01 October 2012
Punishment for Silence
When deciding what is or is not a punishable offense, it is important to take a careful look at why the rules and consequences are in place? For many couples, the marriage rules protect the marriage and the harmony in the home. Choices and behaviors that pose a threat to the integrity of the marriage or the peace in the home are generally off-limits. Venturing into these off-limits zones will invite punishment.
Communication is the life blood of the marriage. What if one partner cuts off that "blood" flow? Does this not threaten the health of the marriage? A husband or wife that puts up walls (consciously or subconsciously) between themself and their partner is indeed putting the marriage at risk. A little silence may seem small-scale and insignificant on the surface, but shutting your partner out of your thoughts and feelings inevitably begins the process of eroding trust. A marriage without trust is a skyscraper without a solid foundation, destined for disaster.
Is it wise to put in place a rule that governs avoidance of communication?
Communication works best when done regularly. Regular communication is, however, challenged when one partner finds themself battling with an issue that is not easy to grasp or talk about. It is not uncommon for the person experiencing this inner turmoil to withdraw deep into themselves. The solitude creates a "quite space" where it is possible to process thoughts and emotions that are initially difficult to put into words. Retreating into this "quiet space" can be a healthy way to make sense of what is causing the inner unrest. Many people use this visit to their "quiet space" to explore their feelings and seek out the words to explain what they are experiencing. Staying in this "quite space" for too long can, however, have a negative effect. Getting stuck in that "inner cave" means you leave your loved ones on the outside, confused and uncertain of what is happening to you. The self-absorption overwhelms everything else, and it becomes easy to justify neglecting your partner or your responsibilities to your family and the home. Lurking alone inside yourself for too long is dangerous for the marriage, and a rule is a good way to steer clear of dangerous situations.
A clearly stated marriage rule can function as an escape hatch, providing a way to turn your back on unhealthy self-absorption. People come in all models, and cover the communication spectrum from talker to non-talker, so there is no generic rule that applies to everyone. Each couple needs to take their own personalities and communication skills into account when setting up their rule. In its simplest form, the rule should set a limit on how long the partner can remain in their individual "quiet space" before the couple needs to start working on the issue as a team. Part of the power of a marriage is the availability of joint resources to aid the problem-solving process. Working together not only expands the personal toolbox of "fix it" gadgets so you find and apply the solution faster, it also strengthens trust and brings the couple closer together.
What happens when this rule about keeping the communication lines open is broken?
When setting up the rule, a couple should decide on the consequence for breaking the rule. If spanking is part of the relationship, it can be employed as a consequence. A husband may offer his wife the consequence of a punishment spanking if she resists returning from her self-focused retreat and avoids engaging in the process of sharing her thoughts and concerns. This may seem insensitive and unkind, especially if the wife is dealing with deep, emotional issues. But recognizing that extended periods of self-absorption can be unhealthy for the wife and for the marriage should provide the motivation that the husband needs to create and enforce this rule. Should the time limit apply to the husband, too? His withdrawal can be just as damaging to himself and the marriage as his wife's withdrawal would be. Yet his wife does not have the authority to punish him as he can punish her for putting the marriage at risk. Should the husband then be exempt from the rule and the expectations placed on the wife?
A wife's greatest gift she has to offer her husband is her submission. This is as true when he is a selfless leader as it is when he becomes self-absorbed and selfish. The following may seem grossly unfair to the wife, but chew on it for a while before you spit it out. Consider an approach that may nudge you out of your comfort zone, especially if you do not already have similar consequences in your marriage. Consider keeping the consequence the same irrespective of which partner breaks the rule.
If the husband fails to open the channels of communication after he has had time for inner reflection, he has the responsibility to give his wife a spanking neither of them will enjoy. This would not be a punishment spanking for the wife, since she has not broken the rule. It would be an act of submission on her part - a gift to her husband in much the same spirit as he gives to her when he punishes her for the sake of the marriage - and the unpleasant consequence would fall most heavily on the shoulders of the husband. His punishment would not be in receiving a spanking - it would be in giving it when his wife is innocent of the offense.
By giving the spanking, the husband's leadership and authority, and all the responsibility that goes with serving his family as the leader, is placed under the spotlight. In carrying out his duty to spank his wife knowing she does not deserve the spanking, he is reminded that he is still the leader, even if he doesn't have it all figured out yet. He is refocused on the value of his marriage, as he witnesses how his wife treasures their marriage enough to accept an undeserved spanking to protect it. His failure to observe his own rule results in his wife bearing his physical punishment. Having someone else pay the price for our errors is a humbling experience. This spanking would serve as a reminder that the consequences for the mistakes of a leader are seldom his own to bear - his followers, those who trust him to protect them, often pay the price on his behalf.