She needs counselling. Some kind of script for a mild anxiolytic could also help.
Been seeing a couples counselor for a year. Also, both of us see her separately. She's strongly anti-drugs in the area of anti-psychotics, as am I, which would hinder her acceptance of the drug. But more importantly, she claims that this "fear" is her strongest beneficial belief - it has kept her from straying too far off the "good" path, it's kept her from being accosted by criminals, etc. There's no point getting counseling for something that you believe is your biggest strength!
Does she enjoy planning? Does it give her some sense of control?
To the best of my ability to ascertain, no to the first one.
We have planned a few things. Despite agreeing to certain plans (for instance, who we'll see, where we'll go, when, during a 3-day trip to see family in San fran), it's as if there was no plan. I start to head out the door "this is when we said we'd head to the beach" and she says "but I'm going to go grocery shopping, so you go alone." What plan? Similar has happened in most cases when the plan is about activities.
On the other hand, if it's a construction project, and we get partly into it, and it's pretty clear that the plan can't be followed as written - that kind of fastener just isn't going to be strong enough - then when I propose we do something else instead, she gets very agitated about "violating" the plan, as if it's a law.
I have never seen her pull up a spreadsheet to evaluate future values of money, etc, although some time in the past, she claims to have been a bookkeeper.
We have a "sample plan" from a wealth manager that shows us spending $X per year, while they invest our money into vehicles that return anywhere from 2 to 12%. That is, there's more than one money bucket; the money we're spending today would come from the 2% fixed-rate bucket, while future buckets get more risky for more returns. She continues to claim she can't tell what this plan is proposing, but boy does she think we need to follow that $X per year as if a law presented from God. She actually goes ballistic if she sees that we broke that figure for even one week.
Mind you, the financial planner/wealth manager's written document says, over and over "this is a plan that shows success for 40 years given your current net worth and an assumption of spending habits. It does not represent a guarantee. Market returns, inflation and lifestyle alterations always happen and will necessitate a review and adjustment of the plan. In practice, if spending and earnings fall within 20% of given figures, the plan is being followed adequately. A desire to spend more can be compensated by adjusting risk level in the further out investments, for instance. If spending continues to fall under the limit, then we usually recommend altering long-term investments to ones with less volatility since you won't actually need market returns so high." In our meetings with him, he apparently sees her belief that somehow a "plan" is a guarantee and a rock-solid something, and cautions her that nothing is guaranteed, and if you have to alter the plan, you should feel very good about it because it means you are normal and alive.
I suppose one thing I keep forgetting to mention is that she is absolutely terrorized about uncertainty of anything, which explains a lot about why she interprets plans as she does and has to count every penny.
I've done project work for 40 years and to me a plan is a roadmap, which has predictions that may be wrong, may include errrors, and is subject to alteration if the weather is bad or your desires change. She apparently views a plan as something that, once written, is treated like the law.
I can suggest another reference if so, but I'd do it by PM since I know the author.
I would be interested in that PM. I'm hoping, always, that I'll come across some explanation of the planning process that she can wrap her mind around. Haven't found it yet.