Dr. Greg Cason
What do you do when your dog misbehaves? Punish him! What do you do when your man misbehaves? Punish him! It sounds fun at first, but if you don't do it right you’ll be the one feeling the pain. In my previous two articles, I showed you that—like your dog—your man can be trained. Both are animals, and both will do tricks for treats, especially when it involves getting a bone.
In Part 2 I pointed out that when you display appreciation for his good deeds, he’s more likely to do those things again in the future. In this part I will show you the flipside—how to get him to stop doing something you don't want him to do anymore.
THE BASIC PRINCIPLE
When your man does something and it’s followed by something unpleasant or unsatisfying, he’ll tend to do it less in the future.
That ‘something’ that causes him to think twice about his deeds is called a punishment. But punishment is something that can easily backfire, so you have to perform it with great precision and care. (Something our S&M-loving brothers and sisters have long known.)
Many of you have already mastered the most destructive methods of punishment—criticizing, condescending and shouting. Some take the less obvious but still destructive path of icing someone out, denying sex or doing something passive-aggressive like putting salt in his coffee by accident.
All of these tactics will eventually backfire on you. The fact is that if you act like a shrew every time your man steps out of line, you are only creating a ticking time bomb.
Punishing your man may cause him to feel more angry, depressed or anxious. As a result, in the future he will be more likely to yell back, outright lie, avoid your sorry ass or finally decide he’s had enough and split.
THE BEST PUNISHMENT IS TO DO NOTHING.
Let’s say your dude frequently excretes gaseous emissions from one of his two primary orifices. (In other words, he burps and farts a lot.) You don’t consider yourself a prude, but this is going too far. Every time he does it, you yell that you’re disgusted and call him ‘gross.’ With each passing silent-but-deadly moment, you get louder and more upset, but nothing seems to work.
Well, if he hasn’t stopped, your dramatics may be exactly what he wants. He may like the bad attention! And just a hint: If you don’t give him enough good attention, he may settle for the bad attention—because it’s better than no attention at all. The first thing to do is to stop getting upset, because it ain’t working!
A word of warning: It will get worse before it gets better. When you stop giving him the attention he wants, your man will actually do it more to get your attention. Just hang in there and keep on doing nothing. Eventually he will realize you are not going to give him what he wants and will belch less. But if you have trouble doing nothing, there is a second option.
THE NEXT BEST PUNISHMENT IS DISAPPROVAL
If you’re going to use disapproval, follow these rules:
(1) Tell him. As soon as your man lets one go (or does whatever problem behavior you are trying to squelch), tell him you don’t like it and leave it at that. Don’t raise your voice, use profanities or embarrass him. Just say it and be done.
(2) Do it every time. Every single time your man does his offensive behavior, call it out. Otherwise, he will get the message that sometimes it’s OK.
(3) Don’t be a bully or a wimp. Meet your man eye-to-eye and tell him. Remember, you are his partner, not his parent.
(4) Give him props for doing something else. When your man does something desirable, call that out, too. Remember that your man runs on appreciation—appreciate him and he will do more of that for your attention rather than farting at the dinner table. Just don’t be discouraged if he still does it every now and then.
NOTHING IS GONE FOREVER.
Punishment doesn’t eliminate behavior—it merely suppresses it. The offensive behavior will come back, sometimes out of the blue. When it does, don’t freak! Just repeat the steps above. It may be difficult, but if you focus on appreciating your man for what he does well and ignoring or disapproving what he does not, you are going to end up getting a better acting man.
But what if you’ve tried all your tricks and he still won’t change? There is one magic solution that will bring you a happier home. I’ll share that with you next issue in the final installment of this series.