Monday, May 11, 2015

In Defense of Domestic Discipline part two: Dominance and Submission Can Foster Healthy Leadership

In continuation of my discussion with OSL, (see post number one here), I'd like to discuss her disagreeing to a post I wrote for the ADDS website a few years back ("Why Do I Want to Be Punished?"). She says “One of the major reasons I and many women want Domestic Discipline in our relationships is that we have a strong need to feel our husband’s authority. We want boundaries and security. “ 

And further, “Even the most independent, feminist woman out there recognizes that passivity in a man is profoundly unattractive.The longing for your husband to take authority over you, lead you, guide you and protect you is actually a beautiful and positive thing.”

Of course, I agree with everything she says here. 

It's only as she explores my post with her own opinions that I take issue, and ask that we explore these ideas a bit more. She maintains that you cannot foster healthy leadership and submission in a DD dynamic, for a variety of reasons, and specifically says, “if you try to take control of the relationship by convincing your husband to be involved in a discipline relationship with you, you will lead the two of you right off a cliff.” 

There is a crucial phrase here, folks. If you try to take control of the relationship. 

With this, I agree. 

If you desire to submit to your husband and grant him authority over you, then trying to commandeer that ship will run you right off a cliff. It is a strong temptation. Many of us know what we want and push hard for it. We get impatient. I know I struggled initially with being patient, trusting Jason to lead, and letting things develop the way they needed to. Many call it “topping from the bottom.” I've tried, in many ways, in post after post, to urge true submission. 

True submission isn't based on a faulty premise, meaning “I will submit to you when I agree with you.” No. True submission trusts, even when the answer isn't one we want. 

But it's foolish to say that we cannot communicate our needs and desires to our husbands. OSL personally is coming from the angle that practicing DD is sinful and disordered, so I get where she's going with this. Clearly, I disagree with her premise. But if you desire a DD dynamic, and your husband doesn't initially understand, then there's nothing wrong with trying to explain how you feel. Communicating effectively with one another is foundational to any solid relationship. If you desire a strong relationships with open and honest communication, then refusing to discuss your own needs is a mistake.

But please, don't push. This is where OSL and I agree. Trying to force your desires on your dominant partner is contrary to your ultimate purpose. I've written about this at length in posts such as "How do I tell my partner I want DD?""How Do I Encourage His Dominance?""How do I tell him what I need?"; and "Topping from the bottom. Who's in control?".

OSL concludes her thoughts with the following opinion: “The proper expression of a man’s authority over his wife is not disciplinary. Boundaries enforced by discipline is a parental expression of authority.” Clearly, I disagree (see post one linked above).

From OSL: “Of course the second example is more attractive. The first example is of a passive man who abandons his wife, is disconnected, isn’t in control of his emotions, and doesn’t communicate. The second example is of a man who is in full control of himself, stays even when it’s hard, holds his wife accountable, and gives her attention and affection. The little bit of the spanking. This wife needs boundaries and leadership, not discipline.”

Essentially, she says my example illustrates that male passivity in a relationship is harmful. I agree. We desire attention, leadership, love, yes, all of that, an active participation that says, “I love you, and you're important to me.” However, she says “the little bit of poison is the spanking.” I am not going to completely reject this opinion, that “spanking” can be “poison.” Certainly, for those who find that disciplinary spanking has a negative effect (such as OSL), it is wise to discontinue. Factors such as one's personal life experience, relationships, personality, and perception, are all going to affect how one views and reacts to DD. As I've said before, and I'll say again, one person's experience does not mean the same holds true for another. 

For this particular woman, clearly, Domestic Discipline is harmful. She has said in additional posts that she was humiliated when she was disciplined. This is not healthy. It can be very beneficial to be humbled, yes, and certainly, even those outside of a DD dynamic should be embarrassed when they engage in immature or childish behavior. (I may have used the terms humbled and humiliated interchangeably in my posts, but there is a qualitative difference between the two, and going forward I'll be more careful with my word choices.)

It's my personal opinion that engaging in a consensual DD dynamic should, in all facets, contribute to peace, harmony, and above all, respect the dignity of each person in the relationship. It takes great strength, humility, and love, to allow oneself to be disciplined. It takes great strength, humility, and love, to be a leader. So, before we continue, on this note I'd like to offer a word of caution. 

I urge you, if you are indeed engaged in a DD dynamic, ask yourself if it is growth and wholeness you are fostering. In the several years I've spent immersed in the DD community, I can say that the vast majority of those I've encountered have experienced what Jason and I have – increased intimacy, growth personally and as a couple, and peace. But not everyone does. Some, like OSL, find that DD is not a healthy choice. 

From a logical perspective, I propose the following litmus test. If something were poisonous, it would yield harmful fruit, if not initially, at least over time. If your DS relationship is yielding harmful fruit, then I urge you to stop. Take a breather. Ask yourself what is causing the harm. Some find, like OSL, that past experiences make it so that spanking in a disciplinary form make it unhealthy. I've also known of instances in which the husband understood his wife's desire but found that his own past experiences (such as a history of abuse) made it impossible for him to be able to mete out discipline. Some find that allowing for consensual discipline pushes them away from each other, not closer. The wife is humiliated. The husband feels too much pressure. It doesn't bring about intimacy and enhanced communication. It doesn't bring about growth. If this is your situation, I urge you to find out why.

But in the years I've spent in the D/S community, I've found these situations are not the norm. Couple after couple after couple – like me and Jason – have found that the dynamic is beneficial, not poisonous. Again, speaking from a purely logical perspective, if the fruit you're yielding is good, and healthy, then I maintain it is not poisonous. 

So again, the premise here that DD does not foster true leadership is simply not fact, but personal opinion. It's like someone saying, “If you do Tae Bo you will damage your hip.” That was the case for me (true story lol). For me, Tae Bo was not a healthy exercise option. My own body type and past experiences made it unhealthy for me, and I had to choose another option. But that isn't the case for everyone. Many have found  Tae Bo to be beneficial. Although exercise is radically different from DD, (keeping in mind that all analogy falls short), I'd like to offer this analogy because most people agree with the benefit of a healthy exercise regimen. Here, both OSL and I agree that a husband's leading his wife can be a very healthy and fruitful marital dynamic. OSL says the poison is spanking. I say past experience and personality types are where we find our poison. 

She says a wife needs boundaries and leadership. I agree. She says she doesn't need discipline. I say that she doesn't need discipline, but that I benefit tremendously from it. 

'What the wife actually needs is for her husband to give her boundaries as his equal, and correct her calmly and lovingly for being nasty and acting like a toddler. Maybe she needs to be encouraged to go to her room for a while until she can communicate with love and calmness. Maybe she needs to sit down with her journal and pour out to God about the awful day she had to get her head straight.”

And these are the forms that she is comfortable with. She draws the line at a spanking. I don't. And well...clearly, neither does Jason. ;)

Finally, she asserts: “If the assurance of his loving authority is a spanking, she will likely never grow out of the disrespectful behavior. She will need to return to acting out again and again so that she can be reassured with a spanking or some other form of discipline...This is foundational to understand why Domestic Discipline is a false solution. It locks you in to damaging behavior instead of freeing you from it so you can move on to other things. The point of discipline is supposedly to correct and guide towards healthy behavior, but if you are experiencing love and your husband’s authority through discipline and spankings, why would you ever move away from bad behavior towards maturity?”

This a heavy assertion, and one that I do not completely reject. I think it's worth exploring this a bit more, in the context of DD and leadership in marriage.

First of all, she says “if the assurance of his loving authority is a spanking, she will never grow out of her disrespectful behavior.” 

This absolutely can and does happen. We often feel a need to be reassured, and reminded of our places. I'll take this a step further. Not only does being disciplined make us feel loved, most of us readily acknowledge the fact that dominance is hot. It's deeply erotic being turned over the knee of the man you love. 

If we feel loved when we are disciplined, and we find ourselves sexually attracted to his dominance, then why would we choose not to misbehave? The simple answer is because the submissive longs to please her dominant. And further, if she has a mature, healthy approach to this dynamic, then she embraces the opportunity to grow. 

We're not just in it for the kink. We're not just in it for a cheap thrill. There's far more to it than meets the eye. We want to grow closer and become more intimate – and although it's tempting to push those boundaries, to draw out dominance, and to even perhaps attempt to earn a spanking, the mature approach chooses another route. 

In my personal opinion, this is why it's important to check in with one another. This is why many couples find maintenance and role affirmation vitally important. 

If you are an Hoh or Dominant reading this, I respectfully ask that you consider this point. It's a very important facet of what makes or breaks a D/S couple, and one topic I've been asked to address time and time again. Your submissive feels loved when you correct her. She is very attracted to your dominance. If those needs are neglected -- the need for her to feel your strength, to know you're in charge and that you are in charge because you love her, and to keep that erotic pulse in your relationship -- it will become challenging for her to behave. She may be tempted to push back. Most begin with some benign teasing, but if her needs are neglected for a long time, she may even feel the need to blatantly misbehave. 

For a couple that embraces dominance and submission, it's important to foster those roles and encourage one another in those roles. Most find that simply relying on spanking and outwardly acts of dominance during times of discipline is simply unsatisfactory. Consider a maintenance spanking. I need regular reminders of my place, and Jason gives me that. It's one reason I rarely misbehave and am never tempted to "brat out." If you'd like to explore this a bit more from our perspective, please see “The Power of Role Affirmation” and “The Spank Tank."

It's the next assertion that OSL makes that I reject. She says “Part of the draw of Domestic Discipline for the women who want it is that the husband does all the work. He makes the rules, he enforces them like the parent of a wayward teen, and he comes up with and administers punishments. It requires very little of the submissive partner.” 

 I will say this. If a submissive partner has no desire to grow or change, and depends entirely on her Dominant to “do all the work,” then she's right. This will not work. There will be no change. There will be no growth. If she continually pushes, refuses to change her own behavior, and depends on him to change her behavior, then yes, the dynamic is simply not sustainable. However, that immature approach is exceptionally rare, and certainly not the norm in the DD dynamics I'm familiar with. 

It doesn't have to be a self-perpetuating cycle. When the submissive partner is as engaged in the dynamic as her dominant, beautiful changes take place. If she desires to be submissive, she doesn't simply rely on him to draw that out in her. She cultivates submission in her own mind and heart. And as things progress – as he lovingly leads, and disciplines and she lovingly trusts and accepts his discipline – the erotic attraction amps up. Each desires deeper intimacy. She embraces not only his dominance and leadership, but her own submission. Her desire to please him dramatically increases. No longer is the relationship stagnant, but a living, breathing manifestation of passion and love. A couple often finds they make love more, they touch more, and they long to be with one another. 

The thought of displeasing him saddens her. The submissive grows by accepting his loving guidance in her life. The dominant grows as well, by learning to be in tune to the needs of his submissive. And so it goes, that when both partners are equally engaged, when both are in tune to and fostering mutual self-giving, when the ultimate goal is change from the inside out, the relationship flourishes. 

In conclusion, I would like to summarize my main points here. 

I agree that the initial draw to Domestic Discipline can often be the desire for active leadership, not passivity. We women want to be noticed, cherished, and understood. DD is one way we find those needs met. 

However, in a DD dynamic, the husband's needs are met as well. He wants respect, trust, and harmony. When his mature, capable wife shows him that she trusts and respects him, a beautiful interdependent relationship takes place. He wants to protect her; she wants to be protected. He quiets her mind; she makes him feel ten feet tall. And they both find they are more deeply attracted to one another. 

Honesty, open communication, respect for one another, and both being equally engaged in the purpose and goals of the realtionship, are essential elements found in any working D/S dynamic. 

What do you say, readers? Do you agree, or disagree, with the points I've made here? Do you have anything you'd like to contribute to this discussion?


  1. Without discipline, boundaries are not boundaries, they are suggestions. It is deeply freeing to know that my husband simply is not going to allow me to ruin our marriage with my disrespect and arguing. If I honestly thought I'd be asked to journal or take a quiet break, that wouldn't help me break the cycle. "Go write in your journal" would probably be met with a few choice words in the middle of an argument. Perhaps she is stronger than me, or more naturally submissive, but I need him to be stronger than that. I need him to stay calm, yes, but show calm strength. There is nothing else like spanking that truly helps me to have a submissive heart. He is strong enough to take on that burden and I adore him for it.

    1. Hello, Junipersunshine. That is an excellent point, that discipline allows boundaries to be more firmly held in place. I feel the same. Personally, I feel the way you do, that having to be held accountable to consequences makes the boundaries we've established firmer, and easier to maintain (for both of us). If we eliminated the discipline aspect, we'd be missing a piece of the puzzle that works well for both of us.

  2. JG,
    Another excellent post. We are getting ready to celebrate six months in ttwd. It has completely transformed our marriage. Gabe has become more thoughtful, romantic, and sexy to me. I have become more respectful and trusting of him. Both sides benefit greatly.

    I feel safe, loved, and cared for with the boundaries that Gabe has set. I need maintenance and/or RA spankings to help me in my role and to recognize and remember Gabe's role. I love to please him and he loves meeting my needs. In a healthy ttwd relationship, both sides do a lot of work and both sides benefit greatly.

    Thanks for the thought provoking posts. Great job.


    1. Hi, Megan, congrats on your sixth month anniversary! (By the way, I got your email and I'm planning to write later this week! I'll be in touch).

      I love how you've experienced the transforming power of ttwd. I can relate to so much of what you've said!

  3. Recently I have begun reading blogs from your community. I only spend time reading those in which the women seem, IMO, stable and healthy. Yours is one of them--actually one of several. :) I find this concept interesting, to say the least. At times, however, I also find it concerning. Simply stated, to me the key is the emotional health and maturity of each partner. Surely all would agree (or maybe not) that this lifestyle is a slippery slope. I'm thoroughly enjoying what I am learning, and absolutely respect each woman's right to live in her relationship as she chooses -- as long as it is her authentic choice. It's all very interesting. I may even become a convert one day! :) Good luck to all.

    1. Hi, Anonymous, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you find my blog one you enjoy reading (and that I'm stable and healthy! I try! lol). Seriously, though, you make a very good point. There are definitely areas where submission and dominance can be dangerous and damaging.

      No, I don't think all would agree that this is a slippery slope (some are loathe to admit there are potential problems), but I do agree with you that it's not all "pie in the sky," and that it isn't always perfection. There are areas that can be damaging, and dangerous; some women find submission doesn't suit them, and some men are not suited for that role. It is not something that should be taken lightly. It's quite a serious decision.

  4. Hello again, friend. You can view my response here:

    In which I address questions like:

    *Is male dominance a healthy expression of masculinity?
    *What does the masculine reveal about God?
    *What kind of fruit should we be looking for in our relationships?
    *How do we produce good fruit?

  5. JGirl, excellent points, all of them. You write so clearly and eloquently. Juniper Sunshine is right in her reply above...without discipline boundaries are just suggestions. At least that's how it is for me. And suggestions are something I can chose to take or not take. However, boundaries are something I don't wish to cross, mostly because I hate feeling like I've let my hubby down. Because then I've also let myself down.
    Thanks for your posts on these matters!

    1. Hi, Maggie. Thank you for your response, and I'm glad you find it helpful! Suggestions and boundaries are very different things, I agree. In fact, recently I've set some goals for myself and I'm going to ask Jason to hold me accountable to those goals. It is radically different from writing goals down and saying I want to do them, and asking him to hold me accountable. That's when, as they say, "&$%^ gets real" lol.

  6. From Rick:

    J Girl:

    I tried to publish this twice to your blog but both attempts were eaten by blogger or Google. So, I am using email instead. I am a dom/HOH, happily married for almost 12 years and yes , I regularly put my wife over my knee for a good spanking. She needs it, not for punishment as she is very loving and responsible, but rather for stress relief and reconnection. I hold her on my lap afterwards and invariably she feels much better and relaxed. I don't think our story is that unusual and can honestly say that spanking is is healthful medicine rather than poison. I realize this does not work for everyone and that couples are as individualistic as finger prints; however OSL ignores that fact by insisting it is poison in all relationships. The many surveys I have read, and their accompanying commentaries seem to indicate the opposite. So I heartily stand in agreement to your thoughts and in opposition to hers. Fell free to repost this on your blog.

    You produced another excellent post!!



    1. I think many women come to appreciate the stress relief and connection aspects. I know I am not alone in asking for some OTK time when I just need to feel comforted and less overwhelmed by everything. Perhaps it doesn't work for every woman, but I'm not ashamed to say that it works well for me. My husband is the strong silent type and it's a good way for him to express his care for me as well.

    2. Hi, Rick, thank you for your comment! I agree with you that your story is not unusual, in that you find stress-relief spanking to be beneficial for you and your wife. Not all need the discipline; in fact, the longer Jason and I go, I see the discipline aspect (while still there), a much smaller piece of the puzzle. Some find discipline doesn't work at all, but many find that spanking does, and there's nothing at all wrong with that.

    3. I agree, Juniper, many of us find stress relief enormously helpful, and oftentimes our husbands are happy to provide that. It is, in many ways, a form of reconnection, as well.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to write.
    There are several things in here that just jumped out at me and really helped me to clarify and give order to the brawl of thoughts going on in my head at the moment.
    Keep sharing.

    1. I'm glad you found this helpful, Alice. Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment.

  8. Wow, I can't begin to express how much I agree with everything you write here, and will send DH over later to read it as well. :D

    1. Hi, Julia! Thanks for stopping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope dh finds it helpful as well. :)

  9. I don't think I've commented before, but I have followed your discussions regarding OSL and her arguments, and I want to thank you for logically and thoughtfully working through this- clearly it has helped a lot of people! But even more significantly, thank you for showing such maturity and empathy in your interactions with and responses to her; if only all Christians behaved this way! I blogged about this whole argument myself, albeit less thoroughly and probably less articulately :P Nonetheless, there are many of us out there that are right there with you. I know many have commented similarly, but I wanted to chime in and reiterate it as well. Again, thanks :)

    1. Hi, Kate, welcome!

      Thank you for your support and encouragement! I'm glad to know it is worth the time and energy put into these discussions. I will continue to write in this vein. Thanks so much!


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