Guilt is an unforeseen byproduct of blogging about our relationship. When I read about the things I’ve done that upset Mrs. Lion, I wonder what sort of person would be so thoughtless. How could I not respect her time? How could I be so insensitive? To her credit, Mrs. Lion softens the message by suggesting that I wasn’t aware of what I did. Or, I may not have heard her. Or, I didn’t understand.
This is very kind of her. I’m trying to decide if I’ve misjudged who I am. My feelings are a big reason why Mrs. Lion hasn’t brought this sort of stuff to my attention. It’s also why the use of punishment is vital to our emotional health.
Mrs. Lion doesn’t want to hurt me. It’s easier for her to overlook these things then to risk hurting my feelings. Similarly, it’s easier for me to feel badly than to address my underlying problems. These feelings are powerful. They aren’t helpful to us.
In an ideal world, I would hear Mrs. Lion’s statements of what I did that bothers her, accept them and then, guilt-free, work to avoid repeating the behavior.
It isn’t an ideal world.
When we started our Female Led Relationship with Discipline (FLRD), Mrs. Lion established a couple of simple rules: I wasn’t to spill food on my shirt and I always let Mrs. Lion begin eating first. Violating either of these rules earned me a punishment. Fair enough.
More importantly, I didn’t feel guilty when I spilled on my shirt. I was sorry that I did it because I knew it would earn me a painful spanking. The result of this process is that I’m a much neater eater and I politely wait for Mrs. Lion to eat first. There is no emotional stress for either of us.
This proves the effectiveness of rules and punishments. Violation and punishment are clean, guilt-free actions. The punishment absolves me and educates me to avoid the prohibited behavior. Mrs. Lion and I agree that FLRD works for us, at least on that level. Those first rules are our training wheels. They allowed us to establish our disciplinary relationship. The real value comes when we begin managing the emotionally-loaded offenses that, if not corrected, will damage our marriage.
It’s very difficult for Mrs. Lion to let me know when I’ve upset her. As she’s said in the past, she considers most of the stuff that bothers her is small and probably not worth upsetting me. She minimizes things that bother her. This is her pattern. Mine is to react with hurt and feel horrible for hurting her. Both of us are wrong.
When I wanted her to instantly give me some information for an insurance claim, I was only thinking of my own convenience. I had the insurance company’s website open and wanted to complete the form. I had no idea that I would upset my lioness. When she pointed it out to me, I felt horrible. How could I be so disrespectful of her time?
She forgave me. I haven’t forgiven myself. I did something that hurt the person I love most in the world. I was thoughtless and insensitive. She probably feels guilty for hurting me. She’s wondering if it was worth it to let me know what I did.
Why isn’t her telling me what I did to upset her any different than giving me “the look” when I spill on my shirt? The offense isn’t really different. In both cases I was thoughtless. My mind wasn’t on what it should be. If I don’t eat carefully, I spill. If I am thoughtless and only think of myself, I upset my wife. The worry and guilt that go along with the second offense are learned responses from unhealthy relationships in the past.
What if instead, Mrs. Lion gave me “the look”, that little half-smile that says I’m in trouble, and then told me that I was thoughtless when I expected her to drop everything to get her the information I wanted? This would be followed by punishment when practical.
I’m not saying it would be easy to do. But it wasn’t easy to deal with spilling on my shirt when we first started. The problem then was the punishment. Neither of us had any experience giving or getting it. Over time, we both learned.
We got through it by religiously following through on our commitment to FLRD. Mrs. Lion had to work hard to observe my infractions and then punish me. I had to learn how to accept a long, painful spanking as well as mouth soaping and standing or sitting in the corner. We are still working on our respective roles.
This new phase is no different. We need to de-emotionalize these new disciplinary transactions. Mrs. Lion has to learn to consistently observe things that annoy her. That’s difficult. It requires her to stop agonizing over whether or not I should be blamed. She already knows when its my fault. She tries to decide if it is worth bringing up. This is exactly the same as working to remember to be aware of my spilling.
The next and more difficult step is to take the emotion out of it. Being thoughtless doesn’t mean I’m a bad husband or that I don’t respect Mrs. Lion. It means I lost focus. I need to learn to think first; no different than spilling.
We’ve established that prompt, consistent observation and punishment effectively educates me and changes my behavior. I think that when rules expand to things that bother Mrs. Lion and we take the emotional sting out of creating and observing these rules, Mrs. Lion will feel cleaner about her relationship with me. She never has to stuff her feelings. Anger and hurt are punishable.
This sounds good on the surface. But it is very difficult to actually accomplish. We know that we are capable of doing the things required. We also know that it will be very tough to establish the educational pattern. We have the tools that are required. We just need to work out how to start.
If we learn from the food-spilling rule, we know that the first step is for Mrs. Lion to begin observing things that bother her. My insurance information behavior is a perfect example. The second step is to correct me with punishment; nothing new there. Right now we are a bit stuck on this part. Mrs. Lion is still unsure if she should punish me for the first time she observes the upsetting behavior.
I’m convinced she should. The reason is that by adding the punishment experience, the lesson is underlined for me. Perhaps more importantly, we both experience closure. No guilt for either of us. I know she is concerned about being unfair. She worries that she may spank me when I don’t deserve punishment. Guilt again.
I think that the only way this new level of discipline will work is to risk punishing offenses that might not be deserved. I’m sure that, in practice, this won’t happen. The process we both need to establish requires us to remove guilt from the equation. The only way to do that is to act as though we don’t feel it. It won’t be easy, but if we want our FLRD to work, we both need to do it.