Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation
Well I have spent a lot of time reading and commenting on the threads of others, I haven't provided a true update to my own situation, so here goes. As usual, I'm sure it's going to be long, so I apologize in advance.
I left off in late June. At that time, my wife had moved back in somewhat unexpectedly the first week of June. I was sleeping on the couch in order to let her feel more comfortable with being back home and out of my desire to show her that there was no expectation of anything sexual from her. She immediately set to work on some basic remodeling like repainting rooms, replacing trim/cabinets, reorganizing closets, re-purposing our "TV Room" into a play room for our daughter, etc. All good stuff.
So now it's almost exactly two and a half months later. In that time she has fully moved back home and the apartment lease expired. She has really re-integrated well back into our family. She's reasonably helpful around the house (not to where I'd like her to be, but better than it used to be), she definitely operates in "we" mode and not "I" mode now, and we're all getting along pretty well. She also started her final semester of nursing school a couple of weeks ago, so now she is busy with that and I handle probably 80% of household chores, but I'm really ok with that. (Heck it was 100% for three years) Also, we are now sleeping in the same bed as of about two and a half weeks ago.
So now for the concerns... The biggest one is that I feel like we are roommates. There has been absolutely ZERO romantic activity of any kind. Like nothing, nada. Seriously, not even a single kiss. As in she hasn't kissed me since June of 2010. Hugs are about as far as it's gone, and even those are the quick "Here is your complimentary welcome home from work hug" that lasts all of .5 seconds. She'll let me kiss her on top of her head, but that's IT. Further, she doesn't even feel comfortable touching at all. No hand holding, no shoulder rubs or foot massages, (receiving too), just no touching. A few weeks ago she meekly replied "I love you" after I said it myself, which I felt like a breakthrough, but not she only says it maaaybe once a week at most, and only in reply.
The really lousy part is that my love language is physical touch. Sex certainly is a part of that of course, but really that literally just means touch. It used to fill my love tank tremendously if she would hold my hand, lean in on my shoulder while watching TV/a movie, touch my back when she walks into a room to ask me a question, or cuddles even a little bit in bed. Literally any kind of touch. She KNOWS this too, as we went to a marriage conference with that being a major topic several years ago and I've brought it up twice since she's been back home, making it extremely clear. She still actively avoids any kind of touching and displays visible annoyance if I dare touch her in any way, shape or form. (Ex. Reached for her hand while on a walk, resting my hand on her hip while going to sleep, trying to offer her a quick shoulder rub after her volleyball practice, etc.)
From her side, I have tried to be very supportive. Naturally she and I both have a lot of history we have to try to move past in rebuilding trust and security in one another. Our issues include my prior porn addiction, pushing her to be sexual with me (we averaged maybe 3x per YEAR), getting her to try sex with another guy just to see if her libido could be rebooted, etc. Shameful stuff I know. On her side, the OM she had the affair with and then moved out with for about two years turned out to be a controlling, manipulative, sex addict and pedophile, for which he is now in the state penitentiary. So she experienced a lot of sexual pressure and betrayal through him as well, in addition to some less major issues going further back before our marriage.
Knowing all this, and wanting to be as understanding and supportive as possible, I have already promised her that I won't have any expectation of sex from her for the foreseeable future. I sort of pegged that limit as being the end of this year. I truly have kept that promise too, I haven't even hinted or been suggestive of anything sexual, and I'm positive she would confirm that. But lately she has said that she still has trust issues with me, she still needs to see things change for an extended period of time, and she still feels sexually damaged by various issues from the past described above. However she has said that I am doing all the right things and there is nothing more I could be doing that I am not already doing. With that said, she now says that even physical touch of any kind falls into her discomfort zone. I am struggling with that notion because I can't understand why, fully aware of how much such little things would mean to me, she can't just hold my hand once in a while, or touch my back/shoulder to get my attention, or even offer a simple kiss or anything once in a while. I'm talking like one or two little touches per day.
It's like, if I burned down a children's hospital while trying to cook a large dinner, I might have difficulty in bringing myself to be comfortable with cooking again. That makes sense. But if I knew it would mean the world to my wife if I could just throw a pop-tart on a plate for her, then couldn't I do that much?
It sounds incredibly petty right now as I write it, but for someone with a physical touch love language, it means everything to me. I mean, we both have to make enormous efforts to work through our past issues and rebuild a strong marriage, but when I sit and think very long about the fact that she can't bring herself to hold my hand for a moment while on a walk, knowing how doing so will make my love tank burst past the "fill to" line, it just makes me question her commitment completely. It makes me question if she cares about me at all. Or maybe it's a physical attraction issue and she is just trying to be nice by making up an excuse. (I'm not obese, I shower/brush teeth dailiy, use deodorant & cologne, etc.) It definitely leads me to having good days and bad days. Good days are when I can psych myself up and forget about it, and the bad days are when I am unable to avoid dwelling on it.
So I feel kind of stuck. I have always said that I can be as patient as she needs me to be (even going without sex beyond this year if need be) AS LONG as we are consistently moving forward, as long as things are improving and she is making an effort. Things ARE pretty consistently moving forward. She is making some efforts in other areas. She is working on saying she appreciates things I do, occasionally performing a nice gesture like making a favorite meal of mine, communicating better, etc. I won't go into all the ways I am showing her love and communicating because she says I am doing great, and I do actively think of such things repeatedly throughout the day. (Her love language is words of affirmation and quality time) But I struggle daily with this physical touch thing.
It sucks to have to keep going day in and day out FEELING unloved, undesired, disrespected, etc. but at the same time feeling pretty confident that she is making an effort, that she does care about me and she does have respect for me. Logically I think things are going pretty well, I'd give it a 7 out of 10. Emotionally/Physically, I'd give it a 3 out of 10. Sooo, for anyone who managed to finish this long-winded post, does anyone have any suggestions for me? Things I could be doing to cope, or things I could do/say to my wife that might help, or even just other opinions that might help me better understand/accept what she is saying?