Is domestic discipline abuse? – Part 2

I know we rarely ever post things on Thursdays, or out of schedule. Somehow, my organizational brain just hates doing things out of order, or not on schedule, but oh well. It’s good to mix things up a little, right? Although this won’t be a permanent thing, and our regular posting schedule will resume next week, this is an entry that I really wanted to write following my husband’s post yesterday titled “Domestic Discipline is Abuse”.

This is an entry that I think it’s important everyone read, whether you’ve been practicing domestic discipline for 20 years, or whether you’re extremely anti-domestic discipline and found our blog through an inaccurate media article, or other method. My husband did a fantastic job telling his side of domestic discipline yesterday. But, I wanted to share a few thoughts on domestic discipline from my point of view. Hopefully y’all don’t mind.

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I’m an all American girl. I grew up in a pretty great family with loving parents and a lot of siblings. I was a national cheerleader, a competitive gymnast, a soccer player and I ran track. I traveled the world, I was valedictorian, I went on to college, then grad school and earned a Master’s degree. I’ve interned, worked full time, started med school, got engaged and married my best friend, had an absolutely gorgeous child who I’m head over heels for, and the list goes on.

I’d describe my life as borderline perfect. There are minor things I would change (like I would have finished med school, or I would like to have had more children by now, and I wish we lived closer to our families) but, for the most part, I absolutely love my life. I want everyone to know that I am, legitimately, the happiest person in the world and those who truly know me can easily see that.

My life may sound similar to yours. Loving family, good grades, fun college years, an awesome husband and a gorgeous child. But, it also may be different in one small, but pretty important way. My husband and I practice domestic discipline.

Those who have been reading our website, or blog, for awhile now obviously know that pretty clearly. But, if you’re new, I want to give you an insight into what this lifestyle, or marriage tool, is all about.

In college, and grad school, I took 2 courses which I now could have easily renamed “Anti Domestic Discipline on Every Level” classes. The courses both covered gender roles, feminist theories, sociological theories of gender and sexuality, and things of that sort. Both professors, in a nutshell, went over how extremely important it is, for today’s society, that men and women have the same roles and ideals. We’re not just talking about “women should be paid the same as men”. This goes well beyond that into things such as there should be no defined roles within a household, workplace, or anywhere else. While this all sounded great at the time, a part of me wondered in the back of my head “doesn’t that sound like a recipe for chaos?”

I’ve always had pretty traditional marriage views. I’m the “old fashioned girl” who has always believed that families work significantly better when some sort of roles are defined. So, whether that means that the wife always makes dinner, or that the husband always handles the finances, I’ve seen first hand (through my own family, and many others) that it creates much less of a power struggle. So, when I met my husband, we entered into our relationship with a similar ideology. Things like decorating our house he easily left up to me, because I think he finds it boring to look at wall colors for hours at a time.  And, things like the yard work I gladly said “babe, go for it!” because I have never even used a lawn mower before..nor do I really want to.

From watching high school, college, and grad school friends “grow up” and get married, I noticed a lot of them had very similar role structures. It made me wonder what the hell my college professor was talking about when she looked at our entire class of 100+ people and, point blank, told us all “roles, both in a relationship and in society, are outdated and do not belong in this century.” Everyone I’ve seen had some form of “roles” in their relationship or even at work. At one of my internships, it was my “role” to make sure that everyone’s schedules were placed on top of their desks each morning. By doing that, it made the entire day (and office) run smoother.

So, the bottom line is, I’d always grown up with the (what some consider) old-fashioned belief that everyone whether we’re talking about in a relationship, or at their job, or at school, or at home, needs to have defined roles.

Some may think that mindset transitions well into domestic discipline. But, those people would be wrong. As my husband mentioned in his post yesterday, when both of us first found out about domestic discipline we were adamantly against it. Yeah, I had the belief that a relationship needed roles, guidelines, and I’d even go as far as to say boundaries. I don’t want my husband staying out all night. He doesn’t want me to either. Boom. Guideline, boundary, rule, whatever you want to call it.

But, when we first heard about domestic discipline, we both were like, “it’s one thing to have rules, or things you ask your partner not to do. It’s another thing to actually have a repercussion for those.” And, as my husband said earlier, we did make a joke about it. Looking back, I regret that, but at the time this completely foreign concept had not only went against everything we were taught, but was something that I genuinely couldn’t imagine happening. I mean, c’mon, if your husband says “you’re grounded” how many wives would actually listen to that? Yeah. I wasn’t one of them either.

Something changed for us (or, maybe just for me at first? I’m not sure) when I saw that the one problem our relationship ever really had was just not getting anywhere. After a LONG time, and many different “remedies”, as a last ditch effort we (after a lot of conversation) decided to give domestic discipline a shot. Neither one of us thought it would work. Neither one of us were excited about it, and I think we were both like “well this will make a pretty entertaining story one day, years later.” We both chalked it up as “if it goes wrong, we never do it again, we move on, and continue to think it’s crazy.”

Neither one of us were prepared for the fact that it did work. Still with skepticism, although much less after that, we proceeded forward (super cautiously) and watched our relationship go from about an 8 on a 1-10 scale to a 10 in a pretty short amount of time. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that was solely because of domestic discipline, because it wasn’t. But, it was due to the foundation that domestic discipline helped lay out for us. My husband didn’t raise his voice anymore. He was way more cautious of how he acted. I was much more respectful, and things from BOTH of us that were, at once, an issue seemed like years ago instead of months. I can’t say domestic discipline saved our relationship, because we would have been fine without it. But, domestic discipline helped both of us in so many ways that our relationship was, and is, stronger than ever.

So how does domestic discipline work?

Well, it’s simple and complex at the same time.

Domestic discipline is a small, but important, part of our marriage. I think most of you would be surprised to hear that we rarely talk about domestic discipline. We talk about Learning Domestic Discipline a lot (our visions for the site, different ideas we have, different projects we’re working on, future articles, etc.) but domestic discipline in our own marriage comes up infrequently, and only when it’s necessary. This is not something that consumes our marriage, nor our personal lives. We are your typical couple. We travel, we go on date nights, we spoil our son, we spend a ton of time together, we laugh, we talk, we disagree, we go to the lake, the beach, the mountains, the zoo, the park, the mall…domestic discipline does not define us.

The fact that my husband and I have chosen to implement a rules and consequence system in our marriage is something that is a lot more normal, and more common, than you all think. Your neighbors, your child’s teacher, your best friend, even your family members all could practice domestic discipline or a form of domestic discipline and you likely won’t know it. Domestic discipline does not define a couple. Domestic discipline plays a small role in peoples’ relationships, and domestic discipline comes in all forms. Some people practice domestic discipline without spanking. Some people practice domestic discipline where BOTH parties are accountable to rules and consequences (known as The Spencer Plan), some couples practice domestic discipline where there is no consequences, but there are rules. Domestic discipline does not have to be man spanks his wife for breaking a rule.

Back to our relationship- I get punished rarely. Sometimes it’s more frequent (like once a month) but sometimes it’s only about twice a year. That means that domestic discipline in our marriage could, in theory, only be brought up twice a year. And, when it does, it’s pretty short. Punishments don’t drag on for days, weeks- or even hours. So, just to reiterate, this is not a frequent thing.

We use 4 main forms of punishment: grounding, corner time, spankings, and writing lines. We present other forms on our blog as options to those who are in domestic discipline relationships (or want to be) because we fully understand that domestic discipline is not always practiced the way that we do. No two couples practice domestic discipline the same way.

Spankings are the most severe form of punishment. There have been severe ones (for severe offenses) that I would rank at about an 8 on a 1-10 pain scale. For the very large majority of them (i.e.- all of them except maybe 3 I’ve ever had?) I would rank significantly less.

There is an ongoing debate in this world about whether or not spanking is abusive. This is something that parents, educators, psychologists, doctors, and more have argued about and will continue to argue about for a very long time. The fact that people call domestic discipline abusive is not surprising to me. However, if you’re completely educated on the topic of domestic discipline, I think you’d feel differently. You may not ever agree with it. You may not ever incorporate it into your marriage. But, to speak as if you know all about it is mind boggling.

You may have read an article recently that was published in a well known media outlet. I did an interview with the reporter for over an hour. Like most media outlets, the reporter altered, twisted, or otherwise changed (and, in one case flat out made it up) a very very very large majority of what I said to make it appear as if domestic discipline was a cult-like, abusive, thing. It’s unfortunate that it happened. But, in that article, it was painted (based on completely inaccurate, twisted, manipulated, or otherwise altered statements) that domestic discipline was abusive. After reading that article, I think anyone would think that.

I don’t want to be a bully, or a total bitch, and tell you all that you’re wrong for thinking that. After all, you can think whatever you want to think. I’m not out to change your mind. Some may say I’m out to “open your minds” and in a way that’s true. Become educated on what domestic discipline truly is, then make up your mind. That’s my advice.

How is domestic discipline not abuse?

First let me say that I am answering this question based on our marriage. I cannot tell you that every single marriage with domestic discipline is not abusive. On the same token, I cannot tell you that every single marriage without domestic discipline is not abusive. Abuse can happen in a relationship whether domestic discipline (in any form) is present or not.

In my marriage, domestic discipline is not abusive. It’s actually not even close.

Abuse comes in 3 forms: psychological (also referred to as emotional), physical and sexual. They are defined as:

Psychological: “Emotional abuse, mental abuse A form of mistreatment in which there is intent to cause mental or emotional pain or injury; PA includes verbal aggression, statements intended to humiliate or infantilize, insults, threats of abandonment or institutionalization; PA results in stress, social withdrawal, long-term or recalcitrant depression, anxiety”.

My husband has never been verbally aggressive towards me, he doesn’t humiliate me (or make statements intended to), he has never threatened to abandon me, and I don’t have depression, anxiety, withdrawal, etc. The bottom line, according to this definition, there’s no way anyone would ever insinuate emotional, or psychological abuse.

Physical: “One or more episodes of aggressive behavior, usually resulting in physical injury with possible damage to internal organs, sense organs, the central nervous system, or the musculoskeletal system of another person.”

Nothing about domestic discipline in my marriage is aggressive. It’s actually not even close. Not to give you guys a medical lesson, but it also doesn’t cause any damage (at all..) to internal organs, sensory organs, your central nervous system (which is your brain, and your spinal cord) or my musculoskeletal system. Spankings occur only on the bottom in our marriage, and there is zero physical injury to any other area. Furthermore, if spanking (anyone, whether a child or adult) were deemed as physical abuse then it would be completely illegal. But, it isn’t. In the United States (as well as other countries) spanking is still used in several (like over 100) school districts. I could go on and on, but the point is, it doesn’t fall under the physical abuse definition. Neither do any of the other punishments I’ve EVER experienced during domestic discipline.

Sexual: “The sexual mistreatment of another person by fondling, rape, or forced participation in unnatural sex acts or other perverted behavior. Victims tend to experience a traumatic feeling of loss of control of themselves.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone describe domestic discipline as sexually abusive, but I figured I would include it anyway since it IS a type of abuse. My husband has never raped me, fondled me, forced me to have sex (or any sexual acts) and the list continues. Not only does this have nothing to do with domestic discipline at all, but it’s never occurred in my relationship.

Alright so there you have it. When people outright call domestic discipline abuse (without fully knowing what it is), I’m unsure what type of abuse they are referring to. But, whatever type it is, neither mine nor any of the domestic discipline relationships I’ve ever known/seen have encountered any form of any of the above types. You may think domestic discipline is wrong. You may think it’s immoral. You may think it’s completely screwed up. But to call it abuse, from a factual standpoint, is incorrect.

What happens if your husband breaks a rule? 

As with the above question, I’m answering pertaining to our domestic discipline marriage. However, in our marriage my husband is the leader. He sets the rules (that we both mutually agreed upon) and the consequences (that we both mutually agreed upon). I don’t set rules, or create consequences for him. I don’t do this for 2 reasons. The first is because it feels unnatural to me. Being the leader of my husband, or our house, I think would create a power struggle. I also don’t think I’m “dominant” enough to ever carry out any sort of punishment. It’s just not in me, and it’s not what I’m used to. The second reason is because I strongly believe our relationship works great how it is, and I don’t want to change it.

So, with that being said, my husband doesn’t have “rules”. But, there are things I strongly prefer he not do. For example- spend excessive amounts of money, stay out all night, etc. Thankfully neither of those have ever been a problem for us. There are also smaller things like if we’re apart I like when he checks in every few hours so I know he’s alright, and things like that.

If he weren’t to do those things, I wouldn’t punish him because that’s not the dynamic we’ve chosen for our marriage. However, some couples DO, and that dynamic is often referred to as The Spencer Plan. This goes back to what I was saying earlier which is that domestic discipline is practiced in many forms.

How does this not make you feel like a child?

This can be hard to explain in words (especially on a computer screen) but I will do my best.

To me, I don’t feel like a child because of two reasons. The first is the emotional difference. I look at it as my husband punishing me as his wife. Not as a father, or a child. This is a difference that no one, outside of domestic discipline, will likely be able to understand. But, it’s the truth. It’s a different feeling, and because I view it differently, the parent/child thought never, ever, crosses my mind.

The second is that I have choices, freedom, and in theory I can do whatever I want. For example, if I’m grounded, but I WANT to go out to the mall, I could. I could take my car keys, my wallet, and jump in the car and go. I’m not locked in. My keys aren’t taken away. My wallet doesn’t disappear. I can do whatever I want. But, some actions have consequences attached to them (just like in all aspects of life, even non-DD aspects). So, it’s just a different dynamic all around. I have control, or power. I have the ability to do whatever I want. I’m an adult.

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This article is getting really long, so I need to wrap it up. In conclusion, I just want to say the following:

  • Domestic discipline is consensual. Both parties mutually agree to live the lifestyle in whatever form is right for them. As I mentioned earlier, that does not always mean spanking. That does not always mean consequences. That does not always mean “the husband spanks the wife”. Domestic discipline comes in many forms.
  • Domestic discipline is not abuse. As I illustrated in one of the (many) paragraphs above, domestic discipline, by definition, is not abusive.
  • You don’t have to agree with domestic discipline. You don’t have to practice it. You can think whatever you want. But please don’t believe everything you read in the media, or one inaccurate news article that was completely false. Do your own research on domestic discipline then come to your own conclusion.

We incorporate domestic discipline into our marriage because it works for us. We don’t believe that it’s for every marriage. We don’t believe that you need to be a Christian to practice domestic discipline or that the two are even closely related. But we do believe that it’s for our marriage.

 

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