Marriage Builders®
Posted By: Accuray Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 06:30 PM
I read this quote on this site about when to tell your spouse you have a problem:

Quote:
My experience with couples agrees with the results of this study. In successful marriages, spouses expect to change to accommodate each other's needs, so when a spouse registers a complaint, it's a signal for action. In failed marriages, on the other hand, spouses expect to be accepted as they are, without change. A complaint is interpreted as an unwillingness to love unconditionally, a failure of the complaining spouse. So instead of adjusting to the complaint, the defense is offered, "if you really loved me, you would not try to change me. You would let me continue to do whatever it is I'm doing."


I have been dealing with this dynamic for the last year -- I expect to change to meet my W's needs, but she expects to be accepted "as is". What do I do in this scenario?

I have explained to my W what I need to put deposits in my "love bank" -- my love language is "words of affirmation", I also like physical touch. I expect to have a mutually rewarding sex life. I struggle with whether my expectations are too high, or if I'm overly needy or codependent, but in many discussions with others and through therapy, I don't believe they are, I believe my expectations are reasonable.

My W says that providing "words of affirmation" makes her feel uncomfortable, so she's not going to do it. She said she's willing to engage in sex for my benefit, but can't be expected to enjoy it herself, and is not interested in working on it. She does not enjoy kissing. She says that she loves me, likes being married to me, but just wants to be accepted "as is", to have nothing expected from her, and to have me treat anything she provides as a gift.

I've been trying to lower my expectations and accept this situation for several months now, but it's not working, I'm dissatisfied with the relationship. We have three young kids, a great financial situation, and I do love my wife and want to avoid divorce. I'm just not sure what to do with this situation. I've explained in a non-threatening, non-demanding way exactly what I need, I've confirmed that she understands it, yet she has made it clear she's not willing to meet my needs.

What do I do?

Accuray
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 06:46 PM
Hi, Accuray. Welcome to Marriage Builders.

Most likely, your wife is not in love with you. (Although she may say otherwise, and she may not even be aware!) If she were in love with you, her feelings would prompt her to want to do things for you, and her feelings would also cause her to become more likely to enjoy sex, etc.

This is a really common scenario.

The way to turn this around is to get your wife to fall in love with you. By using the principles on this site from Dr. Harley, you can learn to make large, massive Love Bank deposits every day. Eventually your account in your wife's Love Bank will pass the threshold of romantic love, and her feelings and actions towards you will suddenly change! Dr. Harley says this is not gradual, it is very sudden, and he has had men he's worked with tell him they woke up one day and their wife was completely different, and they even wondered if she'd started taking hormones or something!

This can be a bit of a long arduous process, but you can see results in just a few weeks if you are able to make serious progress towards the love bank deposits that really count the most.

First off, are the two of you able to spend any time alone together? If so, how much each week, and how do you spend it?

Second, do the two of you ever fight or argue? If you do, tell us about it; it really does take two to argue, and we can teach you how to not argue with her even if she wants to argue with you. Arguments are like atomic bombs for your Love Bank account balance.

After your wife is in love with you, there may still be some adjustments to be made, i.e., she may be doing things for you that she would like and may need to learn new habits that you would like, but at this point there will be a lot more willingness. I don't think Dr. Harley uses the following language in the paragraph you cited, but he talks about relationships in terms of the "Buyer's Agreement" versus the "Renter's Agreement." What you are expressing you want is the Buyer's agreement: a willingness to fix things together to make the marriage liveable and happy and fulfilling for both of you, forever. Currently your wife's emotions are leading her to a Renter's agreement: do whatever it takes for now to get by, until next month.

Dr. Harley's approach to getting husbands and wives to adopt the Buyer's agreement is twofold: the first step is to get them to fall in love with each other, and the second step is to get them to adopt the Buyer's agreement so that the love will be sustained for life. If you can follow the plan here (and we can help!) you can get your wife to fall in love with you, and then you can see if she is willing to adopt the Buyer's agreement.
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 06:49 PM
Lowering expectations isn't going to work, ever.

Welcome to MB. Here is a newsletter about what to do when a spouse refuses to meet your needs: http://forum.marriagebuilders.com/ubbt/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2264789#Post2264789

There are two more parts, in the Newsletter forum.

The three little ones are a great incentive to keep working on things instead of calling it quits right away. There are lots of stories on here about reluctant spouses who eventually got on board and realized that marriage actually requires care and feeding, so don't lose hope just yet. My experience wants to warn you that things will get tougher before they improve.

Your fastest horse will probably be phone coaching with Steve, but I ask: has your wife read the basic concepts here? Have you? I would start there, and try filling out the emotional needs and love buster questionnaires and sharing them, if she is willing. Don't force them on her.

The four INTIMATE needs are affection, conversation, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment. If she has other things as her top needs, she is likely in withdrawal, and many spouses can be drawn out of that.

Into conflict. Hang on! smile
Posted By: bitbucket Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 06:59 PM
Originally Posted By: CWMI
Your fastest horse will probably be phone coaching with Steve, but I ask: has your wife read the basic concepts here? Have you? I would start there, and try filling out the emotional needs and love buster questionnaires and sharing them, if she is willing. Don't force them on her.


I would actually recommend Jennifer for reaching a disengaged wife. While I have no direct experience with Steve (and most everyone says great things about him) we had a similar situation and Jennifer was a great help.
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:04 PM
Jennifer it is then! We worked with Steve, but it was my H who was disengaged, so that makes sense.
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:25 PM
Thanks all, here are some answers to your questions:

Originally Posted By: markos
First off, are the two of you able to spend any time alone together? If so, how much each week, and how do you spend it?


Yes, my W's love language is "Quality Time" so I have focused on providing that. I was giving her full and undivided attention for 15 - 30 minutes a night initially, until she complained it was too much and she wanted to connect less. She said she wants "a few times a week", otherwise there is nothing to discuss.

I also like to do a weekly date night, but recently she said that with the kids' schedules, weekly is too much, and she wants to do it monthly. WRT my hobbies and interests, she won't engage in any of them.

Originally Posted By: markos
Second, do the two of you ever fight or argue? If you do, tell us about it; it really does take two to argue, and we can teach you how to not argue with her even if she wants to argue with you. Arguments are like atomic bombs for your Love Bank account balance.


We really don't argue much. One cycle that we do get into, however, is that she tends to "assign" unhappiness to me. i.e. she'll tell me I'm upset with her when I'm not, and won't accept that I'm not upset. That then does make me upset, because I'm not being listened to, it pushes my buttons. Overall we get along really well. If we were just business partners we'd be great.

Originally Posted By: Markos
After your wife is in love with you, there may still be some adjustments to be made, i.e., she may be doing things for you that she would like and may need to learn new habits that you would like, but at this point there will be a lot more willingness. I don't think Dr. Harley uses the following language in the paragraph you cited, but he talks about relationships in terms of the "Buyer's Agreement" versus the "Renter's Agreement." What you are expressing you want is the Buyer's agreement: a willingness to fix things together to make the marriage liveable and happy and fulfilling for both of you, forever. Currently your wife's emotions are leading her to a Renter's agreement: do whatever it takes for now to get by, until next month.


Well, she uses "Buyer's Agreement" language, but "Renter's Agreement" actions. The issue I have with the love bank deposits is that it looks like "pursuit", and we are very much enmeshed in "the pursuer distancer dance", where I am both the emotional and sexual pursuer, and she is the emotional and sexual distancer. She has recognized this dynamic as well, she likes me to pursue her, because it tells her that everything is okay, but her response is to distance. When I eventually burn out and withdraw, she'll pursue me just enough to get me pursuing again and will then withdraw. If you read about that dynamic, continuing to pursue, or make love bank deposits, just perpetuates the cycle, and you can't break out of it.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
has your wife read the basic concepts here? Have you? I would start there, and try filling out the emotional needs and love buster questionnaires and sharing them, if she is willing. Don't force them on her.


I have read a huge library of relationship books, including "The Five Love Languages" which is closely related to the basic concepts. My wife read the book too. We "get it", she doesn't feel good about doing it.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
The four INTIMATE needs are affection, conversation, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment. If she has other things as her top needs, she is likely in withdrawal, and many spouses can be drawn out of that.


Of those four needs, her top one is conversation. She is not interested in recreational companionship or sexual fulfillment, and enjoys minimal affection, she likes hugging, but that's pretty much the extent of it.

I will look into speaking with Jennifer -- in the meantime, any other thoughts, suggestions or questions?
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:28 PM
Accuray, here are some radio clips of Dr. Harley talking to a husband whose wife is not really coming through for him in their marriage. In their case they are recovering from an affair. You guys are fortunate that you don't appear to have that kind of marital damage at this time. Listen to how Dr. Harley coaches the caller and explains how wives change when their husbands make enough love bank deposits:

http://www.marriagebuilders.com/radio_program/play_segment.cfm?sid=3324
http://www.marriagebuilders.com/radio_program/play_segment.cfm?sid=3325
http://www.marriagebuilders.com/radio_program/play_segment.cfm?sid=3326

I agree with the comments about about not lowering expectations.

One thing Dr. Harley says is that if the husband is on board with the Marriage Builders program, the chances for the marriage are very good, much better than if it is the wife who is on board and the husband reluctant. The husband has greater potential for being able to win his wife back to the marriage by making love bank deposits.
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:31 PM
Read MB materials. I liked 5 languages, too, but got a bit disgusted with the author when he wrote a similar book for the workplace--where most affairs start, and where married people should not be looking for ways to increase intimacy.

Get rid of all the other jargon from other things you read, and focus on MB. Top of the page, click Basic Concepts, and start!
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:32 PM
A word about Five Love Languages: we have this book and like it, but as a man I find it maddening that the book is not more specific about what to do. I saw lots of examples of what NOT to do, but not a lot of practical help as far as what to do, for the clueless husband. smile

I remember when we were reading the book together my wife said a particular section perfectly expressed what she was feeling. I read it and understood the problem, but said I still didn't know what to do different. So we were stuck! smile
Posted By: bitbucket Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:35 PM
Originally Posted By: markos
One thing Dr. Harley says is that if the husband is on board with the Marriage Builders program, the chances for the marriage are very good, much better than if it is the wife who is on board and the husband reluctant. The husband has greater potential for being able to win his wife back to the marriage by making love bank deposits.

(threadjack)
Markos, can you provide a quote or context for that? I'm curious as to Dr. H's logic behind that. I would think it's the other way around - it seems to me that a wife, once checked out, is harder to bring back than a disengaged husband. Just curious.
(end threadjack)
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:37 PM
What are your hobbies and interests, and how much time do you spend on them?
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:40 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Yes, my W's love language is "Quality Time" so I have focused on providing that. I was giving her full and undivided attention for 15 - 30 minutes a night initially, until she complained it was too much and she wanted to connect less. She said she wants "a few times a week", otherwise there is nothing to discuss.


This is a sign that she is in the state of Withdrawal. You make the biggest Love Bank deposits by spending time together (whether your love language is quality time or not) meeting the four intimate emotional needs: intimate conversation, affection, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment.

You will need to make overtures to her: take the initiative to plan recreational activities that you know that SHE will enjoy, arrange babysitting, invite her out and try to get her to spend time alone with you. During this time you will need to become GREAT at the skill of intimate conversation first and then affection. There is an article here you can read on meeting the need for conversation that will give you four "friends" of intimate conversation and four "enemies" of intimate conversation to remember and practice, or avoid, as appropriate.

Because she is in withdrawal you will only be able to make little Love Bank deposits at first. Over time if you don't make any withdrawals, she will become more willing to allow you to make bigger Love Bank deposits. She will move to the state of Conflict, where she will be very selfish, but is still open to you making deposits, and you will need to hold the course (and possibly endure some nastiness) before she moves into Intimacy.
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 07:56 PM
Thanks all, I will listen to the clips. We are indeed recovering from infidelity. My W had an "emotional affair" for about 6 months with a coworker. I found out just after it ended. When I confronted her I was asked for divorce. It's been a tough journey back, I have done "Divorce Busting" telephone coaching as well as marriage counseling and individual counseling. I would say that things are stabilized for her, I'm trying to make them great.

Accuray
Posted By: bitbucket Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 08:00 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
We are indeed recovering from infidelity. My W had an "emotional affair" for about 6 months with a coworker.


Do they still work together? Her reluctance to spend any time with you - sexual or otherwise - indicates that they may still be in contact.
Posted By: NYC_Runner Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 08:41 PM
I have the same situation with my wife. We've had a terrible sex life for 10 years, after 3 kids, I was almost completely ignored. Even after finding MB and HNHN books, she is an 'independent' woman, with the most relict acne to improve our sex life and our marriage.

I am SO frustrated, I am considering plan B.
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 08:48 PM
Originally Posted By: CWMI
What are your hobbies and interests, and how much time do you spend on them?


You name it! I like biking, swimming, skiing, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, skating. I'm teaching myself to play guitar. I like to go for a walk for exercise. I'm not fanatical or ultra competitive about any of them, I just enjoy them. How much time do I spend doing these things? My first priority is my family, so I spend time with my kids and my wife before I focus on these things. I do these things when my wife wants space, when the kids are otherwise occupied, or when I need a break. I probably do road biking the most at this point, and typically ride about 4 hours per week. I would love for W to join me in any of this. She claims to have no recreational interests, so it's hard to do something she enjoys because she doesn't claim to enjoy anything physical.

Originally Posted By: Markos
This is a sign that she is in the state of Withdrawal. You make the biggest Love Bank deposits by spending time together (whether your love language is quality time or not) meeting the four intimate emotional needs: intimate conversation, affection, recreational companionship, and sexual fulfillment.


I can't meet 3 of those needs because she claims not to have them and isn't interested in engaging.

Originally Posted By: bitbucket
Do they still work together? Her reluctance to spend any time with you - sexual or otherwise - indicates that they may still be in contact.


They do not, they have been at separate companies for over a year. He declared "no contact" to save his own marriage and I'm certain he has stuck to that. I know people say that all the time and then have an unpleasant discovery, but I'm not new to this anymore, and I would know if something were going on -- it's not.

I'm going to call and sign up for the telephone coaching.

WRT intimate conversation, I believe I am very good at that, but it's very one-sided. W basically likes to talk about her work and the kids and that's it.

Accuray
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 08:53 PM
Originally Posted By: bitbucket
Do they still work together? Her reluctance to spend any time with you - sexual or otherwise - indicates that they may still be in contact.


Also, it's not the case that she is reluctant to spend any time with me -- she does like spending time with me, and will complain if we're not spending enough time together. She's also willing to be sexual with me, she's just not willing to engage in it for her own satisfaction. She claims she has very low desire (for anyone), and has always been that way. I believe that's a strong factor in why her emotional affair did not go physical.

I don't want to paint this situation as overly grim, she IS engaged in the marriage and is making some effort. She stepped up the sexual frequency for my benefit and engages without being passive aggressive or anything. She likes hugging me when we fall asleep. She claims that her needs are met, and that she's happy if I'm happy. She knows I'm not satisfied with the relationship, and that makes her feel badly -- but it doesn't motivate her to do anything about it.

Accuray
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 09:07 PM
You'll need to find things that you both enjoy doing together. My H is much more physical than I am, and he sorta beat me over the head about family bike rides until I relented and went on one...it was nothing like he imagined, I don't know why he expected us all to go riding off full-steam when one of the kids was still on training wheels. After that, he quit asking.

Now we go boating (I know, we are fortunate to both be able to afford it, and live in an area where it is frequently possible), which we enjoy both alone together, and with the family. There are water sports for him and the teen and the older babes, and there is cove-sitting and noshing and swimming for me. Sometimes with wine coolers! smile

If she doesn't enjoy anything physical, what are your less-strenuous interests? Have you filled out the recreational inventory available on the site? We discarded anything that we did not both rate positively, which included some highly-favored activities by one or the other. When you find new things you both enjoy, it feels less like giving up a favorite activity.

When was D-day?
Posted By: bitbucket Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 09:08 PM
I'm confused. This:

Originally Posted By: Accuray
Yes, my W's love language is "Quality Time" so I have focused on providing that. I was giving her full and undivided attention for 15 - 30 minutes a night initially, until she complained it was too much and she wanted to connect less. She said she wants "a few times a week", otherwise there is nothing to discuss.

I also like to do a weekly date night, but recently she said that with the kids' schedules, weekly is too much, and she wants to do it monthly.


Does not square with this:

Originally Posted By: Accuray
Also, it's not the case that she is reluctant to spend any time with me -- she does like spending time with me, and will complain if we're not spending enough time together.
Posted By: Prisca Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 09:38 PM
Quote:
I can't meet 3 of those needs because she claims not to have them and isn't interested in engaging.

You offer to meet them, anyway. Expect her to keep telling you "no" for awhile. Still make the offers, over and over again. Don't quit just because she throws up a wall and says "not interested."

She's in withdrawal. It's expected that she will not be interested in engaging in those things. It's expected that she will claim to have no need for those things.

But engaging in those intimate emotional needs is how she will fall in love with you again. No woman ever wakes up in the morning and thinks "Gee, I hope I don't get swept off my feet today." So pursue her. Chip away at the wall and make as many lovebank deposits as she will allow. She will eventually come out of withdrawal, and will start to respond.

Don't just throw up your hands and say "I can't do it! She won't let me!"
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 10:11 PM
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.

Accuray
Posted By: Prisca Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 10:43 PM
Quote:
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.

Dr. Harley wouldn't agree with you. Would you like to try Marriage Builders? It won't work if you cherry pick it, and mix it into other programs.
Posted By: NYC_Runner Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 11:04 PM
"Reluctant "
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/30/12 11:38 PM
Quote:
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.


But that hasn't improved your marriage, has it? So knock it off, and try MB and only MB, at least for six months. Have you read plan A? What did you two do to recover from her affair? Was there exposure? Were extraordinary precautions put in place? How much have you read of either the surviving an affair articles here, the forums, or the book?
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 12:40 AM
Originally Posted By: CWMI
But that hasn't improved your marriage, has it? So knock it off, and try MB and only MB, at least for six months.


Many of the things I've done have improved my marriage, some have not. I've hit a plateau, but everything that came before was not a dead end.

I also don't believe that any approach is "one size fits all" -- if that were true there would be no other approaches. Yes, I'm willing to try MB and only MB, but I'm not sold yet. We're playing with high stakes, so I'm not just going to jump in with both feet unless I believe there's a reasonable prospect for success in MY situation.

I will sign up for the 5 coaching sessions program which represents a significant investment -- I'm willing to take that leap.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
Have you read plan A?


Yes, 10 months ago I read all about Plan A and Plan B. I did not discover the affair until it was over, so neither plan was relevant. As it turns out, the other man was enacting Plan A, so my W had no choice. I did follow the advice in Plan A however, and went into the confrontation with the goal of normalizing, avoiding shaming, and avoiding blaming. I pursued a plan of measuring my actions against the yardstick of resentment -- would what I was saying or doing create more resentment, or less? I let that guide my actions. Many of the articles assume that wayward spouse is motivated to repair the marriage. In my experience on the DB board, that is rarely the case, at least initially. Usually the wayward spouse is "checked out" and really not that interested in working on the marriage, so the one who wants to repair it has to do all the work themselves -- at least initially -- and that's what I did.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
What did you two do to recover from her affair?


I did a lot of research and counseling. According to Dr. Haley's article, there are 3 steps -- (1) end the affair, (2) provide transparency, and (3) meet each other's basic emotional needs.

So for #1, she had no choice, but it was more complicated than that, as she had a prior man she was infatuated with who never really engaged with her, and she was still in contact with him. I got her to agree to no contact with that guy too, although he wasn't really pursuing her. She did provide complete transparency, so #2 was covered also. She has not done #3, and that's why I'm here.

A lot of the affair recovery was done on my own. There are some articles I found on Google that recommend many things that can be done to help, I had her read a couple, but she didn't really pick up on the suggestions. I know she feels badly about how she made me feel, but she doesn't really feel badly about having the affair. From her perspective, she was on a path to leave me anyway, so it wasn't really the wrong thing to do. Obviously I don't buy that, but that's where we are.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
Was there exposure?


Not as broadly as Dr. Haley recommends, we told some people but not others. We didn't tell her parents or my parents, we didn't tell our kids. I told my sister and her sister, and a select group of our friends. The program I was following at the time was "Divorce Busting" which is firmly against exposure. That program worked for me really well to turn around the divorce and get to reconciling, so I stuck with it.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
Were extraordinary precautions put in place?


Well, I confronted the other man and made my feelings known, and set a boundary for him. They were already working for different companies so no job change was required. His wife knew, so no need to go there. Working with a Divorce Busting telephone coach, I was referred to Pat Love's website about what constitutes an "office spouse" and where the line should be drawn on flirtation, etc. The DB coach recommended that we put a mutual contract in place that is very specific about what exactly is "over the line" and what is not, and that we agree to expose to each other through brutal honesty if we are tempted by someone else, and to work together to deal with it. We put that in place.

All of that, from my perspective, is defensive however and only works in the short term. Longer term I believe you have to get to a place where you believe that you are a spouse who only a fool would cheat on, because of the effort YOU are putting into the marriage. Once you're there, you don't worry about infidelity, because that would be their loss.

Based on what I've done in the last 10 months, that's where I am. I really don't worry about infidelity at all -- if she cheats I'm gone, and I'm good with that. I will make no apologies, and won't look back thinking there's something I could have done better -- I'm just going to do it up-front.

So yes, infidelity is in our history, yes it was horribly painful, but it's not at the forefront of what I'm trying to do right now. I don't think that continuing to focus on it is going to help -- what you focus on expands.

Originally Posted By: CWMI
How much have you read of either the surviving an affair articles here, the forums, or the book?


When I was in the midst of recovering from it, I read everything I could get my hands on, including the articles and the forum here and elsewhere, I have not read the book YET, but I will. Suffice it to say I have read many many others. My favorites so far have been:

"Passionate Marriage"
"Divorce Busting"
"How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It"
"The Passion Trap"
"The Solo Partner"
"The Sex-Starved Marriage"
"Why Good People Have Affairs"
"After The Affair"
"Love Must Be Tough"
"The Five Love Languages"

I also read:

"Our Love Is Too Good To Feel So Bad"
"The Married Man Sex Life Primer 2011"
"No More Mr. Nice Guy"
"Hold Onto Your N.U.T.S"
"Mindful Loving"
"The Divorce Remedy"
"The Birth Order Effect for Couples"

(Yes, I've been around the block)

The books were all valuable in their own ways, many have recurring themes expressed differently. Some resonated with me more than others based on the specifics of my own situation.

I feel like I've answered all your questions, so maybe you can answer mine:

1) WHY should I try the MB program for six months? What's the success rate? What makes it better than all the other programs out there?

2) What is it about my situation that's going to be helped the most?

As you can see, I've read a ton of books, why is reading one more going to be a huge eye-opener?

I'm willing to read it, I just want to hear from you on this forum, who have had success, why THIS program is the one to go with.

Thanks!

Accuray
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 01:18 AM
Accuray, welcome to Marriage Builders. The difference between Marriage Builders and other marriage programs is that MB places most of its focus on restoring the romantic love in the marriage. Harley doesn't just claim to do that, he takes surveys to measure his success. [if you are in his online program] He restored the romantic love to my own marriage, and that is not just an empty claim, but based on the survey results taken by both my husband and I. We have a passionate, romantic marriage and we took the course in 2007. I know many, many other couples who can make the same claim.

Most other programs focus on things like "communication" or "conflict resolution," which won't save a marriage. Harley has a very specific plan to restore the romantic love. His program does include conflict resolution and communication, but all that is secondary to creating romantic love.

Most couples that show up for his course contain one reluctant spouse. So Harley's first mission is to persuade the reluctant spouse to try the program. He does this by selling the benefits and features of his program. My spouse was reluctant and he was brought on board when the policy of joint agreement was explained to him.

Harley is often very successful at bringing a reluctant spouse on board. That might be what you need and I suspect is what has been missing in all these other programs. Your spouse has no motivation to try them.

I don't know of any other marriage program that can restore romantic love to the marriage. Most counselors don't even believe it is possible. I have read several of the books you cite and most have no such plan. They don't even have a plan. Rather, they focus on "communication," or various other elements, which does not save a marriage. Marriages fail because the couples fall out of love, not because they are bad communicators.

You might want to check out this article to get an idea of how it works: How to Create Your Own Plan to Resolve Conflicts and Restore Love to Your Marriage

Additionally, Harley wrote this in response to the question "Does Marriage Builders Really Work?"

Originally Posted By: Dr Bill Harley in Does Marriage Builders Really Work?"
When I found that the model I've developed had helped over 90% of those I was counseling, I gave up my career as a college professor and started counseling full-time. At the time, I didn't assume that it would save all of the marriages it seemed to help, because I felt there were factors beyond a couple's control. But after 35 years of experience with this model, I'm not convinced that it works with 100% of couples who follow it. I've yet to witness one couple out of the tens of thousands I've seen, that did not experience a healthy and happy marriage by following this model. Personally, I feel it's the only answer to the question, how can a couple have a great marriage for life?

But it’s very difficult to prove that one model of marital satisfaction is superior to another. The ultimate test is to randomly assign couples to various models and to measure their marital satisfaction after the provisions of each model have been implemented.

The training of therapists is a huge problem: How can we be sure that the therapist assigned to each model was properly trained? And there’s also the problem of representation and random assignment: Does the group of volunteer couples represent the population at large? And is the assignment to treatment groups really random? There’s also the ethical problem of assigning couples to a control group where they receive no effective treatment. When they divorce, does the researcher bear any responsibility? Finally, if someone who has a stake in the outcome does the research, it usually shows that their approach is best. Shouldn’t studies of alternative models of marital satisfaction be conducted by those neutral to the outcome?

My own personal experience led me to the model I’ve been using for the past 35 years. But that’s not proof of it’s superiority over other models. What I need is objective studies conducted by those who have no bias that compare this model to others. That’s hard to find even among those who have published hundreds of articles on martial therapy.

But I can direct you to three studies that support my enthusiasm. They all deal with my book, His Needs, Her Needs, the popular application of my model, and the effect it has on couples that read it.

The readers of Marriage Partnership Magazine were asked which self-help book on marriage helped their marriages the most. In that survey, His Needs, Her Needs came out on top. I didn’t know that the survey was even being conducted, so when I called the editor after the results came in, I was curious to know more. He told me that it not only was the top choice, but it was far ahead of second place (Ron R. Lee. Best Books for a Better Marriage: Reader’s Survey . Marriage Partnership Magazine, Spring 1998).

In a national survey that I sponsored, people were asked if any self-help book on marriage solved their marital problems. Out of 57 books that were read, only three were reported to have actually solved marital problems. The three were the Bible, James Dobson’s Love for a Lifetime, and His Needs, Her Needs (Lynn Hanacek Gravel. Americans and Marriage: National Survey of US Adults. Barna Research Group, 2001).

Finally, five out of six couples that read His Needs Her Needs were found to experience significant improvement in marital satisfaction (Julie D. Braswell. The Impact of Reading a Self-Help Book on the Topic of Gender Differences on One’s Perceived Quality of Marriage. Doctoral Dissertation, 1998, Azusa Pacific University.

Granted, these findings are not conclusive evidence that the model I use is superior to every other model of marital satisfaction. But when you find one that works for every couple that actually follows it, you have to be impressed. And coming as I did from almost zero effectiveness to almost complete success, I can’t begin to tell you how convinced I am that it’s the solution to a very difficult problem we face in our society.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Best wishes,
Willard F. Harley, Jr.
Posted By: tismeagain Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 01:27 AM
Hi, welcome to MB!

I was wondering if your wife has any issues with depression?

I agree with the others the 15 hrs. of UA time does make a huge difference! Do you think you guys are getting the 15 hours in every week? This does not include time spent watching TV, or with other people, including your children.

UA time does not have to be major events. It can be small simple things like a drive in the car, a shopping trip, a walk through your neighborhood, going out to dinner, or even sitting at Starbucks together.

I bet you can find things that she would enjoy, you might just have to be creative. So she doesn't enjoy boating, that's OK. Maybe she enjoys more of the simple every day type things.
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 01:33 AM
tismeagain hit on the key to restoring romantic love: undivided attention time. In order to CREATE romantic love, couples must spend 20-25+ hours of undivided attention time meeting the top 4 intimate emotional needs of conversation, affection, recreational companionship and sexual fulfillment. [15 hours to maintain]

THAT is the key to restoring romantic love. Without that, couples do not fall in love. Marriage Builders does not work without that step and neither does any other program.

The biggest problem with UA time is willingness of both partners. That is where one of the MB coaches can come in handy. They can be very helpful in motivating a reluctant spouse to try this.

The Policy of Undivided Attention
Posted By: BrainHurts Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 01:35 AM
Here The Policy of Undivided Attention
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 02:19 AM
Thanks everyone! Very helpful. I'm convinced enough to dive in and embrace it. 25 hours a week is going to be a challenge for sure, but I understand that if I don't follow the program, I can't expect the results. I'll provide updates on how things are going -- great to hear about the success stories!

Accuray
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 02:59 AM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Thanks everyone! Very helpful. I'm convinced enough to dive in and embrace it. 25 hours a week is going to be a challenge for sure, but I understand that if I don't follow the program, I can't expect the results. I'll provide updates on how things are going -- great to hear about the success stories!

Accuray


Accuracy, a HUGE help will be the workbook here with all the worksheets in it. In the back section is the Undivided Attention worksheet. We tore it out, made copies and use this once a week to schedule our time for the next week. We write in times, dates, planned activities, etc. This makes it more likely that you will follow through because time that is not scheduled is too easy to put off. The undivided attention policy will get you the biggest, fastest bang for your buck. You will start noticing a big difference in about 8 weeks.

It is a chore at first, but once you fall in love again, you will look forward to your time.

Good luck!
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 12:23 PM
Originally Posted By: bitbucket
Originally Posted By: markos
One thing Dr. Harley says is that if the husband is on board with the Marriage Builders program, the chances for the marriage are very good, much better than if it is the wife who is on board and the husband reluctant. The husband has greater potential for being able to win his wife back to the marriage by making love bank deposits.

(threadjack)
Markos, can you provide a quote or context for that? I'm curious as to Dr. H's logic behind that. I would think it's the other way around - it seems to me that a wife, once checked out, is harder to bring back than a disengaged husband. Just curious.
(end threadjack)


Oh I wish I had an exact date or link for you. He says it frequently on the radio. He also adds that he is harder on men than women, for that reason! smile Typically it is up to the husband to be the "pump primer," the one to meet emotional needs when his own needs are not being met, although occasionally a wife can be successful at that, too. He also says women suffer much more, physically, mentally, emotionally, from trying to meet their husband's needs when their own needs are not being met, than men do.

If you were to go through the radio archives and listen to the entire month of May, 2010, you would hear Dr. Harley make the statement I am referring to. I know this because I just got done relistening to May, 2010. I'm sorry I don't have an exact date.

If you listen to every show daily for the upcoming month, there's a good chance you would hear it as well, because Dr. Harley does say this frequently.

If you listen to the radio clip links I posted above, you will hear how much emphasis Dr. Harley gives to this betrayed husband on the way his marriage will turn around if he really, really gets after meeting his wife's emotional needs and keeps it up even if it is difficult and extremely discouraging for awhile.

Whenever I get discouraged about my marriage, I ask "Is my wife in love with me at the moment?" If the answer is "no," then I remind myself "Well, then, let's revisit this issue once she is in love with me, and in the meantime I'll see what I can do to address her current complaints and make larger love bank deposits than I have been making." I always find a couple things I can address, and when I do, inside of a couple of days, things start to get better, every time.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 12:25 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Thanks everyone! Very helpful. I'm convinced enough to dive in and embrace it. 25 hours a week is going to be a challenge for sure, but I understand that if I don't follow the program, I can't expect the results. I'll provide updates on how things are going -- great to hear about the success stories!

Accuray


Great, Accuray! You will find that it is worth it!

As you go forward, let us know how we can help you, let us know how willing your wife seems to be to join you. We can provide tips and motivation for whichever scenario presents itself, but you will find that YOU are her biggest motivator.

Since I last posted yesterday I see that it's come out that your wife had an emotional affair, and I just wanted to confirm: does she ever see or talk with the other man any more?
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 12:56 PM
Hi Markos,

I went into some detail on that on page 3 of this thread. No she does not see the other man, he enacted "Plan A" and has stuck to it to save his own marriage.

Accuray
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 02:09 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Hi Markos,

I went into some detail on that on page 3 of this thread. No she does not see the other man, he enacted "Plan A" and has stuck to it to save his own marriage.

Accuray


Thanks, Accuray, I'm sorry I missed that as I tried to catch up. I did see where you said the OM was in Plan A, but I thought that you meant he was applying it in his pursuit of your wife!

They do not work together, do they? Any contact between them, no matter what they do to make it "appropriate," will hinder recovery. Any mementos she kept of him, anything that triggers her to remember him, will be a hindrance.

You want your efforts to be effective, so it's important to exhaustively weed those out.

And the circumstances that led to her affair have to be completely eliminated. She has to build extraordinary precaution walls such that you will know she is never having an affair again (more than just you being a wonderful spouse: she needs to follow good marital rules like not having friends of the opposite sex, not discussing personal things with men, providing complete transparency to you, etc.)
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 05/31/12 02:16 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Many of the articles assume that wayward spouse is motivated to repair the marriage. In my experience on the DB board, that is rarely the case, at least initially. Usually the wayward spouse is "checked out" and really not that interested in working on the marriage, so the one who wants to repair it has to do all the work themselves -- at least initially -- and that's what I did.


I wanted to come back and comment on this. You are right; usually the wayward spouse is addicted to the affair, which fogs their brain, and the first step is to bust the affair and get through withdrawal before the wayward spouse is motivated to restore the marriage.

In Dr. Harley's affair book he provides two examples, in one the wayward spouse ended the affair freely and came back to work on the marriage; in the other, the affair died a natural death and the wayward spouse came back to the betrayed spouse as "second choice." But in BOTH scenarios, the marriage recovered!

Quote:
There are some articles I found on Google that recommend many things that can be done to help, I had her read a couple, but she didn't really pick up on the suggestions.


As you get more and more effective with making Love Bank deposits, she will become more motivated to work on your marriage. She has probably felt like it was hopeless in the past, and she may have even felt a "marriage counseling/program burnout" given the number of books I see you've been through. (I had a similar library growing before we came to MB. I don't know where most of those books are, now. smile )

Quote:
I know she feels badly about how she made me feel, but she doesn't really feel badly about having the affair. From her perspective, she was on a path to leave me anyway, so it wasn't really the wrong thing to do.


Sadly, this is pretty typical, but it doesn't impact recovery. Most wayward wives tend to blame their husbands for their affair, at least at first. Dr. Harley says that a real owning up to their full responsibility for the affair often doesn't come until later, if ever.
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/01/12 09:16 PM
I'm about 30% of the way through "His Needs Her Needs" and have a telephone coaching appointment arranged. I also listened to the radio clips that Markos posted on this thread.

That situation does bear many similarities to mine, although my wife is more engaged at this point than the caller's wife, and my wife did not have a physical affair. The advice given was to be a model husband, make constant love bank deposits, avoid all love busters, and expect nothing in return for at least 2 years. The caller didn't think much of that, he said "no way, just not going to happen".

I wonder what the outcome of that case was? Was there a follow up?

I do question if continuing to pursue a spouse who wants more space is really effective. Although you may believe you're making love bank deposits, you may be actually making withdrawals if you're crowding them or if they resent your efforts.

Accuray
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/01/12 09:36 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray

I do question if continuing to pursue a spouse who wants more space is really effective. Although you may believe you're making love bank deposits, you may be actually making withdrawals if you're crowding them or if they resent your efforts.

Accuray


It is often very effective with a withdrawn WOMAN, but rarely effective with a withdrawn MEN. Men typically don't respond well to being pursued whereas, women DO.

That is a different situation from a spouse who says she wants "space." When someone uses the "space" word, that is almost always a sign of an affair. And when there is an ongoing affair, of course, nothing you do will make a difference until the affair is brought out in the sunlight and stabbed through the heart! laugh
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/01/12 09:37 PM
I pursued a spouse who wanted more space and verbalized that he thought that exploring separate activities was the avenue to closeness.

It worked.

I was a relentless *b*, too.

I have a friend who moved out when his wife wanted space. They're now divorced.

"Space" equals distance, not closeness. If what you want is closeness, be close.
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/01/12 09:41 PM
As you can see, I disagree with Mel about it working with men. laugh

I also had Steve Harley, though.
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/01/12 10:08 PM
Originally Posted By: CWMI
As you can see, I disagree with Mel about it working with men. laugh

I also had Steve Harley, though.


I got that from Dr Harley! And typically it does not work when women pursue men. But there is always the exception to every rule. grin
Posted By: My4Loves Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/01/12 10:55 PM
I am not convinced all contact has ended ... can you super snoop to find out if something is happening through Facebook, email, text, toxic friends (at work also) ...

In addition to snooping like James Bond, follow the advice to Plan A and get UA time 25+ hours/week. What was it about you she fell in love with? Find them, conquer them, go back to when you first dated ... what did you do?
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/02/12 01:14 AM
Originally Posted By: MelodyLane
Originally Posted By: CWMI
As you can see, I disagree with Mel about it working with men. laugh

I also had Steve Harley, though.


I got that from Dr Harley! And typically it does not work when women pursue men. But there is always the exception to every rule. grin


Well...I also offered up custody of the kids if he really thought we should separate instead of hanging out together. So perhaps my pursuit was more of a "fine! You do everything then, I'll take a breather, thanks!" lol. I had no intention of going anywhere, or being left with all the responsibility, either. YMMV. My H very much thought he could be unencumbored if he just got rid of me...nope.

Plan A-ing a man does work with more stick.

I wonder why plan a-ing a woman works better? Because men naturally have more stick? Because we love attention? Because we like sticks? smile Men tend to need admiration more than women. Now I'm way off topic...back to topic!
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/02/12 02:53 AM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
I do question if continuing to pursue a spouse who wants more space is really effective. Although you may believe you're making love bank deposits, you may be actually making withdrawals if you're crowding them or if they resent your efforts.


You have to be really, really careful about what you are doing. Something that is a deposit one day may be unwelcome the next.

According to Dr. Harley, a person in withdrawal will not stay in withdrawal. Eventually, they come out of that state, because they feel the need of their emotional needs, and they want them met.

What happens next is one of two things:
a need gets met, and a love bank deposit gets made, or
a love buster occurs, and the spouse retreats back into withdrawal, less likely to come out any time soon.

It's important to remember, too, that the spouse who comes out of withdrawal is in conflict. This means they are willing to have their needs met, but not willing to meet any needs, so tread lightly on that front.

See Dr. Harley's page on the three states of mind in marriage (in the basic concepts), if you haven't already. But really there's a lot more he says about this on the radio.

Don't poke the snail! laugh
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/02/12 02:57 AM
Originally Posted By: CWMI
I wonder why plan a-ing a woman works better? Because men naturally have more stick? Because we love attention? Because we like sticks? smile


LOL!

A man typically has more capacity to meet emotional needs without his needs being met in return, or so says Dr. Harley. A woman is more likely to feel TERRIBLE about meeting her husband's needs for sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, etc., if she is not already in love. But a man is less likely to feel terrible about meeting her needs for intimate conversation and affection in that state. He may still feel awkward or reluctant, his emotions may still encourage him not to do it, and/or to be selfish, but it's not as likely to be devastating to him if he does it.

When women go on like this for a long time it begins to take a real physical toll: degradation of mental and emotional state, and health. It can result in a compromised immune system and post traumatic stress disorder, particularly in the face of severe abuse and/or an affair.

Now exactly how long any given person can go on like this varies. It's just that, on average, men can go on like this longer than women before they start to face ill effects. And Dr. Harley has also encouraged some men to go on even if they do start to have ill effects, if it is likely to save their marriage eventually or help their children.
Posted By: BrainHurts Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/02/12 03:36 AM
Originally Posted By: markos

See Dr. Harley's page on the three states of mind in marriage (in the basic concepts), if you haven't already. But really there's a lot more he says about this on the radio

The Three States Of Mind in Marriage
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/02/12 04:01 AM
That's it. I'm a dude. I don't care how mad I am at my husband, the only reason I would throw him out of bed is to boff him on the floor. And he's been an azz. MY azz. <3
boff?
boff?
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/02/12 02:58 PM
Quote:
That's it. I'm a dude. I don't care how mad I am at my husband, the only reason I would throw him out of bed is to boff him on the floor. And he's been an azz. MY azz. <3


What a slut! rotflmao
Posted By: Logans_Run Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/02/12 03:20 PM
Originally Posted By: MelodyLane
Quote:
That's it. I'm a dude. I don't care how mad I am at my husband, the only reason I would throw him out of bed is to boff him on the floor. And he's been an azz. MY azz. <3


What a slut! rotflmao

rotflmao rotflmao
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Hi Markos,

I went into some detail on that on page 3 of this thread. No she does not see the other man, he enacted "Plan A" and has stuck to it to save his own marriage.

Accuray
How do you know that?

And how do you know this?
Quote:
His wife knew, so no need to go there.
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/03/12 03:14 AM
I confronted OM with his wife present.

I was a master snooper for several months, plus my contributions to meeting her needs and her behavior. I am 100% sure.

A few personal opinions:

Snooping is addictive and bad for the relationship

Playing defense is the wrong way to go.

Remember, it has been 11 months now that OM has been gone, not weeks. Whatever problems I'm having now are between the two of us and not related to OM.

Accuray
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/03/12 03:37 AM
Accuray, we're just headed down the list of usual issues. You'd be amazed how many people show up wanting help with their marriage in what they insist is "recovery" after an affair -- when the wayward spouse is still in daily/constant contact with the affair partner. i.e., the affair is still on, and "recovery" has not begun.

It's important for us to get through that with new posters to establish for certain that there is no contact between a former wayward spouse and an affair partner, because each contact sets recovery back to day one.
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/03/12 05:04 AM
Accuray – I’m following your thread with interest. Here is what I’ve understood of your situation.

Your most important emotional needs are not being met in your marriage.

1) You’d like to hear more admiration/appreciation from your wife.
2) You’d also like more physical affection and a more fulfilling sex life.

You feel you’ve expressed your desires clearly to your wife. You believe she has understood your requests. Yet you understand her to be unwilling to do the things that make you feel loved and cared for, the things that create and maintain your romantic connection to her as your wife. As far as you can tell she simply wants to be accepted and appreciated ‘as is.’

Is this a good summary of where you’re at?

In order to fix a problem, you generally need to understand it. Your current understanding of why your wife refuses to do the things you’ve asked is they are essentially unpleasant for her. She doesn’t like to express admiration, she doesn’t like physical affection much and she doesn’t enjoy sex. She’s willing to engage in these activities for your benefit, but not with much true passion or enthusiasm.

If this is true you have a very challenging situation on your hands.

?? - Has your wife always been so uninterested in the things that matter most to you? (Admiration/Sexual Fulfillment/Affection)

If so I’m curious how she ever deposited enough in your love bank to cause you to fall in love with her. I struggle to imagine you married a woman who made it clear she was not going to meet your needs in marriage. I suppose it is possible.

?? - If she used to be better at meeting your ENs, what happened? When and why did this change?

We need to know the why.

It is possible there is a currently unseen reason for your wife’s attitude towards your unmet ENs. She may not know why herself. If there is a reason that could be discovered, understood and addressed, you may have something you can work with.

So, aside from simple ambivalence, why do you think your wife is unwilling to meet your ENs? What is keeping her from doing the things you ask?

While you’re considering the answer I’m going to speculate a little on why your wife is unwilling to do the things you have asked her. I may get close or I may be way off base.

1) Maybe she truly feels incapable of meeting your needs in the ways you’ve proposed. If she could do what you ask, she would. But she feels she simply is unable to do so.
or
2) Maybe rather than requests your wife is hearing complaints. She interprets your requests as essentially negative judgments against her. Ie “A good wife would do X” When interpreted in this way, she naturally resists fulfilling your needs out of duty. The motivator here is guilt, not love, and thus not very inspiring or durable.
or
3) Maybe your wife is not in love with you.
or
4) Maybe your wife does not value your ENs as being worthy or important.

That is probably enough speculation. 1 is an interesting possibility. 2-4 are all variations on the theme of ‘unwillingness.’

What do you think? What is your best answer to that question?

Harley’s principles are simple. Putting them in to practice is not always so easy, especially when each spouse is not quite on the same page. I’m glad you’re getting coaching. I commend you for your plan to implement a great plan A.

It does seem to me that the heart of the issue is answering and addressing the question “Why?” This seems the key to changing your wife’s behavior.

PS – I don’t know that lowering our expectations really works. Emotional needs are needs, not desires or hopes. If they go unmet they cause emotional damage. I don’t know that you can just try to lower your needs. What you may need is to be more flexible with is *how* your wife meets your emotional needs. Maybe you haven’t POJA’d effectively. (POJAing on delicate topics can be tough.)
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/03/12 08:49 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray


Snooping is addictive and bad for the relationship

Playing defense is the wrong way to go.


Accuray, snooping is not bad for a marriage, it is GOOD for the marriage. It prevents affairs and it serves to restore trust. There is nothing that creates trust MORE than being able to independently confirm your spouse's faithful behavior when she thinks you are not watching. It is much harder to start an affair when your spouse knows what you are doing. If she has had an affair, it is really important that you are keeping a watch on her activities in order to protect your marriage. Even small things like looking at the OM's facebook page will send a WS back into the fog. You need to watch and make sure things like this are not happening.

How else can you truly protect your marriage from an affair if you aren't snooping?
Quote:
A few personal opinions:

Snooping is addictive and bad for the relationship

Huh. How did I miss that. I love it when my H reviews our cell phone bill. I love it when he wants to know my daily schedule. If he wants to put a VAR in my car, I couldn't care less (unless it's around his birthday. I'd hate for him to hear about his birthday present.) And he feels the same way (he is the wayward in our marriage). He couldn't care less. When we married, we became ONE. How is it bad for the relationship when you are confirming the safety of yourself?
Quote:
Playing defense is the wrong way to go.

As opposed to what?
Posted By: BrainHurts Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/04/12 12:39 AM
Excellent article by Dr. Harley Snooping Is It wrong? Or, is it the right Thing to Do in a Marriage.
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 02:32 PM
Hey all. Re: snooping, we're just going to agree to disagree. As a former "snooping addict" I am MUCH happier not snooping. I would rather affair proof my marriage by being a husband only a fool would leave versus trying to police what my W is doing. In order to get there, though, I had to make peace with the fact that if she does it again, I'm gone and I don't look back. I take comfort from that versus reviewing her phone bill. Maybe I'm being naive, but if she's out courting affairs it's because I'm not meeting her needs and not making enough love bank deposits. Trying to build a fence around her with snooping isn't going to fix that.

We can go back and forth on this all day, I've read the arguments on both sides, and for ME, I'd rather go on the offense by filling the love bank rather than go on defense by spying.

Accuray
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 03:12 PM
BWS71,

Great stuff! Thank you for reading my sitch, I think you've summarized where I stand nicely.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Yet you understand her to be unwilling to do the things that make you feel loved and cared for, the things that create and maintain your romantic connection to her as your wife. As far as you can tell she simply wants to be accepted and appreciated ‘as is.’


Well, she certainly wouldn't describe it as "unwilling", she describes herself as "incapable", or "I'm just not wired that way". I believe it to be unwillingness, because I believe she IS capable if she were motivated. Yes, she says she simply wants to be accepted and appreciated "as is", and that it makes her feel badly that "as she is" is not good enough to meet my needs. (Which makes me feel like the bad guy)

Originally Posted By: BWS71
Your current understanding of why your wife refuses to do the things you’ve asked is they are essentially unpleasant for her. She doesn’t like to express admiration, she doesn’t like physical affection much and she doesn’t enjoy sex. She’s willing to engage in these activities for your benefit, but not with much true passion or enthusiasm.


YES, although just to clarify, she's willing to engage in sex for my benefit, but not expressing admiration or physical affection.

Yes, I agree this is a challenging situation. "His Needs Her Needs" specifically was written from the perspective of husbands and wives who are willing to work together to improve their marriage. That doesn't work well for the spouse who wants to be accepted "as is".

Originally Posted By: BWS71
?? - Has your wife always been so uninterested in the things that matter most to you? (Admiration/Sexual Fulfillment/Affection)


As covered in "His Needs, Her Needs", she did engage in recreational companionship with me before we got married, but over the next 15 years gradually dropped all of them.

She was certainly much more affectionate while we were dating and after we were married, but that pretty much tailed off after we had kids.

Sexually I was satisfied with our relationship before kids, but after that it got less passionate and less frequent until we were in a marriage that would be characterized as "Sex Starved" my Michelle Weiner Davis' definition. Sex Starved does not mean that you don't have sex, it just means that your desire gap is great enough that it causes the higher desire partner to be resentful and to withdraw.

I believe that was the root of our undoing -- I got very resentful about my W's lack of interest in sex and took it very personally. As a result, I withdrew emotionally and stopped spending "UA" time with her. You know how that cycle goes, and I do too, it leads you apart. I believe the difference is that I more or less accepted the marriage as it was and was able to be happy within it because I really didn't need much. I thought my W had accepted it too, but she was far more unhappy than she let on. Instead of discussing it with me, she started shopping for affair partners. I understand why people do that, and I've forgiven her for it.

When we started to reconcile, I viewed it as an opportunity to "push the reset button" and start a new marriage that was better than the last one. I really went on a marriage improvement quest to understand what it takes, and to get myself in a position to deliver. I've just been frustrated that she's not there with me, and really seems content to go back to how things were with just slightly more "UA", but not a ton.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
If so I’m curious how she ever deposited enough in your love bank to cause you to fall in love with her. I struggle to imagine you married a woman who made it clear she was not going to meet your needs in marriage. I suppose it is possible.


I hope my write-up above cleared this up. She did not make it clear to me in advance that she wasn't going to meet my needs or I wouldn't have married her! At the time, she was meeting my needs.

Interesting thing about the love bank -- based on the affair, and her subsequent unwillingness to meet my needs, you'd think my love bank would have a negative balance by now. Why do I still feel in love with her?

Originally Posted By: BWS71
?? - If she used to be better at meeting your ENs, what happened? When and why did this change?


I think there are many factors at play here. I think we fell into many typical relationship problems that emerge over time, as you have children, etc. etc. Marriages probably follow a cycle of gradual decay. If you do 15 things for your spouse in year five, you may only do 14 of them in year six. The one thing may not be missed that much. By year fifteen you may no longer be doing any of them. It takes effort and commitment and for us those probably fell by the wayside.

The affair and divorce request were a crisis in our marriage, and crisis can motivate change. I certainly took it as a challenge to find a path to the best marriage I can have. I've seen the potential and I want it. For that reason, my EN's and my expectations are also higher than they were before.

In discussing the affair, my W presented her complaints and unmet EN's as justification for what she did. I have embraced them, and have made it my mission to satisfy them. By virtue of the investment, I have an increasing awareness of the fact that my own EN's are not being addressed. Maybe if I were contributing less I wouldn't care as much. Make sense?

Originally Posted By: BWS71
It is possible there is a currently unseen reason for your wife’s attitude towards your unmet ENs. She may not know why herself. If there is a reason that could be discovered, understood and addressed, you may have something you can work with.

So, aside from simple ambivalence, why do you think your wife is unwilling to meet your ENs? What is keeping her from doing the things you ask?


I think there's a cocktail of reasons behind this. I think we could probably find one or two that seem to fit perfectly and say "ah ha! that's it!". In reality, the causes are probably far more complicated and may be layered, which is to say that if one is alleviated, another may rise to take it's place, and getting to the bottom of all of them may not be practical, I don't know.

I know she generally feels unworthy, I know she struggles with some depression issues, I know she works very hard to keep it together. I know it's important to her not to need help from anyone. I know she was raised by a narcissistic mother.

She also says that she has accepted herself for who she is. She says that she is baseline unhappy, but she's accepted that about herself, and is therefore not willing to work on it. She says that she could go to therapy, for instance, but the pain of going through it isn't worth it to her to make things better.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
1) Maybe she truly feels incapable of meeting your needs in the ways you’ve proposed. If she could do what you ask, she would. But she feels she simply is unable to do so.


I went to a good MC who picked up on this theme. He told me that she views meeting my needs like working in a rock quarry. Every day you show up, pick up your shovel, and shovel rocks from one pile to another. The whole time you are shoveling from pile A, there's a conveyor belt dropping more rocks on top. Therefore, no matter how hard you shovel, it really doesn't help, so you might as well go slow and do the minimum, because what's the point? I think she feels that if she meets my stated EN's, there will just be another set that will take their place, and she'll never be good enough. i.e. if I give you A, you're just then going to ask for B, C, and D. MC said this has more to do with her than with me, and that my needs aren't really inappropriate at all.

He said that this dynamic of feeling the EN's are insurmountable makes W feel "unsafe" in the relationship, because her contribution is never good enough, and that reinforces helplessness and feeling trapped. Therefore, his advice was drop expectations and work on acceptance.

Originally Posted By: BWS71

2) Maybe rather than requests your wife is hearing complaints. She interprets your requests as essentially negative judgments against her. Ie “A good wife would do X” When interpreted in this way, she naturally resists fulfilling your needs out of duty. The motivator here is guilt, not love, and thus not very inspiring or durable.


Oh yeah, I'm hypersensitive to that. I don't complain, and I don't ever say things like "a good wife would do X". She does tend to hear everything as a complaint however. When I'm not commenting an anything she'll invent complaints, assign them to me, and then get upset about it. i.e. she invents things I might be upset about. A couple weeks ago we met at the movie theater and were driving home after the movie in separate cars. When I got home, she said that I was very upset with her and thought she was a terrible driver. I had no idea what she was talking about, and she explained that I had been following too close, which obviously meant that I was frustrated with her driving. I know I was 3-4 car lengths back in a 30 mph zone all the time, so I have no idea what she was talking about.

If I compliment her on anything, she tends to interpret that as a veiled complaint. If I compliment a meal she made, she'll interpret that to mean that I think all her other meals are bad.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
3) Maybe your wife is not in love with you.


I believe that's it, although she says otherwise.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
4) Maybe your wife does not value your ENs as being worthy or important.


That's not it.

Originally Posted By: BWS71
What do you think? What is your best answer to that question?


I think she "loves me" like you would love a sibling, I do not feel that she's "in love" with me in a passionate sense, because if she were, she'd be motivated.

Dr. Harley proposes that keeping the love bank deposits coming can build that "romantic love", but I question that hypothesis. I believe the love bank deposits can prevent the love from eroding, but I'm not convinced that they can create passionate love where none exists.

I'm hopeful that the coach can convince me otherwise.

My W is happy to stay in the marriage "as-is", she's not complaining about anything, other than the fact that I'm not happy and that she's not meeting my needs.

Accuray
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 03:48 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
I would rather affair proof my marriage by being a husband only a fool would leave versus trying to police what my W is doing.
...

Maybe I'm being naive, but if she's out courting affairs it's because I'm not meeting her needs and not making enough love bank deposits.

...

I've read the arguments on both sides,


I doubt you've read this equation, which comes up on the board from time to time:

Unmet emotional needs + weak boundaries = affair
Unmet emotional needs + strong boundaries = no affair
Met emotional needs + week boundaries = affair
Met emotional needs + strong boundaries = no affair

I agree that going back and forth on it is probably not productive for you at this point, though. There is more to Marriage Builders than snooping.

A better question than snooping is this: does your wife practice openness and transparency? If you ask to see her cellphone or her email, does she give it willingly, or blow up at you? As long as she is open and transparent, willingly grants you access to everything as much as you want, then Dr. Harley would say "snoop until snooping is boring." It sounds like snooping is boring for you. smile

On the other hand, if your wife does not practice openness and transparency, then I am certain that she has something to hide. In that case, Marriage Builders predicts that no amount of meeting emotional needs, alone, will keep her in the marriage.
Ac, as I read through your thread the thing that stands out to me is that you don't seem to truly understand your wife. You sound puzzled by her complaints and by the fact that she feels incapable of satisfying you.

The thing is, there are reasons she is feeling this way and you need to discover them so that you can address them. She will stop loving you like a sibling and will start loving you like a husband when you have done this.

Stop being confused and start asking questions, really listening, and paying attention. If she doesn't like boating, check that one off the list and find something else she might like.

If she feels like it is impossible to ever make you happy, that is your fault. You are giving her too much to do at once. Pick 1-2 things you'd like her to work on the most and only complain about those once per week. You are trying to get her engaged and telling her several things you want her to fix several times per week is not going to do it.

I have a tendency to make things sound like complaints when I don't mean them that way. I, like you, thought it was my husband's issue when he brought it up to me, he just needed to stop misinterpreting me. But, the more I read here and worked on our marriage, the more I understood that was I was doing could come across as complaints and that it was easier for me to reword those things or not say them than it was for him to not feel offended. Also, I found that he was less likely to interpret my behavior as negative (like your following too closely in the car example) when I stopped saying things that sounded critical to him.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 04:07 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
My W is happy to stay in the marriage "as-is", she's not complaining about anything, other than the fact that I'm not happy and that she's not meeting my needs.


There is a chance that she has complained about some things in the past and has not received a satisfactory result and now feels that she should be content and not complain any more. And feels that you should do the same thing. smile

There are some things, somewhere, that can be "tuned up," improved, that will accelerate the rate at which you are depositing love units. She has probably mentioned this in the past, but it's possible she has kept completely quiet about it. In my area, many men and women feel that romantic love fades and that it is then your job as a husband or wife merely to be faithful and content.

But even if she believes something like that, there is still something you can tune up, and get past the romantic love barrier. That will begin to change her behavior, and eventually her beliefs.

I think the first thing to get going, if possible, is Dr. Harley's Policy of Undivided Attention. You seem to have been posting about it above. What is your plan to get her out on dates with you for more hours per week?

UA time will make the number one difference. There are four emotional needs that Dr. Harley designates as "intimate" emotional needs: recreational companionship, intimate conversation, affection, and sexual fulfillment. These are the four he directs all couples to fill during UA time, regardless of what needs they personally prioritize, because they make the biggest deposits.

Now, a husband or wife in withdrawal (did you read the link on three states of mind in marriage?) will not feel open to these four intimate needs, and may take some convincing. But even if they start participating, they will quickly receive the love bank deposits and things will start to change. Meanwhile, they may think that their most important emotional need is "domestic support" or something similar. Whatever she identifies or complains about, meet that need, because every love bank deposit helps move from withdrawal into conflict and on toward intimacy.

You have a wife in withdrawal. Conflict is ahead, if you can get her involved in letting you make love bank deposits.

Take that woman out on a date!! Do you think you could get her out 3-4 times next week?
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 04:13 PM
Do you have an appointment with Jennifer or Steve at this point? When?

At this point, I think the biggest question is how does your wife react when you ask her out on a date. I would plan an outing, get childcare if you need it, and invite her to go. I wouldn't say anything about this being for your relationship or anything about love bank deposits or whatever. No theory; only practice. smile

If she goes with you, great! Rinse, wash, and repeat, for 15 or better yet 25-30 hours a week. If not, come back here and let us know, we'll have some more ideas about how to proceed.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 04:18 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
I went to a good MC who picked up on this theme. He told me that she views meeting my needs like working in a rock quarry. Every day you show up, pick up your shovel, and shovel rocks from one pile to another. The whole time you are shoveling from pile A, there's a conveyor belt dropping more rocks on top. Therefore, no matter how hard you shovel, it really doesn't help, so you might as well go slow and do the minimum, because what's the point? I think she feels that if she meets my stated EN's, there will just be another set that will take their place, and she'll never be good enough. i.e. if I give you A, you're just then going to ask for B, C, and D. MC said this has more to do with her than with me, and that my needs aren't really inappropriate at all.

He said that this dynamic of feeling the EN's are insurmountable makes W feel "unsafe" in the relationship, because her contribution is never good enough, and that reinforces helplessness and feeling trapped. Therefore, his advice was drop expectations and work on acceptance.


This was not a good marriage counselor. This was a marriage counselor who sucks and can't help you. Dr. Harley would look at that situation and know just what to do next. smile

I'm going to look for and bump a thread for you, about what changes when a wife falls in love with her husband. When your wife falls in love with you, it will handle the issue of how to get her motivated to meet your emotional needs. It will not feel like rocks in a quarry to her any more. And Marriage Builders is a plan for husbands to get their wives to fall in love with them.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 04:24 PM
Okay, I thought I made a specific thread about this radio show, but apparently I just posted it on other threads. Either way, here it is for you, Accuray:

http://www.marriagebuilders.com/radio_program/play_segment.cfm?sid=68

Originally Posted By: Dr. Harley, partial radio transcript
There is something about romantic love that creates a special incentive to do the things that the other person needs. So a man and a woman that are in love with each other romantically -- which this person doesn't seem to value (not yet, we hope he'll get there, yes) -- if they're in love with each other romantically, your emotions kick in and encourage you to do things that you might not need yourself.

Woman become far more sexually oriented when they are in love. They are more interested in helping them out domestically; they are more interested in looking better for him. They are more interested in going to football games along with him and participating in his recreational activities.

And men, when they're in love, they're more interested in talking to her for hours at a time, to being affectionate with her; they are interested in being more honest and open. In other words, they are more interested in meeting each other's needs when they're in love.

So, the point of my seminars, and the books that I write, says, look: being in love is a big deal. It'll make your relationship really move along, and be very, very, very good for you, and all of his "utility needs" end up being met in a relationship where there is mutual love


There is no sense spending a lot of time doing analysis on why she isn't interested in meeting emotional needs. We know why: she is not in love. That is 80-90% of the problem, maybe even 100%. Solve that biggest problem first, using the plan here, and then reevaluate and see if there are still any issues.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 04:33 PM
There's a couple of analogies I've seen on this board about meeting emotional needs. One is by Steve Harley, and one is by Doormat_No_More, one of the best posters I've ever seen here. (DoNoMo, if you are reading this, please come back and start posting again. smile ) I'm going to try to go hunt them down for you, Accuray.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 04:48 PM
Originally Posted By: Steve Harley
Rocks in a River: You find yourself on the bank of a wide river. It is too wide to jump across, and yet you still need to cross it. What do you do? You start picking up rocks and throwing them into the river. (These rocks are each small affectionate thing you do for your W). For the first 499 rocks, you see the rock hit the water, and then it dissapears. These rocks are sinking and landing on the bottom of the river. Eventually you get to rock #500 and it hits the water and part of it is sticking up above the surface. You now realize you are getting somewhere. You can finally see progress. For the first 499 rocks, you knew they were stacking up, but you had no proof other than common sense telling you that they were building up. We have to approach our relationships now as if every piece of affection is one of those rocks. We will not see any progress until a number of rocks have been thrown. However, just because we are not seeing these first 499 rocks does not mean they are not having an impact. Believe that they are, because they are.


Supposedly this came from Steve Harley to a poster on this board long ago in a phone session. The point of the story is that crossing the romantic love threshold in the Love Bank is not gradual. There is a SUDDEN change in feelings, with no gradual warnings that it is approaching. You toss in the rocks (make Love Bank deposits) and see NOTHING. You might even get discouraged and consider giving up. But if you can keep tossing in the rocks, suddenly one day you have a bridge across the stream.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 04:56 PM
Originally Posted By: HoldHerHand
the first is one used by the poster DoormatNoMore;

Creating romantic love after infidelity (aka "healing") is like creating a new island by chucking buckets of sand in a lake. It's going to take a lot of sand before it begins to peek above the water. Wind, waves, rain, and storms will wash that peak away, but you have to keep chucking buckets of sand.

...

she has wrapped herself in a protective shell. There are small cracks in that shell where some light can get in. You are tossing grains of rice at this shell, hoping to give her the nourishment she needs. If you throw only a single grains, or only small amounts (not keeping up with UA, not meeting ENs) they are not likely to fall through the small cracks.

However, if you throw HANDFULS (20+ hours of UA time, becoming expert at meeting her EN's, adhering to EP's), then some grains can slip through the cracks and give her the nourishment she needs to go forward.

She is STUCK in that cave, sir. And your actions put her there. She cannot simply decide to come out. Your action is what will free her.


Original:
http://forum.marriagebuilders.com/ubbt/u...440#Post2556440
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 05:02 PM
Originally Posted By: markos
Accuray, here are some radio clips of Dr. Harley talking to a husband whose wife is not really coming through for him in their marriage. In their case they are recovering from an affair. You guys are fortunate that you don't appear to have that kind of marital damage at this time. Listen to how Dr. Harley coaches the caller and explains how wives change when their husbands make enough love bank deposits:

http://www.marriagebuilders.com/radio_program/play_segment.cfm?sid=3324
http://www.marriagebuilders.com/radio_program/play_segment.cfm?sid=3325
http://www.marriagebuilders.com/radio_program/play_segment.cfm?sid=3326

I agree with the comments about about not lowering expectations.

One thing Dr. Harley says is that if the husband is on board with the Marriage Builders program, the chances for the marriage are very good, much better than if it is the wife who is on board and the husband reluctant. The husband has greater potential for being able to win his wife back to the marriage by making love bank deposits.


I'm reposting this, because Dr. Harley says exact what Steve Harley and Doormat_No_More say in those analogies. You meet the love bank deposits consistently, every day, and one day without warning your life is like a different person. The pebbles or sand have piled up above the surface of the water. Then there's a little bit of wave or rain or current (a love buster, or your wife is simply present with you during a negative experience) and the pile vanishes below the surface for awhile (your wife goes back to not being in love with you), but you keep piling up the pebbles/sand (keep making consistent love bank deposits, and avoid love bank withdrawals at all cost), and eventually it pokes above the surface of the water, this time with a broader foundation, and eventually you have a near permanent bridge (your wife is in love with you all the time).
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 05:19 PM
Wow, lots of feedback! Thanks! I'll try to take it in order:

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
Stop being confused and start asking questions, really listening, and paying attention. If she doesn't like boating, check that one off the list and find something else she might like.


This made me laugh! 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". Why is it that way? "because". Forget about boating, the only reason that's here is someone suggested that's something they like doing with their spouse. My W claims to like no physical activities at all. I try to find things we can do together, but it's a one-way street in terms of suggestions.

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
If she feels like it is impossible to ever make you happy, that is your fault.


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

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
You are giving her too much to do at once. Pick 1-2 things you'd like her to work on the most and only complain about those once per week. You are trying to get her engaged and telling her several things you want her to fix several times per week is not going to do it.


I've mislead you. I don't complain at all. I don't made demands. I have told her in the course of relationship discussions what my emotional needs are and what I would like, and she has told me she's not going to work on those, in any context. I don't have a huge list of things. I've told her I would like more intimate conversation and words of affirmation, and I've told her that I would like her to work on a mutually enjoyable sex life, not one that is focused on me. That's 3 things. I told her if she can only work on one, then let's focus on intimate conversation, and she says "no". All three are no individually or together.

Originally Posted By: Penni4Thoughts
I have a tendency to make things sound like complaints when I don't mean them that way. I, like you, thought it was my husband's issue when he brought it up to me, he just needed to stop misinterpreting me. But, the more I read here and worked on our marriage, the more I understood that was I was doing could come across as complaints and that it was easier for me to reword those things or not say them than it was for him to not feel offended. Also, I found that he was less likely to interpret my behavior as negative (like your following too closely in the car example) when I stopped saying things that sounded critical to him.


Can anyone improve their communication skills? Yes. I know my W is hyper-sensitive to criticism, so I have been ultra-careful to completely stay away from it. I often feel like I'm walking on eggshells. I'm aware of what I'm saying and how I'm saying it, and if she pounces on something that comes across as possibly critical I make damn sure not to do it again. I'm really working on this, I'm not just saying "that's me, too bad, it's all you". Our MC told me that some of her behavior is "crazy making" and I can't own it.

Originally Posted By: markos
What is your plan to get her out on dates with you for more hours per week?


I keep arranging for babysitting and inviting her on dates, and she keeps refusing. She says that she feels guilty for the time she spends away from the kids at work, and only wants to go out on dates with me once per month. I made offers twice this week and both were refused.

She also says she doesn't want all the conversation time that I have proposed. She will only agree to 2x - 3x per week.

Originally Posted By: markos
Do you have an appointment with Jennifer or Steve at this point? When?


Jennifer is out for a month. I have an appt with Steve for Monday, that was first available that would work for both of us.

Markos, I like the rocks and buckets of sand analogy, and I agree that the problem is the absence of romantic love.

I am not convinced that making love bank deposits will "make someone fall in love with you", but I agree it can't hurt and I really have nothing to lose, so I'm going to go for it!

I feel I have been doing this for 10 months now, I guess I just haven't tossed in the 500th rock, or in my case maybe the 50,000th rock. I'll keep tossing.

Accuray
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 05:37 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Our MC told me that some of her behavior is "crazy making" and I can't own it.


I'm sorry, but this is terrible advice, and I think your marriage counselor was terrible. This was a very disrespectful thing for your marriage counselor to say about your wife. Some people here said very similar things about my wife when I first got here. They were the kind of people who absorbed a bunch of junk from random marriage counselors and never figured out how to use the plan here to restore romantic love.

You can't restore romantic love by thinking disrespectful things about your wife. Her complaints are very real, and you are going to have to take them seriously. No, you don't "own" any decisions on her part to be disrespectful, demanding, or angry, but you will never save a marriage by analyzing who "owns" what. What sort of behavior did your marriage counselor say was "crazy making"? Probably there is a disrespectful judgment or selfish demand from your wife in there MIXED IN with a complaint that you need to isolate and address. Like this:

http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi5067b_qa.html

Originally Posted By: Dr. Harley
In most marriages, abuse begins when a conflict is introduced. For example, your wife might say that you did not dry the dishes properly. That's a form of abuse, because she is making a disrespectful judgment about your dish drying behavior. For you, the drying was just fine, but for her it wasn't. What you have is a simple difference of opinion on the way dishes should be dried, and your wife should have said that she would prefer your drying them the way she wants them to be dried.

But even though she made an abusive remark, you can end the cycle of abuse before it begins if you don't accelerate negativity (that means, matching her abuse with abuse of your own). What you should do is ignore the abuse on her side, and in your own mind re-translate what she said to be "I would prefer it if you would dry the dishes this way, instead of the way you are drying them."

However, if you are offended by the comment she made, and most people are offended by abuse, then you will be very tempted to come back with, "fine, dry them yourself next time." That is abusive because it's a demand (you are telling her what to do). Or you might be tempted to say, "you don't dry them any better that I do." That's abusive because it's disrespectful (you are judging her dish washing behavior). Or you might be tempted to let her have it with, "What a stupid thing to say -- you sure are full of stupid comments today." That's an angry outburst because what you say is intended to punish her for the comment she made to you. As soon as you respond to your wife's abusive comment with an abusive comment of your own, you have created a cycle of abuse where you are both abusing each other.


In order to restore romantic love, you are going to need to isolate her complaints and address them. She's probably reluctant to give them at the moment.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 05:41 PM
You know marriage counselors have an 85% failure rate, right? And most of them do not believe in or do not know how to restore romantic love to a marriage?

http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi8118_real.html

I would start forgetting the things your marriage counselor told you, because there is no way to get your wife to fall in love with you if you adopt disrespectful beliefs about her like the ones that came from your marriage counselor. Disrespectful judgments kill romantic love, they do not restore it. So no wonder this marriage counselor thinks you should just learn to live in withdrawal and "accept it."

I am so glad to hear you have an appointment with Steve! Maybe you can finally start turning this around.

Your wife is not "crazy making." She is not crazy. There's some things wrong that she needs you to fix, and you simply don't understand her point of view. Yet. That will come, but of course first you have to make it safe by eliminating all disrespectful judgments, selfish demands, and angry outbursts (whichever apply). Please believe me that your wife is not crazy. She has a Giver and a Taker, as Dr. Harley describes, and she is in the state of Withdrawal: her love bank balance is in the negative, and she does not want you to meet her emotional needs, nor is she willing to meet yours. Exactly as Dr. Harley describes.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 05:45 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
I keep arranging for babysitting and inviting her on dates, and she keeps refusing. She says that she feels guilty for the time she spends away from the kids at work, and only wants to go out on dates with me once per month. I made offers twice this week and both were refused.

She also says she doesn't want all the conversation time that I have proposed. She will only agree to 2x - 3x per week.


Okay, she is declining the dates because she is in withdrawal. Also, the thought of formal "conversation time" with you probably terrifies her! She will not want to embark on a plan to restore romantic love, because she doesn't want to be with you.

So start making smaller deposits. Do you call or text her during the day?

Meantime, keep arranging chances to go out. And what can you do at home that you would both enjoy, after the kids are asleep, or in the morning? Don't tell her any of this is part of a plan to restore romantic love or save your marriage or get your needs met or anything. Don't tell her the theory; just engage in the practice.

"Hey, would you like to go to the rock show?"
"I've got a great recipe I want to try tonight after the kids are in bed. Want to join me?"

You're going to have a beautiful monster on your hands when she comes out of Withdrawal into Conflict and is finally willing for you to meet her needs but not willing to meet yours (yet). To get there, you'll have to start making more deposits. Make them, post about them here and get feedback for how you can make more.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 05:58 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Can anyone improve their communication skills? Yes. I know my W is hyper-sensitive to criticism, so I have been ultra-careful to completely stay away from it. I often feel like I'm walking on eggshells.


Friends and enemies of good conversation
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 06:01 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
Markos, I like the rocks and buckets of sand analogy, and I agree that the problem is the absence of romantic love.

I am not convinced that making love bank deposits will "make someone fall in love with you", but I agree it can't hurt and I really have nothing to lose, so I'm going to go for it!

I feel I have been doing this for 10 months now, I guess I just haven't tossed in the 500th rock, or in my case maybe the 50,000th rock. I'll keep tossing.

Accuray


This is great, Accuray. It will work even if you're not convinced; and you are right: you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

The problem may be that you haven't tossed rocks long enough, or that you are not tossing large enough rocks, or that you are tossing the wrong kind of rocks.

It may also be this new analogy I'm working on, where an elephant gets in the stream and kicks over the pile of rocks. In my marriage, I was the elephant. smile (In other words, Love Busters, any at all, will destroy anything you are building. You have to NEVER be demanding, disrespectful, or angry, and you have to accept her feelings as indisputable if she feels you are any of these things and learn how to not be.)

Regardless, keep posting your progress here and we can help you try to figure out why it's not working yet and/or how to get it to work faster.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 06:06 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
I keep arranging for babysitting and inviting her on dates, and she keeps refusing. She says that she feels guilty for the time she spends away from the kids at work, and only wants to go out on dates with me once per month. I made offers twice this week and both were refused.


It sounds like she has a high need for Family Commitment. Do you plan activities together as a family? If so, what type of activities, and how much? Again Dr. Harley says to shoot for 15 hours here.

Why is your wife working? It sounds like maybe she would prefer to be a stay-at-home mom. Can she quit her job?
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 06:40 PM
It's funny, she did stop working after we had our second, and she was home for 8 years. She really didn't like it. She didn't spend the time engaging with the kids, she would be on her computer, on the phone or reading books.

She really likes working, really enjoys her job, but feels guilty about being away from the kids, although ironically if she was with them she wouldn't engage with them anyway. I have encouraged her to quit if it would make her happier and to stay home, or to find a part time job with fewer hours, or to do some volunteer work, etc. etc. The bottom line is that she's career driven and likes working.

It's a lot like our marriage -- she feels guilty about what she's not doing, but that doesn't motivate her to change anything. She's ok staying with the guilty feelings.

I don't think my MC was that bad. I went to three before I found one that I thought understood my wife. He's written 14 books, has a regular TV segment, and teaches marriage and family counseling at a nearby university.

Accuray
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 06:50 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
I don't think my MC was that bad. I went to three before I found one that I thought understood my wife. He's written 14 books, has a regular TV segment, and teaches marriage and family counseling at a nearby university.


This is the guy who said your wife was "crazy making"?

I think you are underestimating just how damaging disrespect is to a marriage.
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 06:51 PM
Originally Posted By: Accuray
It's funny, she did stop working after we had our second, and she was home for 8 years. She really didn't like it. She didn't spend the time engaging with the kids, she would be on her computer, on the phone or reading books.

She really likes working, really enjoys her job, but feels guilty about being away from the kids, although ironically if she was with them she wouldn't engage with them anyway. I have encouraged her to quit if it would make her happier and to stay home, or to find a part time job with fewer hours, or to do some volunteer work, etc. etc. The bottom line is that she's career driven and likes working.


I wonder if she feels like she needs to look for fulfillment in her career because she doesn't believe she can find it in marriage. It's a pretty common idea out there.

Anyway, I wouldn't pressure her to give the job up. Just curious if it was an option.
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.
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/06/12 11:58 PM
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.
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/07/12 12:41 AM
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
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/07/12 02:34 AM
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.
Posted By: Prisca Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/07/12 02:45 AM
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.
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/07/12 04:20 AM
I hope Prisca is beyond violence,
Posted By: markos Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/07/12 02:04 PM
Originally Posted By: CWMI
I hope Prisca is beyond violence,


Not as much as I do! smile
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/07/12 08:55 PM
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.

Accuray
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/07/12 09:06 PM
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.

Accuray
Posted By: CWMI Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/07/12 09:36 PM
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.
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/08/12 01:45 AM
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.

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.

Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/08/12 04:05 AM
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 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.

Accuray
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/08/12 05:00 AM
Accuray - glad to have been helpful. I'll process your post and hope to get back to you in a day or two.
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/10/12 09:44 PM
Alright Accuray, I’ve 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) let’s 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 don’t be too hasty. I’m 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 you’re 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 you’re hoping to accomplish and how you’re 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 Harley’s books are great ways to continue to develop your plan. Besides reading “His Needs, Her Needs” I also *strongly* recommend you get and read Harley’s “Fall In Love, Stay In Love” and “LoveBusters.” I know you’ve 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 you’ve 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. I’m not sure I’d even attempt any major changes in your marriage until you’ve read all three. After reading them you’re 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 wife’s 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 can’t 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 one’s 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 wife’s lovebank, except to avoid withdrawals, since she herself didn’t 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 you’d 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. I’d say we achieved true safety at about the three year mark, just to put things in to perspective. I’m 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. Don’t forget what I suggested about an adequate planning phase, but I do want to offer a few suggestions.

OBJECTIVE 1 – MEET YOUR WIFE’S ENS, AVOID LBS.

Admiration seems like a top contender for your wife’s EN. To fill my wife’s need for admiration we have check-in sessions, every night if needed. We spend a few minutes telling the other person what we’ve 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, I’ll tell my wife I appreciated how she looked today, which is nice but that isn’t where the money is at. When I express appreciation for things *she values*, I know it registers more strongly for her. Don’t be effusive. Don’t 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 wife’s 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 don’t think there is any other way. You’re 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 don’t 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. I’ll 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 don’t 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 don’t 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. Don’t 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 you’ll focus on your wife’s 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 don’t 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 ‘be’haviors. But you cannot ‘be’ satisfied. Satisfaction with her as your wife results from your spontaneous response to her ‘be’havior – 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, you’ll 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 doesn’t matter to you. She (like all of us) has limited resources. She may be doing too much of what doesn’t really matter to you (likely thinking it DOES matter to you.) When you ask her to do something she’s not doing, she understandably may say “I can’t do more.” But if you ask her to do ‘different’ – she may have a more favorable response. I don’t 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 doesn’t ‘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!’

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


A few final questions. I’m mostly just curious. You don’t 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 wife’s 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?
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/10/12 10:34 PM
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.
Posted By: MelodyLane Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/10/12 11:22 PM
Here is a really good discussion about it: http://forum.marriagebuilders.com/ubbt/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=2325269#Post2325269
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"
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/12/12 03:17 PM
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 Harley’s “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 WIFE’S ENS, AVOID LBS.

Admiration seems like a top contender for your wife’s EN. To fill my wife’s need for admiration we have check-in sessions, every night if needed. We spend a few minutes telling the other person what we’ve 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, I’ll tell my wife I appreciated how she looked today, which is nice but that isn’t where the money is at. When I express appreciation for things *she values*, I know it registers more strongly for her. Don’t be effusive. Don’t 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 wife’s 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 don’t think there is any other way. You’re 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 don’t 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. I’ll 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 don’t 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 don’t 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. Don’t 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 doesn’t matter to you. She (like all of us) has limited resources. She may be doing too much of what doesn’t really matter to you (likely thinking it DOES matter to you.) When you ask her to do something she’s not doing, she understandably may say “I can’t do more.” But if you ask her to do ‘different’ – she may have a more favorable response. I don’t 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 doesn’t ‘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 wife’s 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

Accuray
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/13/12 12:44 AM
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.

B
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/13/12 03:00 PM
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.

Accuray
Posted By: BrainHurts Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/13/12 03:14 PM
Please listen to these radio clips of Dr. Harley talking about if both spouses aren't on board to work on the M that it probably won't work.

Radio Clip on Both spouses need to work on Marriage
Segment #2
Segment #3

Dr. Harley says we must be in a marriage that we take extraordinary care for each other.
**edit**
**edit**
Posted By: Fireproof Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/13/12 07:33 PM
A reminder to posters that the purpose of this forum is to discuss Marriage Builders.
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/15/12 01:36 AM
Reading your post I was reminded of the frustration I often felt when I was in your position. Now that I realize how close you still are to D day, I understand why things are not yet where you’d like. At 11 months we were still not doing very well at all. You guys are still very early in this process moving towards a better marriage. Remember, it took you 16+ years to get to the bad place which resulted in your D Day. In fact even longer since many of your and your wife’s dysfunctional / counterproductive relationship habits and instincts pre-date your marriage. So don’t be surprised that it is taking time to untangle and re-wire. The favorable conditions conducive to change and growth are still just newly (and somewhat clumsily) being put in to place. Yes, it is a slow process – it is slow and it is a process.

I have great hope for your marriage because I feel I’ve been where you are (in many ways) and we have made our marriage SO much better. But it took time and effort – much longer than you’ve been at it. Hang in there =) Maintain your ‘buyers’ mentality. You own this, for the long haul. But it is going to be worth it. Your best chance at happiness is making your marriage to the mother of your children great.

You asked me how and why my wife came to the realization about her ENs and how/why she was willing to engage in MB. Well, keep in mind, periocially for many months on end, she was NOT engaged. Our growth happened slowly over a few years. I was reading books, filling out worksheets etc. Sometimes she participated, often she did not. As I slowly made the right changes in my behaviors and thoughts, it created a safe environment where my wife began to open up. It wasn’t until “our dynamic” began to change for real that she started to explore and grow.

I hear you saying that helping your wife better meet your needs by making requests for changes in her behavior is just not going to work right now. You know way more than I do about your situation and I trust you are right. I think I made my point though that feeling/knowing she is successfully meeting your needs (rather than being shielded from them) is *really* what your wife needs most. Keep this in the forefront of your mind (if you agree.)

So I’m going to summarize my advice so far.

  • Make sure you wife is not getting her ENs met outside your marriage
  • Avoid behaviors that withdraw love units from your wife’s love bank
  • Consistently and expertly do the things that make your wife feel loved and cared for
  • Help your wife learn to successfully meet your ENs and avoid LBs against you


If you are not satisfied with the current results, then the process is still ongoing. Lack of success means one (or more) of the above elements needs adjustment or attention. Don’t see your lack of resolution as a failure, just a need for more time in a favorable environment, for fine tuning.

I hope this is helpful. I’m interested in hearing how things are going.
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/15/12 02:36 AM
Thanks BWS71,

I will "keep on keeping on" and set a new timeline -- I do feel re-energized. The rule I've read is "one month for every year you've been married" to recover, so I still have 5 months to go to meet that general rule, so to your point it is still early.

I also agree this is a slow process -- I made a lot of progress early on, so that makes recent events seem very slow by comparison but I lack longer term perspective since I'm in the moment.

I will put your suggestions into practice and probably won't have many updates for a while. Focusing too much on progress makes things worse -- like watching a toaster waiting for it to pop up.

I will check back in down the road when I have some meaningful progress to report, I do appreciate your guidance.

Accuray
Quote:
The rule I've read is "one month for every year you've been married" to recover
Please don't use this yardstick. Take the time you need to recover.

It is typical of many betrayed spouses to have a hard time at the six-month mark of recovery. (Regardless of years married.)
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 06/15/12 01:58 PM
I'm not on the forums much. When you come back if you post on this thread I'll get an email.

Good luck!
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 12/07/12 11:44 PM
BWS71,

It's been 6 months, I figured I would check in and provide a short update. Following the advice from our prior discussions, I did pursue the admiration angle, but as you know this needs to go slowly to be genuine. My last post was on 6/13 -- for the next 3 weeks things actually got progressively worse to the point that W was treating me like an unwanted roommate. I started looking at apartments and was ready to move out.

I figured there must be love busters at play that were effectively blocking my efforts, and indeed there were. I worked to resolve those issues (which were minor in my view and very easily changed).

As part of the conversation around the love busters, W told me that she was not "in love with me", defined as having feelings of romantic love, and didn't know if she ever had been. She went on to say that it's not important to her, and she doesn't need those feelings in her marriage. I suspected that she felt that way -- I was listening to a radio show with a psychologist who was saying that some women set benchmarks such as "I should be married by the time I'm 30", or "I should have kids by the time I'm 32", and as those ages approach they are tempted to compromise their decision making, such as marrying someone they are not in love with but who are "good enough". The psychologist was obviously advising a caller not to do that, but I feel that I may be on the losing side of one of those compromises as we got married when W was 30 and had recently come out of a 4 year relationship. She wanted that relationship to result in marriage, but the guy got cold feet and moved out.

In mid-July, we had a blow up over how she was treating me, discussed the love busters, etc. Armed with the love buster information things steadily improved for a while, but then started to deteriorate again.

I met with my MC and IC, and they both said that the fact that I was actively "working on myself" as a husband and making an effort to improve the marriage was putting pressure on W, and that I needed to back off and "just be" for a while. Beginning in about September I put that into practice and things improved a bit again, and for the last few months we've been in what I would call a very comfortable equilibrium.

In a marriage without the scars ours has had, I'd probably say our marriage is "good" at this point, but not great.

The issue I have is being in a marriage where my W says she has no romantic love for me, doesn't feel she needs it, and isn't interested in trying to foster it. She takes a "leave well enough alone" approach to things, and effort on my part to make things better or more intimate cause her to distance herself emotionally. That's not to say that she's cold, ignores me, or doesn't seem to "like me". In fact, she acts the way you'd act if you lived with a roommate you like. She's pleasant, is willing to go to dinner or a movie with me when I ask, is happy to have a pleasant conversation when I start one, will return hugs when I offer them. In addition, she'll have sex if I ask, but it's clear it's for me and not for her. She's giving in this regard, treats me well, but at the same time the relationship simply is not satisfying by virtue of the missing romantic love.

My MC advised me to divorce at this point, he said that she's not going to work on it with me and likely never will. He said that at my age, it would be a crime to let another 10 years pass without being in a satisfying relationship.

My IC who also worked with W before she worked with me said that W is "full of cr@p" and actually loves me very deeply, but that she's like a petulant teenager who will not allow me to see that because she's very afraid to let anybody in. She advised me to ignore that, and know that romantic love will come and go in any marriage.

For now, I'm following that advice and sticking with it because it's "good enough" given the cost to the children and our financial situation of dissolving our marriage, but it is unfortunately not satisfying.

Obviously I'm open to any suggestions or advice.

Accuray
Posted By: emilyann Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 12/08/12 01:33 PM
Accuray,

In your previous posts you had mentioned plans for telephone coaching with Steve. I don't see that mentioned in your update, what happened with that?
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 12/08/12 02:00 PM
Steve was great, he got to the root of my situation quickly and helped shed some new perspective on things. Where we landed, however, is that W would need to buy-in/participate in order for things to improve with the Marriage Builders plan. Steve's perspective is that she doesn't know what she's missing because she doesn't see the potential, so we need to get her there through "respectful persuasion". He really wanted to do a session with her but she steadfastly refused to talk to him. Any attempt at persuasion on my part is met by almost immediate emotional withdrawal on her part which makes life more painful for the following 3-4 weeks.

Good memory, unless you read it all again!

I think Steve is great, don't get the impression that he couldn't help. While W is staking out an inflexible position there's not much he can do.

I also spoke to another psychotherapist and relationship specialist. She said that my problem is that I'm holding onto the hope of a happy outcome here. She said I have really 4 choices and they are all very very painful so accept that, embrace that it's going to be painful and evaluate which one is best.

The options are to stay and continue to work on it (which she gave a low chance of success after 18 months), stay and give up on working on it, divorce and try to be the best possible co-parent, or make an arrangement where we continue to live together as partners but date other people to get our emotional needs met. She was in favor of the last one, but that's not something I would ever do.

Accuray
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 12/10/12 04:06 AM
AR - I read your update - I do have some thoughts. It may take me a few days to get back with you with a worthwhile response.

Short take - I think you've done many things well and right and I admire you for it.

Back to you soon.

BWS
Posted By: BWS71 Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 12/12/12 04:49 AM
AR - re-reading over your posts I don't see any shinning nuggets of missed opportunity. I don't see some obvious and simple solution you simply haven't tried yet. Based on my very limited perspective (just some dude on the internet) I get the impression you understand marriage builders and you are putting it in to practice as well as can be expected. There is no low hanging fruit left that I see.

That is not to say there aren't areas for continued improvement and refinement. I'm sure there are. But nothing glaring is jumping out at me.

You're not miserable. You're not satisfied. You're somewhere in between. Things aren't great. They aren't awful. They are livable. You are not thinking about divorce at this point but you'd still like a more connected and satisfying marriage.

True statements?

I think your most productive option is to keep on keeping on. Continue to refine your inner game. Work your angles. Be patient but not complacent. Continue to learn and do the things that motivate your wife to change. Shake things up gently from time to time. Maintain constant forward progress, even if at a very slow speed.

I heard a consultant talk about change once. He said to change, a person needs to feel

1) convinced of the superiority of something different compared to their current state and
2) convinced they can achieve it

Your wife feels neither. She does not seem to see a different way of being and living that would be *worth the cost* to her.

Maybe over time you can help her see there is a better way - that the benefits are better than she imagines AND the price is lower than she fears.

We can't change our spouses (or anyone else.) We can only create the environment most conducive to change, invite and wait.

The missing ingredient may simply be time. I recognize a lot of time has passed already - but how much of it has been productive time?

Do be careful about expectations. It does seem that your efforts to meet your wife's needs are muted when she perceives an expectation of reciprocation. Going out of your way to make your wife happy is a mixed bag - oddly and a bit maddeningly. It does put pressure on her. I don't know that this is a bad thing necessarily - but it should be recognized.

When you come to the place where you truly value and cherish your wife just as she is may be the exact time she begins to become the wife you value and cherish.

She may very well come around once you find that sweet spot where you can work on making things better without de-valuing the present.

But, she may not. She does have her part to play. And she may choose to never play it. This would be sad. What then? When do you say "enough?" Tough question that only you can answer.
Posted By: Accuray Re: Question about Expectations and Needs - 12/13/12 01:09 AM
Thanks BWS71, as one "dude on the Internet" to another, I think I'm looking at this the same way you are. The only difference from your perception, I think, is that my feelings about my sitch tend to move around quite a bit versus just stay in a narrow band.

My MC recommended keeping a "blind journal" and marking a + if it would be okay if I felt the way I did today for every day for the rest of my life, and a - if that would not be okay. He said not to look at trends, mark each day without looking at anything else (i.e. one mark per page). He said that after six months or a year, decide what an "acceptable ratio" is for you, and then add up your pluses and minuses. He said that seeing it that way will keep me from fooling myself. I haven't started doing that yet, but maybe I should.

I agree that the missing ingredient is time, but I fear that I cannot come to a place where I truly value and cherish my wife if she does not treat me in a loving manner -- i.e. if your love bank is being depleted I don't believe you're going to be feeling in a "cherishing mood".

Tough one for sure -- thank you so much again for your advice and consideration.

--Accuray
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