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Originally Posted by TestGuy
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.
The thing is that marriage presents a very different class of problems than the other types you are dealing with. In marriage, wisdom is attained only by the blending of both spouse's perspectives. You can not just go off by yourself and find solutions. You by yourself are only half of the whole. You need to work actively with your spouse to find mutually enthusiastic solutions.


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Originally Posted by TestGuy
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".

I don't believe you have conveyed that message when you make posts like this:

Quote
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.

This is a whole post devoted to splitting hairs about whether you are very unhappy or somewhat unhappy. This is the type of stuff that prevents honest discussion and keeps you distracted from solving the problem. Your wife needs to know you are unhappy and why you are unhappy.


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Originally Posted by mrEureka
Originally Posted by TestGuy
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.
The thing is that marriage presents a very different class of problems than the other types you are dealing with. In marriage, wisdom is attained only by the blending of both spouse's perspectives. You can not just go off by yourself and find solutions. You by yourself are only half of the whole. You need to work actively with your spouse to find mutually enthusiastic solutions.

Agree. This is not a one man show and your wife can't work with you on solutions if you don't tell her how you feel. Splitting hairs over whether you are "very" unhappy or "somewhat" unhappy solves nothing.


"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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You all are quite perceptive (or simply very experienced, I suppose). My pattern is to try to solve things on my own and I need to be doing it with my partner. I actually have been called out for doing the same thing at work, trying to solve problems alone rather than collaboratively with the other stakeholders involved in a particular project.

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In my discussion yesterday with DW about UA time, a couple of points have come up that I thought I would seek your experience on:

- She tells me that her idea of great UA time is snuggling on the couch watching TV together at night, which we do nightly. Her objection to turning off the TV and just talking with me instead is that she is a stay-at-home mom and her life is very boring. She feels like she has few interesting stories or things to say. I've shown her the articles on Critical Importance of UA, the article on how to make good conversation, etc.

- In general she says she's had a decrease in self-confidence and feels depressed, endlessly taking care of 2 young kids day-in-day-out, one of them a special needs child. She's been saying this for almost 6 years now since our kids were born, but also believes she's doing the right thing for the kids, and does not want to involve outside help like babysitters, neighbours, etc. I've seen some threads about how it's often a H's fault if his W is depressed, have I failed here? I am at a loss for what to do.

- I travel for work about 3-4 days at a time, once a month. She says that this is important b/c one of her top 5 ENs is financial support (for our kids, for a nicer home, vacation, etc.) and a job that doesn't involve travel, in my line of work, could mean a big salary cut. But definitely I notice more distance upon my return from travel each month. I've seen other threads recommending strongly against work that involve any sort of overnight travel away from the home. Should I look at changing jobs to be home all the time?

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Originally Posted by TestGuy
In my discussion yesterday with DW about UA time, a couple of points have come up that I thought I would seek your experience on:

- She tells me that her idea of great UA time is snuggling on the couch watching TV together at night, which we do nightly. Her objection to turning off the TV and just talking with me instead is that she is a stay-at-home mom and her life is very boring. She feels like she has few interesting stories or things to say. I've shown her the articles on Critical Importance of UA, the article on how to make good conversation, etc.

But, that is not "UA time;" that is something she enjoys doing, which is fine. When we talk about UA time, we mean when you are out together giving each other undivided attention, meeting the 4 intimate emotional needs of affection, conversation, recreational companionship and sexual fulfillment. These should be met on dates out of the house.

Turning off the TV and talking will not cut it either because she would rather be doing almost anything and will be anxious to get back to folding the towels or watching Sex in the City. This is why it is so critical to get out on dates and away from these distractions. When you watch TV together, it is later at night when you are tired and winding down. Nor are you nicely dressed up like you would be on a date. My H and I end our dates by 8:00 for this reason.

Here is what Harley said about getting out:

Originally Posted by Dr Bill Harley
One problem with spending your time for undivided attention in the house is that at least one of your children will interrupt your privacy. But even if you were to send all of your children out of your hours to child care, the environment of your home is likely to cause you to be less romantic. It's a place where you have been busy caring for children. Going almost anywhere else to be alone, giving each other your undivided attention when you are there, would tend to create more of an opportunity to meet each other's intimate emotional needs.

Quote
- In general she says she's had a decrease in self-confidence and feels depressed, endlessly taking care of 2 young kids day-in-day-out, one of them a special needs child. She's been saying this for almost 6 years now since our kids were born, but also believes she's doing the right thing for the kids, and does not want to involve outside help like babysitters, neighbours, etc. I've seen some threads about how it's often a H's fault if his W is depressed, have I failed here? I am at a loss for what to do.

She is not doing the right thing for her kids if she is neglecting her marriage, which she IS. The MOST IMPORTANT THING to your children is their parent's marriage. That is the source of their security.

Originally Posted by Dr Bill Harley in Caring for Children means Caring for Each Other
"Intimate emotional needs can only be met when a couple are able to give each other their undivided attention, and when children become part of their lives, they lose the privacy that undivided attention requires. Job requirements that are considered necessary to support children can also take undivided attention away from couples. The pressure of family life, with so many wants and limited available resources, is yet another factor that makes undivided attention elusive.

When opportunity for undivided attention is taken from a couple, the meeting of intimate emotional needs is no longer possible. And when the meeting of intimate emotional needs is no longer possible, the love a man and woman have for each other withers and dies. And when their love for each other is gone, the risk of divorce is extremely high.
here

Quote
- I travel for work about 3-4 days at a time, once a month. She says that this is important b/c one of her top 5 ENs is financial support (for our kids, for a nicer home, vacation, etc.) and a job that doesn't involve travel, in my line of work, could mean a big salary cut. But definitely I notice more distance upon my return from travel each month. I've seen other threads recommending strongly against work that involve any sort of overnight travel away from the home. Should I look at changing jobs to be home all the time?

A good marriage will determine your quality of life, not a temporary higher income. You and your wife are thinking very short term and not long term because you won't be happy with a bad marriage living in a bigger home. But you will be happy with a great marriage living in a smaller home. People make more money and have greater achievements in life when they have a good marriage. It is the great marriage that fuels everything else.

Not even great marriages fare well with traveling jobs, so I assure you it only harms yours. A career should always COMPLEMENT a marriage, not harm it.


"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 TestGuy
I She tells me that her idea of great UA time is snuggling on the couch watching TV together at night, which we do nightly. Her objection to turning off the TV and just talking with me instead is that she is a stay-at-home mom and her life is very boring. She feels like she has few interesting stories or things to say. I've shown her the articles on Critical Importance of UA, the article on how to make good conversation, etc.

In other words, TV is the most exciting thing in her life. You need to make your MARRIAGE the most exciting thing in your lives. That is in the best interest of you, her and your children.


"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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I saw Markos had posted his weekly schedule of UA time in an earlier post on this forum, which was a very useful way of seeing how activities like working out, driving, going for walks, etc. can fit into UA time. I've seen Dr Harley's inventory of activities for brainstorming as well.

Is there a thread on the forum where successful couples have posted what their 15+ hours look like per week, to get more real-world examples from which my DW and I could draw inspiration?

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What did you do when you were dating? My husband and I enjoy going out to eat and shopping and going for rides.

Here is a recent schedule:

Tues 5-8 (3 hours) Olive Garden Dinner and drive
Thursday 5-8 (3 hours) shopping at Target, BBB, dinner at Cracker Barrel
Friday 5-8 (3 hours drive) BBQ dinner shopping at Bass Pro
Sat 2-6 (4 hours) house touring - late lunch
Sunday (4 hours) breakfast, house touring, matinee [don't count movie time]


"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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Too much hurt and pain on both sides that my brain hurts just thinking about it all.



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Originally Posted by TestGuy
You all are quite perceptive (or simply very experienced, I suppose). My pattern is to try to solve things on my own and I need to be doing it with my partner. I actually have been called out for doing the same thing at work, trying to solve problems alone rather than collaboratively with the other stakeholders involved in a particular project.
Being an engineer myself, it is easy to recognize a kindred mindset.

It is also easy to understand why finding good UA time activities is hard. When you have not been doing it, good quality UA time seems unnatural to people like us. You will know you have this problem solved when both you and your wife would much rather do nothing else but be alone together.


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Originally Posted by walrus
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)?

My experience in general when talking with people who appear to have lost their passion for what they are doing, is that if you express your feelings too strongly, especially in an effort to motivate them in a certain direction, you may stir emotions and inadvertently motivate them in a different direction altogether.

I remember when my wife and I were first dating many years ago and I brought up my feelings and concerns about our relationship, she initially called them 'silly' and went for quick fixes. I re-asserted them and it ultimately made her more distant, angry, and question our relationship altogether. Ultimately she began what I would suppose you would call an EA with someone else for a short time. Of course that was 15 years ago and we weren't married, only dating, and I probably expressed myself all wrong - but I still remember it.

At work I was given the responsibility of talking to a colleague who was once a top performer but in recent years had lost his passion for the job. Everyone hoped I could express on behalf of the company how we needed him to regain his passion for the job and we would jointly come up with ideas to make it happen. 2 weeks later he resigned, saying he was very grateful to me for (inadvertently) helping him realize he wanted to pursue a career change.

Those are just 2 of a number of examples I can think of. The advice you're giving is sound, and you're right, I am conflict avoiding and it's not a good practice for a successful M long-term. But this is my answer to your question which I left previously unanswered. Btw I don't think it's irrational to fear losing the things you value most, like your M.

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Originally Posted by mrEureka
Being an engineer myself, it is easy to recognize a kindred mindset.

It is also easy to understand why finding good UA time activities is hard. When you have not been doing it, good quality UA time seems unnatural to people like us. You will know you have this problem solved when both you and your wife would much rather do nothing else but be alone together.

You guessed it, I'm an engineer smile

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Originally Posted by TestGuy
Btw I don't think it's irrational to fear losing the things you value most, like your M.

I agree that it is rational to fear losing things you value. But what would you fear more losing more?

A marriage where your needs are not being met. And you continue to sacrifice.
or
A marriage where both of your needs are being met. And you can learn and want to accomodate each other.

Fear is good when it keeps you from standing on the very edge of a mossy cliff, but don't let it paralyze you from changing. Fear is an emotion. Dr. Harley has frequently said "your intellect must help your rise above your emotional responses."

TestGuy, I was/am very similar situation. When I first did my Emotional Need Questionaire, I wasn't completely honest, I didn't rank my top needs as high for fear of pushing her away. And now I have to appologize for not trusting her with the truth. And accurately expressing how they are being met.

Is it possible that she is going to react with a defense mechanism/lovebuster? Yes, but I am prepared say. "It bother when you say my needs are silly or use that tone of voice." Or "If you don't want to talk about this now can set a time to talk about it later."

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Originally Posted by TestGuy
Btw I don't think it's irrational to fear losing the things you value most, like your M.

I don't think its rational to lose a marrriage because you are "afraid" to be honest and forthright about the problems.


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Side question - once a week my wife takes our young kids to swim class while I'm at work. In the last few weeks she's mentioned that there is a group of very extraverted, friendly parents that she talks to there while the kids are swimming. Most are moms, in particular one mom who I hear a lot about. There's also one dad who is "very athletic" and she mentioned among other things was talking to the other moms in the group about how he was having a hard time finding pants in town that fit over his large calfs.

My wife is usually extremely proactive sending me text messages throughout the day when I'm at work, and we try to talk through the day. Except for that one hour each week where she's socializing. Last week she renewed the swim class proactively till June, although typically one does not submit a request to renew until the end of the current session (March). When I inquire what they all talk about, she's pretty vague, but indicates it's nice to be part of a fun clique for an hour, in addition to watching our kids swim and making sure they are paying attention to the lesson.

It seems irrational, but I can't help but feel jealous of this hour! She has given up so much by staying at home with our children and has only a few good friends and very few opportunities to socialize. Meanwhile there are plenty of times when I am at work in meetings with colleagues and unable to text with her.

Ironically I probably would not have paid attention to this, much less felt jealous, until I started reading all the stories of people's relationships, affairs, and so forth, on this forum.

Any advice on how to communicate these feelings without being overbearing/insecure?



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Fear is always irrational!

Whereas jealousy is just a good protective instinct.

I wouldn't agree to a social situation where members of the opposite sex have nothing to do but meet needs! The vagueness is particularly worrying.

Go with her.



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
Originally Posted by TestGuy
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".
I don't believe you have conveyed that message [...] Your wife needs to know you are unhappy and why you are unhappy.

I had a good conversation with her this weekend. I told her that I was unhappy and that I felt my ENs (which we'd discussed previously) for affection, admiration, SF, and UA time not in front of the TV weren't being met with nearly enough frequency.

Her initial reaction was "You shouldn't feel that way!" but then corrected herself and said she was sad that I felt that way, although she thought I was being silly. Since then, the last few days, she has been making a point to be more affectionate, which has been fine. But she maintains that the high point in her day is watching TV with me, and that this has always been one of the most enjoyable activities we've shared. She's open to doing other things as long as it doesn't involve leaving the house ("people with kids just can't do that" - note: I have shown her the UA time articles but she finds them unconvincing), and certainly 1-2 dates a month.

I suspect after a few days the displays of affection will taper off, as I've been there with her before, but I didn't share that fear of mine with her because it seemed like a DJ to predict her future behavior. In fact, throughout the conversation, I found it very difficult to not express things like "I don't think you are in love withe me the way I'm in love with you" but I did my best and stuck to mainly "I feel" and "I need" ownership statements.

She also says she's really appreciated having me home more, being more diligent about LBs, and engaged in conversation more. She feels "calmer, happier, and less alone than in past times".

So, my plan is to continue to nudge her in the direction of UA time, suggest dates whenever possible, spend more time at home engaging her in conversation throughout the day, watching out for LBs which we have identified together, and surprising her with sweet gestures from time to time.

Questions for anyone reading:

- I acknowledge this is not following the MB program because at best we'll be having a couple hours of real UA time per week. So I guess these other efforts of mine will be futile? Basically, if we can't fit 15 hrs in, then no sense making any changes at all?

- On suggestion from Melody I told her everything that was in my first MB post, including that I had been watching porn regularly. She says knowing this makes her feel sad like she wasn't being a great partner, but that it's in the past and we'll try harder from now on (SF has been weekly since we first started discussions 6 weeks ago). I did not share that I had recently been a bit flirty with co-workers, I suspect that would be a big LB for her and drive her away from me. That's bad right, ie. not being radically honest?

- My mind sometimes goes back to her ex from almost 20 years ago who in many ways I feel like I don't live up to (I knew her back when they dated and it just doesn't feel like she was ever quite as excited to be with me as with him). I also sometimes think that she had 1 or 2 EAs back when we were dating many years ago, or at the very least she was infatuated with co-workers for short periods of time. We never talked about it. It was while we were dating and I thought to myself that this was normal while dating for her to consider options. I was just happy that she chose me. She has no contact with any of these people and it's been 15-20 yrs, ancient history. But is it worth resurfacing the topic in the name of radical honesty, particularly as I find myself thinking about it?

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TestGuy,

I would keep watching TV with her and try to make the time wonderful for her and try to fill it with lots of conversation. And I would also continue to keep gently suggesting other things to do that she might enjoy.


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It was while we were dating and I thought to myself that this was normal while dating for her to consider options.
It was normal. She did nothing wrong by considering other options. They were not emotional affairs.

Quote
I was just happy that she chose me. She has no contact with any of these people and it's been 15-20 yrs, ancient history. But is it worth resurfacing the topic in the name of radical honesty, particularly as I find myself thinking about it?
No.


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