Figuring out the Disciplinary Structure of Your Relationship
We are 1/6 through my 30 Days(weeks) of D/s journey. This week is about crime and punishment. Just kidding - it is about punishment though. Discipline and punishment to be exact.
Hoo boy. Okay, first, let me say, I do not have the best point of view when it comes to discipline and punishment. This goes back to an abused childhood where “punishments” were the norm, not the exception, so in my adult life, something inside me just claws and gnashes against the mere thought of being punished. Especially by the person who is supposed to love me, protect me, and have my best at the forefront of his mind. In my one and only D/s (defined by the big, bad, Dom himself) relationship, it was the kind of abusive, manipulative interaction that makes me physically nauseated if I dwell on it too long.
I do much better on a reward system, which is actually the other side of the punishment coin if you think about it. I love this quote from Mahatma Gandhi - "Justice that love gives is a surrender, justice that law gives is a punishment."
Since we know I love definitions, let's take a look at this week's words.
1. the act of punishing
2a: suffering, pain, or loss that serves as retribution
b : a penalty inflicted on an offender through judicial procedure
3: severe, rough, or disastrous treatment
These definitions hold key trigger words which, even as I type this, my stomach tightens at and I have to tell myself to calm down and keep going. Trigger words and why the idea of punishment doesn't work for me: retribution, inflicted penalty, severe, rough, disastrous treatment. Maybe you understand this, maybe you don't. Either way is okay. You don't need to understand my perspective, you need to understand your own.
A person who has been punished is not less inclined to behave in a given way; at best, he learns how to avoid punishment.
control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
c : self-control
2: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
3: a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity
Discipline is something I can grab onto and indeed we use discipline in our lives and in our relationship. I especially like these definitions because they give the connotation of having some control, which, if we get down to the nitty gritty, is what I have such a problem with in punishment - it seems there's no justice. The punishment is totally in the hands of the punisher and the punishee gets what's dealt, whether it fits the crime or not.
Things like, self-control, a system of rules governing conduct, these are things I am willing and able to surrender and agree to.
Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. ~ Abraham Joshua Heschel
Given these definitions, come along with me as I answer this week's query.
As a submissive, are you willing to allow a Dominant to discipline or punish you in your relationship?
Short answer? Hell, to the no.
Longer, more correct answer…
My Husband has very clever ways of “punishing” me without calling it punishment, without getting the negative response that would come simply by suggesting I'm going to be punished. 96.7% of the time, I get rewards for a job well-done and this encourages me to keep on the path that’s been defined for me. Punishment in terms of something being withheld feels less like punishment and more like discipline, a learning experience. It is easier for me to digest. I work well on a reward-based system and he knows this, he plays to my need for reward like the creative genius he is.
For example: Just last week, I missed a workout day. I was busy, there was shit tons of stuff to do and I didn’t make it to the gym or out for a run. What was my punishment? I didn’t get to have ice cream with grandma after dinner. Grandma got her ice cream. I got to pout. He never said I was being punished. The conversation went like this:
"Did you workout today?"
"You know you don't eat ice cream if you don't workout."
"...i know..." insert pouty-face.
Punishment? For me, yes! You have no idea how much I love ice cream and you can bet I worked out the next day! But me not eating ice cream was a direct result of my own failure to exercise and was, therefore, a consequence of actions. Semantics? Maybe, but this seems more like rules governing conduct than severe treatment.
If there are clearly defined boundaries and I'm told, “if x does or does not happen, then y will or will not happen.” I do pretty well. “If, Then” scenarios are good because I can parse out in my brain that I’m not being punished, I have control, I’m reaping the consequences of my own action or inaction.
There are times when my Husband will have me tied to the bed or chair or on the floor and he’ll make his point very clear, a conversation I definitely won’t forget, but when he does this, there are very specific ground rules which we always follow and it’s not punishment, it's more of a “remember this conversation” type of thing.
If you're in a D/s or otherwise relationship, or thinking of pursuing one, the conversation about discipline needs to be one you have and one you have more than once. You're going to have to play with it a little, find what works for you, what you're "comfortable" consenting to, then you're going to have to deal with the discomfort of whatever you've agreed upon when it comes time to receive a punishment. As with anything in a healthy, functional relationship, you have to talk and listen to each other. Yes, even when you're the s in the D/s. Because if you don't, one of you is going to end up feeling resentful or disillusioned and that's never a good thing.
As a Dominant, are you willing to require discipline or give out punishment?
I am going to give my Husband mad props here because I have not been an easy case. Even with therapy and all the work I’ve done to overcome triggered responses, he still has to be aware that I do get triggered from time to time and he’s masterful in the art of handling those times.
I know there are times when I frustrate him beyond reason and he’d like nothing more than to throw me over his knee and paddle the shit out of me, but we go for a walk and talk instead. He knows, no, he is a Jedi when it comes to reading me. Sometimes we can go at it and hash something out and he can take something away or “punish” me in a fitting manner, then there are times he’ll see me flinch before I even know I’ve done it and he handles that in a totally different manner.
On requiring discipline – we live a disciplined life. Both of us work hard toward our goals with the understanding that we’re moving in a direction together. What we’re doing requires us to be on the same page, working as a team, understanding what’s necessary to go where we want to go. In some ways, things are probably a little easier for us because we’re not two people with separate careers who share a personal life. We’re literally on the same path in almost everything we do. In our business, we’re working and moving together. In our personal lives, we like 90% of the same things, we love being around each other and we encourage each other in our hobbies and interests.
What kinds of punishments can you imagine for bad behavior?
Honestly, I don't know how to answer this question. I don't behave badly. I'm flirty and sassy sometimes, seductive when I want to be, but bad? Hmm... I can't think of times when I'm bad - sometimes when we're playing or having sex, he'll tell me I won't get my orgasm if I don't stay still or if I don't follow his instructions explicitly. I do things sometimes without consulting him, thinking I'm doing a good thing, and it turns out to be something that makes him sigh and scrub his hand over his face just before he cocks his hip to the side and looks at me with "that look" and says, "TJ... That's not what I wanted you to do."
I have a really skewed perspective on bad behavior, being a bad girl, being a good girl, etc. I don't want to be punished, at all, ever, and it colors the way I think about these kinds of things.
Thank you for reading. If you want to see previous posts, just click below on the one that interests you. You can start your own 30 Days of D/s Journey too!
Kayla Lords, the originator of this 30 days of D/s journey, also has some great resources to give you more clear ideas about discipline and punishment:
Discipline, Punishment, and Consequences in D/s (podcast episode)
Thank you and enjoy!