Tag Archives: marriage

10. My Approach to Our DD Contract

This is going to be a lengthy post as there are so many important points to share about creating a DD contract with your husband.   Not every couple actually creates a contract, but I believe most do.  I can’t imagine not having one.

The exercise of writing the contract was cathartic.   We had to reveal very personal thoughts and feelings and talk about things we never talked about in 20+ years of marriage and couples would never have reason to talk about absent putting together a DD contract. I wonder if putting together a DD contract would be good couples therapy, even if you never planned on going through with it?

Oh, remember when I said my life changed on March 17, 2015.  That was the date of our initial contract.  (Renegotiation is something I’ll explain in a bit). We made some changes at the 30 day mark.  We made our second contract good for six months and then our latest contract is good for 2 years.  We are more confident and comfortable in what we are doing and thrilled with the results.  It is that confidence and the success we’ve had that led me to decide to blog about my experience.

Tips to writing the contract:  I will share an overview of our approach and what we learned, and then I will share our actual contract with you on my next post.

I describe the authorship of our contract as somewhat collaborative, but I had the lead.  I know some DD relationships are based on the man setting the rules.  That wasn’t happening here.  This was about me surrendering myself to him, but it was a surrender on my terms.  It was a gift I was giving him, and I got to pick out the gift – with some suggestions from him.  Note some DD relationships explicitly say the woman is not giving a gift, as it is not hers to give, but is for her husband to take.  That’s not our version of DD.

Don’t overwrite
:  At first we found ourselves putting in too many details.  You need to resist this as ultimately a DD contract is one of utmost trust in your partner and one of you submitting yourself to them.  If you water it down by trying to precisely prescribe every action, you take away power from your partner and are basically saying you do not trust them.  In addition, too many rules make the contract hard to follow and enforce, and will just bring frustration.

Think of the contract as a place to set basic expectations, and to refer back to for clarification of each other’s intent, but never to be used as a rule book to decide what action will be taken.  I was clear with Mike that I wanted him to take the action he deems appropriate and then we can refer back to the contract later if there are questions as to whether that action was in the spirit of the contract.  Doing so ensures that we ultimately stay consistent with what I intended while both not interfering with the power I am giving him and not causing a delay in punishments.  We concluded it was better to receive a punishment that ultimately is agreed to be outside my intent than to have had the punishment delayed because you had to find and interpret the contract.   Lastly, as we have now renegotiated our contract for the third time, there have been clarifications that we added to address ambiguities that arose that either I or Mike felt necessary to clarify and codify.  That’s another reason it is good to put a term limit on your contract.  I’ll talk more about our renegotiation process later.

Words are Power
I highly recommend taking time to talk about the meaning of the words you use in the contract.  I took our contract seriously and once signed there was no going back.  I wanted to be fully committed to seeing it through and living with the consequences.

It is important to ask your partner what a word or concept means to them to ensure you both have a common understanding.  I recall there were many words we spent a lot time talking about.  Here were the words and concepts I recall as being the most important to us to ensure we were on the same page.

  • Promise Statement: Mike had the idea that we start the contract off with a statement that each of us would write.  A promise directly to each other. It is a bit sappy, but think of it is as a short love letter to each other.  Mike felt it was important that we shared and documented our individual reasons for establishing a DD lifestyle.  I told you he was a great guy!
  • Duties and Obligations: I wanted everything I was agreeing to do to be referred to as my “duties and obligations.” I felt strongly about this wording as to me it conveys a strongly held conviction that you perform without condition.   A rule is something anyone can set, but a Duty and Obligation is a personal term.  It is something I own, I create, I commit to myself.   It was not just about some rules.
  • Renegotiation: We wanted to be committed to the contract but also have an opportunity for change. We agreed to an initial 30 day term for our contract and then renegotiated a new six month agreement.  Our latest contract is good for 2 years.  We also set up rules for the renegotiation so that we could have candid discussions.  Mike and I entered renegotiations on the same “level” as we were on when we did our first contract – that is, I am not bound by any contract during the renegotiation.  Remember, I am in control here.  It is about what I want for myself, my husband, and my family, and I could not be submissive during a renegotiation.
  • Reward: I was fine with referring to consequences as a “punishment,” but Mike felt that word was demeaning. (Remember, words mean different things to different people).  At first he wanted to call them “consequences” which again I was fine with.  But then I had an idea… We would call them Rewards. Since the punishments would be extremely important in helping me attain my goals, anything that helps me towards those goals would be a reward.  This term had the added impact of reminding Mike that I agreed to and wanted these punishments and it made it easier for him to accept delivering the punishments.  He would not be doing something that had a demeaning connotation to him or to me.  He was just “giving me my reward.”
  • Purpose of Rewards It was extremely important to give meaning to my punishments.  I felt every swat on my bottom or every privilege revoked or whatever the “reward” was, must have a consistent meaning.  That meaning was to make me the person I want to be, for myself, for my family, and for my husband.   A spanking was not because my husband wished to inflict pain, or not because I wished to feel pain, but because I agreed, in advance, that the punishment was uncomfortable enough for me that I would likely not want it repeated. In setting the specific “rewards” we had to consider what would be appropriate to deliver the desired results in my actions.  This is where DD contracts need to be highly personalized as I image this must be different for everyone.  I am sure some of you would see my punishments as too light, while others too severe.  Also, the Rewards in our current contract are more severe than in our initial contract, as I have developed a greater tolerance and I wanted to ensure they continued to be effective.
  • Transgression: So, what would we call it when I did something wrong?  “Infraction” sounded like “oops” which to me is weak and meaningless.  “Violation” sounded too dramatic or police-like.  “Rule” sounds arbitrary or infers they were handed down by someone else.  These were ours and ours alone.  I wanted a word that reflects a violation of a moral principle as I felt my duties were moral obligations to myself, my family, and my husband.  Thus, I came up with Transgression.
  • Ceremony: We referred to the punishment session as a Ceremony.  There is often a ceremony to present awards, so we figured, why not call it a Ceremony when I received my Reward.  This was Mike’s idea by the way. This is another example of words being powerful.           Instead of….“Break a rule, get sent to my room for a spanking.”          It became….“I Transgressed and was going to a Ceremony to receive a Reward.”   Thinking of it this way often helped keep me from sulking and helped Mike in delivering the Reward.   We established procedures for the Ceremony to ensure Rewards were given in a calm, purposeful, and resolved manner.  Mike should never deliver them in anger.  Even if I did something that directly hurt him, the Ceremony “dignity” must always be maintained.  We made it clear the Ceremony was to ensure I would be reflective, remorseful, and surrendered, and we took time to identify what those words meant so that we were both on the same page.
  • Sex: We had to address if this contract was going to include anything sexual.  In my mind sex and discipline are distinct, although I believe many DD contracts can be highly sexually based. Frankly, I’ve never seen another contract so who knows.  Our first contract did not have anything overtly sexually based – if you agree nudity and spanking are not inherently sexual.  However, we both realized that sexual based consequences could be extremely powerful.  In our latest contract I added in a “sex” clause.  I  went “all in” giving Mike full authority over my body regarding any sexual activity.  It was important to me to show him I was trusting him with everything, without exception.  That trust had to include my body.  It still excites me today to know he has this authority, which I regard more as an open invitation to experiment more than complete authority.  In case you wonder, Mike really hasn’t taken advantage of this clause as you might be imagining (not to say he has never evoked it – but that’s to share at another time).  My recommendation is initially leave it out – again sex is not discipline.  But as your DD relationship evolves you might find some sexual based consequences highly effective and desirable.  So what are my sex based Rewards?  At Mike’s suggestion we added in some mandated masturbation time (oh, darn, I guess I would just have to agree to that one).  And we added in Rewards that included breast binding, nipple clamps, anal plugs and palm slapping. (Nothing sexy about that last one).   I was finding that sometimes spanking wasn’t always giving me the level of discomfort I felt was effective. I always had a high pain threshold and was becoming desensitized to some degree.  We needed to escalate the sensations else the spanking session would have to get very lengthy and that would just not always be practical.  I mean, I didn’t want to tire out Mike’s hand!  In any event, I am sure some DD contracts are highly sexually charged and others completely devoid of sex.  I am glad we started with nothing pertaining to sex and allowed things to naturally progress.
  • Always: Another word we used throughout the contract was “always.”  I felt it was important that expectations for myself were to be consistent and always expected without any exception.  In other words, I was asking Mike to strictly interpret things.
    I believe it is very important to make it clear that I was fully surrendering to him and that there would be no exceptions to what I was expecting of myself.
  • Vague or Missing Terms: Every DD contract should make it clear where ultimate authority rests.  In case we forgot something or realized that what we wrote was hard to interpret in a real life situation, we wrote in a clause that made it clear that any ambiguity in the contract would be interpreted at Mike’s full discretion without consult or protest from me.  If I disagreed I could not immediately say anything. Instead, I was to accept his verdict and if I wished, discuss it at our Maintenance Session.  This is why words are so important.  I was giving him a lot of authority and I wanted to make sure he and I were on the same page regarding how the contract would help guide that authority.
  • Maintenance Sessions:  Another extremely critical part of our contract and we approached this like no other DD relationship I read about.  It established a time where I can respectively ask for clarification regarding something that went on during the week.  Some DD couples would never do this as just the thought of such questioning would be considered disobedient.   It was important for us to have a common understanding of things and there is no way to have that without two-way conversation.Mike had ultimately final authority, but at least there was an avenue for me to get clarification.  Note I could seek clarification, but was not questioning his decision nor asking him to change it.  I could ask for clarification to ensure the Reward had the full impact that I intended for myself.In addition, Maintenance Sessions included a review of my journal, self-reporting of any transgressions and if any, Mike’s administering my reward for those transgressions, a “maintenance” reward, and alone time for self-reflection.  It got to the point that I very much looked forward to every Maintenance Session as it served as a milestone for marking my progress towards the person I wanted to become.  It also had a type of intimacy that I can’t describe but that I could never experience outside a Maintenance Session.  How many couples spend designated time where they both intimately focus on the needs of one of them?  Oh, and I also very much enjoyed the “meditation time” for self-reflection (i.e Mike’s mandate I mentioned earlier).

Now you understand a bit more about our approach to the contract.  Eventually I will share the actual contract, but next I’ll share an overview of how we structured it.

NEXT  – 11. Structure of our Contract

9. So…like a spanking?

So…Mike has asked me what type of punishments I was talking about.  I purposely didn’t want to talk specifics.  I didn’t want the focus to be on punishments. I wanted the focus to be on my duties and obligations and the outcome.  But I knew the punishment had to be addressed.  It is the most salacious, intriguing and shocking thing of DD.  I had to come up with something to say that would satisfy him for now, but wouldn’t get us into the details.

Again I went into the mode of focusing on the outcome, not the specifics. While still avoiding the “S” word, my answer was, “Well, we should both agree on what a good punishment is. Of course, it has to be something unpleasant in order to be a deterrent as well as a reminder to do better.   It could be physical punishments at times as well as non-physical consequences depending on what we agree upon.”

With that, he said the word for the first time…”So, like a spanking?”    When he said that I felt a great release, similar to what I felt when I surrendered to the idea of being spanked.  There it was, out in the open.   The thing that I was still uncertain about but felt was necessary. The thing that I was most worried about both in his acceptance of giving spankings and my willingness to receive them.

Having heard the words and seeing Mike remaining calm and feeling confident in the progress of our conversation, I confidently responded, “Yes, spankings should be part of it.”  He then asked, “Well, what else besides spankings.”

I explained that the intent is not to humiliate me, it is to keep me focused and to get me to perform as a person, a mother, and a wife the way that I want to perform, not the way he necessarily wants me to perform.  In fact, what he wants must match what I want for myself.  It isn’t him punishing me for failing to do what he thinks is right, it is only for failing to do what I committed to doing.  So while it cannot humiliate, there should be an element of discomfort so that I will be motivated to avoid that discomfort in the future.  So, with that, I told him I think spankings are definitely in order, and at other times it could mean a time out….going to our bedroom to be alone or stand in a corner.

I told him we didn’t have to figure all of that out right now, and I know this was lot to process.  I shared that I have been reading about this type of lifestyle and we should read some stuff together.  From there I suggested we both understand the pros and cons and get an idea on how we will incorporate this in our lives.  Note that I said “will incorporate…”  Remember, I am in charge and I am used to getting what I want.  I also wanted him to know I was very serious and I didn’t want to use any words that sounded like I was unsure.  It was only then that I shared the term with him and explained it is often called “Domestic Discipline.”

I was relieved the conversation did not linger on the details of punishment.  Instead he moved on and asked why I thought this would be good for me and he apologized for not doing anything to address my stress levels (remember, I told you Mike is a great guy). He said he will gladly do whatever I felt would help me but he asked me why I thought this was the best way.

I shared some of those things I already shared in this blog about my thought process and more.  I told him I very much wanted to surrender myself to him because I loved and trusted him, and I felt it would allow me to be the person I want to be for myself, for my kids, and for him.  I felt anything short of this type of surrender would not work.

He asked many of the same questions I already asked myself.  I had to reassure him I was completely willing to be punished by him and I expect it to be unpleasant, but that is the point, and that is what I want.  He said he was on-board with figuring this out with me.
It was clear that Mike truly cared about my feelings and wasn’t going to jump into anything this drastic without understanding that it is something I very much wanted to do.

I was eager to show him the Duties and Obligations I had written for myself.  We then went online together and read through a bunch of stuff I had bookmarked for us.  After talking through many different issues over about three or four days, we got to a basic agreement on what our approach was going to be.  It was important that we commit, in writing, to how our DD lifestyle was going to work.  Now it was time to write a contract.

NEXT – 10. My Approach to our DD Contract!

8. NOW I am ready to get hubby aboard

How do I even bring up this subject?  What will he think?  What if he refused?  What’s my plan B?

At this point about two weeks have gone by and I had become completely invested in seeing this through.  I already wrote down my initial list of Duties and Obligations to myself.  I was convinced my version of DD was the right thing for us to try.  How do I bring it up in a way that he understands it isn’t because he has been inadequate in any way?   I also recognized that level of selfishness in this. It was really all about me and what I wanted.  Sure I needed his buy in, but I really needed his buy in.  It became very important to me that we try this and remember, I am used to getting my way.  But I also realized that if it works it can’t be forced on Mike.  He has to really feel and understand it from my perspective.  It was hard enough to convince myself, how would I convince him?

It was unfair for me to think that he had the easy part thus should be easy to convince. The reality is, he isn’t dominant by nature, and I effectively conditioned him to defer to me.  So I needed a strategy to help him conclude it was right for him and for us, and not that it was all about me.  I did that the way I often tackled problems – focus on the outcome. 

Getting Mike to agree and accept that the outcome is what we both want…for each other and for our family.  Then work backwards from that outcome to come up with what DD would mean for us….and I wouldn’t use the term DD.  I didn’t want to give any preconceived definition of what I was talking about and as it turns out, he hadn’t heard the term before.  What I would be suggesting is a change in lifestyle that was our own, without label.  It just so happened to conform to many DD principles.  Okay, I was convinced I had the approach that would work in theory, but how do I start the conversation?  

I don’t recall exactly how I started it, but it was something like this. “Mike, I want us to make some changes in how things work around the house.” 

I shared with him that I have been concerned about my turning into a slob and leaving him my own big messes to clean up.  I was concerned about my forgetfulness, my clumsiness, my short temper with him and the kids, etc.  My inability to give everyone the time I wanted to give them because I just couldn’t stop myself from trying to solve everyone’s problems and meet everyone’s needs.   I told him I needed his help.  With his help we can have less stress, more together time, an overall better managed household from cleanliness to finances and we could become closer as a couple.

I asked a couple of questions that I knew the answer had to be “yes”, such as “Have you noticed those things of me?”    That’s kind of a Jedi-mind trick I learned.  Get the person saying “yes.”  It creates momentum that makes it hard for them to say no later, and it helps build confidence in yourself to keep asking increasingly tougher questions.   Then came the golden “what would it mean to you…” question that I love to ask everyone.  I asked him, “What would it mean to you if we could accomplish those things together?”  He responded with all the personal gratification he would get from having those things and seeing me happy, etc.  So, at that point, I knew he was going to be open to considering any suggestion I had that could potentially give him that satisfaction.

At this point Mike’s on board that some things need to change about me and that he is all ears on how he can help me with that.  I then said something like, “I believe the best way to accomplish these changes would be for me to give up certain responsibilities.  Not that I would be doing less, in fact, I want to do more, but, I feel that I haven’t been able to be responsible to myself for the things I want to do, and that is where I need your help. I want to take the responsibility for myself and give it to you as a gift, with love.”  I remember that phrase as I had practiced it over and over in my head.

Mike was puzzled and I stated it again, and then a third time, all with the same puzzled reaction from Mike. I then had this panic like, “oh god, he doesn’t understand, quick Jennifer, think of more to say.  How could I have thought that this was all I was going to have to say.  Say something, say something!”   There was quite the awkward pause.   In hindsight, I am glad I didn’t rehearse beyond the initial phrase as now it was time to speak directly from the heart with the raw and true emotions that can only come from speaking what I was feeling at that very moment.  These weren’t my exact words, as I am sure it was more babble and less eloquent, but I recall it sounded something like this:

“Mike, I haven’t been myself, and need your help in being the person I want to be. The person I want to be for myself, for you, and for the kids.  I believe the best way I can get to being that person is with you taking responsibility for my actions.  Where I agree to do certain things and behave a certain way, and you hold me responsible.  For some reason I just can’t be that person on my own anymore but I know I can be that person if I know I have clearly committed to being that person and that you will be there to hold me accountable.”

I think adding in the terms “responsibility” and “accountability” really helped him to begin realizing what I was suggesting.   Now, instead of puzzlement, I got a response that went to the heart of the matter.

Responsible for what actions and accountable in what ways?”   Wow, he said it.  There it was.  That is the question that everyone considering DD has to address.  And the answers are as varied as there are people – there is no right or wrong answer – only the one that works for your relationship.  Here was the very question whose answer would determine our path forward.

My answer went something like this.   “I haven’t thought all of this through and will need your help in doing that, but right now when I think of you being responsible for my actions it means that you could help inforce the behaviors I want from myself.  You can remind me of my promises that I made regarding what I will do and how I will behave.  For instance, you wouldn’t be responsible for doing all the cleaning, but would be responsible for reminding me to get certain chores completed.  Those reminders will help me.  That is what I mean by being responsible for me. Does that make sense?”

He said he thought he understood, but okay, so he would take on some responsibility in helping me, but what did I mean about accountability?  Yikes, there it is.  The punishment conversation.  While I had reconciled this in my mind, I was still very uncomfortable talking about this with him and I didn’t want to be the first to say spanking or punishment or anything like that.

My answer was that it meant he would hold me accountable beyond just the reminder.   I told him if all he could do is constantly remind me, he would just be a nag and neither of us want that.  Instead, we would agree on certain consequences if I failed to do something.  I remember asking him if that made sense.   His answer was spot on.   “Do you mean a consequence like a punishment?”

I can still see his face the moment he said those words. It was the “moment of truth” in this discussion.  It would now be about Domestic Discipline no matter if we called it that or not.   The word “punishment” had been spoken for the first time.

My mind raced. I started thinking about way too many details dealing with punishment and visualizing the actual act of spanking.  I didn’t know what to say so after another long awkward pause I uttered fairly softly, “Yeah, a consequence like a punishment.”

Mike’s reaction was a half-smile, like his imagination was at work, but I could tell he wasn’t sure what I was saying.  His half-laughing response was, “Are you serious?  What type of punishments are you talking about?”   I was nervous to say specific things, and in hindsight, am glad I did not.  I feel my answer put us on the path towards success, as this punishment thing could have gone horribly wrong if we went in with misconceptions about what it was.  So, how would I explain the type of punishments I was talking about?

NEXT – 9 The “S” word… gulp… Spanking.

 

6. Submission and Accountability

I realized that I was tired of not being the person I wanted to be – of basically frequently letting myself down.  But still, how can I allow myself to be punished by my husband?

I realized that these punishments could be about accountability – accountability to myself.  If I were to be accountable to myself, then shouldn’t I accept certain consequences if I failed to meet my own duties and obligations?  These duties and obligations represent the things that are of utmost importance in my life, defining the person I want to be. They are, without doubt, worthy of my accountability.

Without some type of consequence other than my own personal disappointment, I could never be truly accountable.  I knew that absent new consequences I would fall back into dismissing responsibility for things that went wrong.  I would be back to, “oh well, I still did the right thing, even though it had the wrong outcome.”

So what would this new consequences be?   I thought hard about options other than spanking.   Time-outs, writing lines, standing in a corner, alone time, etc. – but those only involved me having to do something.  I needed consequences that my husband was involved in delivering.  I knew for me that ultimately it was my accountability to him and having him holding me accountable were both absolutely necessary for me to be successful. That was the turning point in realizing DD was going to be for me.

In order to be accountable to myself, I had to agree to spankings.  Once I reconciled this in my mind, a sense of release came over me.  It was quite a feeling.  It was at that moment that I realized what “submission” meant to me.   While still not fully sure what I was in for I began to relish the thought of my husband and I being committed to the things that were most important to me and yes, relish the thought of my submission to him.

That realization did not happen immediately and the few sentences I wrote here do not tell how I reconciled this in my mind.  Next I will share with you my thought process that allowed me to ultimately accept punishment as a consequence.

NEXT – 7. Accepting Punishment

4. The Plan: Expectations & Commitments

The Plan: Expectations and Commitments   – (renamed) Duties and Obligations

I immediately had this two part plan developed in my head in what seemed like an instant.

Part One.
Establish a clear set of expectations for myself that I would in turn commit to with my husband – a set of personal expectations and commitments to myself. I renamed these Duties and Obligations.  I wanted a term that was more powerful and spoke of a stronger commitment on my part, as these things were and are a part of my soul.

Expectations would help me define the person I want to be for myself – my DD was going to be different.  I was empowered, I called the shots.   I will not consider myself as being submissive and my husband as dominate, no more than a professional sports player would be considered submissive to his coach.  This was about me, baby!  It was about the person I want to be for myself first, which embodied who I wanted to be for my husband and my children.

I started writing a list of expectations and commitments right away as I was excited about actually articulating what my expectations of myself would be.  I recommend everyone do this (and share them with their spouse, DD or not).   Remember, these aren’t duties and obligations my husband has imposed on me.  They are all 100% self-imposed.  This is very different than most DD lifestyles, but remember, the lifestyle is for you to define.  There is no rule book and you won’t be kicked out of any DD club for doing it wrong.  While most DD lifestyles are defined by more extreme submissive and dominant roles, so what?  That wasn’t going to define mine.

Part Two.
I needed my husband to help me meet my duties and obligations.  How?  Would it actually be through discipline like spanking?  How could I allow it and would he even do it?   For some reason this idea just spoke to my soul.  It excited me and for some reason I just knew it was the right thing for me and could bring about a significant and immediate change in my life.   I was set on pursuing some form of DD.  I just needed to figure out how to get input from my husband that kept our DD focused on my goals.  OMG!  I now had to share this crazy idea with my husband.  How will I do that?

NEXT – 5. Before Getting the Hubby Aboard!

3. The Search

I didn’t go looking for Domestic Discipline.  I was online looking up info on self-help as I often do and I stumbled across some DD information.  I heard of submissive/dominant relationships, but not DD.  My first reaction was quick – “No way!”

I am not submissive.  I was repulsed.  “How could any woman be involved in this misogynistic crap?”  DD meant that my husband would make the rules, boss me around, be overbearing, dominant, and demeaning and would spank me?  WTF!

My curiosity kicked in to see what could motivate someone to live this way, so I started reading, and reading, and reading.  The more I read, the more this “thing” began to take shape in my mind.  I discovered that yes, DD can be those things that I just described, but what if it could mean something different?  What if DD were simply a system for allowing me to meet expectations I set for myself, with some help from my husband?Ultimately this “thing” taking shape in my mind was my own version of DD.

Please note I said “my version” of DD.  I noticed many DD stories are different, although it seems like a lot are also trying to follow some pre-set rules about it, but that is mostly those that try to make it about religion.   Many DD relationships seemed ridiculous to me (and still do, but I know I shouldn’t get all judgey given my own DD lifestyle).  I saw a common theme in DD that resonated with me, and all I needed to do was shape that theme more precisely to my liking.  I probably knew within about thirty minutes of reading that I was on to something and I stayed up reading more.  By the end of that night I had a revelation – a moment of clarity that forever changed my life for the better.  I developed a two part plan to once again love life, every moment, every day.

Next – 4. The Plan.

2. The Backstory: Love life…every moment, every day.

I believe sharing the details of my story can enable you to find a path toward greater fulfillment and satisfaction in life, so you too can “love life, every moment, every day.” 

This “creed’ was instilled in me by my mother.  I’d like to say this came about because my mother was a strong, independent woman, but that would be a lie.  She grew up in a very misogynistic environment and my dad did not provide respite from the misogyny she knew as a girl.  Perhaps that is why it was so important to her that I would love life, every moment, every day.

She never told me exactly what the term meant.  She knew I needed to discover that for myself.  What it came to mean was that if there was an aspect about my life that I did not love, I, and I alone, was responsible for changing it.  No man, no drug, no other person.  Just me.   Thus, I, Jennifer, grew up a very self-empowered woman.

Yes, my name is Jennifer, Jenny to most, although my family calls me Sadie.  I can thank a cousin for that nickname.  That story isn’t important to my journey, but I mention it just in case I refer to myself as Sadie later on.  I often think of myself as Sadie in the context of recalling stories from my youth.

Anyway, back to my story.  Yes, I grew up very self-empowered and “with it.”  That self-empowerment led to me being the informal psychologist, coach, mentor, and confidant to many family and friends.  I was the one that “had it all together.”

Mike and I got married when I was 21, he was 22.  I admit I was the more dominant one and in aspects of our relationship I still feel I am, but as you’ll learn, that no longer applies in many ways.  I had it “all together” and “knew” how things should be so Mike pretty much learned to defer to me.  I know I frustrated him at times.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want his input, but, I was stuck on the fact the loving life meant things had to happen a certain way.  How can I honor my “creed” if I suppressed my hopes and desires?  Okay, so, I became selfish, but justified it because if I can’t be happy, then I can’t make others happy.  Basic psychology, right?

Then came kids.  I was a high school counselor (see, credentials to “prove” I could solve problems) but quickly put my career aside to be a stay at home mom (SAHM) after a short stint back at work after the birth of our first.  It was always my desire to focus on my kids without worrying about a regular job – that was loving life.  Mike accepted me as a SAHM although he would have preferred I return to work.  Being a SAHM was always my plan and I also justified it because my husband made an income that “I” felt we could live on and maintain the lifestyle that “I” wanted for my family.

So, three kids later (all sons).   The eldest is just wrapping up post-grad work and lives on his own.  My middle is out of the house and half-way through college.  My youngest is still at home and has special needs and will never be independent.  With all three kids I threw myself into maintaining my mantra, “Love life…every moment, every day.”

It worked well for many years, but then in the last few years morphed into a terrible thing.  I kept placing greater and greater demands on myself.  Maybe it was because of the needs of our youngest, but I became increasingly focused on controlling everything.  This meant trying to solve everything for everyone – not just my problems, my husbands, or kids, but my siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and friends.  It grew to mean I must not only meet my needs, but meet everyone else’s, and even anticipate them and meet them before they even knew they had them.  Add in the extreme demands of a special needs child, and I was overloaded.

The overload showed.  I would “trick” myself to convince myself of my happiness, but those tricks were wearing off.  I was argumentative with my husband, I became moody and a slob.  My husband said I was like a storm leaving a mess in my wake wherever I went in the house.  Not only did I rarely clean anymore, but I was compounding the cleaning work for my husband.  Up until then I would say we split the chores adequately (I did most but he  did his share).  Household chores had never been a point of argument.  We had a system and it worked, until I started messing it up.

I became forgetful- constantly losing or misplacing things or even just forgetting what I was talking about.  I felt like too many thoughts at once were going on in my head. Maybe all that noise in my head also caused a distraction because I also became a klutz.  I dropped and cracked three cell phones in less than a year, I lost my car keys, my credit card, plus constantly losing things around the house.  I lost interest in keeping within a budget – if I wanted something, I got it on impulse.   I started staying up later and later to binge watch television, often until 2 a.m. Because of all of that, I wasn’t getting good rest.   Add to that the physically and emotionally demanding days of caring for our son (plus caring for everyone else’s needs) and 4-5 hours of sleep just won’t cut it.

Arguments with my husband increased – too many nights of silent treatment, yelling, or one of us storming off to sleep in the spare room.  Most of the arguments were of my own doing but you could not have convinced me of that at that time.  After all, I was “loving life!”   My husband was losing patience and I could feel he was becoming less and less loving, despite efforts to try and express his love.  He would tell me of the amazing job I was doing with our son and that picking up some extra household chores was a simple way to honor and respect what I was doing with our son.  (Did I tell you how wonderful Mike is?)  While I appreciated those words, I knew I was letting him down, and by letting him down, I was letting myself down.  This went on for about a year

I am someone in constant self-reflection and frankly, for a long time my self-reflection was dishonest.  My internal monologue was like this, “yep, I made the right decision, even if the outcome wasn’t what I thought it would be, so there isn’t anything I should change.”

Finally the breakthrough.  I realized I was not loving life, not for any moment, not any day, and I needed to change.   I was probably clinically depressed, but being who I am I felt I created the problem and I can fix it.  Once I had admitted to myself I had a problem, my mind kicked into overdrive on how I was going to correct it because I knew I could solve this problem.

Skipping over the details for a moment, suffice to say it all changed March 17, 2015.  Almost immediately on that date my life changed in wonderful, positive, and previously unimaginable ways.  I am truly loving life, every moment, every day.   And all without aide of anti-depressants!  My drug was Domestic Discipline (DD).

I am certain my specific path is not for you to take.  However, there are elements of my journey that I am convinced can help everyone.   My hope is that you will focus on the basic principles that are providing my love for life and don’t focus on my specific methods.

No two DD lifestyles are the same and some may say what I practice is an odd form of DD. You may not like my methods or ever do anything that remotely could be called DD.  But if you can suspend your judgement while reading my blog, perhaps, just maybe, you can come away with how you might apply some of the principles I use in a way that best suits you and your relationship.

So, how did my search to improve my life lead me to DD?
NEXT – 3. The Search.