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Originally Posted By: Accuray

This made me laugh!


This is disrespectful, I'm trying to help.

Originally Posted By: Accuray

I've been doing nothing but asking questions and really listening for almost a year. I just don't get responses. I either get silence, or "that's the way it is".


Okay, then observe her behavior and see what she likes to do. If she enjoys books, get her a book or read one together. If she enjoys shopping, shop with her, buy her a necklace, etc. What does she enjoy about work? Could you experiment with some safe, easy things like buying her flowers, doing more housework than normal, writing her a list of 10 things you love about her, making a pretty photo of her your phone wallpaper, etc?

Originally Posted By: Accuray

According to the professionals I've consulted, it's my fault only if that's true, because I'm either crazy demanding, never satisfied, or have unreasonable expectations. The consensus of the IC's and MC's I've visited is that this is not the case, that this is my W's issue, and I can't own it.


Dr. Harley says that your spouses demands will decrease dramatically once you fix just a few things, really start meeting their emotional needs, and they fall back in love. People are often labeled as crazy or controlling when the couple hasn't figure out how to meet ENs and avoid LBs.

Originally Posted By: Accuray

If you believe it's my fault, that's ok with me.


If feels like you are disregarding my comment without trying to understand why I made it. Is that what you do with your wife?

My suggestion would be to worry less about your needs at all for a while. Like other posters have said, this tends to be more tolerable for men. Instead, focus on making her happy knowing that the end result will be that she will be more interested in making you happy.

Originally Posted By: Accuray

I know my W is hyper-sensitive to criticism


That's a DJ. By the way, as I mentioned before, my husband commented that I criticized him a lot and Steve told me that people who say that often have admiration as their number 1 emotional need, even if they don't say it is - the two are opposites. Perhaps try some admiration to meet her needs.

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Markos is dead on when he said to quit giving her theory and engage in practice instead.

If my husband said to me for 10 months, "I would like to have intimate conversation," I would think he had a marble loose (okay, I actually would probably start talking entirely inappropriately, but that's me...not your wife).

However, if he started bringing up interesting topics and revealing things about himself, I would find him interesting...do you see a difference there?

Your wife is withdrawn, so she probably won't engage a whole lot at first, but if you keep putting things out there and make her feel safe in responding, she is more likely to engage in the future. Fwiw, my H used to say he shouldn't have to have conversations with me because he talked to people all day already. I talked to him anyway, and quit pitching fits (or rolling eyes, or crossing arms, or saying what the heck is wrong with you?) and eventually he got interested in having conversations with me. Now we often spend entire evenings on the deck having intimate conversations about all sorts of things.

Also fwiw, once he stopped being hung up on a couple of activites that I don't enjoy and embraced a couple that we both do, I never ever hear him gripe about not doing those things anymore. Not even missed. Not to my knowledge, anyway, and he would trot them out as proof of my horribleness during many conflicts before. And he would have said (did say) that we share no common interests, until he stopped insisting that the things I don't like are the only things that mattered to him.

I had to matter to him before he could see beyond his narrow field of view.

I'm glad you're talking to Steve. Please listen to him. We worked with him as well.


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To be fair to Penni, you did say that your recreational interests include sailing and kayaking, which require boats. Sailboats and kayaks. I mentioned boating, but you did it first! smile


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Originally Posted By: CWMI
Markos is dead on when he said to quit giving her theory and engage in practice instead.

If my husband said to me for 10 months, "I would like to have intimate conversation," I would think he had a marble loose (okay, I actually would probably start talking entirely inappropriately, but that's me...not your wife).


Prisca would run screaming from the room.

Actually, she'd probably attempt violence, first.

Her number one need is intimate conversation, but if I approach it with a discussion of marriage builders theory, instead of just practicing it, it will activate a fight-or-flight response and terrify her to death.


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 17 years, who is a beautiful angel.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
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Originally Posted By: markos
Originally Posted By: CWMI
Markos is dead on when he said to quit giving her theory and engage in practice instead.

If my husband said to me for 10 months, "I would like to have intimate conversation," I would think he had a marble loose (okay, I actually would probably start talking entirely inappropriately, but that's me...not your wife).


Prisca would run screaming from the room.

Actually, she'd probably attempt violence, first.

Her number one need is intimate conversation, but if I approach it with a discussion of marriage builders theory, instead of just practicing it, it will activate a fight-or-flight response and terrify her to death.

He knows this because he tried it.

My answer was always "no" too. Women don't want to talk about talking. They want to talk.


Markos' Wife
FWW - EA
8 kids ...
What to do with an Angry Husband

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I hope Prisca is beyond violence,


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Originally Posted By: CWMI
I hope Prisca is beyond violence,


Not as much as I do! smile


If you are serious about saving your marriage, you can't get it all on this forum. You've got to listen to the Marriage Builders Radio show, every day. Install the app!

Married to my radiant trophy wife, Prisca, 17 years, who is a beautiful angel.
Attended Marriage Builders weekend in May 2010

If your wife is not on board with MB, some of my posts to other men might help you.
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Originally Posted By: Penni4YourThoughts
This is disrespectful, I'm trying to help.


I apologize, I also thought this was disrespectful:

Originally Posted By: Penni4YourThoughts
Stop being confused and start asking questions, really listening, and paying attention.


Why would you assume I haven't been asking questions, why would you assume I don't listen, and why would you assume I don't pay attention? It made me laugh because I've been focused on doing those things so intently for so long, I didn't mean to be dismissive. It's like I've been training for a marathon and you suggested maybe I should go out running once in a while -- the irony of that makes you laugh. Sorry it came across the wrong way.

Now that that's behind us... smile

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
Okay, then observe her behavior and see what she likes to do. If she enjoys books, get her a book or read one together.


Yes, I have done this -- good suggestion! I like reading historical non-fiction, and she likes reading women-oriented fiction. I have read several books with her so that we can discuss them together. I do enjoy this too and continue to do it, although I would like if she would read some of my picks as well.

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
If she enjoys shopping, shop with her, buy her a necklace, etc.


She does not like randomly receiving gifts. I was doing that but it seemed to be doing more harm than good. She travels for business, and when she would go I would put a short note in her bag with a gourmet chocolate bar or something similar. Over the winter our coffee maker broke (I don't drink coffee), and I was going out in the morning and getting her coffee from the shop nearby.

She didn't like it because it made her feel badly that she wasn't doing that type of thing for me, although I voiced no expectation and made no complaint in that regard. I do shop with her when she goes -- specifically I've tried to join her to go grocery shopping. I say "tried" because sometimes she goes on the way home from work without telling me.

I have observed what she likes to do -- here's the list:

She likes reading books
She likes watching TV
She likes talking to 1 girlfriend on the phone
She likes talking to her sister on the phone
Occasionally she likes to shop at the mall
Very occasionally she likes to go for a walk
She likes her job
She likes to meet her girlfriends out of a drink about 1x per month
She likes to go to church on Sunday

That's pretty much it.

Here's what I have done:

-- Spend as much UA with her as she will agree to
-- Create an environment of affection
-- Offer to engage in intimate conversation by putting myself out there first
-- Read the same book she's reading so we can discuss
-- Watch the TV shows she likes to watch a couple times a week
-- Make every effort to shop with her
-- Invite her for walks
-- Invite her to meet me out for a drink
-- Offer to make a drink at home once in a while
-- Join her at church (Neither of us used to go, then she started going, and I started joining her because it's become more important to her)

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
What does she enjoy about work?


She's good at what she does, I believe she enjoys the positive attention when she performs well. She also likes taking processes that are a mess, and making them run efficiently.

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
Could you experiment with some safe, easy things like buying her flowers, doing more housework than normal, writing her a list of 10 things you love about her, making a pretty photo of her your phone wallpaper, etc?


Yes, "The Five Love Languages" had quite an impact on me. Her primary LL is "Quality Time", but I decided to speak all 5 of them anyway. I believe that the 5LL book is closely related to Dr. Harley's "love bank" concept, although they call it a "love tank". In any case, their 5 LL's are "Physical Touch", "Words of Affirmation", "Acts of Service", "Receiving Gifts", and "Quality Time". Quality Time is like Dr. Harley's "UA" which is what she likes the most. The point of that book, although I'll bet you've read it, is that if you send on a channel that your spouse does not value the most, then you don't have the impact you think you're having.

In any case, I have been sending on all 5 channels anyway, although to Dr. Harley's point, I've been trying to "create an environment of affection" more than "physical touch" so that it does not get confused with admiration, although I do make a point of hugging her frequently.

Originally Posted By: Accuray

According to the professionals I've consulted, it's my fault only if that's true, because I'm either crazy demanding, never satisfied, or have unreasonable expectations. The consensus of the IC's and MC's I've visited is that this is not the case, that this is my W's issue, and I can't own it.


Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
Dr. Harley says that your spouses demands will decrease dramatically once you fix just a few things, really start meeting their emotional needs, and they fall back in love. People are often labeled as crazy or controlling when the couple hasn't figure out how to meet ENs and avoid LBs.


That's excellent feedback, and I get that. I know that's true of me as well -- even though I may now want improvement on three EN's, if she were to improve just one, the other two would become less important, I've seen that in action for me. Just to be clear, however, this wasn't about my W making demands, these comments were made about the fact that my W has a habit of turning anything I say into a complaint about her, no matter how innocuous it is. For instance, we were going to a dinner party. She dressed up for it and looked very nice. I told her she looked nice, and her response was "are you saying that all my friends don't dress well?"

That's the stuff that ONE of my MC's called "crazy making" and told me I couldn't own responses like that -- meaning that if I had never done anything to precipitate such a response, I should let it roll off me and not feel badly about it. Markos, the MC that made that remark to me in private, which you consider to be disrespectful, was not the "good" one I eventually landed on, who is the multiple book author. He's the one who said that W doesn't feel safe in the relationship due to my perceived expectations of having my ENs met.

Originally Posted By: Accuray

If you believe it's my fault, that's ok with me.


Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
If feels like you are disregarding my comment without trying to understand why I made it. Is that what you do with your wife?


No, I don't know you at all, and I was put off by your insinuating that I don't listen and don't pay attention. For all I know you could be very opinionated and hard-headed, and jump to conclusions with very little information to go on. (I'm not saying you are like that, I don't know you.) If you were like that, I wouldn't want to get into a back-and-forth with you over something that's not really going to help me or my marriage. Once again, I thought you may have been being disrespectful by jumping to conclusions and labeling me as wrong without much information to go on. Would you agree that saying "that's your fault" is pretty loaded language?

To be fair, you're really not that familiar with my situation, and how could you be? I've been posting on the DB forum for a year now, but just started posting here.

Style-wise, even your quoted question above is confrontational and argumentative, in my opinion. It can be read as "are you a jack@ss to your wife too?"

I believe you're trying to help, so I'm willing to engage with you. I'll try to be respectful, and to make sure I understand, and I hope you will too.

WRT my wife, I hold her in high regard, and respect her immensely. Therefore, no, I do not believe I'm dismissive. I'm looking for more intimacy, so I'm going to value opportunities to share information and to develop understanding with her. That's my opinion, and I obviously don't see myself from her perspective, but I've never had a complaint in our 15 years of marriage that I've been disrespectful or dismissive.

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
My suggestion would be to worry less about your needs at all for a while.


It's been 10 months -- how long is "a while"? I'm not trying to be argumentative or provocative, how long do I not worry about my EN's? 2 years? 3 years? The problem with putting your EN's in the back seat is that being on your own, or with someone else starts to look increasingly attractive because your love bank goes into the negative.

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
Like other posters have said, this tends to be more tolerable for men. Instead, focus on making her happy knowing that the end result will be that she will be more interested in making you happy.


Yes, I will try to stay the course. This is what I've been doing. I came here because I've been getting increasingly frustrated with the one-way street and was starting to feel like I couldn't take it anymore.

Originally Posted By: Accuray

I know my W is hyper-sensitive to criticism


Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts

That's a DJ. By the way, as I mentioned before, my husband commented that I criticized him a lot and Steve told me that people who say that often have admiration as their number 1 emotional need, even if they don't say it is - the two are opposites. Perhaps try some admiration to meet her needs.


Good stuff, I will try that. Physical admiration is a big non-starter for her and I know that, but I can do other forms.

Thanks Penni4Thoughts, sorry if I came across as disrespectful or dismissive. I felt you were coming after me a bit with limited information, so I was attempting to distance a bit until I get to know you.

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Originally Posted By: CWMI
Markos is dead on when he said to quit giving her theory and engage in practice instead.

If my husband said to me for 10 months, "I would like to have intimate conversation," I would think he had a marble loose (okay, I actually would probably start talking entirely inappropriately, but that's me...not your wife).


Ha ha, yes, if I phrased it that way it would come across as intimidating at best. I used that language here, because that's the language of the book. When I'm with my wife, I ask her how she's feeling, how her day went, etc., and I share how I'm feeling, how my day went, joys and sorrows, etc.

My observation is that I share feelings, she shares facts.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
However, if he started bringing up interesting topics and revealing things about himself, I would find him interesting...do you see a difference there?


Yes I do. The last time I was guilty of that was after reading the 5LL's with her, I did discuss my LL in theory terms. That was probably off-putting, didn't do me any good, so I've stayed away from that.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
Your wife is withdrawn, so she probably won't engage a whole lot at first, but if you keep putting things out there and make her feel safe in responding, she is more likely to engage in the future.


So it's been 10 months, how far away is the future? Months? Years? Is it possible she's not withdrawn, but is instead an emotionally unavailable person? I'm not saying she is, but is every spouse who is not engaged by definition in withdrawal, or can it be the case that their state is not temporary and just part of who they are?

Originally Posted By: CWMI
Fwiw, my H used to say he shouldn't have to have conversations with me because he talked to people all day already. I talked to him anyway, and quit pitching fits (or rolling eyes, or crossing arms, or saying what the heck is wrong with you?) and eventually he got interested in having conversations with me. Now we often spend entire evenings on the deck having intimate conversations about all sorts of things.


I want that too!

Originally Posted By: CWMI
Also fwiw, once he stopped being hung up on a couple of activites that I don't enjoy and embraced a couple that we both do, I never ever hear him gripe about not doing those things anymore. Not even missed. Not to my knowledge, anyway, and he would trot them out as proof of my horribleness during many conflicts before. And he would have said (did say) that we share no common interests, until he stopped insisting that the things I don't like are the only things that mattered to him.


If you didn't suggest any activities, and refused everything he suggested, what would he have done?

Originally Posted By: CWMI
I had to matter to him before he could see beyond his narrow field of view.

I'm glad you're talking to Steve. Please listen to him. We worked with him as well.


You bet I will. The telephone coach I used on the DB site definitely saved me from divorce when we were in crisis. It was the best money I ever spent -- much better than MC. I have not been shy about enlisting help, and I really feel I've left nothing on the table in terms of effort.

When my W asked me for divorce and I decided I wanted to save the marriage, I knew that I might not be successful, but I didn't want to look back with any regrets. I didn't want to say "if I had only done that one more thing", or "if I had only tried that one other approach". Instead, I decided that everything about me is on the table and subject for discussion and change. I'm not going to hold anything back. If I have to give up the activities I love the most, I'll do it, and I won't look back. I'm committed. After 10 months of working so hard on it, I was reaching burnout when I came to this site. I'm hoping that Steve can help me refuel my engines and get me going again in a new direction.

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I have no idea what he would have done if I didn't suggest activities. I imagine we would be divorced. I wasn't the withdrawn spouse, though, and neither are you. Fortunately, those of us "in it to win it" succeed far more often than we fail. It just takes a lot of work, not all of it pleasant.


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Accuray
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.

Youve gotten a lot of good advice. Im 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 youre 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 youve described. But you still have some work to go, and this is why youre here.

Here are some suggestions and observations that may be helpful.

I wonder if either of you really understand your wifes needs. For me 5LLs 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 Harleys 10 needs, what do you think are your wifes top 2?

I wonder if your W has a much more significant need for admiration than you or she realizes. My wifes #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 Harleys description didnt fit her (he describes this need in a way that is geared more towards men.) My wife doesnt 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 isnt 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 dont own her negative distortion of your judgment neutral words and actions but you cant 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 cant 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 wont. you are conveying a major invalidation. I believe your wife when she says she cant 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 dont think youve 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 peoples 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 cant passionately engage in meeting her needs. I simply dont have the emotional resources at that time. If I try out of obligation, it doesnt do anything good for either of our love banks.


Im interested in how things go for you. You sound very open minded. Based on what youve described I believe in your marriage. You guys dont 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 Harleys stuff when properly understood and applied and appropriately customized to the individuals involved.

PS again on the topic of lowering expectations I again dont think this is a winning strategy. Your wife doesnt 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.


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BWS71,

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 youre interested.


I have and the parallels are striking.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
I wonder if either of you really understand your wifes needs. For me 5LLs 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 Harleys 10 needs, what do you think are your wifes 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 wifes #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 Harleys description didnt fit her (he describes this need in a way that is geared more towards men.) My wife doesnt 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 isnt 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 dont own her negative distortion of your judgment neutral words and actions but you cant 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 cant 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 wont. you are conveying a major invalidation. I believe your wife when she says she cant 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 dont think youve 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 peoples 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
Im interested in how things go for you. You sound very open minded. Based on what youve described I believe in your marriage. You guys dont 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 Harleys 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 dont think this is a winning strategy. Your wife doesnt 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.

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Accuray - glad to have been helpful. I'll process your post and hope to get back to you in a day or two.

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Alright Accuray, Ive been pondering on your situation for a few days now trying to find the areas of overlap between our experiences, where my advice/insight will be most helpful. To set expectations (for both of us) lets recognize that no two marriage are the same. Some of what I have to offer may be spot on. Some will be off the mark. Only you will know how best to apply the advice that follows. But, you seem to be in the right frame of mind for inspiration. I believe you will know.

First, let me start by saying dont be too hasty. Im glad you feel we may have found a new way of looking at your situation which may prompt new beliefs, behaviors and outcomes for you and your wife. I believe youre right but you are still very much in the planning phase of your new approach. I would wait until you have a firmer grasp on what youre hoping to accomplish and how youre going to accomplish it before implementing or suggesting any major changes in your relationship. I think trying to improve our marriages with the wrong approach then failing - can sometimes be WORSE than doing nothing at all. My wife and I had major setbacks due to misunderstanding and mis-applying MB principles. You are still going over the blueprints of your marriage building project.

Posting on the forum and getting feedback and reading Harleys books are great ways to continue to develop your plan. Besides reading His Needs, Her Needs I also *strongly* recommend you get and read Harleys Fall In Love, Stay In Love and LoveBusters. I know youve read a lot of great marriage books so why read a few more? I do believe Harley offers a uniquely comprehensive strategy to marriage building that is different enough from what youve already read that reading his books will absolutely be worth your while. It is more than the LoveBank. It is much much more than His Needs, Her Needs. The website is good but nowhere near a replacement for his books. Im not sure Id even attempt any major changes in your marriage until youve read all three. After reading them youre going to have a much clearer vision of the big picture and what your new and amazing marriage is going to look like. (Begin with the end in mind) Failing to do this and gain this vision, you will have an incomplete understanding of the process and will likely fail.

Now on to your post.

So we agree that understanding your wifes ENs is a bit of a barrier. It was the same way for my W and I and it was MADDENING for me. I often caught myself thinking Ugh! Why cant I be married to a normal woman who at least HAS emotional needs? Give me something I can work with! Being out of touch with ones own needs is completely foreign to me. *I* certainly have no problem identifying what I want/need in our marriage. But I felt impotent to make any real change in my wifes lovebank, except to avoid withdrawals, since she herself didnt really know what she needed. Not surprisingly this did not produce romantic love for her but it was the best we could do.

Over a long period of time my wife did come to the realization that her most important EN was in fact admiration not the same kind as Harley describes (which threw us off) but still admiration. I will tell you that having discovered this fact has been a huge breakthrough. My wife now experiences the true fulfillment youd expect when someone is having their most important ENs met. I never thought it would happen. It is fascinating to me to see these principles in action, even under atypical conditions.

So how did we get there? Please realize it took a lot of time and persistent but not overly burdensome effort. By reading my story it may sound like once we got our act together everything was easy. That would be a serious oversimplification. We still had major blow ups and rough spots years after our initial crisis. By no means is my wife a big fan of focused marriage building where we sit down and give each other critiques. Yes, there was a honeymoon phase where she read books and filled out questionnaires. But there were also periods where doing so felt unsafe and exhausting for her. We still take a much less direct approach than might be my ideal but we have found that sweet spot where we both get what we need with minimal withdrawals. Id say we achieved true safety at about the three year mark, just to put things in to perspective. Im not saying we were miserable for three years, far from it but we still had major re-programming to do for quite some time after D day.

Ok, so what about you? What to do next? How do you make some more progress?

I am reluctant to offer what may seem like quick fix advice. Dont forget what I suggested about an adequate planning phase, but I do want to offer a few suggestions.

OBJECTIVE 1 MEET YOUR WIFES ENS, AVOID LBS.

Admiration seems like a top contender for your wifes EN. To fill my wifes need for admiration we have check-in sessions, every night if needed. We spend a few minutes telling the other person what weve appreciated about them that day. Maybe you could just start this. Right before bed, or some other time that seemed right share with her what you appreciated about her that day. Be honest but also try to focus on the things that SHE values most. For example, Ill tell my wife I appreciated how she looked today, which is nice but that isnt where the money is at. When I express appreciation for things *she values*, I know it registers more strongly for her. Dont be effusive. Dont go overboard. Pick the most high value things but MEAN IT.

Acuray - here is a crucial key maybe one of the most important things I can say to you To truly fulfill your wifes need for admiration, you need to truly admire her. The only effective way for you to show affirmation and admiration to your wife, the kind of deep, safe and meaningful affirmation she is craving, IS FOR YOU TO FEEL IT, deeply and genuinely. I dont think there is any other way. Youre wife is KEENLY attuned to your satisfaction with her as your wife maybe too attuned. No subtle negative judgment will escape her. You have to get to the point where you ACTUALLY feel the satisfaction she wants to see. I dont mean superficial admiration I mean deeply cherished. And for you to feel this adoration she needs to effectively meet your needs. Yes, I see the conundrum. Ill address this later.


Now there is another interesting part of these admiration sessions with my wife. During these check-ins we will also take turns sharing what we appreciated about OURSELVES that day. Like I was proud of how I handled X situation or I felt good about getting to the gym. Or whatever. I never would have thought this up cuz I dont need admiration. But sharing positive reflections about ourselves is especially impactful for my wife. Interesting.

Could you try something like that? You will likely need to lead for a while. Do you make it part of some grand Marriage Building Project? Probably not. Keep it simple. Maybe just give her some positive feedback then ask her to share some positive reflections about herself (not you.)

(I have some theories on why women like our wives are out of touch with their need for admiration, why they dont like compliments etc. I decided to leave them out for now, glad to discuss further if you think it would be helpful.)

Other Needs?

I would also consider your wife may need Openness/Honesty and or Affection more (and differently) than you or she realizes. I hear you say that so far these things have made her uncomfortable (a common theme) but I wonder if the problem is the approach, not the target. Maybe in the past openness and honesty has not been safe for her yet it still may be just what she needs HER version of openness and honesty. To be totally transparent and yet loved all the same. Dont mistake her discomfort for disinterest. By fleeing openness/honesty she may be trying to protect herself from disappointment in the areas that she actually needs most. Also, openness and honesty is about more than airing your grievances =)

As to affection, do you feel you have adequately separated sex and affection? If the two are tied (even if just in her mind,) you need to sever that tie. I have more thoughts on this if you feel there may be something there. Remember, affection is not just physical.

OBJECTIVE 2 HELP YOUR WIFE MEET YOUR NEEDS

I heard you say that maybe youll focus on your wifes needs again for a while until the time is right to ask her to start doing more of the things that make you feel loved and cared for. Interestingly I dont think subverting your needs is the right approach. In fact, I think your wife wants desperately to know you are truly satisfied with her as a wife. The problem is, you cannot give this to her. You cannot produce it. It is impossible. Yes, you can be nice, and patient and avoid complaining these are behaviors. But you cannot be satisfied. Satisfaction with her as your wife results from your spontaneous response to her behavior not yours. Silent dissatisfaction does not represent what both of you want true, deep satisfaction. You want to feel it. She wants to know you feel it.

This is really hard for people like my wife and maybe yours to understand. They may not realize that their biggest fear (criticism) is actually the key to getting what *they* want from people - admiration. The paradox is maddening. You cannot satisfy someone in a long term relationship without opening yourself up to, receiving and adjusting to their corrective feedback. If criticism is poisonous to you, youll never experience the lasting satisfaction of others.

Sooo, I recommend, along with giving better affirmation/admiration for your wife, you pick the one behavior that would make the most difference to you and tell your wife It would mean a lot to me if you would do X. Is there a way that you could enthusiastically do X? If the answer is No, this is where negotiation starts. Try not to give up until you find a solution that it mutually satisfying. You may need to experiment. You may need to adjust. One or both of you will likely find they are satisfied/comfortable with more/less than they imagined/feared. But focus on this one, high value behavior.

The secondary msg is help your wife identify and do *less* of what doesnt matter to you. She (like all of us) has limited resources. She may be doing too much of what doesnt really matter to you (likely thinking it DOES matter to you.) When you ask her to do something shes not doing, she understandably may say I cant do more. But if you ask her to do different she may have a more favorable response. I dont know what low yield effort of hers that could be eliminated is, but I bet you can think of a few. Whatever different thing you ask her *add* to her to do list, she should take something else of lesser value *off* her to do list.

What do you you think? I realize your sitch is complicated and she doesnt like to do some of the things you feel you need her to do. But pick one, just one and come to a happy middle ground. The joy you will both feel as your need for X and her need for approval are met will be a great motivator. Maybe we can break out of our dynamic!

Im interested in your thoughts. Your feedback may help me put a finer point on any future advice.


A few final questions. Im mostly just curious. You dont need to go in to exhaustive detail.

Can you tell me more about how your wife gets angry/uncomfortable with complements? How about openness/honesty and affection?

Did your wife have problems with affection, honesty/openness, affection or sex during the early parts of your marriage?
What was your wifes main complaint when she asked for a divorce?

What do you think your wife was getting from her EA that was so meaningful and powerful that it was able to threaten her marriage?

How old were you two when you met? How long did you date? What was her relationship experience before she met you?

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Excellent analysis, BWS71! The only thing I can think to add is the importance of 15+ hours of undivided attention time per week. <------this is the magic key to this program. This program does not work without this step. In fact, when Dr Harley was in private practice, he would refuse to work with couples who would not commit to the 15 hours per week.

That is because this program does not work without it. It takes 15 hours to MAINTAIN romantic love and 20-25 to create romantic love. This time should devoted to meeting the top 4 intimate emotional needs of conversation, affection, recreational companionship and sexual fulfillment. The focus is on these 4 needs because these will give you the biggest bang for your buck and fill the love bank the fastest. Ideally, this time should be spent out of the house in 4 - 4 hour blocks on dates. The dates should be scheduled at a time when you have good energy, not late at night when you are exhausted.

When we went through the MB program, this is one of the first steps we took. We were taught to sit down and schedule the next week's activities by writing out times, dates, etc. It is harder to put off something that has been scheduled.

This should be your FIRST focus becuase you will find all of your efforts will reap very minimal return if you are not doing this. That will lead to discouragement. I cannot emphasize the importance of this step, because this program DOES NOT WORK WITHOUT IT!

You will notice a marked and dramatic difference in about 8 weeks if you do this.

Here are some of Harley's articles about it:

The Policy of Undivided Attention

Caring for Children Means Caring for Each Other

I emphasize this critical step, because many make the mistake of cutting this step and then wonder why their marriage does not improve. They get discouraged and conclude the program doesn't work. Well, it doesn't work without this step! If your marriage is not improving within 8 weeks, I would go back and take a hard look at the quality of your UA time.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

Exposure 101


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A,

I wanted to share a few other suggestions for expressing admiration to someone who doesn't like direct compliments.

The first would be to make it less directly about her. Make it about the thing she did or how it impacts you. For example:

Instead of "You are a good cook" say, "This meal is delicious"
Instead of "You look beautiful" say, "I don't know if I will be able to keep my hands off of you"
Instead of "Thank you for cleaning up" say, "The kitchen looks great"

Another strategy to make compliments come across more sincere is to make them specific. If you say something vague it is more likely to sound like blowing smoke but if you talk about something specific, it will be easier for her to agree that it was good and accept the compliment. For example:

Instead of "You're sexy" say, "I love how that dress hugs your bottom"
Instead of "Tonight was fun" say "I really like how much we laugh when we spend an evening out together"

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Good Stuff Penni4Thoughts, I love specific examples! I will put those into practice, although I have to stay well clear of comments about how she looks, that's a big love buster for her.

BWS71:

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Besides reading His Needs, Her Needs I also *strongly* recommend you get and read Harleys Fall In Love, Stay In Love and LoveBusters.


Will do

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Over a long period of time my wife did come to the realization that her most important EN was in fact admiration not the same kind as Harley describes (which threw us off) but still admiration.


How did she realize that? To even be thinking about it she must have agreed to work with you on the MB program, right? At what point did it become a joint effort, and how did you get her there?

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Yes, there was a honeymoon phase where she read books and filled out questionnaires. But there were also periods where doing so felt unsafe and exhausting for her.


Did she do it anyway, or did she refuse? What was her motivation for going down this path with you? Was there a positive reward that she wanted, or negative consequences she wanted to avoid?

Originally Posted By: BWS71
OBJECTIVE 1 MEET YOUR WIFES ENS, AVOID LBS.

Admiration seems like a top contender for your wifes EN. To fill my wifes need for admiration we have check-in sessions, every night if needed. We spend a few minutes telling the other person what weve appreciated about them that day. Maybe you could just start this. Right before bed, or some other time that seemed right share with her what you appreciated about her that day. Be honest but also try to focus on the things that SHE values most. For example, Ill tell my wife I appreciated how she looked today, which is nice but that isnt where the money is at. When I express appreciation for things *she values*, I know it registers more strongly for her. Dont be effusive. Dont go overboard. Pick the most high value things but MEAN IT.


Got it. It's been frustrating for me in the past when I would share these things and be met by silence, but I'll keep in mind that it's a stepping stone on a long journey.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Accuray - here is a crucial key maybe one of the most important things I can say to you To truly fulfill your wifes need for admiration, you need to truly admire her. The only effective way for you to show affirmation and admiration to your wife, the kind of deep, safe and meaningful affirmation she is craving, IS FOR YOU TO FEEL IT, deeply and genuinely. I dont think there is any other way. Youre wife is KEENLY attuned to your satisfaction with her as your wife maybe too attuned. No subtle negative judgment will escape her. You have to get to the point where you ACTUALLY feel the satisfaction she wants to see. I dont mean superficial admiration I mean deeply cherished. And for you to feel this adoration she needs to effectively meet your needs. Yes, I see the conundrum. Ill address this later.


Conundrum indeed! "Fake it till you make it" doesn't work in this context.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Now there is another interesting part of these admiration sessions with my wife. During these check-ins we will also take turns sharing what we appreciated about OURSELVES that day. Like I was proud of how I handled X situation or I felt good about getting to the gym. Or whatever. I never would have thought this up cuz I dont need admiration. But sharing positive reflections about ourselves is especially impactful for my wife. Interesting.


I will try this as well, I'm guessing I'm going to be alone in this exercise for a while, but I'll figure it out.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
(I have some theories on why women like our wives are out of touch with their need for admiration, why they dont like compliments etc. I decided to leave them out for now, glad to discuss further if you think it would be helpful.)


Please share, I really like to understand the "why's"

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Other Needs?

I would also consider your wife may need Openness/Honesty and or Affection more (and differently) than you or she realizes. I hear you say that so far these things have made her uncomfortable (a common theme) but I wonder if the problem is the approach, not the target. Maybe in the past openness and honesty has not been safe for her yet it still may be just what she needs HER version of openness and honesty. To be totally transparent and yet loved all the same. Dont mistake her discomfort for disinterest. By fleeing openness/honesty she may be trying to protect herself from disappointment in the areas that she actually needs most. Also, openness and honesty is about more than airing your grievances =)


Of course, I feel that openness and honesty is making yourself truly vulnerable, and not worrying about being judged by your spouse, because "it is what it is". I like to live that way. I'm not in favor of withholding information to protect your spouse.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
As to affection, do you feel you have adequately separated sex and affection? If the two are tied (even if just in her mind,) you need to sever that tie. I have more thoughts on this if you feel there may be something there. Remember, affection is not just physical.


Yes, this is something I've done very well and very effectively. There is no link in our marriage between general affection and foreplay.

Originally Posted By: BWS71

OBJECTIVE 2 HELP YOUR WIFE MEET YOUR NEEDS

...

Sooo, I recommend, along with giving better affirmation/admiration for your wife, you pick the one behavior that would make the most difference to you and tell your wife It would mean a lot to me if you would do X. Is there a way that you could enthusiastically do X? If the answer is No, this is where negotiation starts. Try not to give up until you find a solution that is mutually satisfying. You may need to experiment. You may need to adjust. One or both of you will likely find they are satisfied/comfortable with more/less than they imagined/feared. But focus on this one, high value behavior.


This is difficult for where I am now. Despite your recommendation not to wait, I believe my W perceives me as a dammed up reservoir of needs and expectations, and agreeing to work on just one will be pulling the drainplug on the dam and finding herself awash in follow-on requests. In order for this to work, it needs to be credible that this is truly the only thing I'd like her to work on, and not the first of 50 more requests to come. In addition, she's going to be very skeptical that a negotiated position will be satisfying to me, so once again she'll resist doing anything. (Before anyone starts jumping in here and calling me high maintenance or insatiable, I don't agree with her position, and I don't have 50 follow on requests, just a few that would make a big difference to me)

For example, I'd like her to tell me that she loves me -- today she only says it in response to me saying it. I'd like her to tell me spontaneously once per week. If she can't do that enthusiastically, then how about once every two weeks? How about once a month? I believe in her head, she's going to think I want to hear it morning, noon, and night. Therefore, agreeing to do it once per week will (1) create pressure for her not to forget which she'll fear will make me resentful, and (2) she'll be afraid that doing it once per week will just remind her of all the times during the week that she's not doing it.

That line of argument is where I stand with any unmet EN and why I'm hesitant to ask that they be met in any form until my W is on the same page with me to work on our marriage together. Right now she doesn't share that goal, so asking for the work seems out of place. One of our MC's suggested that W put a reminder in her iPhone to tell me until it had become a learned behavior. She did that 3x and then stopped.

Now realistically, there are probably 3 things I'd like her to work on, so I can't give her assurance that there will be no more, but presenting all three up-front is overwhelming. I will have to spend some time thinking and planning about how to get there.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
The secondary msg is help your wife identify and do *less* of what doesnt matter to you. She (like all of us) has limited resources. She may be doing too much of what doesnt really matter to you (likely thinking it DOES matter to you.) When you ask her to do something shes not doing, she understandably may say I cant do more. But if you ask her to do different she may have a more favorable response. I dont know what low yield effort of hers that could be eliminated is, but I bet you can think of a few.


Actually I can't. There's nothing that she's really doing "for me" explicitly that she wouldn't do anyway either for the kids or because she wants to do it for herself. She doesn't do my laundry, she doesn't cook for me, she doesn't clean up after me, and I don't expect her to do any of those things, nor would I necessarily value them. She doesn't give me gifts, she doesn't perform acts of service, you get the idea.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Whatever different thing you ask her *add* to her to do list, she should take something else of lesser value *off* her to do list.


She likes her job, but feels guilty about the time away from the kids. Therefore, she feels "over capacity" because of the things that she feels she should be doing for the kids that she's not doing. If I pick up anything that she's currently doing for the kids to lighten her load, that compounds the problem because the guilt builds further. I understand what you're saying, it's about freeing up emotional capacity. I'll have to think about what if anything I can do there.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
What do you you think? I realize your sitch is complicated and she doesnt like to do some of the things you feel you need her to do. But pick one, just one and come to a happy middle ground. The joy you will both feel as your need for X and her need for approval are met will be a great motivator. Maybe we can break out of our dynamic!


As explained above, this will require some very careful planning and foundation work. Requests for anything different are definitely like poking a sore spot.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Can you tell me more about how your wife gets angry/uncomfortable with compliments?


She tends to look at the flipside of the compliment and view it as a complaint -- whatever it is. Also, the fact that I'm complimenting her "now" must mean that every moment I'm not complimenting her is because I'm dissatisfied. She's also aware that I would like compliments and she doesn't give me any, so it triggers a guilt response. Sometimes she also feels I'm trying to bait her into complimenting me back and she doesn't like that either -- that's never the case at least consciously but that's how she perceives it.

Sometimes I'll work in a compliment that can't be taken out of context, twisted to see the inverse as a complaint, or a baited request for a return compliment. In those scenarios, she'll make up something completely off the wall to get angry about, which makes me think "how did you go there from what I just said?" That's a major LB for me. I've made a lot of progress in not getting upset when that happens.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
How about openness/honesty and affection?


W is convinced that "she's not wired that way". Her mother describes her as "cold", which is unfortunate, because I don't think she really is. She's very private and proud, she's afraid of accepting help, she's afraid of making herself vulnerable. Accepting help from anyone makes her feel like a failure, and makes her very angry with herself. The funny mental image I have of that is when we travel. At the airport, she'll carry two huge suitcases, her laptop bag, her purse, and two kids backpacks and a stack of coats, while I walk along wearing a backpack and pulling my own rollaboard. If I offer to take just one thing from her she gets really angry because she shouldn't need help.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Did your wife have problems with affection, honesty/openness, affection or sex during the early parts of your marriage?


I guess it's only a problem if you view it as a problem. The sex was better before kids, which is typical, but she was never very sexual. She was more affectionate before kids too, also typical. She's never been very open, nor has she really pursued intimacy. I took that for what it was, accepted that it was who she was, and learned how to cope with it. Therefore it wasn't really a problem. It was her EA's that made me realize that our marriage was not okay, and the resulting work that I've done has made me realize what "can be", so these "traits" have only morphed into "problems" post-bomb. Does that make sense? Before I didn't expect to have my EN's met, because I wasn't working that hard on hers. I thought we were both okay with that. She wasn't, so I've done the work to address what she needs. As a result, I now expect to have my EN's met too.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
What was your wifes main complaint when she asked for a divorce?


Lack of connection, that I didn't spend enough time talking to her.

Originally Posted By: BMS71
What do you think your wife was getting from her EA that was so meaningful and powerful that it was able to threaten her marriage?


All the typical things you get from an affair -- someone telling you you're wonderful, the best person in the world, the thrill of doing something in secret, etc. She has a friend (who is very Catholic ironically) who has serial affairs, and has done so for years. I believe that my wife's EA gave her a bonding opportunity with this woman who she really likes. For a couple years she was just listening to all the thrills this woman was having and had nothing to contribute. When she was in it too the two of them were egging each other on, and I think she liked the camaraderie. The friend was telling her there was nothing wrong with what she was doing and helped with all kinds of crazy rationalizations. I think she regrets that her relationship with that woman has deteriorated since she no longer has things like that to discuss. I also believe that because OM was married he was "safe" because there was a limit on the expectations he would have of W. She felt she could relax with him, because there were really no obligations there -- he really expected very little and she liked that, because he would view anything she did for him as a gift and that's how she likes to operate.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
How old were you two when you met? How long did you date? What was her relationship experience before she met you?


I met her when I was 22, we started dating when I was 26, and we got married when I was 28 and she was 30. She had several relationships before she met me. The last one was long term (3+ years). They lived together for a couple years, but he wouldn't really commit to her, he moved out a couple times and moved back in with his parents. She got tired of it and eventually kicked him out. He came back and proposed to her after our second date, but she declined. Prior to that she had a few other long term boyfriends, some short term boyfriends, etc. I believe that she found most of her prior relationships disappointing -- the guys who she felt she knew and trusted would disappoint and surprise her in negative ways. That's a long time ago now, we've been married for 16 years, together for 18.

Thanks again BWS71, lots to think about, and I will definitely begin enacting your suggestions

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Good info AR. I'll process it and see what else I can offer as support/help.

How far are you from D day? How long has it been since you came away from the edge of divorce and started to try to rebuild?

You say there is another website where I can read about your story? Can you paste a link?

More feedback to follow - it usually takes me a few days to get back but I will get back.

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Originally Posted By: BWS71

How far are you from D day? How long has it been since you came away from the edge of divorce and started to try to rebuild?


About 11 months

[quote=BWS71]
You say there is another website where I can read about your story? Can you paste a link?[\quote]

Given that it's been 11 months I question how useful that would be -- there's a ton posted there and it doesn't really represent where I am now. I also doubt they allow outside links here. In any case, it's on the Divorce Busting Forum, originally on the sex-starved marriage board and now on the piecing forum. I think the most relevant stuff is on this thread for where I am now. I use the same screen name on both sites.

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