I read this quote on this site about when to tell your spouse you have a problem:
My experience with couples agrees with the results of this study. In successful marriages, spouses expect to change to accommodate each other's needs, so when a spouse registers a complaint, it's a signal for action. In failed marriages, on the other hand, spouses expect to be accepted as they are, without change. A complaint is interpreted as an unwillingness to love unconditionally, a failure of the complaining spouse. So instead of adjusting to the complaint, the defense is offered, "if you really loved me, you would not try to change me. You would let me continue to do whatever it is I'm doing."
I have been dealing with this dynamic for the last year -- I expect to change to meet my W's needs, but she expects to be accepted "as is". What do I do in this scenario?
I have explained to my W what I need to put deposits in my "love bank" -- my love language is "words of affirmation", I also like physical touch. I expect to have a mutually rewarding sex life. I struggle with whether my expectations are too high, or if I'm overly needy or codependent, but in many discussions with others and through therapy, I don't believe they are, I believe my expectations are reasonable.
My W says that providing "words of affirmation" makes her feel uncomfortable, so she's not going to do it. She said she's willing to engage in sex for my benefit, but can't be expected to enjoy it herself, and is not interested in working on it. She does not enjoy kissing. She says that she loves me, likes being married to me, but just wants to be accepted "as is", to have nothing expected from her, and to have me treat anything she provides as a gift.
I've been trying to lower my expectations and accept this situation for several months now, but it's not working, I'm dissatisfied with the relationship. We have three young kids, a great financial situation, and I do love my wife and want to avoid divorce. I'm just not sure what to do with this situation. I've explained in a non-threatening, non-demanding way exactly what I need, I've confirmed that she understands it, yet she has made it clear she's not willing to meet my needs.
What do I do?