Don't go into your cave, get out your preferred implement!

A girlfriend of mine phoned for a heart-to-heart last night. She'd had a big argument with her husband the day before and things had not improved. “I am so tired of feeling like the bad guy here. Why am I always the one in the wrong? He's mad at me, and he is in his cave... and he's been there for over 24 hours.”

What is it with some men? Needing to go into their cave and all that? Is it me or is this cave idea of John Gray simply another name for sulking and punishing by angrily withdrawing? When a man simply needs to be alone (as indeed, when a woman needs to be alone) it would never occur to anyone to call it “going into his cave”, would it? My friend's husband could have smiled at her and kissed her and mentioned that he felt the need to be alone for a while. Instead, he looked daggers at her and stonewalled her and withdrew, leaving her feeling hurt and frustrated and punished. It's all very well to give that a fancy name and make it sound good, but let's call a spade a spade and see it for what it is: punitive sulking.

Don't get me wrong: I think there is a lot to be said for ending an interaction when it has gone bad and starting afresh a little later, rather than letting it spiral down into even greater ugliness. But this is not that. When the man is in his cave, he is exuding silent anger, punishing the woman every bit as effectively as if he were shouting at her.

Admittedly, another friend of mine has said that she finds John Gray's cave idea really helps her not to get upset when her husband is in a mood (now he is just “in his cave” and she doesn't take it personally so much) but in many cases, women are not quite so able to feel great when their husbands are “in his caves”, and when I see men behaving like this, I feel like telling them to grow up, and come out of the damn cave!

One man I know who recently left his wife said that his wife left him in his cave, and he stayed there so long he forgot that his wife was outside! How many women bravely wait outside the damn cave, even though they would like to feel close again... while all the time their husbands ache just as much as they do for connection but are unable to express it?

This whole cave thing is as typical of the average relationship as it is destructive. One of the benefits of the sort of relationship described on Taken In Hand is that there is a better way to handle such problems—one that draws the two people together instead of pulling them apart. Here's how one woman described it to me recently:

“In the days before my husband got smart about the kind of relationship I want, our life together was a lot less peaceful. He would get angry and sulk for hours or days, and I would be frozen out. Then I would get angry and freeze him out in turn. It was hell. It wasn't easy getting through to my husband about what I want. For some reason he didn't believe I was serious when I first told him. What I like is for him to be in charge. I like to feel his authority and power on a daily basis, and I like him to discipline me if he feels I've stepped out of line. I finally got through to him after we had a major row and he stormed off and shut himself in the bedroom. I decided to act. I grabbed a wooden spoon and followed him to the bedroom. Handing him the wooden spoon, I told him that if he felt as angry as he seemed, he should put me over his knee, and that it might make him feel better. Initially, he refused, and sent me away, but later that night, he called me back to the bedroom and had me lie face down on the bed, and he gave me the beating of my life. At first he was still angry and silent but after several blows, which made me cry out in pain, but which I submitted to, he seemed to start to relax. I thought he would never stop, but still I submitted. Without going into too many details, let's just say that this ended with highly charged emotions, tears, and extreme passion. That was followed by an intimate talk which resolved our issues with ease. Now he shocks friends by joking that he firmly believes that a good beating is the answer to many a married man's problems.”

That man may have been joking but there is some truth in what he says. Obviously, it would be wrong for a husband to do something like this if his wife prefers an ordinary equal relationship with no control and no “discipline”. But for women who like the idea of being taken in hand, it is often infinitely preferable to receive a sound beating than it is to suffer the destructive punishment of the man “going into his cave”. Consensual physical discipline brings the couple together. It is an intimate act, and often leads on to another kind of intimacy. Going into your cave puts up barriers; getting out the wooden spoon breaks down barriers and makes you feel close, which then makes it possible to talk with understanding and resolve the issue in a way that is not possible when tempers have flared and you are in fighting mode. So you could say that putting your wife over your knee is a way of getting the fight over and the talking started.

Helen

Take the Taken In Hand tour

Comments

Out of The Cave

Helen...I think you have managed to surmize the intent of Intimate Discipline pretty much in a nutshell...at least the element of it we use for solving conflict.

You write:

One man I know who recently left his wife said that his wife left him in his cave, and he stayed there so long he forgot that his wife was outside! How many women bravely wait outside the damn cave, even though they would like to feel close again... while all the time their husbands ache just as much as they do for connection but are unable to express it?

This is one practical reason (and there are many reasons),

I think anyway, that men need to be given the responsibility to communicate for connection (i.e. head of the household/HOR). Otherwise, women will wait while the husband simply struggles with ways to express his own needs. The dynamic you talk about of the husband withdrawing, usually before the woman, is well known and discussed by Gottman (and others) and, you're right, it is punishing the wife which would leave her feeling like the whole problem is her fault. The punishment is a punishment of isolation and this can only lead to increasing isolation of both the husband and wife. To be happily married, we do need to find a better way.

In Intimate Discipline, we can successfully use the spanking discipline because there is an otherwise natural erotic pull for us. Vanilla couples likely could not use it without it being something like 'only beating her into submission.' The beauty of this kind of discipline we use is that in the end no one of us is at fault, no one of us is allowed the 'cave' of stonewalling and angry withdrawal, both of us are responsible to each other and our relatiosnhip.

Anyway, your article is exceptional and describes very well both the intention and practice of Intimate Domestic Discipline, using an otherwise erotic pull (even though the discipline may not seem erotic at the time) as a way of getting back on the track of physical, emotional and intimate connection for both the husband and wife.

Frank

Dynamite the cave!

Frank, you wrote:

The beauty of this kind of discipline we use is that in the end no one of us is at fault, no one of us is allowed the 'cave' of stonewalling and angry withdrawal, both of us are responsible to each other and our relatiosnhip.

This is such a positive message and such a great summary of why this is so valuable.

Anyway, your article is exceptional and describes very well both the intention and practice of Intimate Domestic Discipline, using an otherwise erotic pull (even though the discipline may not seem erotic at the time) as a way of getting back on the track of physical, emotional and intimate connection for both the husband and wife.

Why do you think some people become interested in this kind of relationship while others never do?

Getting through to someone

Helen's friend said:

In the days before my husband got smart about the kind of relationship I want, our life together was a lot less peaceful. He would get angry and sulk for hours or days, and I would be frozen out. Then I would get angry and freeze him out in turn. It was hell. It wasn't easy getting through to my husband about what I want. For some reason he didn't believe I was serious when I first told him.

I have read similar statements on various forums, and wonder why this is so? Why is it that men often don't think we are serious? Is there more to it than the obvious? If we are telling a man seriously that this is what we want, is it so unbelievable? To the men out there: what can we say that would make you sit up and take notice (i.e., know that we are serious)?

hi, I'm new

how did you finally get through to him, what you wanted and did it work out,, thanks Martie

the word "beating"

Helen...
I just think, and I'm sure this is a cultural thing, but there is a BIG difference between a "beating" and a spanking... When someone says he "beats" his wife, it conjures up images of facial injuries, black eyes and such... when someone says he "spanks" his wife, it conjures up images of a woman across a man's lap...somewhat sexual in nature... ya know? I'm not sure where you live, but here in the U.S. we have to VERY careful how we say things...

Wolfgirl

"beating"

I agree, Wolfgirl, one does have to watch their wordage. I often use "beating" in place of "spanking" when I talk about disciplining children. I'm trying to be more careful. Thanks for pointing it out.

-neglected

Isn't it Up to Him?

Seems to me if a man wants to go and be in his cave for whatever reason that is his choice and decision and it sounds to me like pushing the river and not so respectful to march in with a wooden spoon and tell him how his feelings "should" be handled.

Men seem to need to retreat and regroup while women need to talk about it. So maybe if we are ummmmm submissive? and ummmmmm our choices and wishes come second? Then we're supposed to let them do things as they see fit.

After all, surrender is about not getting our way.

Sulking—A Different Kind of Beating

Perhaps he would like to beat the tar out of her with the spoon or
whatever. But spanking is not acceptable unless there has been some
communication about it beforehand. The sulking is the "acceptable"
way of beating unless it has been specifically agreed that it should
be otherwise. The fact that the sulking is taking place means that
neither person has developed enough courage to make that kind of a
connection. *Someone* has to do it. In a case like this, it is simply
the person who "explodes" first that takes the initiative. In this
example, the woman "exploded" first, couldn't handle the break, and
presented the spoon. Face it, if you are not already aware of it, this
society is royally messed up, so there's a big risk involved if things
happened "naturally". If natural relationships were possible
without hiding it, sites like this would not be necessary.


KrosRogue

Sulking is horrible

My husband used to punish me by retreating into his cave for a whole day, sometimes two. He wouldn't say he was doing it to punish me, and perhaps that was not the intent. But still, this was usually my punishment for getting upset about anything in our relationship, and expressing anger. It was truly horrible, and whatever I needed to communicate would not get communicated. I would be isolated until I was able to put all my feelings back into their box, and then we would go on as before, with nothing resolved, but with one more fight lurking in our history.

I think that when spanking begins as an erotic game, it gives a man time to get used to the idea, and to get to know his woman's body in this regard, and the meaning of her reactions. We slid gradually from erotic spanking into discipline, and it took my husband a while to wrap his mind around the idea of giving me "a good beating" when I wasn't asking for it, when I was angry rather than aroused. However, he has done it, and we haven't had a "cave" session since. This way is so much better, because we communicate, and feel closer, and ususally have great sex afterwards. A fight now rebounds into more closeness, instead of further eroding our relationship as before.

Melanie

great site

Thanks for having this site very good imformation and insight.
thanks
linda(blg)

Taken In Hand does not mean men are infallible...

Quote from Scarlett:

Seems to me if a man wants to go and be in his cave for whatever reason that is his choice and decision and it sounds to me like pushing the river and not so respectful to march in with a wooden spoon and tell him how his feelings "should" be handled.

Men seem to need to retreat and regroup while women need to talk about it. So maybe if we are ummmmm submissive? and ummmmmm our choices and wishes come second? Then we're supposed to let them do things as they see fit.

After all, surrender is about not getting our way.

I find it ummmmm rather disturbing that you'd assume such a narrow definition of a male-led relationship would apply to everyone on this site. Many of us do not take male-led to mean that our choices and wishes come second. In fact, in many cases, when a man is given the RESPONSIBILITY to CARE FOR his beloved--her wishes are FIRST.

I'm not saying such is always the case, but I'm trying to point out how flawed such simple logic can be. Taken In Hand, as I understand it, does not mean that a woman doesn't respect herself or concern herself with her own needs. I also don't take it to mean that my boyfriend can do whatever he wants. My submission to him is a GIFT, not a right. He is the first and only to receive it, and it was because of the great trust I found I could put in him.

If he consistently does things to erode away my trust in him--to display that he is not willing to care for me properly--then continuing in a Taken In Hand relationship WOULD be abuse in my opinion. You're right that men need to regroup and women need to talk. But a truly good leader would be unselfish and allow the woman what she needs.

There's always time for him to think later. But a woman who's left to stew will eventually boil over. Another poster made a perfect example in writing about how her friend left her husband in his "cave,"--and he didn't even notice! That is being an attentive and caring leader? I think not.

Why is this unbelievable to a man?

Helen's friend said:

In the days before my husband got smart about the kind of relationship I want, our life together was a lot less peaceful. He would get angry and sulk for hours or days, and I would be frozen out. Then I would get angry and freeze him out in turn. It was hell. It wasn't easy getting through to my husband about what I want. For some reason he didn't believe I was serious when I first told him.

(the boss writing:)

I have read similar statements on various forums, and wonder why this is so? Why is it that men often don't think we are serious? Is there more to it than the obvious? If we are telling a man seriously that this is what we want, is it so unbelievable? To the men out there: what can we say that would make you sit up and take notice (i.e., know that we are serious)?

I wish to briefly reply to a puzzlement expressed by the boss on this thread. Her sense of wonder and bafflement meshes with my own, which I expressed recently on another thread in terms of not letting it sink in, what another expresses as their sincere desire or belief.

(In the context of this thread, I do not think there is anything more you can say. In the case under discussion, the fellow sat up and took notice when she fetched and returned with the wooden spoon.)

I think the real issue here is not “what can we say” but rather, why is he dismissing what you have clearly and emphatically stated. Here the statement is “don’t walk away, smack my buns.” In the other context in which I addressed this, the gist was “she loves her man’s control.”

Why is this unbelievable to a man? Let me suggest some possibilities beyond the most fundamental one, that he does not know what it is to mean what one says and to say what one means.

1. It is too good to be true.
2. It is too intimidating to be true.
3. It is too intense to be true.
4. It is too simple and too simplifying to be true.
5. It is too true to his intuitive impulses about women.
6. It is too culturally incorrect to be true.
7. He does not take you seriously, therefore, anything you say…
8. It entails the risk, responsibility, and courage to take your happiness seriously.
9. In his squeamish, sentimental love he sees you as a fragile flower.
10. It puts an end to his career as a sulky lazy boy in your romance.
11. He must give up easy, cheesy control and assume real control.
12. (to round to a dozen) He doesn’t know what fun is.

Can dreamland exist in real life?

Why is this unbelievable to a man? Let me suggest some possibilities
beyond the most fundamental one, that he does not know what it is to
mean what one says and to say what one means.

I know what it is to mean what *I* say and to say what *I* mean. It
requires a huge capacity for trust, which I lack, to know that of
someone else.

1. It is too good to be true.

Most definitely. This happens only in dreams and movies, never in real
life.

2. It is too intimidating to be true.

Judging from what I see on the legal front, that is correct.

5. It is too true to... [my] ...intuitive impulses about women.

My "intuitive impulses" are about the legal ramifications.

6. It is too culturally incorrect to be true.

That would play a huge part in a real-life scenario.

7. [I don't take her] ...seriously, therefore, anything [she says] ...

I would never take a woman seriously when it concerns her accepting
violence on her person.

8. It entails the risk, responsibility, and courage to take... [her]
...happiness seriously.

I suppose it does. Personally I don't have the courage it would take
to risk a ride to prison for presuming a woman to be serious about her
desire for violence.

StarreGazer

I desperately want my husband to take the lead and take me in ha

I am new to this site, and I am so happy to find you..I have felt this way all my life and suffered because I thought I was alone...my ex husband went into the cave often and I offered the belt, but he wouldnt take it...had he, I am convinced we would still be married...my current marriage has had control issues..I have been allowed to dominate on so many levels and I can't stand it anymore...after finding this site..I had the courage to ask my husband to please take control and I gave him permission to beat my butt whenever he felt I needed it. I desperately want my husband to take the lead and take me in hand...so I am scared of the whipping, but, I can't wait for it either, if that makes any sense...I look forward to learning more about this....I am so glad I am not alone...

Love this!

Very very good article!

Wooden spoon

A wooden spoon in the hands of an angry man with permission to hit you with it. I would have given him a rolled up piece of the times. I don't get why you want to be hurt. Tracy

Why would you want to be hurt?

I don't know, but I always have wanted that. A wooden spoon in the hands of an angry man is perfectly satisfactory so long as said man is in control of himself. Being angry and being out of control are two different things. A rolled up piece of the Times would not be at all satisfactory, producIng very little impression.

Louise

ouch

I agree that to me a wooden spoon and an angry man dont sound like a good mix to me.

If I deserve to be corrected the hand is enough and a punishment is never given in the heat of an argument.

Usually though, my husband has learned that a tone of voice or a look very quickly curbs my behaviour, long before physical correction is needed.

That tone, followed by his loving arms around me when I comply with his wishes, is the most wonderful feeling of love and security in the world.

Susie