[quote=DustyDog;17718593]When I suggested 15 hours, her immediate response was "How needy are you, anyway? Nobody needs that!" and to the "emotional needs" she said "I can take care of my own emotions just fine and so could any mature man." Have you told her that this isn't going to work for you? That you're unhappy in the marriage? You're dealing with extreme independent behavior.
There's a plan not too far from that from Gottman, but both require the willingness of both people. Agreed, but Dr. Harley has found in his clinical practice that if the husband is on board and willing to try, he can usually have better success influencing his wife than vice versa. It might be time to seriously consider marital coaching and keeping the 15 hours a week and getting your emotional needs met in this marriage on the front burner. When was the last time you brought it up to her?
Darned straight on that one. I have found no way to get her to just spend fun time together. The walks in the forest? She brings the phone and does financial calculations with it. Yep, she needs to know this bothers you. Why do you keep going with her when she is doing this? Have you told her how much this bothers you?
One of the first things she said she admired about me when we were dating is that I'm not perturbable emotionally - it was true then and it's true now. I seem to have, without being told, developed an inherent mindful approach to life. My husband is the same way and he is my rock. It is highly attractive to me and yet infuriating when I want to discuss emotional things. But he makes a lot of effort and I do too to handle emotional things. Sounds like you are as well- but not your wife.
I know full well how to not judge, criticize, etc - Gottmans list of his four horsemen goes to great lengths to explain how these manifest many different ways, and how to go about conversations without bringing them into it. Merely asking for a discussion is often all it takes for her to stonewall. And a gentle request is not a judgment. Ok, but the thing is....your first post was laden with criticism and judgement and usually the way we present things DOES seep into how we talk to our spouse. I obviously am wrong but maybe consider that your wife is picking up on your irritation? I know I do with my husband and it 100% is a lovebuster. Add a wife who isn't aware of her own lovebusters and you have an issue in the marriage like what you're experiencing. I know because I've been there.
During an MC session once, what seemed to come out is that the only measurement she makes of her goodness is that the people she's working with are 100% pleased with every single thing she does. Any request for trying it a different way is interpreted as a judgment....hence, after the first week on any new job, she is convinced that "everybody's pissed at me". So she's sensitive to judgement/criticism. You know this about her. Yes, it's a flaw but one that MANY of us share. My husband is not immune. He gets defensive whenever he is told I'm unhappy for any reason, even if presented in the nicest way possible. It's human nature. The bigger issue is how do you reach her without triggering her? And how do you convince her to work on not getting triggered? Change the dynamic. Try communicating with her a different way. The current way is not working for her (or you).
All suggestions to 'schedule' a time to do anything - whether the suggestion came from me or the counselor, have been responded to with "That's ridiculous! You can't schedule something like that, you have to wait until both of you are in the mood and I'm never in the mood." Independent behavior. It's a tough one, I get it.
I tried, for a while, to communicate with her via email. But her attendance to email is erratic - she'll do a burst of it on a weekend and ignore it for a month. Also, her family has a habit of abbreviating sentences to the point where you can't actually tell what they're saying...for instance, someone might write "Skipping the public dinner tonight"...which I would interpret as me being told that the writer plans to skip the dinner...then two days later I find out that the intent was to ask ME if I was skipping the dinner - the absent question mark seemed important to me. And...in person, she never says what she's feeling - in email, it's worse. No way to tell if she's writing from a position of being angry (common) or whatever. Email actually cause a substantial increase in her anger, because I was unable to tell that she was angry. In person, I can at least see her face turn red. Then text her instead. And encourage her to ask you for clarification before jumping to any conclusions. When dealing with an emotional person, in-person is MUCH more likely to escalate issues.
Your wife IS committing lovebusters too (annoying habits, including poor conversation, and independent behavior, and stonewalling. But so are you, as I pointed out above).
The way I speak with her is quite different from what I wrote on here...to express something in the kindest and gentlest ways, being careful to stop frequently and ask questions to try and gauge how well it's being received - is time-consuming. I'd have written ten times as much on here if I'd used the actual phrasing I use with her.
But you're not reaching her and she's getting defensive. So she's likely picking up on your irritation.
The MC, having heard us in a dispute, told me in private session that I'm basically doing most things right, with one exception - when she stonewalls, I would begin asking what's wrong? Why won't you engage? Don't you want to work this out? Worst thing you can do with a stonewaller. So - I stopped that two years ago. MC has recommended books on how to communicate with the emotionally fragile person, or on how to handle people from broken homes (hers was not, but the resultant self-observation methods are as if she were) and so on.
That's why texting/emailing could be helpful. If she's emotionally sensitive, like many women, including me, she could be picking up on your body language/facial cues expressing irritation/annoyance. And my husband, when he feels I'm not meeting his criterion for "logic" can get that way at times, and I'm highly sensitive to it too, though getting better with mindfulness.
I'll get Lovebusters, sounds useful. The "His needs, Her needs" book is one that I discussed with MC and she said it's so focused on relationships with infidelity risks that you guys won't find it useful, especially since your wife wouldn't read it anyway. Nonetheless, why not - I'll get that one too.
Your MC may have been thinking about one of his other books Surviving an Affair, which I agree, does not apply here. Nis Needs, Her Needs was very helpful to us and we have never gone through infidelity.
My needs really are low - a little time every day would be nice, and maybe not interpreting most of what I say as an attempt to belittle her. Even a compliment gets "I'm sure you don't mean that" as a response...at best!
But it does seem like you also need better conversation and for your wife to change her reaction to you, as well as eliminate her independent behavior. I think you have your work cut out for you.
Almost an exact quote of how I used to bring things up in the past, which would elicit the response "I'm sorry I'm a worthless human being, why not just throw me in the trash now."
So this reaction is clearly extreme. I get why you're frustrated. In addition to working on how you communicate with her, and taking steps to work on the feelings of love in the marriage, I'd also add that if you think she has some sort of imbalance, she may need IC as well. How old is she? Do you think it could be a hormonal issue?
Gottman pointed out that one has to be VERY careful about using the word "but" or a phrasing that means the same, such as "while (discuss good stuff)...."...the word "while" can set up a highly emotional person to be prepared for the blow at the end of the "false compliment", which is how they interpret it. His recommendation would be more like "Honey, I really had a great time with you last night and I do enjoy our conversations. In fact, I'd enjoy even more if we can work in more conversations about (name the topics you'd prefer, making sure they are topics you have covered in the past which do not appear to cause her anxiety)" She chose to speak of co-workers, so if I implied, even a little bit, that the topic was less than wonderful for me, she interprets that as me criticizing her ability to choose conversation topics.
She might, but you've got to start somewhere and I don't think that just sucking it up and taking it is the answer. She is an adult, and she needs to learn how to meet her husband's need for mutually enjoyable conversation. This is why Dr. Harley recommends texting. If she knows that she can ask you for clarification, and that you are ON HER SIDE and in no way want to hurt her, you just want to enjoy your time with her more and have mutually agreeable conversation, would she be more open to receiving feedback, especially knowing that she can give her own feedback to you at that time? This works even for cases where one spouse has anger issues, so it could very well be something to consider with an overly-emotional wife.
I busy myself with projects...if I happen to be working on one when she comes home, she tiptoes and avoids me knowing she's even gotten home because she "doesn't want to bother me when I'm working". I have said, Oh, darling, I've LOVE for you to interrupt me, you are more important than these materials things any day! Her reply? "So, I'm materialistic, you say? Why the hell do you want me around?" I know there's a way, and I read voraciously and watch interviews on Youtube with book authors and every time there's another suggestion that sounds useful, consistent with avoiding the Gottman Four Horsemen and I try it...and get no progress.
Is she going through menopause? I think you need outside help here. Maybe try Dr. Harley after you read his books. He will talk to you and give you both advice, and your wife might like that more than the MC because Dr. Harley typically addresses quickly what husbands can do to make their wives feel safe and supported in the marriage, which really helps women who may have emotional/anxiety issues. And he's very optimistic about finding success in situations like yours- where the husband is willing to do the work to improve the marriage. He will help you figure out how to get your wife to see that she needs to be willing to work on this as well, but if you're on board, it typically is much more effective.