One such moment happened after our roughest night yet; we'd just completed night #3 of virtually no sleep, and were suddenly dealing with nursing issue as well. Add postpartum hormones to the mix, and I admit I was more than a little weepy. Bruce told me I needed to try to be positive, and my gut reaction was to defensively suggest that he have more compassion, as he couldn't possibly understand postpartum hormones. Somehow that thought led me to recognize and lament how far we were from things being so right between us; him being pleased with me for submitting, and me enjoying his consequential affection. By some grace it occurred to me that this was still possible, so I decided to be the cheerful wife he was seeking no matter how ridiculous it seemed. I forced myself to stop crying, put on my baby sling, and wore my newborn while I made breakfast and straightened up the kitchen. To my surprise after faking pleasant for twenty minutes or so, I actually felt quite a lot better. And then I realized that this is what he had wanted for me in encouraging me to be positive- he wasn't lacking compassion at all, he was right there with me trying to help me find a way to beat the baby blues. He did it because he cared AND because he had the perspective that I was lacking. Gee I think this realization has hit me more than a few times... shame on me for forgetting it so often.
Another more physical moment happened a few nights ago: for weeks now he's been telling me that it will take a fair amount of maintenance to make up for lost time and to bring us back to where we need to be. A few mornings ago he suggested we may need to have the first of many catch-up spankings that evening. So after an exhausting day with my one-year-old and very needy newborn, I reluctantly paused next to the bed and asked permission to crawl under the covers and go to sleep. Just as I feared, from our bathroom sink he gave a firm "No." My heart sank a bit, and almost immediately I could feel my breathing speed up; it had been so long since I had gotten a serious spanking! My body wasn't ready for this. My mind wasn't ready for this. He came to me and had me bend over the bed while he reiterated that I need to stop talking back, and that we need to get back on track. I actually whimpered at his removing my pants and underwear, and by the end of his warm-up I couldn't help but cry out. When he started with the paddle I could tell he was using less force than usual, but even still I just could not take the pain. Every strike reached my core and left me reeling. He asked me to confirm that I've needed correction like this, and after some prompting I managed to respectfully affirm that I did. As the spanking continued I panted for breath and after several more strikes I heard myself beg for it to stop. He paused to drop the paddle and move his hands to my hips, firmly but affectionately. In a calm, even voice he said: "Stop. Breathe, baby. Breathe." I focused on his command, and somehow his firmness mixed with affection made me want to obey him more than ever. Soon he was holding the paddle again, telling me to bend further, and when he began again the tears started immediately. I absolutely could not take any more, and I needed for it to stop. But regardless of that fact, it simply wasn't stopping... like it or not I was subject to his discretion and there was nothing I could do to change that... I had No Control. Over the situation or even over my own body... And then once again I felt the gravity of truly having no control rush over me. It had been a while, but the feeling was familiar; humbling, scary, and yet strangely so very freeing. When he finally dropped the paddle on the bed he held me in position for a moment, and I waited for him to bring me back to my feet. When he did he hugged me hard, and I sobbed into his shoulder. I told him that I'd forgotten how scary and awful this can be, and his embrace tightened in the most perfect way. He said now that my body was back to normal we will be doing it more so that I don't forget again, and that it will be good for me to keep the memory of this feeling fresh. I cringingly but sincerely agreed.
While it had been happening all I could think about was getting through the next set of strikes, and all I could feel was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. But when it was over the realization of having submitted to him so completely felt almost euphoric. It made the prior scariness and discomfort worthwhile, and I even regretted that I hadn't taken it better. Here I am, a grown woman being spanked by her husband- It is crazy how something so unconventional and so simple can be such a powerful symbol of submission, but it is. Lying in his arms with a stinging backside I suddenly remembered how intentional and challenging it is to relinquish control, to trust someone else so completely. I suddenly remembered how fulfilling and right it feels once the feeling of helplessness subsides. I would imagine that in a similar way the responsibility and rightness of leading came rushing back to Bruce as well. I won't deny that Domestic Discipline sounds strange to anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept. But I cannot deny its power and effectiveness in reminding us of the value of leadership and submission in a marriage. It does have moments of serious unpleasantness, and it does stretch us in new and sometimes unsettling ways. But the connection and clarity it brings overshadows all of that. Even now in the midst of physical and emotional exhaustion I am more thankful than ever that we have it in our lives.