I have a problem with my temper. I can usually keep it in check. But there have been times, in previous relationships, where I've lost control and said hateful things I didn't mean (and later couldn't take back). I've got a much better rein on my temper than I once had—but sadly, it has cost me several relationships. :-(
In the past, partners of mine have reacted in one of three ways when I've lost my temper/yelled at them:
1. By yelling back (thereby adding to the discord and potentially saying things they didn't mean and later wished they could take back.
2. By walking away and refusing to argue.
3. By apologizing (even if they had nothing to apologize for).
For many women, the course of action that would bring about the quickest end to the argument would be for the man to either apologize or walk away. Not so with me. Shouting back at me would likely only prompt me to shout louder. Walking away or apologizing might seem like the most sensible thing to do, given the circumstances. But I, for whatever reason, would perceive it as weakness on the part of the man. In truth, the man might be displaying a—tremendous—amount of control by walking away from the situation. But I wouldn't see it that way—at least, not at that time. I'd almost certainly continue to argue if I could. If not, I'd likely resurrect the argument at a later time, as I'd see it as being unresolved.
Worse yet would be apologizing, especially if the man hadn't done anything that warrants it. The animal in me would interpret it as backing down—and in response, I'd find myself going for the jugular; attacking even more viciously than before.
(I'm really embarrassed to admit to having acted like this in the past. I've just read through what I've written so far and it sounds horrible. Please understand that this is a rare example of me at my very worst—the part of me I do my utmost to control.)
Now, what if my partner, instead of reacting in one of the above three ways, had employed option four—asserting his authority/maleness/dominance over me? (To be fair, I hadn't ceded authority to these previous partners I mentioned, so they may not have thought it a viable option.)
What if my partner, instead of walking away, had (by picking me up and physically moving me, if necessary) put me in a room by myself to cool down? I wouldn't have viewed that as a display of weakness. He would have stood his ground, instead removing me from the equation.
Granted, keeping me isolated in a room when I have a mind to continue the argument would be a challenge. There, I suppose, the man would have to either lock me in until I could respond reasonably or threaten to further assert his authority. It probably wouldn't take much for me to back down—maybe just a verbal warning. Something to the effect of “I'm not interested in arguing. If you insist on continuing this, I will put an end to it in a way that you won't find pleasant.” If said calmly and reasonably (perhaps even if said in anger) it would likely take all the wind out of my sails. He'd have “bared his teeth” at me, and I, being the smaller and weaker animal, would have (sensibly) backed down.
I would have to believe that he would make good on his threat in order for it to work. But work it certainly would! If, god forbid, I still had sufficient fight left in me to continue the argument, he'd have to be willing and able to overpower me and force me to comply. (But heaven help the man who couldn't, as I'm only 4'10"!)
In this case, while spanking me could be seen as punishment for arguing, I'd see it more as an assertion of his authority. A might-and-inherent-maleness-makes-right type of thing. A “gentle nip” to remind me that I've overstepped my bounds. (Not only his, but my own self-imposed boundaries.)
In taking control of the situation he would essentially (if not directly) be saying: “I care about our relationship too much to allow you to jeopardize it.” He'd be demonstrating his willingness to cause me minor discomfort, if necessary, to circumvent the truly bad stuff—the fighting, name-calling and resulting hurt feelings, which could lead to eventual deterioration of the relationship. Wow! To me, that's heady stuff. It doesn't get much more romantic than that. :-)