So, here is a bit of an update. I actually wanted to post this yesterday, but had no opportunity.
First of all, I want to again thank those of you who have been so much help. I want you to know that I appreciate what this forum offers...the kind of open discussion and advice I was in need of.
The wife and I spoke quite a bit more about all of this, and it seems like we have made some progress.
We had had plans for a couple of months to go to a friend's house for a big St. Patty's Day party on Saturday night. She had mentioned before that she would like me to take a vacation day for the following day. Unfortunately, the hangup came with the fact that the party was being held on a weekend I was scheduled to work (Sat, Sun, Mon.). Since I've only been at this job for a year and a half, I have very few vacation days and always prefer to try to get the most time off with them that I can. For instance, if I plan it right, I can get 7 days off by using just 2 vacation days, or 11 off with 4. So I was having a tough time reconciling the idea of taking a day off (Sunday) right in the middle of that weekend. My plan was to go to the party, and go in 2 hours late the next morning so we wouldnt have to leave the party early.
She was still upset though, mainly because the day after the party was as important to her (if not more so) than the evening of the party. I clearly failed to see this point, until I started talking about the situation here.
So I took a number of the suggestions here to heart. As we were getting ready for the party, I took her aside and told her that I was blowing off work for the next day, and that I was looking forward to spending Sunday morning with her instead. She asked me about the money we were going to lose, and I told here that if it matters that much to us, then I will make it up with a day of OT.
My next move was to apologize for not understanding or hearing her concerns, and for not making more of my time available for her. I said that I never intended to put her on the back burner, but that that was what I had done and I know it. She broke down and cried, and you could see the relief in her eyes. Then she jokingly cursed me for making her cry right after she had done her eye makeup.
We had a blast at the party, came home, and passionately made love both that night and the next morning. Fortunately, our passion in the bedroom had never waned, but the frequency had suffered. Breakfast was next, followed by a little perusing around the local car lots (we're looking to buy). After the kids went to bed, it was downstairs to the TV room for a movie and some more time together.
So this was clearly what she had been looking for. She even said on Sunday that she knew that nothing changes overnight, but that she feels so much better already. Like she did just a few years ago. She said she was so torn over the situation because she knows that I've never had a bad intention in my heart, but she couldnt deny what she felt. She only hoped that I would somehow come to understand her feelings. And to see her face as she said that made me melt. The fact is that even as i've been guilty of not attending to her emotional needs, I've always adored her. Always. And I've only ever wanted her to be happy with me and our life together. Now the onus is on me to not forget how to attend to her needs or how to listen when she's telling me what she needs.
I also asked one thing of her. And that was for her to really concentrate on what she wants to do for herself. Whether its quitting her job and eventually going back to school for a new career, or if its music, or anything else. I reiterated how important I felt it was that she work toward having something gratifying in her life besides me and the kids. She is a terribly smart and talented woman who has just had a hard time finding her niche. The piano I bought for her seems to have really done her good, as she is regularly learning new songs and regaining her "feel" for the keys, as she puts it. Maybe that's it...maybe not. But I'll let her decide that. But whatever it turns out to be, I will support her every step of the way.