Does anyone have any thoughts on setting time limits when working towards relationship goals? And if setting a time limit, would all of the relationship issues have to be fixed by then, or just get a start on fixing some, and keep progressing? Or, do you not believe in setting time limits, and just keep working on things for however long it takes?
I will share a little personal history. I was in a sex starved marriage. It didn't start that way but after about 40 years it ended up that way. Starting in the spring/summer of one year my wife would start arguments with me where she would scream at me after sex. This is when I just wanted to cuddle and feel close to her, my most vulnerable time. Later I figured out that after sex she felt emotional closeness to me and needed to pick a fight to regain her emotional distance. At any rate it all came to a really awful moment in August where we were having rare once a month once a month and a half sex and she said some very cruel things to me. I told her that I deserved far better and I was never going to allow her to do that to me again. In her mind that was it, no more sex ever.
Around October, I became very depressed and started to read relationship books, Chapman's 5 Languages of Love, MW Davis, No More Mr. Nice Guy, MW Davis the Sex Starved Marriage, Sue Johnson's Hold Me Tight, David Schnarch's the Passionate Marriage, the Crucible. Ester Perls Mating in Captivity, etc., etc. Each night I would read and try to figure out what went wrong and why my wife hated me and hurt me.
Eventually I figured out how we had drifted apart. I followed both MW Davis and Glover's advice and "got a life." Lost weight, worked out in the gym, took up hobbies I had given up when first married with children. I then really figured things out and finally understood how to make my wife feel loved each and every day in her love languages (Chapman), with none of the "covert contracts" that Glover warns about. I did some 180's (MW Davis) and my wife no longer knew how to treat me. I remember one time when I took her out to dinner and she felt close to me, she verbally lashed out at me in the restaurant. I didn't respond in kind (a 180), I just asked her what triggered that response? She was stunned and didn't know what to do, her ability to get me angry at her was gone. He actions had become subconscious and she really didn't know why she did things to hurt me anymore.
Coming full circle we started marriage counseling with a Sex Therapist in mid-January. Within about 4 months our marriage was saved, because of changes that the ST had helped each of us make and compromises the ST helped negotiate in sexual activity and frequency.
Around early February, the ST asked my wife what my wife thought would be the logical outcome of her no longer having sex with me. After a lot of avoidance, my wife confessed that we would probably divorce. The ST asked me if I had ever thought of divorce. I told the ST and my wife that yes I had, that I had looked up the divorce laws in my state and that for the paperwork to clear the courts, all the legal notices to be published and any potential financial claims to be filed it takes about 6 months. I said that I had made a promise to myself that by January of the next year I would be in a loving sexual relationship with a woman, hopefully my wife, as I wanted to make our marriage work and was committed to changing myself. But if my wife couldn't provide me with the physical love I needed by next January I would be in a loving and sexual relationship with someone else. I would not look a sexual relationship until after our divorce would be finalized.
My wife and the ST were just stunned. The ST cleared her throat and said that was reasonable, well thought out, fair, and it gave my wife sufficient time to figure out what my wife wanted.
Earlier I had been told that it often takes about one month to undue every year of sever problems in a marriage. I think I was able to cut that down in half.
So for my 40 year marriage, I gave my wife over a year, but in reality due to how long it takes to finalized a divorce she only had 6 months or less.
I would agree with one of the earlier comments of not giving a spouse a firm deadline one on one. I think that the way It happened in front of a Sex Therapist was the best possible way of letting my wife know. it also helped the ST figure out how to focus on what needed to be done to our marriage and give us a pretty clear schedule of when we needed to accomplish reconciliation.
Good luck to you.