CWMI, Bitbucket, and Prisca,

Thanks for taking the time to help out -- I do appreciate it! I was asked for divorce just after July 4th last year. We started reconciling in August. Although I'm a newbie on this board, I'm not a newbie overall -- I've been at this for 10 months and have done TONS of reading, research, telephone coaching, and therapy. The only reason I point that out is that I don't want anyone to get frustrated if I keep saying "tried that". My full history is on the DivorceBusting forums if anyone is interested.

I'm here because I believe I'm stuck in a Pursuer/Distancer cycle that is not getting better. I know one of you asked me to drop the non-Marriage Builders jargon, but I have found it most powerful to draw from all sources to try to understand the best way forward, and that dynamic is the one that resonated with my situation the most.

CWMI, I will go through the recreational inventory. Yes, in the past I have made the mistake of being too aggressive when doing things together, but I'm well beyond that now (I'm in my 40's). I'm happy to go for family bike rides and cruise along slowly. Although I'm an aggressive skier, I taught all 3 of our kids to ski and spent hours snowplowing with them. We also go boating, we had a nice bowrider and my wife went out twice because she doesn't like to get splashed. I had a sailboat and she wouldn't go out at all -- she's tough. Believe me, the recreational activities is not for lack of trying, I'm willing to do whatever she wants. I didn't used to like going for a walk, but she did that for a little while, and I joined her and got to like it too, now I'm the only one that does it.

Bitbucket, those two quotes DO square because it's a matter of degrees. She likes to connect 3x per week. That's different than not wanting to connect at all. If I do 2x per week, she's not happy and wants more connection. If I do 4x, it's too much. Those aren't hard and fast rules, sometimes she wants more, sometimes less, but that's the general average and the "stated preference".

Prisca, I think the natural response for someone on the receiving end of a divorce request / infidelity is to overdo the pursuit, and I was certainly guilty of that. In the end, it made my wife feel very guilty because she was not reciprocating. It made her feel inadequate and not good enough. That's why I backed off. I haven't backed off completely, but the volume of my overtures was not helping. My attitude is not "I can't do it, she won't let me" (I understand how you got that impression). Instead, it's "I can do it, but it doesn't seem to be helping".

Now I understand that people resist change, and that any time you start acting differently things get worse before they get better. Often you'll interpret the resistance to change itself as being a resistance to your new efforts and will back off before you've given them a chance to work. I get that, and I have endured lots of worse before better. Some things did eventually get better, others did not, they truly got worse. One of the things that truly got worse was continually trying to force-feed the love bank.

I went to a few marriage counselors. The last one I worked with and finally got W to come along said that W does not feel "safe" in the relationship, in that she feels that nothing she does is good enough, that whatever expectations she satisfies, there will always be another one there to take it's place -- therefore, what's the point in trying?

He told me one-on-one that when I pursue, I exacerbate this feeling, because pursuit implies some expectation of reciprocation in one form or another.

I have noticed that when things are going well, W will find some reason to get upset to gain some distance -- some of these reasons she comes up with are just crazy making.

I do really hope that this site will give me some new approaches. I have been making nearly constant love bank deposits -- although I've backed way off on the rate, I'm still doing it, and I've been doing my very best to minimize withdrawals.

The confusion I have is that this "earning love through pursuit" kind of sounds like being the nerdy kid who thinks that buying enough flowers for the pretty girl will eventually earn her love, when in fact I don't believe that ever works.