That's the most on-target assessment of my sitch that I've read in a long time. I was very excited to read it, because it's been so hard to find people who understand what this looks like. The advice I've been getting (no only on this site) has covered the spectrum of "pursue more", "distance more", "walk away" and "be more patient". It's so all over the place and often contradictory that it's made me very skeptical about following any advice, and I've been desperately looking for someone who has walked *this* path before who could share their experiences, so thank you so much for that.

I did read your sitch, and the parallels are striking, other than the fact that your W was willing to read this site with you, to do the worksheets, and to engage to try to meet your needs eventually. How long did it take you to get there? I assume there was some period of time when your W would not engage with you. How did you move from non-engagement to engagement on her behalf?

WRT your post:

Originally Posted by BWS71
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.

Yes, this is where we are.

Originally Posted by BWS71
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.

I have and the parallels are striking.

Originally Posted by BWS71
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?

Excellent observation! That really got me to think. OK, here are the top ten needs and my take:

> Affection: She doesn't seem to need much of this, it seems to make her uncomfortable in more than small doses.

> Sexual Fulfillment: Doesn't even chart, she's not that interested and claims she never has been with anybody

> Conversation: Limited, sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends how she's feeling. She doesn't like conversation two days in a row unless something significant has happened to talk about.

> Recreational Companionship: My inclination is "no" because she doesn't really enjoy any recreational activities, but to be fair maybe we haven't come across one she likes, and if we did, maybe it would fill a need. Let's put a bookmark on this one for now.

> Honesty and Openness: This makes her very uncomfortable -- she doesn't like to be open or vulnerable with anybody. My nature is to be open and honest, so she's going to get this from me whether she needs it or not. If it's a primary need I'm going to assume it's filled.

> Physical Attractiveness: I wouldn't put this as a top need for her. There's obviously a threshold that's important to her, but it wouldn't be the first thing that would draw her in.

> Financial Support: No, this has never been at risk or in question, and she's fully capable of supporting herself, it's not something she seems to seek or value, or the absence of issues here mask it's importance. Either way it's covered.

> Domestic Support: Yes and no, but not a primary. She creates clutter but hates it, so she definitely likes it if my areas are not cluttered, but if I start to clean up her clutter she gets angry and feels guilty. I'm happy to do the dishes but when she catches me doing it she gets very insistent that I stop -- not because I do it poorly, but because "I shouldn't have to do that". I've gone around the circle of "neither of us should have to do it, but they have to get done and I don't mind", but that just seemed to antagonize her, so I do them when I can and otherwise let her do it. I have observed that if she believes I'm contributing 51% around the house, she gets upset. We both feel that the other person does more than we do, which is interesting.

> Family Commitment: She feels I'm a great father, and we're very aligned on our parenting, we do this really really well together. If this is a top need it's met, but I also don't think this is a top need, I think it's a baseline requirement for her, but once the standard is met, more doesn't matter.

> Admiration: You may be on to something here now that I think about it. Compliments drive her crazy. Praise makes her angry, so I had assumed that this was something to stay away from. Maybe I'm not complimenting the right things, or not phrasing the compliments in the right way. I can already anticipate that this will be a challenge not to lay it on too thick if it seems to have an impact. A need for admiration would make sense given her parents' personalities, pride she takes in her job, etc., but if she thinks I'm blowing smoke she's going to be pissed. I think if I can figure this one out and how to do it the right way you may be onto something. I believe she feels competitive with me in some areas, and that would also support a need for admiration. I will give this LOTS of thought and see what I can come up with.

This was definitely a "lightbulb inducing moment" and I thank you for that!

Originally Posted by BWS71
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.

Let's assume you're 100% spot on, because I really believe you may be. What does this look like? How do you provide this security and acceptance without using praise or seeming disingenuous? How do you meet this need? Specifically what are you doing / saying / not doing / not saying to meet this need the way your W needs it to be met?

Originally Posted by BWS71
Affirmation is actually a better word for her than admiration.

Per my questions above, how do you deliver that affirmation? I assume you do it differently now than when you started -- how did you do it initially, and how did it progress?

Originally Posted by BWS71
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.

Yes, I do see how that could be the case.

Originally Posted by BWS71
(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.)

I'm not that sensitive. Please share!

Originally Posted by BWS71
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.

Right, but I don't think I can minimize the withdrawals if she's making things up and assigning them to me. Half the time I don't even know that she's doing it. Asking something as simple as "did you have a good day?" or "can you take the kids to school this morning?" can set her off. I think the better way to combat this is to try to provide the affirmation versus trying to negate the imagined criticism. If she's getting the affirmation, she'll have no reason to invent the criticism because the two would be at odds.

Originally Posted by BWS71
Along these lines, if you being �super husband� actually makes your wife feel badly � listen to this feedback. Maybe less is more, you know?

Yes, I do know exactly, I've been swinging the pendulum -- super husband, withdrawn husband, slightly less super husband, slightly less withdrawn husband. I've been probing and trying to find a comfort zone. Mind you this isn't whip-saw one day one thing and the next day another, it's been gradual over time, like slowly turning a dial to try to optimize your reception. I just haven't found that it matters where I am on that spectrum.

Originally Posted by BWS71
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.*

Yes, I hear you there, that makes sense. How do I communicate my needs in a way that she can understand and would be interested in working on with me? I assume for now, I shouldn't talk about my needs at all and focus on figuring out if affirmation/admiration is the key for her. I can do that. That will be tricky, because if I deliver it slightly wrong it's going to make her feel bad/angry.

Originally Posted by BWS71
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?

I don't know what I would look for here. Can you elaborate? How would she extend herself, and how would I be totally and completely satisfied with it? Am I acting as if I'm completely satisfied, or am I really completely satisfied? In order to have her extend herself within her comfort zone, I assume we're going to have to have a conversation about it, and that conversation to her is going to sound like "I want you to do more to meet my needs" which we agree is a big love buster, so how does this cycle begin? On the DB boards there's a common analogy that trying to get your spouse out of the fog is like trying to hand-feed a squirrel. That's a bit what this feels like.

Originally Posted by BWS71
Truly brainstorm, negotiate and experiment and find a middle place where neither of your are left the loser.

I need help here. How does this brainstorming begin? What's the overture that leads up to it? Give me an example of what one of my suggestions would be.

Originally Posted by BWS71
I don�t think you�ve found that place yet. Up until now either she is over extended or you are unfulfilled.

Yes, or both are happening the same time. She seems to have a lot of fear of being over extended and wants to stay far away from that possibility. What can I do to make that less threatening?

Originally Posted by BWS71
Also, if your wife is depressed, remember her resources may truly be limited when it comes to meeting other people�s needs.

That would suggest there's nothing I can do, and that she'll never meet my needs. What am I supposed to do with that? Let's pretend that all the stuff we're discussing above is perfectly executed by me (remember we're pretending) and still has no impact. In that case, maybe she just doesn't have the resources. What then? I'm not resigned to that yet, but I'm curious what you have to say about it.

Originally Posted by BWS71
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.

I believe in my marriage too, otherwise I wouldn't have put myself through this hell. When I found out she cheated I would have walked -- but I believe there's something here worth saving. I believe we're good for each other, and we can be great.

Originally Posted by BWS71
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.

I believe it to, my wife does not. My wife believes that this is "our dynamic" and will always be. I believe that if we discuss it, work on it, and experiment we'll find our way through it. I would like her take my hand and take that journey with me.

Thanks BWS71, that's the best thing I've read in a long time -- a long time -- and you've given me some fresh hope.