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Originally Posted by TestGuy
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If I suggested that our relationship is more important than our kids or house (the way the Dr suggested in one of the aforementioned UA articles), I believe her response would be "but our relationship is good the way it is, what are you talking about?"

"I am very unhappy because we don't spend any time on our marriage. ."

How do you expect your wife to be willing to make any changes when you are not being honest with her about the problem?


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally Posted by MelodyLane
"I am very unhappy because we don't spend any time on our marriage. ."

How do you expect your wife to be willing to make any changes when you are not being honest with her about the problem?

I've tried to be honest with my wife, without pushing too hard to the point that she interprets that I'm making demands. I've found this to be hard.

"I am unhappy because we don't spend any time on our marriage."

"What about our marriage are you unhappy about?" is often how this goes. I point out infrequency of sex, affection, admiration intimate conversation and simply not enough time together, or some subset of these, all of which are important to me (I'm using the words from the questionnaire here, but in past conversations it has been the best words I could find to express some variation of this)

Then we inevitably itemize each one, here is an example:
- sex "I don't know why I haven't been into it. I think you should just initiate more often, you'll be surprised, believe it or not I'd like to do it more too."

- affection "I'll try harder. I'm just not a touchy feely person by nature."

- admiration "But I do admire you!"

- time together "15 hours/week seems unrealistic, but our monthly date night is next week"


What I haven't said is something more direct like - "I believe you have fallen out of love with me, and here are the reasons I think that. If we spent more time together on our marriage, we'd both feel differently, which is critical for us, our kids, our life together, etc. This year I want to really win you back."

I'm scared something along those lines would put her on the defensive, so quite simply, I'm at a loss for words.

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I would start by showing her your initial post on your first thread. When you show it to her, I would tell her that you think this Marriage Builders plan would turn your marriage around. I would ask her to read the articles on UA attention and the book, Fall in Love, Stay in Love. Don't tell her that she has fallen out of love, because she will just deny it. [Telling her how she feels is a love buster]

It is important to tell her how you feel, but to follow it up with a PLAN.

Tell her you are very unhappy with your marriage and this is what it will take to make you happy.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally Posted by MelodyLane
I would start by showing her your initial post on your first thread. When you show it to her, I would tell her that you think this Marriage Builders plan would turn your marriage around. I would ask her to read the articles on UA attention and the book, Fall in Love, Stay in Love. Don't tell her that she has fallen out of love, because she will just deny it. [Telling her how she feels is a love buster]

OK I will give it a go. I really appreciate your advice.

In theory even showing her my written thoughts should not be hard, and yet it feels very difficult. I can remember as early as 6 months into our dating relationship back in 1999, explaining concerns that I had in the relationship, her rationalizing to me that they weren't really big concerns, me pushing that they were in fact a big deal, and consequently her detaching from me further and beginning to look elsewhere for a partner.

Of course, back then we were kids, I probably expressed everything I was feeling all wrong, and we were not in a marriage the way we are today. In fact any time I have expressed my feelings so openly I feel like it generated a lot of hurt and drama, without improving the situation. I guess I've never presented it with a plan before, as you say, that is a big difference.

I am crossing my fingers that we have indeed matured over 15 years and this time around the conversation, with a plan, goes better.


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Originally Posted by TestGuy
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Of course, back then we were kids, I probably expressed everything I was feeling all wrong, and we were not in a marriage the way we are today. In fact any time I have expressed my feelings so openly I feel like it generated a lot of hurt and drama, without improving the situation. I guess I've never presented it with a plan before, as you say, that is a big difference.

I would just be real careful about making any accusations or telling her how she feels. For example, I can tell YOU that I can tell she has fallen out of love, but it would be a mistake for you to tell her that.

NOW, another thing I want you to think about is getting counseling with Dr Chalmers. Some folks here have had great success with her getting through to women. I am not suggesting endless sessions, but just enough to persuade your wife to get on board here. Your wife needs to be sold on the prospect that it is in her best interest to have a romantic, passionate marriage. THAT will motivate her to do the program.

If that can be achieved, then I have every reason to believe that you and your wife can go through this whole program on your own with the help of board members. You are very organized and methodical so I can see this working for you. Many of us had to go through the MB seminar to GET IT. I don't think you will. But, you can benefit from our experience.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally Posted by MelodyLane
Tell her you are very unhappy with your marriage and this is what it will take to make you happy.

A better way to express this is: I want us to have a marriage where we are BOTH happy. These are the steps that I believe will get us there...


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally Posted by MelodyLane
I want us to have a marriage where we are BOTH happy. These are the steps that I believe will get us there...

Update: I have not brought myself to express this yet. Part of it is because I wonder if I am being fair in implying I'm that that unhappy, is it the way I really feel or was I just feeling particularly down in recent weeks and that had colored my perception.

The second reason is that I don't feel like I have thought through a plan yet. What I have is a request (almost a demand?) to spend 15 hours of UA time weekly out of the house, which she has already dismissed as impractical, and for which I can't say I have figured out the steps to making it happen with our young kids, autistic child, workload, and general poor performance of babysitters and other such services we've used to date.

The 3rd reason is that I have a tendency to jump to extremes too quickly, in her mind, and if I come on too strong with this idea I fear she may dismiss it as just my latest obsession. Last year due to pain from my autoimmune disease I went into an extremely restrictive diet that I read about, on an internet forum, supported by several licensed physicians on the internet, despite her warnings to not do it (IB, just one of a long list of LBs I realize I am guilty of). I lost a ton of weight, I looked awful, and it did not help. I did this off-and-on for almost 2 years, and she supported me quite a bit, we discussed meal plans, etc. despite not thinking it was a good idea. So now, I am reading another internet forum, MB, I have a radical idea, what are the chances she thinks "oh no, here we go again".

I do sales for a living so planning a convincing argument before making the 'pitch', thinking ahead of what the objections might be and how to address those objections, etc. is something I can't help but do.

I can see how being on a volunteer on this forum requires a lot of patience. Reading other threads, people clearly get 'stuck' in taking action, justifying it to themselves and getting defensive in all sorts of ways. I suspect I am probably coming off exactly like all the other visitors to this forum frown

In any case, I did ask my wife if we could play a rousing game of cards at home, a favorite when we were dating, just as an experiment. She agreed, although as you predicted, she was peeking at the random TV show and commercials in the background throughout our 2 hours playing together. We both thought it was fun though, especially as we got into it, and it made me realize to what extent we have not done something even as simple as this - spending time interacting with one another for fun - in so long. Other than a few date nights and getaway to new york together, this is probably the only sustained time we've spent together, mostly focused on each other, simply for fun, in at least a year.

She also reminded me that I had not completed my EN questionnaire and so we talked about my ranking and how the long stretches we've had with little intimate conversation, sex, affection, admiration, etc. have left me feeling lonely and sad, and her telling me that what's in the past isn't something we can change but we can make things better for our future.

In bed, she initiated sex and as far as I can tell she enjoyed it and encouraged me to initiate in the future. She also reminded me that back in 2010 she'd written me a letter about how she was disappointed in my lack of UA time, conversation, support, and disappointed that I hadn't tried to initiate sex in a year since our son was born. ie. gently pointing out, I think, that whatever I was thinking, I was only considering part of the story. She told me to "not be silly" and "not worry so much", which are things I've always found - when she says them - mean in some way she's acknowledging that my concerns are valid and is not sure what to say.

Last night she was determined to watch TV but with little prompting we ended up playing another game at home, another one of our favorites from when we were dating, and had another similar night ending in SF.

I have worked from home all week, shirking responsibility to some extent and spending as much time as I can trying to fill her 'love bank', checking in with conversation, affection, etc. without being annoying or overdoing it. This morning she pointed out how she prepared my lunch for work as she knew I was running late on my way to the office for the first time all week, and said 'this is how I show affection' and then hopped over to me, smiling, for a hug.

We have an all-day 'date' planned tomorrow, from 10am till the end of the night, various activities outside of the house, without kids.

Short term I am very happy with the last few days, perhaps I am in a bit of a daze and not thinking clearly. I'm very worried this will last a few more days, maybe weeks, then eventually die out and I'll be back where i started with my first post again.

I'm guessing the advice does not change, find a way to get that UA time in every week, outside of the house. I am still thinking how to make it happen.

Thanks again for your advice to date.

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After a lot of thinking about this - I have not been able to tell my wife that I am 'very unhappy' with our marriage as I felt like such a strong statement would be disingenuous. I'm not very unhappy. I'm somewhat unhappy, sometimes. I also fear she is not truly happy, despite what she says, but I can't say that to her.

I showed her the MB material and very gently/indirectly mentioned the specific idea of 15 hr/week of UA time twice and she mostly dismissed it. After so many yrs I know her very very well, and pushing the idea harder I believe will simply make her angry, think I've just become paranoid, or possibly start questioning me as a suitable partner and father to our kids (esp. if I push the idea of a babysitter which is a definite no).

My wife has not really changed in our 15 years together, as far as I can remember she's never been terribly affectionate. If I bring up a concern around sex she will usually respond positively, then after a week or two things die down. If I bring up a concern around affection, she makes an effort to be more affectionate for a few days, then things go back to 'normal' (in 15 yrs I've never known her to be very affectionate). I get tired of being the one always initiating a hug or a kiss or an 'I love you'. Though we generally get along very well, have common values and a long history together, spend whatever small amounts of free time we have together, I still feel like our marriage is quite vulnerable long-term. ESPECIALLY after reading so many heart-breaking stories on this forum.

I understand a vital pre-requisite of MB is the 15+ hours of time, so perhaps there's nothing more this program can offer. Is your advice to continue to push the recommendation? To be more brutally honest about how I feel?

And if she reacts poorly as I suspect she will, then what? Divorce? Continue to live semi-happily and see how things play out?

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You are very unhappy. You are also very afraid of her poor reaction to those words.

If giving affection doesn't come naturally to her then it is EVEN more important she give you her time. Being more interesting than the TV is important to you. Being a significant part of her calender is important to you - don't be afraid to say so.

Her reaction is up to her. Maybe it will be a poor one. But your feelings and persistently insisting on your right to feelings is more likely to get you get somewhere than fear and capitulation.

How can she respond well if you are too afraid to give her a problem she must respond to?



What would you do if you were not afraid?

"Fear is the little death. Fear is the mind-killer" Frank Herbert.

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Originally Posted by TestGuy
I understand a vital pre-requisite of MB is the 15+ hours of time, so perhaps there's nothing more this program can offer. Is your advice to continue to push the recommendation? To be more brutally honest about how I feel?

You seem to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about your fears. How about focusing on polite, pleasant ways of telling your wife the truth? We didn't you to be "brutally" honest, but radically honest. Your wife cannot fix the problems if she does not have all of the facts. You are truly overthinking this.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Testguy, can you explain why you are so fearful? Do you have this much trouble taking steps in other areas of your life?


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally Posted by MelodyLane
Testguy, can you explain why you are so fearful? Do you have this much trouble taking steps in other areas of your life?

I definitely think a lot and consider options. That doesn't seem like a bad thing to me. I don't have trouble taking action in other areas of life at all, at work I've got a very 'think on your feet' type of job. But that's just work. I have a lot riding on my marriage and kids so it feels like that one deserves extra consideration.

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I was the same. Proactive at work, paralysed with indecision at home. Avoiding conflict because I didn't have trust that I would be considered if I said I really needed something.

I got divorced. Didn't work for me.

I don't think you're anywhere near a divorce but how many years are you willing to have a non relationship.

You're in love with your wife and don't want to leave her. I get it. But you're not happy, you are unhappily in love.

While to her things are great. Why would she think otherwise?



What would you do if you were not afraid?

"Fear is the little death. Fear is the mind-killer" Frank Herbert.

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Originally Posted by MelodyLane
[quote=TestGuy]
How about focusing on polite, pleasant ways of telling your wife the truth?

Well that's what I thought I was doing. "I want to make our marriage better. I want to better address your ENs. We're not affectionate enough, that's really important to me. Most of all I think we need to spend more UA time, even if it's just a couple more hours than we do today, to start. Btw check out these articles, what do you think."

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But that's just telling her that she or 'we' have a problem. Take ownership. Say *I*.

If you say 'we' she will quite rightfully correct you. She's comfortable. Probably gets a lot of needs met by the kids. Where did her sex drive go? Well she's sure it will turn up. She cares for you. To her this is not a bad situation at all.



What would you do if you were not afraid?

"Fear is the little death. Fear is the mind-killer" Frank Herbert.

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Originally Posted by indiegirl
But that's just telling her that she or 'we' have a problem. Take ownership. Say *I*.

If you say 'we' she will quite rightfully correct you. She's comfortable. Probably gets a lot of needs met by the kids. Where did her sex drive go? Well she's sure it will turn up. She cares for you. To her this is not a bad situation at all.

So instead "I want to make our marriage better. I want to better address your ENs. I need affection/etc. in our marriage, otherwise I feel unhappy. I want to spend more UA time" ?

I believe I've gotten that message out. She even acknowledged the other day over dinner, out of the blue, "... and I know you have a need for affection and admiration".


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Yes, much better.


What would you do if you were not afraid?

"Fear is the little death. Fear is the mind-killer" Frank Herbert.

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Testguy,
I agree that your wife needs to accurately see how you honestly feel.
Is not telling her how you feel - conflict avoiding?

To think about conflict avoiding in marriage builder terms:
1. You are not being radically honest about how you are feeling.(RH)
2. You might be avoiding sharing the truth about how you feel, because you don't think she can handle the truth(DJ).

on the flip-side:
Has she reacted in a way that has made you avoid being honest and open (resorted to an AO or DJ - maybe calling your needs silly)?

If she is doing something that is making you conflict avoid, stick with "It bothers me, when you do this."

BTW do you realize that by being honest about how you are feeling, you would be meeting her number one need.

Originally Posted by TestGuy
My spouse and I filled out the emotional needs questionnaires yesterday.

Her top 5:
1. Honesty
2. Companionship
3. Intimate conversation
4. Family Support
5. Financial Support

Mine:
1. Intimate conversation
2. Companionship
3. Sex
4. Honesty
5. Affection

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FWW/BW (me)
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Blended Family with 7 kids between us
Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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