When Things Go Wrong

I remember vividly the first time I ever tried a full-blown discipline scenario as an adult (disclaimer: not with my current partner, but a different, ill-fated, mercifully short-lived relationship) . The candles were lit. He was wearing black. I was wearing nothing. It was all very Anne Rice.

I knelt before him, ready for punishment. He reached for me.... and with a CRACK, the small stool he was sitting on collapsed beneath him. My strong, confident, in-control disciplinarian collapsed with it, in a very un-intimidating heap on the bedroom floor.

What could we do but laugh?

Of course, that experience wasn't really Domestic Discipline (DD). More like kinda lame, overblown, amateur-hour BDSM. But I did learn a valuable lesson from that brief, unsuccessful experience.

Things are going to go wrong.

Sometimes a little wrong, sometimes a lot wrong. But wrong they will go, at full speed, and especially at the beginning when you and your partner are first working all this out.

I wish there were more posted about the mishaps inherent in a DD relationship. To read the forums and blogs, you'd think every discipline session always goes perfectly, minus the occasional reference to an unfair punishment or a broken paddle.

DD relationships are complex, multi-tentacled, unwieldy beasts, particularly at the start when both sides are just working their way through the ropes of what works and what doesn't. And I'm going to hazard a guess that DD relationships between progressive couples are more complicated and fraught with mishaps than those between more traditional couples because progressive women have a lot more opinions about what's right and wrong in a relationship than conservative women do.

Though (ideally!) I submit to discipline from my partner without argument or resistance, regardless of whether I agree or disagree that I deserve it, our overall arrangement is much more collaborative. We spend a lot of time talking about what works, what doesn't, what's fair or unfair, what the consequences of a particular misbehavior should be (again, not in the moment, but after and in general). Discipline is always a work in progress in our household.

Fortunately, we haven't had a chair collapse under us (yet), but we've had plenty of other things go wrong. Most of the time these are small mishaps, usually due to a previously unrecognized gap in communication or an experiment that didn't turn out quite the way it was supposed to.

Our most recent mishap happened just today.

We spend a lot of time apart, so we're always looking for creative ways for him to discipline me long-distance, and the old-fashioned mouth soaping seemed like a fine idea.* Unfortunately, we way underestimated the severity of this particular form of correction.

During an especially stressful day, my partner and I had an argument which culminated in me yelling "F*ck you" at him and hanging up the phone. As angry as I was, I regretted it (almost) immediately and knew I was in for it when we spoke again. As was appropriate, I promptly received the consequence of a severe spanking and an hour of corner time, 30 minutes of which was to be spent with a bar of soap in my mouth.

Turns out, spending 30 minutes with a bar of soap in my mouth is really uncomfortable. (Go figure.) So uncomfortable in fact that I gave in to temptation and removed the soap before the 30 minutes was up. My partner and I have agreed that refusing to take discipline is one of the most serious misbehaviors in that it undermines the entire structure of a DD relationship. So as a result my my removing the soap without permission, we agreed that I would repeat repeat the soap and corner time portion of the punishment for an entire week -- seven successive nights.

I lasted three days. 30 minutes of mouth soaping is uncomfortable, but bearable. Three nights in a row of 30 minutes of mouth soaping is far more painful than the most severe spanking I've ever received. By the third day, (yesterday) I had blisters in my mouth and couldn't eat or drink without extreme agony. Still can't, today, almost 24 hours after my last soap encounter. Although this correction seemed like a good idea at the time, it was a definite disciplinary misfire. Though discipline is supposed to hurt, it seemed clear that we'd inadvertently crossed the line into something more extreme than DD.

Since adding DD to our relationship was my idea initially, I feel a lot of pressure to be perfectly accepting of my punishments so I can prove to him how serious I am about living this lifestyle. I was therefore tempted to be the martyr and "take what was coming to me," as it were, without complaint.

Thankfully, my higher brain functions were insistent that this punishment was too extreme, and so when the time came for day four, I explained the situation to my partner and asked for an alternative correction. We worked through it and he adjusted the consequences.

(It's important to note here that I didn't call up and say, I'm not doing it and that's that, which would have been disprespectful and would have damaged the integrity of a DD relationship. Instead, I explained the situation and requested an adjustment. And because our relationship is based on safe, sane limits and trust, we were able to work out something less extreme and more appropriate without compromising his authority or hurting the relationship.)

Fixing problems doesn't always go quite so smoothly.

Oddly enough, the worst mishap we've had to date came from the smallest correction I've ever received -- five minutes of corner time. When I argued with him about it, he escalated it to ten minutes. I did the time, but even after corner time, I was still confused as to why I'd been given a correction.

It was a small thing, so I let it go, which was a big mistake. (Tip: Mention everything, even the small things.) It festered a bit, and the next time I got a little annoyed with him, I brought it back up and accused him of being "cruel and abusive" for not making it clear to me why I was being disciplined.

Now "abusive" is not the sort of word one should throw around lightly in any relationship, and certainly not the context of DD, where arguably a man's greatest (and most legitimate) fear is that the woman is going to turn on him, run to the nearest police station with her bruises and stories of "beatings" and other bizarre activities, and have him arrested for domestic violence. And in the context of DD, ten minutes of corner time is certainly not abusive by any stretch, no matter what the reason.

I spoke carelessly and without thinking, and as a result, caused a pretty serious breach of trust early on in our DD relationship. It took awhile for us to get back on track after that. He stopped disciplining me altogether due to an understandable fear that if I called ten minutes of corner time abusive, it wasn't safe to impose any discipline at all. Our relationship took a nosedive in terms of trust, communication and intimacy.

Eventually we worked through that, too. (With the help of a serious disciplinary session which left me feeling much, much sorrier than I already was for having broken our trust so carelessly.)

Of course, we've also had our share of broken paddles and other even funnier things.

Our only attempt at long distance spanking with him directing me over the phone dissolved into helpless giggles as he repeated over and over, "Concentrate on the force." Try as I might to stay in a contrite and submissive frame of mind, I just couldn't get the image of Luke Skywalker getting spanked by Obi Wan out of my head.

And of course...

the cell phone call that comes in during a spanking that has to be answered, leading to some creative uses of the mute button.

the corner time that I've served when I wasn't even in trouble because I misunderstood the elaborate Alias-style code we have for when he needs to discipline me over the phone with his coworkers in earshot.

and yes, several broken paddles.

The point is, things are going to go wrong. It's part of the deal when two people work out any kind of relationship, particularly one as complex and emotional as DD. If you expect things to be perfect and get mad when they're not, there's no way the relationship as a whole will work, much less the DD part of it. This is complicated, serious stuff and it takes practice. But if you expect mishaps, allow for them and use them as opportunities to clear up miscommunications, they can become fond, loving memories that bring you closer together.

*Please note that many people have written of the potential health hazards of mouth soaping as a punishment and I agree that this is not a safe practice. I understand the appeal of soap as a classic form of discipline, but just 'cuz my partner and I are silly enough to use it doesn't mean you should. If you do choose to use soap as a disciplinary measure, at least use a plant-based, non-toxic soap (which is better for the environment anyway) and for god's sake, limit its use to the most extreme infractions only. Oh, and don't sue me if you develop a weird soap allergy or any other complications, because I warned you not to try it. If we tried everything we read about on the internet, we'd all be dead by now.


  1. Anonymous20:32

    One thing you don't talk about is when something more seroius goes wrong. What if you really get hurt because he goes too far?

  2. Depends on what you mean by "goes too far." The soap punishment in my article was a case in which we went too far, and we were able to make an adjustment that worked for both of us. But if you're in a relationship in which you genuinely feel you're in danger or being seriously harmed by your partner, that's NOT DD, that's an abusive situation, and completely unacceptable. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Hi Vivian,
    really enjoy the topics you're covering here. things I've been thinking about since began long distance relationship with a man that values the same type of thing i do, not someone i have to teach him everything and then grade him which just ruins the whole thing. a man who does have a bit of the feel of a real good daddy and gives me the boundaries i have wanted for so so so long, but not thought possible. sorry huge run on! whatever attracts me to the lifestyle has been here as long as i can remember, however i am 39 years old. so fancy that..

    but this is about a long distance soaping that i needed to do last night. it was pretty intense. something about doing it to myself brings it home although, god almight, i wish he was here with me. anyway...only 5 minutes in the corner with soap but elaborate scrubbing before and after without much risnsing. this morning my jaw, my tongue, my lips all swollen up and i can barely talk. i wondered if you had found anything soothing or anti inflammatory to help adjust. i would go to the doctor but what am i going to say? i need to go to work. any thoughts deeply appreciated.

    i plan to keep reading and posting occasionally. thanks for being out there.

  4. Hi Martha,

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

    Not being a doctor, I would be remiss if I did anything to encourage you to continue an activity that results in your mouth being inflamed. Soap is highly toxic and absorbing it into your body is dangerous and potentially abusive.

    As appealing and traditional as soap punishments are, they are dangerous and quite honestly, the best way to avoid inflaming the delicate tissues of your mouth is not to put soap in there!

    I appreciate so much the challenges of long distance DD, but in my experience, a punishment as harsh and dangerous as the one you describe will likely only build resentment and resistance, not the intimacy and trust required for DD to empower those who aspire to it.

    I know that's not what you probably wanted to hear, but it's the best advice I can offer.


  5. thanks for your feedback Viv(ian)! i agree. after, well, how many days has it been now, almost four, am still feeling the effects of my misguided efforts to wash that dirt out of my mouth.

    the worst effects were on 1) my tongue:no sense of taste for days but omg the pain, everywhere, but specially underneath where i was instructed not to miss.. today finally some relief but still using orajel, etc every few hours and antihistimaines at least twice a day to keep the swelling down. then 2) the enormous swelling in my lower lip tore it in several places and on the inside the tears turned into those blisters. oh, ouch.

    long distance communiction can be more difficult in some ways (maybe it actually helps in some, who knows?) but, of course we have to come to concensus about whether this could ever be safely be used in the future. he was surprised and concerned when i told him what was happening, hard to say if he could get the whole sense of how severe and ongoing the after effects are..

    i agree that it did not and never would enhance our intimacy... for days, my body has been so bound by the pain - now dulling to a sense of raw itchiness. as i received a note from him this morning, i realized it was the first i had felt any stir of the heat that his words typically bring to my sensibilities since the whole thing began. not that i hated him or something...no, wise or unwise, i did not blame him for it. but realizing today that it had been gone for days is a compelling argument supporting what you told me.

    and will it continue? the thought of him approaching with a bar of soap gives me a whole different feeling than before i soaped myself, more like PTSD or something...i can not do it and i would hope he could not do it to me! still, i find it difficult to reconcile my submissive status with demanding or withholding any part of myself. it may not be rational, in fact it must not be, but i so much long to remain open in every way to him... my eyes, my ears, my mouth, all those orfices and my soul. can i say that in a blog? i do not want to gross you out Vivian.. and i am taking up way too much space. although i find myself conflicted, i know either we or i alone will find the road ahead. i hope it is he and i together because i really do adore him. i want it to stay that way.
    thanks for responding and thanks for being out there somewhere,

  6. Dear Martha,

    Perhaps the difference between a child being disciplined and an adult in a Domestic Discipline relationship is that an adult has the privilege and obligation of negotiating mutually-acceptable and safe boundaries -- a choice a child doesn't have.

    That you question these things is, I would suggest, a sign of healthy self-respect and boundary-setting, and I suspect most readers of this blog would agree that self-respect is a requirement for a healthy DD relationship.

    Just thoughts on a late night...