I want to say I respect your proactive and thoughtful response to what is a difficult situation � for both you and your wife. It seems clear you both want the same thing � a happy marriage. It so happens that some of your needs and her needs are at odds with each other. Of course this is not uncommon � but it can be extremely frustrating.

You�ve gotten a lot of good advice. I�m going to limit my comments to what I feel may be my unique perspective.

My wife and I have struggled with a very similar dynamic � with me being the pursuer who wants more, she claiming to be quite happy with the status quo and hurt that I could not be just as satisfied. She often expressed similar frustrations as your wife � that my needs were unmeetable and she was tired of feeling not good enough. She loved me �just the way I was� and only wanted the same in return.

Just like your marriage, this dysfunctional dynamic in my marriage lead my wife to a brief EA and a divorce request after about 11 years of marriage. You can read my story if you�re interested.

You both have done and are doing many things right. And you both have made great progress! Give yourself and her some serious credit for this. Many other marriages have failed under the challenges you�ve described. But you still have some work to go, and this is why you�re here.

Here are some suggestions and observations that may be helpful.

I wonder if either of you really understand your wife�s needs. For me 5LL�s �Quality Time� is too vague. Keep your mind open to the possibility that you are missing the mark with �Quality Time.� �especially since she wants so little of it. (?) This does not sound like her primary emotional need to me.
?? - Using Harley�s 10 needs, what do you think are your wife�s top 2?

I wonder if your W has a much more significant need for admiration than you or she realizes. My wife�s #1 need is admiration but it took us literally 3 years of trial and error for us to figure this out. It took so long because my wife was very out of touch with her own needs and because Harley�s description didn�t fit her (he describes this need in a way that is geared more towards men.) My wife doesn�t necessarily like praise � in fact this makes her uncomfortable � but she *craves* the security of knowing she is accepted and appreciated and not being judged or criticized. Affirmation is actually a better word for her than admiration.

Do you think this could be true for your wife? Her sensitivity to criticism seems like a red flag for this. If you think of admiration as being one of her top needs you can see how you are �failing� horribly at giving what your wife needs most desperately. (allow me to clarify �failing� if this sounds critical.) (If you think this may be the case I have some things that my W and I have done that have made a big difference for us in this area.)

Also, consider that maybe it is not deposits that you need to increase, but withdrawals you need to minimize. I get it that your wife may see/hear criticism from you that isn�t really there� but if she hears/sees it � *it is real for her* and has the effect of a major withdrawal from her love bank. No, you don�t �own� her negative distortion of your judgment neutral words and actions � but you can�t ignore the real impact of imagined disapproval on someone who craves the security of approval.

Along these lines, if you being �super husband� actually makes your wife feel badly � listen to this feedback. Maybe less is more, you know?

When your wife says she can�t meet your needs � *accept her statement as absolute truth about her internal world.* By inadvertently sending the message �No, you actually could meet my needs if you were motivated enough but you just won�t.� you are conveying a major invalidation. I believe your wife when she says she can�t meet your needs *AS SHE HAS UNDERSTOOD THEM.*

What you both need is more experience with true success. This would be where she extends herself within her comfort zone AND you are totally and completely satisfied. Can you get more creative in this way? Truly brainstorm, negotiate and experiment and find a middle place where neither of your are left the loser. I don�t think you�ve found that place yet. Up until now either she is over extended or you are unfulfilled.

Also, if your wife is depressed, remember her resources may truly be limited when it comes to meeting other people�s needs. I know when I come home wasted from a long day at work I sometimes have very little to give to my wife. Funny� I may have energy to facilitate the meeting of my own needs, but I can�t passionately engage in meeting her needs. I simply don�t have the emotional resources at that time. If I try out of obligation, it doesn�t do anything good for either of our love banks.

I�m interested in how things go for you. You sound very open minded. Based on what you�ve described I believe in your marriage. You guys don�t fit nicely in to any paradigm. I appreciate that there are layers and complicating factors that make the equation less simple than 1+1. But I also believe in Harley�s stuff � when properly understood and applied and appropriately customized to the individuals involved.

PS � again on the topic of lowering expectations � I again don�t think this is a winning strategy. Your wife doesn�t want to be �good enough� � though she may think �good enough� is better than feeling inadequate, what she really craves is your complete and total satisfaction � being in love. The road to that place may seem impassable to both of you right now � but I believe it is a reachable and worthy goal.

Last edited by BWS71; 06/07/12 07:52 PM.