I can easily see how this might be Mrs. Hold's internal dialogue.

That is why we are stuck. The implication of your rewrite is that I "should show his appreciation by telling me, talking to me, giving me the feeling we are allies instead of enemies". No way I am going to do that. BTDT. Tried to be her ally for 8 years. Got nothing out of it. Felt like a chump. A doormat. A fool. I am not going back there. Even if it means there is no chance of our marriage improving (which is what I think / feel / predict).

We are not allies. Each of us wants what the other cannot or will not give. Neither of us considers the other person's discomfort is sufficient motivation to stop asking for what we want.

This is why I am twisting myself into a pretzel. This is what I continue to search for. A way to convince myself that I do NOT want to have sex with her. Because she feels used and like an object. I am searching for a way to justify to myself that I can stop asking for sex. Stop even wanting to ask for sex. Without feeling like I have abandoned my personal integrity. Without feeling like a chump and a doormat and a fool.

So I convince myself she is an unrecovered victim. And that I should not have sex with her until we can talk about it. Knowing she won't talk about it. HOPING she won't talk about it. Because that gets me to a place where I can do the right thing. Maybe for the wrong reasons (mental game playing with myself rather than out of love and concern for her feelings). But the right thing nonetheless.

If I cannot be her ally. If I cannot be safe. If I do use her and objectify her. Then however I can get myself to a place where I stop asking for sex. Is a good thing. Not good for our marriage - because I will never be happy with our marriage while the lack of sex continues. But good for not using her. Good for not pressuring her. Good for not allowing my objectification of her to drive my behavior.

I am afraid. I do not have the courage to become a man she would be attracted to. That would be the best answer. Talk honestly. Share our feelings. Use her lack of attraction to motivate me to become a better man. I am never going to do that. I am too afraid / pessimistic. I am always going to choose to stay how I am. Weak. Fearful. I am never going to get to the place where we could share our true selves and she would find me sexually attractive. Given that. We cannot aim for a satisfying marriage. We can only aim for the least amount of pain.

Which is why I am still in the same place 12 years after starting MC and 7 years after arriving here. I know what I would have to do to actually resolve our problem. Become a man. And I am not going to do it. Because I fear I can't. And trying and failing would be even more crushing than rationalizing to myself that she should appreciate what I have to offer anyway. Even though deep down I know she shouldn't.

When you can see it coming, duck!