competitive, a lot of that behavior was driven by chronic insecurity. In short, in those contexts I either didn’t need external discipline or the prospect of losing respect within my professional or social groups was itself a form of external discipline.
I also have issues that seem to be impervious to self-discipline and that cut across multiple social contexts. I can have a bad temper, and it flares at work, at home, while driving, while in the gym if someone is monopolizing equipment or leaving a mess in the locker room, etc. I have told my wife several times that I feel like she should make disrespect something she punishes for much more aggressively, but I also wonder sometimes how amenable that problem would be to external discipline.
I created quite a few problems for myself at work because I couldn’t hold my temper, yet whatever consequences occurred never stopped me. Though, those consequences tended to play out over time and were kind of amorphous, which isn’t a prescription for effective behavior modification.
Perhaps a more immediate and concrete consequence—a spanking other quick, sure disciplinary punishment—might have an impact (no pun intended), where workplace consequences failed.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts on all this, and thanks to J. and KOJ for their topic suggestions.
In the meantime, happy October.