SRR – Differentiating Between Punishment and Discipline 19 comments

The following post is for the spanking round table discussion, and is written to help people differentiate between discipline and punishment in a power exchange relationship.

Those who are new to BDSM or those who have engaged in kink but wish to move into a power exchange or domestic discipline relationship may often get hung up on when they are trying to figure out rules, routines, punishment, and fun BDSM play. I’m going to start with a basic definition for discipline, punishment and funishment. The three are different in many ways. but they are the same as well, because **All three things must be agreed on and must be based on consent by BOTH partners without coercion.**

Discipline is the way in which my home is run and the structure that is at the base of my relationships within my BDSM kink family. The rules and routines vary quite a bit when looked at and compared. My wife/ submissive Beauty and I are monogamous. Also, she is only submissive to me. She has daily routines, task lists, weekly and daily expectations, as well as rewards and punishments. Her rewards are not the same rewards my service submissives have. She and I are intimate, we live a 24/7 lifestyle where there are large blocks of time when we are not running on high protocol.

Routines are aspects of her disciplined lifestyle are set out, discussed, tweaked as needed as time passes, has levels of protocol depending on where we are and what we are doing. Here are a few examples:

Daily chores must be completed before dinner

One hour each Saturday evening is set aside for open discussion of our relationship

She may make suggestions and voice her opinion, but I make the decisions

Dinner dishes must be done within a half hour at the end of a meal

Pets food and medicine routine must be adhered to

Dinner must be ready between 5:30 and 6:00pm


Rituals are more personal service to me and are more intimate.

Each day when I get home from work, you will greet me with a mug of tea

You will give me a foot rub as we talk about each other’s day and I unwind.

You will provide a weekly manicure and pedicure

Whatever I am drinking, the glass should never go below 1/3 rd

The room must be prepared for bedtime by 10:00 pm

When I get up to brush my teeth you begin the bedtime routine

Within the discipline/structure of our lives are rules:

You may never pleasure yourself without permission

I must be informed of any health issues immediately

You may never drink more than one drink if we go out, two if we stay home

You must be clean shaven at all times

Your computer time on non-business work is limited to one hour

Rules must be practical and specific, and they rarely change. Routines which shape our structured and disciplined lifestyle are fluid. Discipline consists of rules, routines, rituals, and punishments.

Punishments are the things that occur when rules and routines are not completed or are broken. It is when there is a failure within the discipline and structure that is in place. Punishments are specific. They are not done on a whim. They must be done in conjecture with discussion. Physical punishment may not be done in anger. On a rare occasion, a punishment may be done when something occurs that is not on the list of rules, rituals, and routines. This could be something like a speeding ticket or an action that put my wife in danger.

Hairbrush spanking

Corner time

Speech restriction

Loss of something she enjoys

Clothespin on the tongue for sass

Grains of uncooked rice being picked up with tweezers when a house cleaning chore is not done.

Rules, routines, rituals and discipline take work in order to keep them in place for both my wife and myself. There are things I must do that are routine as well. I am the provider. I must keep our structure consistent. I must punish with love. I must abide by the agreements we made when we became dominant and submissive. I must keep Beauty’s best interest at heart in all I do. She does not make the decisions; therefore, I must do what is best for BOTH of us. My expectations of her must be realistic. When she makes a mistake as all humans do I must forgive her as she forgives me. I must give voice to and acknowledge my own mistakes and shortcomings.

Punishment = A purposeful physical act or unwanted consequence because of the failure of a routine or breaking of a rule.

Discipline = The specific ways in which things are to be done. Discipline guides our way of life and ensures our disciplined lives go smoothly. Discipline governs the things that are the rules and the things that have set rules and precise specifications of our actions. Discipline is made up of rules, rituals, and routines. It is the way of things, not a physical act or negative consequence done because something has not been abided by. Discipline has positive and negative consequences but is not a consequence in and of itself.

Some of you may be wondering why the Dominant in a relationship should not be held accountable through physical punishment. My answer is that I must ultimately be the one accountable for both my wife’s and my actions and that is a pretty big responsibility, and one that has its own set of consequences. Physical punishment would also erode the power structure that is needed. I am in no way saying that respect if brought about by physical punishment or bullying the submissive in the relationship, just that the roles are established through discussion and agreement and to flip roles in order to give a punishment wouldn’t feel right for 98% of the submissive types.

I feel very guilty both when I make a mistake, and when my wife makes a mistake, because I govern her and am, therefore, responsible for both of us. As the provider when things go astray, I look at myself as well as Beauty. I make all the decisions, and, therefore, I shoulder all the blame when our relationship is not running smoothly or something bad happens because of a decision I made was the wrong one. Everything I do is purposeful and done for both of us. Beauty is always at the forefront of my mind. That may not seem like enough reason for her to refrain from giving me a good number of swats, but it is enough of a reason for the two of us.

One last thing I want to discuss is funishment. Funishment is a physical or emotional act done because of a made-up or invented reason. The submissive/slave/bottom is spanked, caned, tie up, or whatever your version is of fun kinky play, or for a pretend crime. This can be done while in roleplay such as teacher/student, police officer/law breaker, or simply as the Dominant and the submissive interact when the Dominant has set up a scene. Funishment is pretend punishment, but the submissive type must KNOW it is pretend or they will not find it fun. My wife feels sorrow and guilt when she is punished; those emotions have no place in a fun BDSM scene.

The important thing to remember when you set out to create the guidelines for any power exchange relationship is that you should have more things that govern discipline than you do rules. Discipline is how we live and the things in place that give my wife boundaries. It’s the structure and protocol, the rituals and routines. Discipline in our home is a thing that sets the tone and has a hand in all we do. Punishment on the other hand it an action that is taken when my wife steps out of bounds and breaks a rule. Discipline is far more important than punishment. If you have a well running disciplined lifestyle with a strong structure, you won’t need to punish very often. Discipline is very apparent in each day of our lives, punishment only makes a rare appearance.

So go forth, create your BDSM relationships dear readers, and remember the basics listed above when you are creating the structure and the guidelines of your relationships. You can start by making a list of needs, wants, negative behaviors, and positive behaviors. The s type in your relationship should have input and MUST consent to all of the punishments. I am not saying you can’t get inventive in what types of punishments you can give, but forced anal sex needs prior consent without coercion or it is rape. You also should never use a person’s fears against them as a punishment. Don’t put a person’s head under water or put a spider on the arm of someone who has these phobias.  Punishment is a consequence for failure to follow a routine or rule. It should not terrify or do permanent physical harm. That’s abusive. Don’t do it. It’s okay to be a sadist. Many of us in the kink lifestyle are. The thing that makes us different from a sadistic psychopath who belongs in prison or the psych ward is compassion and the fact that we never punish or engage in BDSM activities without full consent.

The hairbrush

Dont’ forget to stop by the rest of the ladies to see what they have to say about the subject.

Spanking Round Table Discussions

Update: Due to their website being wiped from some of it’s content earlier this year in 2015,
I am putting a link to the Spanking Round Table Discussion page.

About JolynnRaymond

Writer of historical paranormal romance, kinky historical romance, and BDSM Mistress and Sex Blogger. I hold the position of being one of Kinkly's Top 100 Sex Bloggers. Two of my books, Taken in Hand A Guide to Domestic Discipline and His Lordship's Wayward Wife, have been nominated as best BDSM Non Fiction and Best BDSM Historical books of the year. The awards ceremony will take place at the BDSM Writers Con in New York City this August.

19 thoughts on “SRR – Differentiating Between Punishment and Discipline

  • Jolynn Raymond

    Thank you for your precise and thought out comment, Katherine. Punishment that doesn’t have a purpose or is done at random is usually done to make the dominant feel better by releasing anger. The problem is, then it’s done for the wrong reason. It also must be done in conjuncture with conversation so all involved know why. I am in full agreement that the HoH must find a punishment that works, but it must also be one that is unpleasant without doing harm.

  • katherinedeane

    Awesome post!!! I love the structure and discipline as a tool to help.
    And I love how you described punishment.
    Purposeful, pre-meditated, thought out.

    There are many punishments that would work for me; taking away technology, wine, etc… even physical. 🙂

    But where the line gets crossed into abusive for me, would be him taking away his love or ignoring me.
    That could be an acceptable punishment for those that are not already emotionally scarred, and can take the isolation.

    But something like this would shatter me.
    And that’s important for my HOH / Dominant to understand.

    Which punishments work, which don’t, and which will harm me.

    You two have such a great dynamic and really understand the need for communication and safety in all aspects.

    I loved this post!
    You ladies rock!

  • Laura

    This was a terrific post. Hopefully dominants and newbies will read your post and see that a carefully constructed relationship needs exactly what you have shown or it will not last. While the rules are different for each relationship the core values are basically the same.

    • Jolynn Raymond

      Thank you Laura. It is my goal with this blog to educate and for me that means straight forward, no nonsense information that I have learned from experience. I appreciate your wonderful comment.

  • Jolynn Raymond

    Thank you Katherine. What a wonderful thing to say. There are days when we have issues just like any couple, but I truly think of her first when making decisions about most of the things we do and I know she is always thinking of me. we fit together like a tightly woven security blanket. There are thin spots but no section is an entity on its own. In a way it’s a wonderful thing because there is so much support, but it can be sobering as well because we must be careful not to pull a thread loose or other areas will become bare on the flip side the this areas stay strong with the supporting threads to bolster it.

  • krblake

    I agree with Thianna. I don’t think anal sex should ever be used as a punishment. Nor do I think someone who truly cares for the other person would ever attempt to use their fears and phobias against them as punishment. That’s why I don’t agree with using most medical procedures as punishment, either. As scenes, yes, but not to punish or discipline. Lastly, I’ve seen these topics from your point of view, as well as Beauty’s, and I have to say that you are both in tune with the other. Your first thoughts are of her, and her first thoughts are always of you. Nicely done, Jolynn.

  • Thianna D

    Loved the article! And I’m so glad you brought in funishment as it is so good for people to realize the differences…

    “I am not saying you can’t get inventive in what types of punishments you can give, but forced anal sex needs prior consent without coercion or it is rape.”

    Thank you for that – it rubs me raw every time I read a passage about someone using anal sex as punishment.

    “You also should never use a person’s fears against them as a punishment. Don’t put a person’s head under water or put a spider on the arm of someone who has these phobias.”

    Great points! That’s traumatic if someone uses your fears as discipline of any sort.

    Thanks so much for your post! I’m going to have to read it several times as there was so much to it 🙂

    • Jolynn Raymond

      Wow. What a wonderful response. I’m so happy you were able to take things away from my response. It’s a shame how some dominants feel they can punish simply because they think it’s right. In the interview I did with my friend Jack on PTSD he opens up about triggers and other share how their dominants felt they could ‘cure’ them through making them face their fears.

      I have been preaching since day one on BDSM sites that one must be ethical and just and do things for the best interest of the submissive. I once had a dominant tell me I was going to get kicked out of the Domme’s Union. She was kidding but there was an undertone of wondering what the hell I was doing.

      Thanks for such kind words.

  • Jolynn Raymond

    Thanks Casey. I think that in order to expect someone to live under the guidelines and structure you create and wish them to follow, you ought to be able to clearly state what it is. Kathy wouldn’t be able to follow my expectations if she didn’t know what I wanted. The same goes for me though really. I know I have to remain clear on how we are to live or we both get muddled and go off track.

  • Casey McKay

    Thanks for sharing stuff about your life, I like getting some insight into other people’s relationships!
    I think this was a really informative post with clear definitions between discipline and punishment in a real life setting.

    • Jolynn Raymond

      When I sat down to write this I juggled the two words by their definition, but decided that in reality our lives work more on the disciplined lifestyle as you said. My wife works within the confines of discipline I have created. I agree that in my books the words are more interchangeable.

    • Jolynn Raymond

      You’re welcome. Kathy likes to say to our friends that people all over the internet know the details of her life. It’s true in some ways but not in the more private ones.

  • annapurna1951


    I’m a submissive type who has never had a dominate. I’ve had to make all my own decisions. I hope I’ve chosen wisely.

    I have one question, if I may ask? What happens to Beauty if something were to happen to you? You know, if the unthinkable were to occur on your way home from work. What does Beauty do then, or any submissive that might be in her place? Who makes the decisions then?

    I ask this question with respect.

    • Jolynn Raymond

      Beauty is set to be well taken care of financially if anything happened to me. I know that a large gap in employment in the vanilla world would cause her difficulties if she ever needed to go back to work. She is on the deed of our home and the beneficiary on other important things. She is also my legal domestic partner, therefore she has legal right to all I name her on.

    • Jolynn Raymond

      One other note is that Beauty is very capable in decision making and life skills. she chooses to give that power to me. I have several serious health issues which at times incapacitate me, and Beauty steps in and takes wonderful care of me and sees that all runs smoothly.

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