There are times when a husband (or head of the household) and his spouse are apart for extended periods of time. The husband (or HOH) may have to go out of town on business for a few days, or the wife may visit loved ones out of town for a while, or it may be some other unforeseen set of circumstances where the two are apart for days at a time.
It's human nature to test the limits when a disciplinarian or authoritative presence isn't around to hold you accountable for your actions. Think about it. When a cop isn't around, you tend to drive faster. When a cop is two cars behind you, you drive the speed limit since you don't want to be held accountable for speeding. When your boss is out to lunch, your focus goes out the window. When your boss returns, you go back to being the hard-working employee your boss expects. The same concept exists in a Domestic Discipline marriage.
If an HOH isn't home to enforce the rules, the probability of the spouse making a mistake increases. There's a saying that holds a lot of truth when it comes to something like this: "When the cat is away, mice will play." There is no immediate threat of punishment/discipline when couples are apart from one another for extended periods of time, therefore it's much more likely mistakes will be made during that time apart.
|Image courtesy of The Telegraph.|
When any mistake is made, a lecture is the first step. A HOH doesn't need to be in the presence of his spouse to conduct a lecture. This can be done over the phone, or it can be done over a computer video chat if the couple is apart from one another. I've discussed an effective way of lecturing, and the idea is the same when there is distance between the couple. It's important for the couple to have a discussion about why the mistake is/was a problem, and what should be done next time in similar future situations.
Since the husband isn't home to punish for the offense, it obviously creates a problem when it comes to discipline. The only punishment that is seriously effected by the distance between the couple is spanking. Corner time, bedroom time and removing privileges can all be done while apart, although there has to be trust between the couple that the punishment will actually be done. I'll get to that aspect in just a moment. When it comes to spanking, obviously the distance makes it impossible to do right away, so the HOH has to go about it a little differently.
Since the husband isn't home to spank, I recommend a small punishment be done each day the couple is apart. When the husband returns home, he can then carry out the spanking. Holding the wife accountable each day apart, even with minor punishments, will accomplish two important things. One, the wife will understand she is being held accountable for her actions, and she's not "getting away with it" or "getting off the hook." Two, it will make potential additional mistakes much less likely during your time apart. It will remind her that her behavior was inappropriate/unacceptable, and it will remind her she shouldn't be behaving inappropriately simply because her husband isn't there to hold her accountable.
The minor punishments each day can be any number of things. I recommend they be something the husband can see results of when he returns home so he knows these punishments were actually done. For instance, having the wife do a household chore each day, or having her write a one page apology letter each day, or having the wife write reflections on scriptures each day is much easier for the HOH to see results. There is "evidence" that they were done when he returns home. Corner time, bedroom time, or removing privileges each day can be effective, but it's a little harder for the HOH to know those punishments were carried out since he wasn't home to ensure it. Hopefully enough trust is in the marriage that this wouldn't be a problem, but some marriages aren't quite to that point yet, and that's okay. It comes with time, patience and practice.
As I said before, when the husband returns home he can then spank for any spankable offense his wife made during their time apart. If there were multiple spankable offenses made, then I recommend a spanking be done on consecutive days until all offenses are accounted for.
If the husband wanted his wife to do corner time or bedroom time each day while he was away and he learns that she didn't do the things he asked of her, then I recommend punishing for the disrespect/defiance. The same goes for any privileges that the husband removed that he later learns his wife used anyway. What the husband chooses as punishment for the disrespect/defiance is, of course, ultimately up to him.
Distance discipline isn't easy, but it's necessary sometimes. It's a unique situation that requires a unique course of action. I feel the way of handling it I've described above is the most effective way of doing so that yields the best results. As always, please feel free to ask any questions or share any thoughts you may have in the comments.