Monday, April 26, 2010

How do I feel about punishment?

An awful lot of people describe their dynamic as having a strong punishment component, and many posts are dedicated to describing those punishments. On the other hand, I've seen relationships described along the lines of "punishment is not part of our dynamic," or statements to the effect that, "punishment is not a necessary component of all power exchange relationships." Still others talk about punishments being reserved for very large issues or rare occasions only.

We do not have a punishment component to our relationship. If I am annoying enough, he will ignore me or otherwise not give me what I would like. That's pretty effective. The overall changes in how we interact have eliminated a lot of the petty nastiness or mean words that used to crop up from time to time. And I've found that, for the first time in our marriage, he now expresses his disappointment in me when he feels it. That alone is enough to make me stop and look at what I'm doing or saying.

I have very conflicted feelings about this topic. To start with, these are my feelings about this. I have in fact never asked my husband how he feels about punishment. Among other things, it makes me feel very un-grownup, in a not nice, immature way, to think about going to him and asking him how he feels about the idea of punishing me. That's not a feeling that I've come to terms with.

From a fairly young age, I was pretty much left on my own as far as my behavior was concerned, no real monitoring, no accounting. I have managed my own behavior ever since, so the idea of being accountable, beyond in the 'natural consequences to one's actions and words' kind of way, is odd for me to consider.

There are times when I feel out of balance that I crave more control or maybe domination from him. I need him to impose himself on me. I don't think that punishment would be meet that need though, certainly not something contrived for the moment.

My emotional state has been an occasional issue. I think that is another post for another day really. But it happens periodically - not every time, but a few times a year, that I become irrational and have a total emotional meltdown. It's short lived, but intense, and he has no patience for dealing with it. He recognizes it for what it is, but it's never pretty. However, since I really can't control it, I'm not sure a punishment, or threat of one, would make any difference.

The punishment component, or really lack thereof, in our relationship, means that I've not been "forced" to do or stop doing anything. Everything has been my choice. I go along or I don't (so far - I do). I'm not sure what would happen if I didn't. Would he back down? What if there were a really big issue? It's one area of conflicted feelings for me: part of me does really want to know, at least that he would not back down, if not what form that would take; another part of me rebels at the idea of such a thing, and thinks I have managed quite successfully for many years now, thank you very much.

I think one reason I do want to know how he would react to a big problem is that I wonder how much there is an unspoken, "you asked for this, if you stop complying, that means we're finished." I realize that this is questioning his dedication to what we have agreed to. But the niggling feeling is there, and I'm not able to parse out in my brain how much my compliance is based on my own commitment, vs. fear of him deciding he doesn't believe I'm really committed. Of course, him walking away would be quite a punishment, so... round and round goes the logic.

Then there is the fantasy angle. Punishments and discipline, when written about in an erotic way, clearly meant to arouse and entertain, do just that. I am susceptible to that, but I am also fully able to separate fantasy from reality.

So, would I want him to come after me if I really did something to hurt him, myself, or our family? I don't think, I can't imagine, he would be moved to consider the idea of punishing me for anything less. On many levels, it would be reassuring to know that he would. On the other hand, if I had done something that horrible, there would be larger issues at play.

I have read many peoples' thoughts on this, and I feel the same conflict as many. I am a grown up. I have been responsible for myself for a long time and nothing has happened to suddenly render me incapable of continuing to behave appropriately, do what I ought, and manage myself. On the other hand, I have put many aspects of myself in his hands, and this was part of the package.


  1. I often say that each couple has to decide what works for them.

    Even though, as you said, some other people have a strong punishsment component in their dynamic, that doesn't sound like it works for you two and that's fine. It also sounds like you don't do much that would call for a punishment in the first place.

    Anyway, keep doing what works for the two of you.


  2. gg,

    We all have meltdowns, moments where we're out of control and you're right no threat of punishment would change it. I've seen that enough with dealing with A.

    I think a smart man knows that. Understands it and accepts it. That's totally different from willfully breaking a rule or a breech of trust. And ya, O can convey more to me with his eyes and a turn of his body, than he can with any type of harsh corporal punishment.

    It sounds to me like your husband already uses the correction method effectively.


  3. Like you, physical punishment isn't part of how we operate. (Aside from the occasional pop on the rump when I'm a smart-aleck but as we both know that's intentional, it doesn't count.)

    As others have noted, having him upset with me is far, far more effective punishment than anything corporeal. It IS punishment, just not the kind most people tend to think of when they use the word. "Disappointment" sounds touchy-feely but the experience can be excruciating. It makes the point quite adequately. I'm not sure how much else is actually needed, really...

  4. I could never get my head around being "punished" - not by him or anyone else. I have seen and read that it works very well for some dynamics and more power to them for that. But for me, nope, no, NEVER... not going there. I think it very much hinges on how you would perceive punishment and the right to inflict it and for me, as an adult, it would simply enrage me and I could NOT accept it.

    certainly NO ONE punishes me better than ME - and it has been my experience that MANY submissives are probably harder on themselves than their dominants could EVER be.

    Bottom line is that I can't place myself into a position of being a child; even as a child, I didn't tolerate punishment as once i was aware of transgressing, I made sure to either correct it or justify it!

  5. FD,
    That is indeed the gist of it for us I would say - this works, as is.

    Yup - I'm not proud of the fact that I lose it emtionally occasionally, but, no sense denying it either. In the end, what you - and others here say - is true, hurting him is really not something I'm going to seek to do.

    Yes, mine is a harsh tweak to a nipple when I get smart alek-y. And you are so right about the rest.

    Really good to hear from you/see you - so to speak. Punishment is not part of our dynamic, and he assured me after he read this that it isn't going to be, ever. He feels much the same way you do about it - in the converse - or something. Adn yes - the things I can change - I do anyhow, the things I can't - I just can't so there's no point. I hope you are well.

  6. I think one of the biggest problems is that when people think of punishment, they immediately think of the kind of punishment children receive. But in reality, there are all forms of punishments that we face as adults outside of this lifestyle.

    If you don't do your job or break rules at work you can be fired. If you speed you can get a ticket. If you steal you can end up in prison. Sometimes you can be given a fine you have to pay or forced to do community service. These are all punishments that adults face.

    I don't see punishment as something that is for children. It's a consequence to a negative action. If your husband ignores you because he's upset over something you do, that's a consequence to your action, which is in essence a punishment. Punishments come in all shapes and sizes. It doesn't have to be physical.

    I've even seen husbands and wives inadvertently punish each other in vanilla relationships. The whole "You've made me angry so no sex for you tonight" or sending the other spouse to sleep in the spare room or on the sofa.

    But I don't see punishment as a negative thing. I see it as a good thing. I don't fear punishment. I certainly don't invite it, but I am grateful that regardless of whether it comes from Asha or just the circumstance itself... when my actions are negative, I'm glad to have the consequence that will change my behavior for the better. Even when it's something simple as getting burned while cooking dinner because I'm rushing around too much... you know... the universe just trying to tell me to slow down. :)



  7. *hugs*

    You always make me think, gg, and I appreciate it a lot!

    You are coming into this from a different perspective than many of us experience. You guys have been married far longer than D/s, so you already have a certain level of "consequences" in place in your relationship, whether conscious or not. For many of us who have begun relationships *after* identifying with D/s, punishment is, or at least can be, a good way of defining expectations and roles and parameters of a new relationship.

    The longer we are together, the fewer true punishments are a part of our relationship. I honestly can't remember the last time I was punished, although there are built in consequences for times when I don't meet basic expectations. (I used to get upset about being punished for missing a text, for instance, and while that may seem trivial, it must be remembered that texts play a major part in our daily communication. But Padrone explained it as a natural consequence, as if I had gone shopping and forgot the sugar I needed to bake the cake I planned to bake - I would have to make another trip to the store, right? A negative consequence for a forgetten thing, just as writing lines is for a forgotten text, nothing more, nothing less.)

    Anyway, changing my perspective to one similar to turiya's, although we don't even really use the term punishment much anymore, has really helped me relax about it. I need the parameters of expectations - they make me able to perform to the best of my ability. I have always said "tell me what you want from me and I'll do my dead-level best to do it", and that is the best part of this type of relationship, for ME, because those kinds of things, expectations, forbidden behaviors, discouraged things, encouraged things....all of those are a part of this type of relationship, and I would flounder terribly without it.

    We *do* still have the punishment element in place, for times when I screw up royally, but I honestly can't remember the last time I was punished. (or had more severe negative consequences, to use the terminology we *mean* when we use the term "punished").

    Hushing now. Thanks for making me think, gg!

  8. Turiya,
    I guess I did have in mind a narrow idea of what I menat by punishments in this case. Of course there are consequences to all of our words and actions. As
    Shiava points out, we have already been together long enough to know how we impact each other as well as just what needs to be done to make things run. In that respect though, there is more awareness to our relationship now. He doesn't feel he needs to hide his disappointment or anger over things he might have previously, so I am becoming more aware of how I impact him, and can change my behavior.

    Welcome back. You make a good point - we've had time to learn expectations and roles already. And that has been one of the best things about the whole change also, it gives us a framework for him to feel free to expect more, not just kind of hope for more. So the learning curve isn't so flat anymore. I think you hit it on the head - I have always really wanted to know what he would really like of me, we just never had a framework that allowed either of us to really communicate that.